Arkansas Democratic US Senate candidates gearing up for runoff

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - The Arkansas US Senate race is in the national spotlight.  A showdown comes Tuesday in a runoff between the longtime Democratic incumbent and her heavyweight opponent.

As the clock ticks, the Democratic candidates are criss-crossing Arkansas to vie for voters in Tuesday's runoff.

Television advertisements for the candidates show the gloves are off.  Incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln's ad accused Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter of outsourcing jobs and cutting back door deals with unions.

"He never denies outsourcing American jobs to India," the ad said.

An AFL-CIO ad accused Lincoln of abandoning Arkansas.  It showcased her Washington, D.C. area home and called her "Big Oil Blanche."

"Blanche Lincoln packed up and left us years ago," the ad said.  "Maybe it's time for Arkansas to send her packing for good."

Lincoln called the attack ads from unions distorted.

"They're just misrepresenting me and my record," Lincoln said.  "I believe the people of Arkansas have risen above that."

Halter criticized Lincoln for her negative ad campaign.

"She said she wanted to give up negative campaigning," Halter said.  "Two days later, she launched a negative ad."

Lincoln won the primary weeks ago, but did not get the 50 percent of the vote she needed to take the seat.  Now, the two are pulling out all the stops.  President Bill Clinton even gave Lincoln a boost last week in Little Rock.

"We got him in a hot auditorium and it was like he was back in time, which was wonderful," Lincoln said.

Halter is campaigning 20 hours a day to talk to voters face-to-face.

"Do you want somebody who will fight for the middle class or do you want somebody who's tied up in Washington?" Halter asked.

Lincoln defended her record and said she does not answer to special interest groups.

"My opponent has gotten 60 percent of his contributions from outside the state," Lincoln said.

Halter called for national change.

"They know that if you send the same people to Washington, you get the same results," Halter said.