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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Debate 3 - Bush Comes Back & Takes It

President Bush came roaring back from his less than stellar first debate & beat John Kerry in this Town Hall debate. He stood erect, was forceful, appeared comfortable with the format of the debate & answered questions clearly. He took on Kerry's record much more than in the first debate. On style he was very good. On susbstance, Bush is always good.

John Kerry was equally good on style. He appeared comfortable, spoke clearly & carried himself well. On substance is where Kerry loses it. He seemed to stammer a few times in his answers & over did the "I have a plan" line to the Nth degree. Kerry could not really annunciate clearly why he should replace Bush as President & used the same worn out lines he has been using since time immemorial.

The Moderator, Charles Gibson, did a great job & the audience questions were generally good & seemed to fall equally to both candidates. All in all it was a good debate.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not what I saw. To me, Kerry won hands down. The polls show a slight edge to Kerry..

ABC http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/Vote2004/second_debate_instapoll_041008.html
Who Won?
Kerry 44%
Bush 41%
Tie 13%
NOTE: ABC does not offer an online poll -- these are the results of a "survey ... conducted by telephone among a random-sample panel of 515 registered voters who watched the presidential debate. ... The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation were done by TNS of Horsham, Pa."

USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/polls/2004-10-09-poll_x.htm
Who won?
Kerry 47%
Bush 45%
NOTE: USA Today does not offer an online poll -- these are the results of "a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll of [515 registered voters who were] debate watchers".

I have omitted many online polls. I have heard that were hacked into and the overwhelming wins by Kerry or Bush cannot be real.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both candidates tried to mislead the American Public on vearious issues. From various facts checkers:

CNN) -- Claim: Bush said Kerry cut the intelligence budget by $7.5 billion in the 1990s.

CNN Fact Check: It is true that Kerry proposed or supported cutting several billion dollars from the intelligence budget in the 1990s, however this amounted to a small fraction of the overall intelligence budget, and some of the proposed cuts were in reaction to the discovery of a $1 billion fund that a government intelligence agency had secretly -- and illegally -- accumulated without informing Congress.

In 1995, Kerry did propose to cut the intelligence budget by $300 million a year ($1.5 billion over five years), or roughly 1% out of the estimated $29 billion annual intelligence budget. In Senate testimony, then-CIA director George Tenet was asked if a $300 million annual cut would "gut" his agency, and Tenet said no, that it would not "gut" the agency, although it wouldn't be helpful.

Kerry also proposed cutting $1 billion annually from intelligence budgets from 1994-1998. Also in 1995, Congress learned that a U.S. intelligence agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, had secretly accumulated about $1 billion in funds. Kerry, as well as Republicans Arlen Specter and Richard Shelby, proposed cutting the intelligence budget for that year by about $1 billion, to recoup this unspent NRO funds.

Claim: Bush suggested Kerry would allow other countries to veto U.S. troop deployments.

CNN Fact Check: Although Kerry did refer to a "global test" regarding troop deployments in the first debate, Bush neglects to mention that Kerry also said the following at that debate on the topic of a preemptive war by the U.S.: "No president ... has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America."

Bush also comes close to suggesting that Kerry would allow the United Nations to determine U.S. troop deployment. Although as a young congressional candidate in 1970, Kerry told the Harvard Crimson that he would "like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations," he has since revised his position, saying at his convention speech this summer: "I will never give any nation or any institution a veto over our national security."

As for what Kerry meant by a "global test," he described it as a test "where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Claim: Kerry said the United States has spent $200 billion on the Iraq war.

CNN Fact Check: Kerry once again overstates the cost of the Iraq war when he says that the U.S. has already spent $200 billion on the war effort. In fact, the Office of Management and Budget estimated that the war in Iraq had cost about $120 billion through September 30, the end of fiscal year 2004.

Kerry's $200 billion figure includes money for the new fiscal year (which started October 1) but technically these funds have not yet been spent. Kerry's figure also includes some funds earmarked for both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Kerry campaign clarifies its claim in press releases saying that the Iraq war will cost $200 billion through September 2005, but Kerry frequently neglects to make this distinction when addressing audiences.

Claim: President Bush said Sen. John Kerry voted for higher taxes 98 times.

CNN Fact Check: The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign has identified 98 specific votes where Kerry supported raising taxes, including tax hikes on specific products like tobacco, alcohol, and diesel fuel. However the number is somewhat inflated because it includes all votes on a given piece of legislation, including procedural votes and votes to end debate.

Claim: Bush said the National Journal ranked Kerry as "The Most Liberal Senator."

CNN Fact Check: The National Journal's February 2004 rankings did list Kerry as the most liberal member of the Senate in 2003, but the result was based only on his votes in the year 2003, and may have been artificially inflated by Kerry's unusually high absentee rate last year.

The National Journal based its ratings on 62 key Senate votes cast in 2003 in three issue areas: economic policy, social policy, and foreign policy. Kerry's rating was based only on the 20 votes he cast in the economic policy area. His votes in social and foreign policy were not counted because he missed more than half of the votes in those categories.

In short, Kerry's rating was based on only 20 of 62 votes. Had he missed four more economic votes, Kerry would not have been included in the National Journal ratings at all. Also, Kerry's lifetime liberal rating is 85.7 out of 100, making him the Senate's 11th most liberal senator, not the first.

Claim: Bush said that 75 percent of known al Qaeda members have been brought to justice.

CNN Fact Check: Bush incorrectly suggests that under his watch 75 percent of al Qaeda's membership has been brought to justice. CIA officials have estimated that 75 percent of the two-dozen or so known al Qaeda leaders, as of September 11, 2001, have been killed or captured.

The non-partisan International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that al Qaeda has 18,000 potential operatives, but there is no official data on the size of al Qaeda's total membership, in part because it is difficult to track the number of new recruits since the Iraq war began.

Claim: Kerry said that former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki was forced out for comments on Iraq troop levels.

CNN Fact Check: Kerry implies that Shinseki was forced to retire as a result of his comments about troop levels in Iraq, which is inaccurate. Shinseki served a full four-year term as Army chief of staff, and did not retire early. Since World War II, no Army chief of staff has served longer than four years.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided in April 2002 on who he would tap to succeed Shinseki, according to a Pentagon official, long before Shinseki's troop level comments in 2003. So by the time Shinseki made his comments on troop levels, it was already known that he would not remain in his post beyond his full four-year term. The Bush administration may not have been fond of Shinseki, who was appointed to his post by President Clinton, but it is inaccurate to say that he was forced to retire because of his comments on troop levels in Iraq.

Claim: Kerry said that Bush has presided over an economy which lost 1.6 million jobs and that he is the first president in 72 years to lose jobs.

CNN Fact Check: Kerry is correct in saying that Bush is on track to become the first president in 72 years (since Herbert Hoover) to oversee a net loss in jobs. However, Kerry said 1.6 million jobs have been lost under Bush's watch, but this actually refers to just private sector jobs. The overall loss over jobs since January 2001 is 821,000, according to numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By Bob Deans
Cox News Service
Friday, October 08, 2004



WASHINGTON — Presidential candidates George Bush and John Kerry engaged in their most aggressive debate yet on Friday night. There were sharp differences — and some sharp exchanges. A few facts and a bit of history got caught in the crossfire beginning, not surprisingly, on the subject of Iraq.



SADDAM HUSSEIN

Bush said Kerry "said it was a mistake to remove Saddam Hussein from power," and that, if Kerry had his way, the toppled Iraqi leader "would still be in power, and the world would be more dangerous."

Kerry hasn't said Saddam would still be in power. He has said, though, that, knowing what is known today - specifically that Iraq lacked weapons of mass destruction - he would not have gone to war in Iraq, a suggestion he amplified on Friday, saying "if we'd used smart diplomacy, we could have saved $200 billion and an invasion of Iraq."


TROOP LEVELS IN IRAQ

Picking up on charges made public this week by L. Paul Bremer, former U.S. administrator of Iraq, Kerry asserted that Bush didn't send enough troops to Iraq to contain looting and bloodshed in the post-war period.

Bush said, as he has many times, that he "listened to the generals" and relied on their advice as to troop strength levels.

In fact, there was sharp and at times open debate between the Pentagon's civilian leadership and the military brass over the appropriate level of troops needed to secure post-war Iraq.

Three weeks before Bush launched the war last year, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to occupy Iraq. Two days later, however, Shinseki was publicly discredited by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who told the House Budget Committee that Shinseki's estimate was "wildly off the mark."

Roughly 150,000 American troops invaded Iraq, and there are 138,000 there today. In a speech earlier this week, Bremer said the number was never sufficient to control the country and that



NATO TRAINING MISSION


Kerry charged at one point that Bush didn't push for NATO to take over the training of Iraqi security forces, suggesting that he had somehow dropped the ball on seeking international help for the mission.

In fact, Bush has pressed repeatedly for precisely such help. He pushed the issue last spring, when he hosted his Group of Eight partners at the G-8 summit on Sea Island, Ga., then later in June when he traveled to Ireland to seek European Union support and to a NATO summit in Istanbul to seek full backing of the alliance. NATO agreed to a limited mission, not because Bush imposed limits, but because key NATO members like France and Germany refused to send trainers to Iraq and other NATO members, such as Britain, Poland and others, are already in Iraq assisting with the military mission there.



HEALTH CARE


Kerry accused Bush of "trying to scare everybody" after the president said his opponent was pushing for "government-sponsored health care" that Bush claimed "would lead to rationing. It would ruin the quality of health care in America."

Kerry has proposed providing health care insurance to an estimated 27 million - out of the 45 million Americans currently uninsured - by expanding the rolls of Medicaid - an existing $176-billion-a-year program providing health insurance for poor people - along with other provisions, that together would cost an estimated $950 billion over ten years. The plan would also save the government money it currently pays out for medical claims amounting to some $300 billion over the ten-year period, independent analysts have said, bringing the net cost of the program to somewhere around $650 billion.

Bush has proposed a far more modest plan for covering an estimated 7 million Americans at a cost of some $129 billion over ten years, chiefly through tax credits to help defray the cost of private insurance.



JOBS


Kerry accused Bush of losing actual jobs, saying "the president has presided over the economy where we've lost 1.6 million jobs," calling him the "first president in 72 years to lose jobs."

Actually, there are 139.5 million Americans working now, 1.7 million more than the 137.8 million jobs when Bush took office, according to seasonally adjusted Labor Department data released Friday.

The number of Americans who want to work, however, has grown by 3.7 million during that time, far outstripping the number of new jobs. So the number of unemployed Americans has gone from 6 million when Bush took office to 8 million today.

That has sent the unemployment rate from 4.2 percent when his term began to 5.4 percent currently. Unemployment rates on his watch peaked at 6.3 percent in June of last year. Overall, unemployment has averaged 5.6 percent under Bush.



BUDGET DEFICIT


Both men blamed the policies of the other's party for record federal budget deficits. Both claimed, without providing specifics, that they had plans for cutting the deficit in half - over four years, said Kerry; over five, claimed Bush.

"It's the president's fiscal policies that have driven up the biggest deficits in American history," said Kerry. "He's added more debt to the debt of the United States in four years than all the way from George Washington to Ronald Reagan put together. Go figure."

Here are the figures.

For the fiscal year that began four months before Bush took office, the federal budget scored a $127.4 billion surplus, and the government was on track to take in a record $4.6 trillion more than it was projected to spend over the coming decade.

Since then, the country's fiscal fortunes have reversed, with record back-to-back deficits of $374 billion last year and $415 billion for the fiscal year that just ended. Government red ink is projected to total between $2.3 trillion and $5 trillion over the next ten years.

The national debt, meanwhile, has climbed from $5.7 trillion the day Bush took office to $7.4 trillion - a $1.7 trillion increase. Servicing that debt cost taxpayers $168 billion this year in interest payments to financiers in this country and abroad. For the record, the federal debt stood at $1.03 trillion when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981.

Presidents send proposed tax and spending plans each March to Congress, which debates and finally approves the actual budget.

An analysis by the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan Washington budget research group, has calculated that Kerry's proposals would, over ten years, raise taxes on upper-income earners - those who make more than $200,000 a year - by $286 billion; cut taxes on the middle class by $508 billion; and raise spending overall by $771 billion. Combined with other changes Kerry's proposed, his plan would add an estimated $1.3 trillion to the currently projected deficit.

Bush's proposals - including $1.2 trillion in proposed tax cuts and $82 billion in spending hikes - would also increase deficit projections by $1.3 trillion, the Concord Coalition estimates.

Neither Bush nor Kerry has proposed a serious plan for cutting the record deficits, says the group, concluding that "They are both ducking issues they don't want to face."



GLOBAL TEST

As he has repeatedly over the past week, Bush pressed Kerry over a remark he made in their Sept. 30 debate.

"You remember the last debate? My opponent said that America must pass a global test before we use force to protect ourselves," said Bush. "That's the kind of mindset that says sanctions were working."

Kerry actually pledged during last week's debate "I'll never give a veto to any country over our security." He later said that, if a president has to launch a preemptive strike to protect the country, "you've got to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test...and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Kerry has not suggested that sanctions were working but rather that, in light of this week's Duelfer report, United Nations inspections were working


NY Times
By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM

Published: October 9, 2004


n their running debate over the alliance in Iraq, President Bush said last night that the effort was being waged by a large coalition, while Senator John Kerry said that the coalition was shrinking and that eight countries had left it.

As of this week, 30 foreign countries had joined the United States, but they contribute only about 24,000 troops, with Britain supplying 8,000 of them. The United States has about 138,000 troops in Iraq, and 90 percent of the non-Iraqi casualties have been American.

Eight allied countries have withdrawn troops from Iraq since February, according to The Associated Press: the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain and Thailand. Among the reasons foreign officials have given for pulling out are domestic opposition to the war, budget shortages and a desire to save the lives of hostages.

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This was one of several areas of foreign and domestic policy in which the candidates differed last night in their interpretation of facts.

Iraq and U.N. Sanctions

President Bush and Senator Kerry drew contradictory conclusions from the 918-page report issued this week by Charles A. Duelfer, the top American arms inspector in Iraq, and their interpretations did not always accurately reflect the report's findings.

After Mr. Kerry said that the Duelfer report had demonstrated that United Nations sanctions against Iraq "worked,'' Mr. Bush said the report's lesson instead was that it was "naïve and dangerous'' to "just let the inspectors do their job.''

In fact, that report did not draw a firm conclusion about whether the sanctions and inspections succeeded in disarming Iraq. It said that Saddam Hussein's "primary goal from 1991 to 2003 was to have U.N. sanctions lifted.'' But it also said that between 2000 and 2001, Iraq "managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support.''

Mr. Bush referred to findings pointing to the porosity of the sanctions, which showed Iraq's success between 1991 and 2003 at circumventing the restrictions, primarily through imports of conventional weapons. But Mr. Kerry emphasized what he portrayed as the restrictions' bottom-line success, in prompting what Mr. Duelfer said was the fundamental decision that Iraq made after the war in the Persian Gulf in 1991 to set aside its illicit weapons, at least for the time being, to win an end to sanctions.

Iraq and Illicit Weapons

Mr. Bush cited the Duelfer report in arguing that Saddam Hussein remained "a unique threat'' because "he could have given weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.'' But Mr. Kerry emphasized the main conclusion of the report, saying that Saddam "didn't have weapons of mass destruction'' at the time of the American invasion in 2003.

Mr. Bush called attention to Mr. Duelfer's conclusion that Iraq had never abandoned its illicit weapons aspirations, and would have rebuilt its capacity after United Nations sanctions were lifted. But the Duelfer report also said that "the former Iraqi regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of W.M.D. after sanction.''

Iraq and Troops

In accusing Mr. Bush of having "rushed to war without a plan to win the peace,'' Mr. Kerry noted that General Eric K. Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, had said before the war that the United States would need several hundred thousand troops to stabilize Iraq after the invasion.

General Shinseki made that statement under questioning on Capitol Hill, but Mr. Bush said during the debate last night that all the senior commanders involved in planning and executing the war were satisfied with the force levels.

The Coalition and the Draft

President Bush pledged that he would never reinstate the draft, and Senator Kerry likewise said he did not support a return to conscription. But the senator again accused the president of instituting "a back-door draft."

Mr. Kerry uses that phrase routinely on the campaign trail to characterize the large mobilizations of National Guard and Reserve troops since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as an Army "stop-loss" order that forbids active-duty troops to retire or to change assignments if their units are set to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. While the reserve call-ups and "stop-loss" orders have prompted loud complaints from some in uniform, they are within the military's discretion under contracts with those who voluntarily joined the Guard, Reserves and active-duty force.










Star news services
October 9, 2004


Here's a look at key assertions -- and a quick fact check -- from Friday's debate in St. Louis between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry:

BUSH ON . . .

WMD

President Bush asserted that U.N. sanctions weren't working in Iraq. But a report this week based on a 15-month inspection led by the CIA weapons inspector found that Saddam Hussein hadn't restarted his nuclear weapons program since the 1991 Persian Gulf War and had no chemical or biological weapon stockpiles or any concrete programs to make them.

The inspector, Charles Duelfer, did find Hussein was manipulating the U.N. oil sales system in ways that enriched powerful individuals and groups he selected as a means to gain influence with countries that could help him lift sanctions. Duelfer concluded Hussein hoped eventually to redevelop weapons to deter Iran and enhance his regional power, not to attack the United States.



Small-business taxes

Bush said Kerry's plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts on taxpayers with incomes over $200,000 would raises taxes on 900,000 small businesses. That number includes all taxpayers who claim "business income." The nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center places the number of such businesses at 471,000. As Kerry said, that would include Bush, who in his 2001 tax return reported $84 in business income from a timber-growing business in which he held a small stake. "I own a timber company?" Bush said. "That's news to me." Then he paused and added, "Need some wood?"



Tax relief

The president said "everybody got tax relief" under his tax cut proposals. That's not exactly true. Only Americans who pay income taxes received relief under Bush's plan. Low-income workers who don't earn enough to pay income taxes but pay payroll taxes toward Medicare and Social Security didn't receive any relief.



Homeland security

Bush's claim that his administration has tripled spending on homeland security is an exaggeration. The budget for programs now administered by the Department of Homeland Security has more than doubled since 2001, to about $24 billion in fiscal year 2004, which just ended. Total domestic spending on homeland security is $41 billion a year, about double three years ago.



The U.S. military

"We don't need mass armies anymore," Bush said, arguing that modern weapons and moving troops out of Europe where they're no longer needed would give the United States the manpower it needs. Currently, nine of the U.S. Army's 10 divisions are or have been involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 40 percent of the forces in Iraq are members of the U.S. National Guard and Reserves.



On Al-Qaida

Bush said of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization, "We've already (got) 75 percent of his people," a loose interpretation of intelligence findings that up to three-quarters of the group's leadership from before Sept. 11, 2001 -- not the rank and file -- has been run down.

KERRY ON . . .

Job losses

Sen. John Kerry at one point said that "the president has presided over an economy where we've lost 1.6 million jobs." Kerry should have qualified that statistic by referring to "private sector" jobs. The net number of jobs lost since Bush became president is more than 800,000, because of growth in the public sector. It is the first time in 72 years, as Kerry correctly noted, that a president has presided over a net loss of jobs.



On flip-flopping

Kerry, defending himself from the knock that he's wishy-washy, denied that he changed positions on Bush's education reforms, now criticizing what he voted for. He said his complaint with the changes is that Bush did not put enough money behind them.

But Kerry's problems with the No Child Left Behind Act have gone beyond that. He also says too much emphasis is placed on tests for measuring student achievement and that additional factors, such as attendance and parental satisfaction, should be considered.



Iraq war costs

Kerry's claim that the war in Iraq has cost $200 billion is an exaggeration. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the war in Iraq has cost $119 billion through the end of September. Kerry's figure includes money spent in Afghanistan and money the administration has requested for Iraq in the 2005 fiscal year but which Congress hasn't approved.



NATO training missions

Kerry charged at one point that Bush didn't push for NATO to take over the training of Iraqi security forces, suggesting he had somehow dropped the ball on seeking international help for the mission. In fact, Bush has pressed repeatedly for precisely such help. He pushed the issue last spring, when he hosted his Group of Eight partners at the G-8 summit on Sea Island, Ga., then later in June when he traveled to Ireland to seek European Union support and to a NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey, to seek full backing of the alliance. NATO agreed to a limited mission because key NATO members like France and Germany refused to send trainers to Iraq, and other NATO members, such as Britain, Poland and others, are already in Iraq assisting with the military mission there.



Halliburton

Kerry said he ended up voting against $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan operations because, in part, "I didn't want to give a slush fund to Halliburton." That was an easy shot at Vice President Dick Cheney's former company. But congressional auditors concluded legal guidelines were followed in awarding Iraq business to Halliburton without competition because that was the only company able to do some of the work.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Kerry scored another victory tonight. He was far more prepared again. He not only cited national numbers and statistics in nearly every subject, but also knew the statistics specific to Missouri , which hosted the debate. George Bush performed better than he did last week, but to be fair, how could he not after that implosion? Bush lowered expectations so much that the turnaround appeared very dramatic. That does not mean though that he was not again thoroughly unmatched.

Iraq – Kerry destroyed Bush on his failed war. The Duelfer report ruined Bush’s chances of claiming any legitimacy on the invasion. That did not stop Bush from dissembling about the report and saying it justified the war, but it rang hollow and the reactions from the crowd confirmed that. Bush repeats himself so much that he actually tried the old line that the invasion was justified because sanctions did not work. Kerry pounced on him and correctly stated that the Duelfer report actually proved the sanctions did work and if Bush did not rush us to war, the inspections would have bore that out. Kerry hit Bush hard with comments from two notable republican Senators who called the management of the war “dangerous” and “incompetent”.

Jobs – Another solid Kerry victory. The jobs numbers were spun by the president as he tried desperately to reiterate that he has created 1.9 million jobs in the past 13 months. He could run from the overall record, but he could not hide as Kerry correctly pointed out that he is still the first president to preside over a net loss of jobs since the Great Depression. The 1.9 million is only 400,000 (in 13 months) over what is needed to keep up with new job seekers. Not a great record and Kerry exploited him on it.

Healthcare – Bush provided no specifics, handing the topic to Kerry. All Bush could say was tort reform. It has been documented that tort reform would only address half of one percent of the healthcare costs. Bush’s entire plan tonight was exposed as limiting your right to seek legal redress if you are injured unfairly. Five million people have lost healthcare under Bush and he could not hide from the numbers tonight.

Tax Cuts – A Bush staple was exposed over and over again tonight. John Kerry constantly brought back many subjects to Bush’s decision to provide 89 billion dollars to the top 1% of this country during last year alone. Bush tried to lie and say that Kerry was proposing trillions of dollars in new spending, frightening the crowd with fanciful tales of a Kerry tax increase if he was elected. The words sounded empty though as Bush almost seemed desperate, with nothing left to say except, “of course he is going to raise your taxes”.

Environment – The boldest lying I have heard from Bush was in this area. Bush tried to sound like a Greenpeace candidate actually calling himself, “a good steward of the land”. Boldly lying about his misnamed corporate handouts such as the “Healthy Forests Initiative” and “Clear Skies Act” Bush was called on the carpet again by Kerry. Healthy Forests is a handout to the logging industry and has been affectionately referred to as “No Tree Left Behind”. Kerry correctly pointed out that if Bush had just left the Clean Air Act in place instead of implementing “Clear Skies”, the air quality would be better. Bush came off as lying, pure and simple, which of course, he was.

Stem Cell Research – This appeared to be a draw as Kerry and Bush simply have a difference of opinion. Kerry feels that if the stem cells are going to be destroyed anyway, why not use them for research and Bush stays his course in protecting life, even if it defies logic. They both came off as very believable in their opinions though and neither scored a victory on this subject.

Abortion – Toughest question of the night for Kerry. He handled it as well as he could explaining that while he may not believe in abortion, he could not legislate it and take away someone’s rights who does not share his beliefs. Bush stayed his course on his beliefs admirably. One could say that Bush certainly appeared more sincere.

Flip-Flopping – Kerry answered the critics decisively. He corrected the record to show the following attacks were baseless. One, Kerry explained that he has not changed his mind on No Child Left Behind; he simply wants the president to fund it, which he has not. Two, he has not changed his mind on the Patriot Act; he feels that John Ashcroft has abused it and it needs to be modified. Lastly, Kerry finally put this nonsense about the 87 billion behind him by explaining that he did not want to approve a 20 billion dollar “slush fund” for Halliburton and felt that Bush should repeal the tax cut for the top 1% to pay for it. Being fiscally conservative in a time of war is not being wishy-washy.

Importing Drugs from Canada – Kerry slammed Bush on this pointing out that Bush has had four years to do something about this and has not because he is in bed with the big drug companies. Bush had no answer for this and came off sounding weak at best and disingenuous at worst.

Overall, Kerry won on nearly all points. Bush sounded off his usual rehearsed rhetoric and also had the rudest moment of the night when he cut off the moderator and refused to let him decide the next follow up question by addressing the audience when he was not supposed to. The subject matter? Bush overran the moderator to rant about Kerry denigrating the coalition. Kerry nailed him on this too though by pointing out, “If Missouri, just given the number of people from Missouri who are in the military over there today, were a country, it would be the third largest country in the coalition, behind Great Britain and the United States.” Ouch.

11:17 AM  

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