Bill Clinton in AZ to endorse U.S. Senate candidate - CBS 5 - KPHO

Bill Clinton in AZ to endorse U.S. Senate candidate

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Former president Bill Clinton holds event at ASU on Wednesday night. Former president Bill Clinton holds event at ASU on Wednesday night.
TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

Jeff Flake and Richard Carmona squared off Wednesday night in their first debate and on the heels of a huge rally at Arizona State University with former President Bill Clinton.

Thousands turned out for the rally to see and hear Clinton as he rallied support for Carmona.

Clinton came to Phoenix hoping to help fellow Democrat Carmona gain some momentum in his bid for the U.S. Senate.

Carmona is up against longtime Republican Congressman Jeff Flake next month to fill Sen. Jon Kyl's seat when he retires.

The latest polls show Carmona and Flake in a very tight race and with Clinton by his side, Carmona is hoping to pull ahead.

Clinton's rally was tagged a "get out the vote early" event with early voting starting Thursday.

Earlier Wednesday night, Carmona squared off with his two opponents battling for the Senate seat.

Carmona, Flake and libertarian candidate Marc Victor each got a change to respond to a variety of tops in an open discussion style debate.

"It's just reprehensible how he's done so many things, the fact of the matter is, he's putting people at risk with what he's doing, whether it's social security, whether it's medicare, whether it's our veterans," Carmona said about Flake.

"I voted for more than a hundred veteran bills in my time in congress, Dr. Carmona will pick about three or four veteran bills that had veterans in the title but are larded up with extraneous items," Flake said of his record.

"What I support as a senator, everything that was just said, giving more to veterans - 'no' because we have a job over here, which is to get our spending under control," Victor said.

The debate was hosted by Arizona Horizon at Phoenix PBS studios.

The candidates have two more scheduled debates in Tucson and Yuma.

Stay with cbs5az.com for updates on the race. See more election stories on our Campaign 2012 page.

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