Sunday, October 10, 2004


President Bush had a much better performance, winning on points.

Question by Question, Round by Round. 2 points go to whoever better answered the question. 1 point for each if it's a tie.

Q. Senator Kerry, after talking to several coworkers and family and friends, I asked the ones who said they were not voting for you why. They said that you were too wishy-washy. Do you have a reply for that?

Kerry: Said he supported Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind but had problems with them. Then said it's not wishy-washy to want people to have jobs. Well, duh.

Bush: "I can see why people at your workplace think he changes positions a lot. Because he does. He said he voted for the $87 billion, and voted against it right before he voted for it. That sends a confusing signal to people. He said he thought Saddam Hussein was a grave threat and now said it was a mistake to remove Saddam Hussein from power." Kerry is most often accused of being wishy-washy on Iraq. He didn't talk about it and Bush landed some punches. 2 points for Bush.

Score: Bush 2, Kerry 0.

Q. Mr. president, yesterday in a statement you admitted that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction but justified the invasion by stating, I quote, "He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and could have passed this knowledge to our terrorist enemies.'' Do you sincerely believe this to be a reasonable justification for invasion when this statement applies to so many other countries, including North Korea?

Bush: Made a good argument that Saddam was a "unique" threat who would give terrorists the WMD.

Kerry: Said Saddam was a threat but he would have done it differently. Fair enough.

Bush: Criticized "global test." Sanctions didn't work. 1 point.

Kerry: Sanctions did work. "The goal of the sanctions was not to remove Saddam Hussein. It was to remove the weapons of mass destruction." Um, whatever. 1 point.

Score: Bush 3, Kerry 1.

Q. Senator Kerry, the U.S. is preparing a new Iraq government and will proceed to withdraw U.S. troops. Would you proceed with the same plans as President Bush?

Kerry: "Now I have to tell you, I would do something different. I would reach out to our allies in a way that this president hasn't."

Bush: "He talks about a grand idea. Let's have a summit. We're going to solve the problem in Iraq by holding a summit. And what is he going to say to those people that show up to the summit? Join me in the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place? Risk your troops in a war you've called a mistake?" Righto.

Kerry: Forget Iraq, we should only be fighting in Afghanistan.

Bush: "it's a fundamental misunderstanding to say that the war on terror is only Osama bin Laden." Osama is not the only terorrist! 2 points.

Score: Bush 5, Kerry 1.

Q. Thank you. Mr. president. My mother and sister traveled abroad this summer. And when they got back they talked to us about how shocked they were at the intensity of aggravation that other countries had with how we handled the Iraq situation. Diplomacy is obviously something that we have to really work on. What is your plan to repair relations with other countries given the current situation?

Bush: Mentioned Reagan's unpopularity in Europe. Mentioned his own unpopular decisions on Iraq, Israel, International Criminal Court, and that he's not out to win popularity contest.

Kerry: Didn't answer question but talked about how we don't have enough troops in Iraq.

Bush: Was on the defensive and answered Kerry's troop levels charge - didn't try to continue his good argument of not trying to win "popularity contest." 1 point.

Kerry: Criticized handling of war, but never mentioned how to improve relations. 1 point.

Score: Bush 6, Kerry 2.

Q. Iran sponsors terrorism and has missiles capable of hitting Israel and southern Europe. Iran will have nuclear weapons in two to three years time. In the event that U.N. sanctions don't stop this threat what will you do as president?

Kerry: "I don't think you can just rely on U.N. sanctions, Randee. But you're absolutely correct. It is a threat. It's a huge threat." Then Kerry talked about North Korea and Russia's weapons. The said, "And the president is moving to the creation of our own bunker-busting nuclear weapon. It's very hard to get other countries to give up their weapons when you're busy developing a new one." 1 point.

Bush: "That's a great question about Iran. That's why in my speech to the Congress I said there's an axis of evil, Iraq, Iran and North Korea." But, didn't say much on Iran, either. 1 point.

Score: Bush 7, Kerry 3.

Q. Mr. president, since we continue to police the world, how do you intend to maintain a military presence without reinstituting a draft?

Bush: "We're not going to have a draft, period. The all-volunteer Army works." Bush mentioned better benefits for military personnel and troop movements in Korea and Europe.

Kerry: Mentioned several military generals who support him. Credited Reagan for building alliances even though he was always critical of Reagan.

Bush: This is where Bush swiped Charlie Gibson's attempt to ask a follow-up question. A great moment of the president taking charge. 2 points.

Kerry: Said countries are leaving the coalition. Kerry can't accuse president of planning to implement draft. Draft issue is dodging Bush but president did a better job than Kerry on this question.

Score: Bush 9, Kerry 3.

Q. Senator Kerry, we have been fortunate that there have been no further terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. Why do you think this is? And if elected, what will you do to assure our safety?

Kerry: Said we have to have the "best intelligence in the world." Blamed president for failing on Homeland Security and pursuing tax cuts.

Bush: Mentioned increased Homeland Security funding, Kerry's record on intelligence cuts, and touted the Patriot Act.

Kerry: Mentioned tax cuts, again, as impediment to Homeland Security.

Bush: Talked about the spread of liberty in Afghanistan. Could have done a better job of touting his Administration's success in preventing terrorists attacks since 9/11. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 10, Kerry 4.

Q. Mr. President, why did you block the reimportation of safer and inexpensive drugs from Canada, which would have cut 40 to 60 percent off of the cost?

Bush: Wants to keep people safe, argueed for more generic drugs over brands.

Kerry: Said Bush promised drugs 4 years ago and that drugs are made in America. Talked about rising cost of Medicare.

Bush: Mentioned Clinton looked into safety, too. "Show me one accomplishment toward Medicare that he accomplished. I've been in Washington, D.C. three and a half years and led the Congress to reform Medicare so our seniors have got a modern health care system."

Kerry: Talked about government debt. Kerry was winning on the question, until the rebuttals. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 11, Kerry 5.

Q. Senator Kerry, you've stated your concern for the rising cost of health care. Yet you chose a vice presidential candidate who has made millions of dollars successfully suing medical professionals. How do you reconcile this with the voters?

Kerry: Didn't forcefully defend Edwards work as a lawyer. "I have a plan" to lower health-care costs.

Bush: Mentioned doctors who practice defensive medicine in order to prevent lawsuits.

Kerry: Came out in favor of limiting personal-injury awards.

Bush: "And he's put a trial lawyer on the ticket." He attacked Edwards, finally. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 12, Kerry 6.

Q. Mr. President, you have enjoyed a Republican majority in the House and Senate for most of your presidency. In that time you've not vetoed a single spending bill. Excluding $120 billion spent in Iran and - I'm sorry, Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been $700 billion spent and not paid for by taxes. Please explain how the spending you have approved and not paid for is better for the American people than the spending proposed by your opponent.

Bush: Highlighted inherited recession, war. Praised tax cuts. This was a good forceful answer from the president.

Kerry: Said he would raise taxes on the rich.

Bush: "Remember we ran up the child credit by 1,000, we reduced the marriage penalty, we created the 10-percent bracket. Everybody who pays taxes got relief. The recession was one of the shortest in our nation's history." 2 points for Bush.

Kerry: Said he would raise taxes on the rich. Yawn.

Score: Bush 14, Kerry 6.

Q. Thank you. Senator Kerry, would you be willing to look directly into the camera and using simple and unequivocal language give the American people your solemn pledge not to sign any legislation that will increase the tax burden on families earning less than $200,000 a year during your first term?

Kerry: "I am not going to raise taxes. I have a tax cut. And here's my tax cut. I raise the child care credit by $1,000 for families to help them be able to take care of their kids. I have a $4,000 tuition tax credit." A good and direct answer.

Bush: "And I suspect, given his record, he's going to raise taxes." That was a good counter-punch.

Kerry: Said he voted for balanced-budget amendments.

Bush: "I mean he's got a record. He's been there for 20 years. You can run but you can't hide." 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 15, Kerry 7.

Q. Mr. president, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist? What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition of our nation's air and water supply?

Bush: Off-road diesel engines. Improved wetlands. Brown-fields. Clear Skies law. Healthy Forest Bill. Hydrogen autos. "I guess you'd say I'm a good steward of the land. The quality of the air is cleaner since I've been the president." Great answer for a president not known for environmentalism.

Kerry: Talked about welfare reform. Huh? Then said Bush is going backwards on the environment. Poor answer for a Democratic candidate.

Bush: Spoke of Kyoto treaty but didn't say that Kerry voted against it.

Kerry: Said Bush didn't try to fix Kyoto treaty. Even though it took 10 years to make a flawed document? 2 surprising points for Bush.

Score: Bush 17, Kerry 7.

Q. Senator Kerry, how can the U.S. be competitive in manufacturing given -- in manufacturing, excuse me -- given the wage necessary and comfortably accepted for American workers to maintain the standard of living that they expect?

Kerry: Would close loopholes for American companies doing business overseas. Talked of Missouri healthcare problems. Energy independence.

Bush: Medical liability reform. Small businesses pool health-care costs. Medical savings accounts.

Kerry: Bush owns a timber company. (head scratching).

Bush: Small businesses suffer with tax hikes.

Score: Bush 18, Kerry 8.

Q. President Bush, 45 days after 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which takes away checks on law enforcement and weakens American citizens' rights and freedoms, especially Fourth Amendment rights. With expansions to the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, my question to you is, why are my rights being watered down and my citizens' around me? And what are the specific justifications for these reforms?

Bush: "As a matter of fact, the tools now given to the terrorist fighters are the same tools that we've been using against drug dealers and white-collar criminals."

Kerry: "Now that's not a flip-flop. I believe in the Patriot Act." Not a good answer for Kerry but each candidate gets a point.

Score: Bush 19, Kerry 9.

Q. Senator Kerry, thousands of people have already been cured or treated by the use of adult stem cells or umbilical cord stem cells. However, no one has been cured by using embryonic stem cells. Wouldn't it be wide to use stem cells obtained without the destruction of an embryo?

Kerry: "We have 100,000 to 200,000 embryos that are frozen in nitrogen today from fertility clinics. These weren't taken from abortion or something like that. They're from a fertility clinic." Mentioned celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve.

Bush: "Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of life to create a stem cell. I'm the first president ever to allow funding, federal funding, for embryonic stem cell research. I did so because I, too, hope that we'll discover cures from the stem cells and from the research derived." President Bush spoke eloquently of importance of both science and ethics.

Kerry: Said president is waffling for allowing some, but not other lines.

Bush: "The embryo had already been destroyed prior to my decision... I made the decision to balance science and ethics." This was one of Bush's best answers. 2 points for Bush.

Score: Bush 21, Kerry 9.

Q. Mr. president, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who do you choose and why?

Bush: What was up with the Dred Scott reference? It was strange how he mangled this question.

Kerry: "what kind of Justice Department you'll have, whether we'll enforce the law. Will we have equal opportunity? Will women's rights be protected? Will we have equal pay for women, which is going backwards? Will a woman's right to choose be protected? These are our constitutional rights." This lawyer made a good answer. Nice Potter Stewart reference. 2 points for Kerry.

Score: Bush 21, Kerry 11.

Q. Senator Kerry, suppose you're speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder, and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?

Kerry: "And that means being smart about allowing people to be fully educated, to know what their options are in life and making certain that you don't deny a poor person the right to be able to have whatever the Constitution affords them if they can't afford it otherwise." In other words, he favors federal funding for abortions.

Bush: "Trying to decipher that. My answer is we're not going to spend federal - taxpayers' money on abortion." Spoke of partial-birth abortion law and parental notification. "These are reasonable ways to help promote a culture of life in America."

Kerry: "Well, again, the president just said categorically my opponent's against this, my opponents against that. You know, it's just not that simple."

Bush: "It's pretty simple when they say are you for a ban on partial birth abortion? Yes or no. And he was given a chance to vote. And he voted no. And that's just the way it is." Kerry was uncomfortable with this question, Bush was again more comfortable talking about "culture of life" issues. 2 points for Bush.

Score: Bush 23, Kerry 11.

Q. President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision and what you did to correct it. Thank you.

Bush: "The big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq... when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about." That was a great way of getting to the heart of the question. Only mistakes he did mention were political appointments.

Kerry: "Was this really going to war as a last resort?" Slammed Bush on way of going about on Iraq.

Bush: "And then issued one of the most amazing quotes in political history: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it. Saddam Hussein was a risk to our country, Ma'am."

Kerry: "I made a mistake in the way I talked about it. He made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is a worse decision? Now I voted the way I voted because I saw that he had the policy wrong. And I wanted accountability." Kerry was put on defensive for that $87 billion vote. Both handled the question well, 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 24, Kerry 12.

Q. That's going to conclude the questioning. We're going to go now to closing statements. Two minutes from each candidate. And the first closing statement goes to Senator Kerry. I believe that was the agreement.

Kerry: No veto power for other countries. Build alliances. Plan for peace in Iraq. Health care plan. Be fiscally responsible.

Bush: "Been through a recession, corporate scandals, war. And yet think about where we are: added 1.9 million new jobs for the past 13 months. The farm income in America's high. Small businesses are flourishing. Home ownership rate is at an all-time high in America. We're on the move." 1 point for each.


Washington Post: Debate Transcript


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