Thursday, October 14, 2004


10/13 Reuters: BUSH 46, Kerry 45
10/13 Washington Post: Bush 48, KERRY 49
10/13 TIPP: BUSH 47, Kerry 44
10/12 CBS: BUSH 48, Kerry 45
10/12 ICR: BUSH 48, Kerry 43
10/11 CNN: Bush 48, KERRY 49



President Bush had a good performance, winning on points.

President George W. Bush won the last debate with John Kerry - but it was a close contest based on points. I think that President Bush gave his best performance at the 2nd debate in St. Louis. But, many pundits believe that Bush gave his best showing at the 3rd debate in Tempe.

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

Senator, I want to set the stage for this discussion by asking the question that I think hangs over all of our politics today and is probably on the minds of many people watching this debate tonight. And that is will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?

Kerry: "That's not good enough. People who fly on airplanes today, the cargo hold is not X-rayed, but the baggage is. That's not good enough. Firehouses don't have enough firefighters in them. Police officers are being cut from the streets of America because the president decided to cut the cops program. So we can do a better job of homeland security. I can do a better job of waging a smarter, more effective war on terror and guarantee that we go after the terrorists."

Bush: "In other words, in order to make sure we're secure there must be a comprehensive plan. My opponent just this weekend talked about how terrorism can be reduced to a nuisance, comparing it to prostitution, illegal gambling. I think that attitude and that point of view is dangerous."

Kerry: Bush wasn't concerned enough about Osama bin Laden.

Bush: Said he's concerned about OBL, but never countered the 'Tora Bora' charge.

Analysis: Kerry gave a more detailed, analytical response. Bush's was tentative and didn't hit Kerry enough on the "terrorism as nuisance" comment. 2 points for Kerry.

Score: Bush 0, Kerry 2.

Mr. President, to you. We're talking about protecting ourselves from the unexpected, but the flu season is suddenly upon us, flu kills thousands of people every year, suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?

Bush: Said, twice, that young people shouldn't get a flu shot. His worst answer of the night.

Kerry: "This really underscores the problem with the American health care system. It's not working for the American family. And it's gotten worse under President Bush over the course of the last years. Five million Americans have lost their health insurance in this country." Kerry then proceeded to give out even more facts and figures.

Bush: "If every family in America signed up like the senator suggested it would cost us five trillion dollars over 10 years. It's an empty promise. It's called bait and switch."

Kerry: "It's really interesting because the president used that very plan as a reason for seniors to accept his prescription drug plan. He said, if it's good enough for their congressmen and senators to have choice, seniors ought to have choice."

Analysis: Bush fumbled this question, and Kerry ran with it. 2 points for Kerry.

Score: Bush 0, Kerry 4.

Senator Kerry, a new question. Let's talk about economic security. You pledged during the last debate that you would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 a year. But the price of everything is going up and we all know it. Health care costs, as you all are talking about, is skyrocketing, the cost of the war. My question is how can you or any president, whoever is elected next time, keep that pledge without running this country deeper into debt and passing on more of the bills that we're running up to our children?

Kerry: "I'll tell you exactly how I can do it, by reinstating what President Bush took away, which is called pay as you go. During the 1990's, we had pay-as-you-go rules."

Bush: "He talks about being a fiscal conservative or fiscally sound but he voted 277 times to waive the budget caps, which would have cost the taxpayers $4.2 trillion."

Analysis: Both fought hard on this issue, 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 1, Kerry 5

Mr. President. Two minutes. And let's continue on jobs. You know there are all kind of statistics out there, but I want to bring it down to an individual. Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

Bush: "And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college."

Kerry: "I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education principally. Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country. This president has take a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see. Health care costs for the average American have gone up 64 percent. Tuitions have gone up 35 percent."

Analysis: I didn't like the way Bush answered this question. This is one of those "does he care about people like you" questions and the president gave a technical answer that focused solely on education and not jobs. Kerry would have would the question had he not compared George Bush to Tony Soprano.

Score: Bush 2, Kerry 6

Senator Kerry, two minutes, and it's still on jobs. You know, many experts say that a president really doesn't have much control over jobs. For example, if someone invents a machine that does the work of five people, that's progress. That's not the president's fault. So I ask you is it fair to blame the administration entirely for this loss of jobs?

Kerry: "I'm going to fight for a fair trade playing field for the American worker. And I will fight for the American worker just as hard as I fight for my own job. That's what the American worker wants. And if we do that, we can have an impact."

Bush: "The way my opponent talks, he said we're going to spend the government's money. No, we're spending your money."

Kerry: "I have supported or voted for tax cuts over 600 times. I broke with my party in order to balance the budget, and Ronald Reagan signed into law the tax cut that we voted for."

Bush: "Senator, no one's playing with your votes. You voted to increase taxes 98 times."

Analysis: Kerry spoke more in generalities. Bush was more impassioned. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 3, Kerry 7

Mr. President, let's get back to economic issues but let's shift to some other questions here. Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

Bush: "You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know. I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity." "I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I think it's very important that we protect marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. I proposed a constitutional amendment."

Kerry: "We're all God's children, Bob, and I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as."

Analysis: Bush gave a good answer and Kerry made a shameful reference to Mary Cheney. 2 points for Bush, -2 points for Kerry.

Score: Bush 5, Kerry 5

Senator Kerry a new question for you. The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem call research. What is your reaction to that?

Kerry: "Now I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade. The president has never said whether or not he would do that. But we know from the people he's tried to appoint to the court he wants to."

Bush: "What I'm saying is that as we promote life and promote a culture of life, surely there are ways we can work together to reduce the number of abortions. Continue to promote adoption laws - that's a great alternative to abortion. Continue to fund and promote maternity group homes. I will continue to promote abstinence programs."

Analysis: Kerry talked about his Catholic faith, Bush talked about "culture of life." 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 6, Kerry 6

Mr. President, let's have a new question. It goes to you and let's get back to economic issues. Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four years, according to The Washington Post. We're paying more, we're getting less. I would like to ask you who bears responsibility for this? Is it the government, is it the insurance companies, is it the lawyers, is it the doctors, is it the administration?

Bush: "It's one of the reasons I'm a strong believer in what they call health savings accounts. These are accounts that allow somebody to buy a low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic plan and couple it with tax-free savings. Secondly, I do believe the lawsuits - I don't believe, I know that the lawsuits are causing health care costs to rise in America."

Kerry: "But rather than help you, the taxpayer, have lower costs, rather than help seniors have less expensive drugs, the president made it illegal, illegal for Medicare to actually go out and bargain for lower prices. Result, $139 billion windfall profit to the drug companies coming out of your pockets."

Bush: "He's been in the United States for 20 years, he has no record on reforming of health care, no record at all. He introduced some 300 bills, and he's passed five."

Kerry: "But more importantly, with respect to the question of no record I help write, I did write, I was one of the original authors of the early childhood health care and the expansion of health care that we did in the middle of the 1990's."

Analysis: Bush finally put Kerry on the defensive and it was on health-care. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 7, Kerry 7

Senator Kerry. And again let's stay on health care. You have, as you have proposed and as the president has commented on tonight, proposed a massive plan to extend health care coverage to children. You're also talking about the government picking up a big part of the catastrophic bills that people get at the hospital. And you have said that you can pay for this by rolling back the president's tax cut on the upper 2 percent.

Kerry: "We take over Medicaid children from the states so that every child in America is covered. And in exchange, if the states want to - they're not forced to, they can choose to - they cover individuals up to 300 percent of poverty. It's their choice. I think they'll choose it because it's a net plus of $5 billion to them."

Bush: "The Lewin Report accurately noted that there are going to be 20 million people - over 20 million people added to government-controlled health care. Be the largest increase in government health care ever. If you raise the Medicaid to 300 percent, it provides an incentive for small businesses not to provide private insurance to their employees.

Kerry: "The president just said that government-run health care results in poor quality. Now maybe that explains why he hasn't fully funded the V.A., and the V.A. hospital is having trouble and veterans are complaining."

Bush: "We've increased V.A. funding by $22 billion in the four years since I've been president. That's twice the amount that my predecessor increased V.A. funding. Of course we're meeting our obligations to our veterans. And the veterans know that."

Analysis: Bush attacked Kerry's liberal health-care policy. 2 points for Bush.

Score: Bush 9, Kerry 7

Mr. President, the next question is to you. We all know that Social Security's running out of money and it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that's going to mean finding a trillion dollars over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being set up. So where do you get the money? Are you going to have to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?

Bush: "I believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account... But I want to warn my fellow citizens the cost of doing nothing, the cost of saying the current system is O.K. far exceeds the cost of trying to make sure we save the system for our children."

Kerry: "You just heard the president say that young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and put it in their own accounts. Now, my fellow Americans, that's an invitation to disaster."

Analysis: Kerry gave standard Democratic "Mediscare" talking points. 2 points for Bush.

Score: Bush 11, Kerry 7

Let me just stay on Social Security with a new question for Senator Kerry because, Senator Kerry, you have just said you will not cut benefits. Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, says there's no way that Social Security can pay retirees what we have promised them unless we recalibrate. What he's suggesting: We're going to have to cut benefits or we're going to have to raise retirement age. We may have to take some other reform. But if you've just said you've promised no changes, does that mean you're just going leave this as a problem, another problem for our children to resolve?

Kerry: "Now Alan Greenspan, who I think has done a terrific job in monetary policy, supports the president's tax cut. I don't... Now we can do that. Now if, later on after a period of time, we find that Social Security is in trouble, we'll pull together the top experts of the country, we'll do exactly what we did in the 1990's, and we'll make whatever adjustment is necessary."

Bush: "I didn't hear any plan to fix Social Security. I heard more of the same."

Analysis: Kerry boxed himself in, this is one of his worst answers.

Score: Bush 13, Kerry 7

Mr. President, I got more e-mail this week on this question than any other question, and it is about immigration. I'm told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know; some believe it's an economic issue; some see it as a human rights issue. How do you see it, and what do we need to do about it?

Bush: "I see it as a serious problem. I see it as a security issue. I see it as an economic issue, and I see it as a human rights issue. We're increasing the border security of the United States. We've got 1,000 more Border Patrol agents on the Southern border. We're using new equipment, we're using unmanned vehicles to spot people coming across. And we'll continue to do so over the next four years. It's a subject I'm very familiar with. After all, I was a border governor for a while."

Kerry: "And thirdly, we need an earned legalization program for people who've been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes and their kids are American. We've got to start moving them towards full citizenship out of the shadows."

Bush: "Well, to say that the borders are not as protected as they were prior to Sept. 11 shows he doesn't know the borders. They're much better protected today than they were when I was the governor of Texas."

Kerry: "There are huge delays. The fact is our borders are not as secure as they ought to be. And I'll make them secure."

Analysis: Both sides were equally forceful. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 14, Kerry 8

The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?

Kerry: "The minimum wage is the lowest minimum wage value it has been in our nation in 50 years. If we raise the minimum wage, which I will do over several years, to $7 an hour, 9.2 million women who are trying to raise their families would earn another $3,800 a year."

Bush: "You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem, and we weren't diagnosing problems and therefore just kids were being shuffled through the school."

Analysis: Bush was put on defensive by nature of question but barely addressed minimum wage issue. 2 points for Kerry.

Score: Bush 14, Kerry 10

Mr. President I want to go back to something Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of my own. He said, and this will be a new question to you, he said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I'd ask you directly would you like to?

Bush: "What he's asking me is will I have a litmus test for my judges. And the answer is no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution. But I'll have no litmus tests." (That was Bush's entire answer).

Kerry: "Well again, the president didn't answer the question. I'll answer it straight to America. I'm not going to appoint a judge to the court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment or the Fifth Amendment or some other right that's given under our courts today under the Constitution." Kerry then went on to talk about the plight of minorities, and the state of educational funding.

Bush: "Two things. One, he clearly has a litmus test for his judges, which I disagree with. And secondly, only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 percent increase in funding for education was not enough."

Kerry: "And certainly not so that the wealthiest people in America can walk away with another tax cut - $89 billion last year to the top 1 percent of Americans, but kids lost their after-school programs. You be the judge."

Analysis: Bush blew a golden opportunity to talk more about Kerry's liberal positions on issues like partial-birth abortion and parental notification. 2 points for Kerry.

Score: Bush 14, Kerry 12

Senator Kerry. You have two minutes, sir. Senator, the last debate President Bush said he did not favor a draft. You agreed with him. But our National Guard and Reserve forces are being severely strained because many of them are being held beyond their enlistments. Some of them say that it's a back-door draft. Is there any relief that could be offered to these brave Americans and their families? If you became president, Senator Kerry, what would you do about this situation, holding National Guard and Reservists for these extended periods of time and these repeated call-ups that they're now facing?

Kerry: "Our military is overextended. Nine out of 10 active duty Army divisions are either in Iraq, going to Iraq or have come back from Iraq. One way or the other, they're wrapped up in it. Now, I've proposed adding two active-duty divisions to the Armed Forces of the United States - one combat, one support." ... "I've said it before, I say it again: I believe the president broke faith with the American people in the way that he took this nation to war. He said he would work through the - a real alliance. He said in Cincinnati we would plan carefully, we would take every precaution. Well, we didn't."

Bush: "I work with allies. I work with friends. We'll continue to build strong coalitions. But I will never turn over our national security decisions to leaders of other countries. We'll be resolute, we'll be strong and we'll wage a comprehensive war against the terrorists."

Kerry: "But I think it makes sense, I think most Americans in their guts know, that we ought to pass a sort of truth standard. That's how you gain legitimacy with your own countrypeople and that's how you gain legitimacy in the world. But I'll never fail to protect the United States of America."

Bush: "In 1990 there was a vast coalition put together to run Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The international community, the international world said this is the right thing to do. But when it came time to authorize the use of force on the Senate floor, my opponent voted against the use of force. Apparently, you can't pass any test under his vision of the world."

Analysis: Kerry was winning the question until Bush FINALLY hit him on the vote against the 1991 Gulf War. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 15, Kerry 13

Mr. President, new question, two minutes. You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons that you'd sign the legislation. But you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?

Bush: "Actually, I made my intentions, my views clear. I did think we ought to extend the assault-weapons ban and was told the fact that the bill wasn't ever going to move."

Kerry: "If Tom DeLay or someone in the House said to me, Sorry, we don't have the votes, I'd have said, Then we're going to have a fight."

Analysis: Man, can Kerry talk. He talked about being a hunter and being a former prosecutor. 2 points for Kerry.

Score: Bush 15, Kerry 15

Senator Kerry, two minutes. Affirmative action: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor in school admissions and federal and state contracts and so on?

Kerry: "We used to, you know, we have a goal there for minority set-aside programs to try to encourage ownership in the country... And there were many people, like myself, who opposed quotas, who felt there were places were it was overreaching."

Bush: "Minority ownership of businesses are up because we created an environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong. I think - I believe part of a hopeful society is one in which somebody owns something. Today in America more minorities own a home than ever before. And that's hopeful. And that's positive."

Analysis: Kerry is for set-asides but against quotas...hmmm. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 16, Kerry 16

Mr. President, let's go to a new question. You were asked before the invasion or after the invasion of Iraq if you had checked with your dad. And I believe, I don't remember the quote exactly, but I believe you said you had checked with a higher authority. I would like to ask you what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?

Bush: "Prayer and religion sustain me. I receive calmness in the storms of the presidency. I love the fact that people pray for me and my family all around the country. Somebody asked me one time, how do you know? I said I just feel it."

Kerry: "The president and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of our faith."

Analysis: Bush's answer was more moving, but Kerry said nothing noteworthy nor offensive. 2 points for Bush.

Score: Bush 18, Kerry 16

Senator Kerry, after 9/11 - and this is a new question for you - it seemed to me that the country came together as I've never seen it come together since World War II. But some of that seems to have melted away. I think it's fair to say we've become pretty polarized, perhaps because of the political season. But if you were elected president - or whoever is elected president - will you set a priority in trying to bring the nation back together or what would be your attitude on that?

Kerry: "Over 20 years in the United States Senate, I've worked with John McCain, who's sitting here. I've worked with other colleagues. I've reached across the aisle."

Bush: "My opponent keeps mentioning John McCain, and I'm glad he did. John McCain is for me for president because he understands I have the right view in winning the war on terror and that my plan will succeed in Iraq, and my opponent has got a plan of retreat and defeat in Iraq."

Analysis: Neither one said how they can change tone in Washington. 1 point for each.

Score: Bush 19, Kerry 17

We've come gentlemen, to our last question. And it occurred to me as I came to this debate tonight that the three of us share something. All three of us are surrounded by very strong women. We're all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. I'd like to ask each of you what is the most important thing you've learned from these strong women?

Bush: "I love the strong women around me. I can't tell you how much I love my wife and our daughters.... And not only did she interest me, I guess you could say it was love at first sight."

Kerry: "Can I say, if I could just say a word about a woman that you didn't ask about, but my mom passed away a couple years ago. And just before I was deciding to run and she was in the hospital and I went in to talk to her and tell her what I was thinking of doing. And she looked at me from her hospital bed and she just looked at me and she said, "Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity."

Analysis: You never heard Kerry utter the word, "love." He spoke of admiration for Laura Bush but not his own wife. Bush gave a great answer. 2 points for Bush.

Score: Bush 21, Kerry 17

Well, gentlemen, that brings us to the closing statements. Senator Kerry, I believe you're first.

Kerry: "And I ask you to embark on that journey with me. I ask you for your trust. I ask you for your help. I ask you to allow me the privilege of leading this great nation of ours, of helping us to be stronger here at home and to be respected again in the world. And most of all, to be safer forever."

Bush: "I'm optimistic that we'll win the war on terror. But I understand it requires firm resolve and clear purpose. We must never waver in the face of this enemy, these ideologues of hate. And as we pursue the enemy wherever it exists we'll also spread freedom and liberty. We've got great faith in the ability of liberty to transform societies, to convert a hostile world to a peaceful world. My hope for America is a prosperous America, a hopeful America and a safer world. I want to thank you for listening tonight. I'm asking for your vote. God bless you."

Analysis: Kerry was on the attack the whole night so his closing statement struck a different tone. Bush's closing statement underlined his vision and leadership. 2 points for Bush.


NYTimes: Debate Transcript


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