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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debate Open Thread

Posted by DavidNYC

Unfortunately, I'll be missing the debate because I'll be on a train up to New York for some callback interviews tomorrow. But use this as an open thread to discuss tonight's debate. And as I said earlier, sign up for the Democrats' rapid response media network if you haven't yet.

Posted at 06:51 PM in General | Technorati


I had no idea you were missing the whole thing cause of that train ride. That's awful.

Don't worry, I can run it down for you.

Kerry challenged Bush on Iraq - he smirked and said terrorist, 9/11, word of a mad-man...

Bush called Kerry a flip-flopper on Iraq - Kerry responds about giving W. permission to carry a loaded gun, not shoot ourselves in the foot with it.

Debate ends.

Kerry looks like an oompa loompa
W. shows steady leadership
Kerry has bad posture
Security moms undecided, looking forward to next 2 debates.
Kerry is orange.


Posted by: ttagaris at September 30, 2004 08:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well, round one of the debates is over, and I don't see how anybody can say that Kerry didn't win it. Kerry seemed more poised and sure of himself than Bush, and I thought he got his message out in the way that he desparately needed to. And to think this debate was supposed to be Bush's area if strength. The polls over the next several days will be most interesting, won't they? Surely, the race has got to tighten up after this evening.

Posted by: pepe at September 30, 2004 10:45 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I hate the Republicans when I got done watching the debate I went outside to find my yard signs stolen. These people are dirty little cowards and we HAVE TO BEAT THEM!

Posted by: David Trinh at September 30, 2004 10:48 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Yes, Bush looked pretty weak. He certainly had a much more challenging opponent than when he was debating Gore. Bush looked on the defensive and was often bumbling. Bush was saying obvious things to rally his base.

Kerry was decisive and in command. I think Kerry will pick up points from this debate. People know he's not the flip flopper he is portrayed as being. Kerry made good points about Bush's bad leadership.

People now know Kerry is for real.

Posted by: Rock_nj at September 30, 2004 10:51 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Pretty good, not a TKO but he did OK. Still, he missed the one about the vote against the $87 billion, that's hurting him and he could turn it it around by explaining it, and asking why Bush threatned a veto against taxing the $300K incomes and putting our money where our mouth is. Though he did ping W when he said Bush put them there without adequate armour in the first place. That's my spin!

Posted by: allen stewart at September 30, 2004 10:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Bush underachieved greatly in this debate. He seemed very annoyed and defensive.

Kerry had a solid performance. Kerry did what he needed to do. Show undecided voters that he can lead this country. The debate should be worth about +2 points for Kerry. I do not see a huge surge because a lot of the undecided voters will wait to see all three debates.

Posted by: DFuller at September 30, 2004 11:27 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry is obviously a better debater. Who said Kerry has bad posture, cause Bush has horrible posture (and a chimp skull.) Kerry responded to questions and to delivered counter-responses that made sense. Bush sounded like a broken record player.

Were I a democratic spin doctor you'd hear the following tomorrow:

"Core values don't win a war. The problem in Iraq isn't what we hope to accomplish--security,freedom, and democracy--it's how to accomplish those goals. The president never gave an account of what he indends to do for those goals. We'd like to see someone in the White House who can tell us something more enlightening than that his job is hard."

Posted by: lenhart at October 1, 2004 12:06 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry came across very well. He was upbeat and articulate, and he showed a good command of the issues. He did not make Gore's mistake of being patronizing, nor was he defensive.

Mistakes: saying that use of "pre-emptive strike" should have to satisfy a "global" standard -- this gave Bush the opportunity to say that he wouldn't leave American security to the rest of the world. Not a lot of eye contact with the camera -- didn't bother me, but one of the people I watched with noted it critically.

Strong points: made strong statements about Bush's errors in dealing with North Korea, particularly when recounting how Bush had abandoned prior arrangement, and that this was how things went really bad. (I don't even know if this is true or not, but he had concrete examples of what was being done and how it was keeping North Korea in line, and how Bush stopped doing it. And Bush didn't contest the account, perhaps because he didn't know if it was true or not either.) Strong, upbeat closing comments (in which he pointedly made eye contact, by the way).

Bush is not nearly as good a speaker. He went back to a lot of canned phrases again and again, most notably how "mixed messages" were inappropriate for leadership and -- in a mistake -- repeating several times John Kerry's accusation that Iraq was "the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time." About the third time he said it, I couldn't help but wonder if he finally understood.

Bush tried to humanize himself -- perhaps in response to the perception that he doesn't really understand death and loss -- by recounting meeting the widow of a soldier killed in Iraq. Seemed a little too canned for me, but it might sell.

The debate was certainly far better for Kerry than it was for Bush, both because Kerry came across better and because it filled in some blanks about who exactly John Kerry is and how he carries himself. With all the "flip-flop" propaganda out there, I expect a lot of people wondered if he really had the character to be President, and I think he looked like someone who certainly could be President.

Posted by: Marsden at October 1, 2004 12:27 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This was a slam dunk. Bush had every chance to put Kerry away and he wasn't fast on his feet. I guess this is why it took him seven minutes to decide it was time to stop reading to those kids.

Posted by: Reisling at October 1, 2004 01:07 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

My take on tonight's debate.

George W. Bush is steadfast in his belief that
1 + 1 equals 5.

John Kerry understands that 1+1 = 2 and points this out.

Bush throws a tantrum but he does it in a way that could confuse people who aren't listening carefully. It's like bush is saying: "But you said 6+3=9! You're flip-flopping."

Kerry won the debate hands down.

Why am I going to vote for Kerry? He acts like a statesman. He has clearly thought-out views about foreign policy. He bases decisions on facts and analysis, not fantasy.

I keep wondering why the Kerry Campaign doesn't point out that Bush's reasoning about Iraq, the economy, health care, and national security is based on the belief that 1+1=5.

Posted by: PaulG at October 1, 2004 01:40 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I must start out by saying I've never been a big fan of Kerry's -- I'll certainly vote for him, but I would have much preferred Dean or Edwards. I was also unimpressed by his convention speech (which is why I think he didn't get much of a bounce from Boston). However, I must say that I was quite stunned and impressed that Kerry really hit a home run in tonight's debate! Bush really did look somewhat frazzled. Though some undecided voters may say he's just a better debater and not change their mind, I'll be REAL surprised if he doesn't jump into the lead in the coming days.

[NOTE: The ONLY flaw I noticed was that I think Kerry said that NYC had to shut down its subways during the GOP convention -- I don't know WHERE he got that misinformation, but nobody seemed to pick up on it.]

Posted by: Jason at October 1, 2004 02:24 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

John Kerry articulated a powerful critique of George Bush's Iraq policies in very precise and clear language. Mr. Bush's agitated, talking-point laden defenses of his policies and performance just paled under the harsh light of critical scrutiny.

For me, the most telling moment was when George Bush slipped in a comment about needing to go to war in Iraq because "the enemy attacked us." John Kerry cooly pierced this haze of mendacity by reminding the audience that Osama bin Laden attacked America, acting from Afghanistan, not Saddam Hussein of Iraq. I had to gasp, "Exactly right." There were many such moments.

When NBC's post-debate focus group of undecided Ohio voters voted for Kerry to a person, I knew I was right. By the way, thank God NBC threw GOP operative Frank Luntz off of that project; it would have been utterly unethical given Luntz's history and current ties.

Posted by: Marc Lawrence at October 1, 2004 03:25 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I have to say that the one moment in the debate which may hurt Bush was when Jim Lehrer asked him if the cost of American lives in Iraq was worth it. Bush just stood for about five seconds frozen with a hint of fear on his face before he answered, as if to say that he wasn't sure if it was worth it (even though he did answer that it was worth it). That is going to be used so much within the Democratic spin machine, and rightfuly so.

Posted by: Dale at October 1, 2004 08:10 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I mean rightfully, not rightfuly

Posted by: Dale at October 1, 2004 08:30 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I thought Kerry clearly won -- and he must have, because as I was switching between the post-debate analyses on the various networks, they pretty much all thought Kerry had won -- and that includes even most of the talking heads on the Fox News Network.

Kerry missed some opportunities, but Bush gave the impression of a student lamely trying to get through being questioned by a teacher when he wasn't really prepared. He seemed unable to do anything except utter stock phrases pulled out of his stump speech.

I can now see why the Bush campaign didn't want the split-screen shots, because it constantly showed Bush looking irritated or peeved, like he resented anybody having the temerity to disagree with him. Also, during his answers, he frequently leaned on the podium, had awkwardly long pauses, and in other cosmetic respects.

Posted by: Gary at October 1, 2004 08:33 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The debate polls (good news / bad news)

Good news:

Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in the debate: John Kerry or George W. Bush? Kerry 53, Bush 37

3. How has your opinion of John Kerry been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Kerry more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much? More 46, Less 13

The bad news:

1. Was more likeable Kerry 41, Bush 48

2. Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job Kerry 37, Bush 54

3. Agreed with you more on the issues you care about Kerry 46, Bush 49

I do see how anyone could have thought Bush was more likeable during the debate. He acted very arrogant during the whole debate.

Posted by: DFuller at October 1, 2004 08:40 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I was pleasantly surprised last night. I was beginning to get worried about Kerry. He looked (and sounded) terrific. Kerry was a model of reasoned intelligence and stateman like behavior. Bush looked as though he was lost in the woods without a map or compass. I was shocked at how poorly Bush performed. Kerry had this thing won in from the very beginning. I am much more comfortable with him now.

Posted by: Jason at October 1, 2004 08:45 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Let's face it. Kerry needed to hit at least a triple last night to stay in the game. He did it. It wasn't quite a home run, but he pulled off the performance he needed to pull off to convince people that he could be President. The amazing thing about debates is that it allows voters to cut through all the media hype and campaign rhetoric and really see the person live and in color. Kerry past that test for sure. He showed people that he's for real. We're probably looking at a tied race again after last night's debate. Remember Reagan was lagging Carter before he had a chance to show himself in a debate, that's when people said this guy is for real.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 1, 2004 08:59 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

After a night's sleep, I think the debate was even stronger for Kerry than I did before.

Bush really does come across as the sort of person who is asked to leave the room when the grown-ups start talking, or even who leaves of his own accord when serious decisions need to be made. His discomfort during the debate makes me sorry for the poor man that he has to go through it twice more, and I suspect that in large regard he's still continuing the "phone it in" Presidency that he practiced before September 11, albeit now they have a room in the White House he has to stay in so it seems like he's on the job. Hopefully the White House has a good video library for him.

Kerry does not seem at all like someone who would rely on subordinates to make important decisions.

Posted by: Marsden at October 1, 2004 09:09 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Oh -- apparently Kerry's comment on the New York metro being shut down was wrong on specifics but not completely from left field: it was Boston's subway during the Democratic convention that was shut down.

No harm in "mistakenly" tagging it on the Republicans, eh? ;)

Posted by: Marsden at October 1, 2004 09:13 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry committed an error, but still won the game. I'm truly amazed at how overwhelmingly people think Kerry won the debate. It's rare to see such convergence of opinion in politics. I think even a lot of Kerry supporters would have conceeded if their candidate had put in a weak performance. But, Kerry supporters are reved up about last night's debate and it's the Bush supporters who are conceeding that Kerry was the winner last night.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 1, 2004 09:37 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I was very pleased with Kerry's solid performance and Bush's stumbling performance last night. I was about to have a cardiac arrest the half hour before the debate and the first half hour of the debate, but was able to relax when I noticed how strong Kerry appeared at every exchange while Bush seemed weaker with each passing moment. With that said, the expectations game is now set in accordance with the candidates' performance last night. People will expect Kerry to dominate in the second and third debates, and they'll expect Bush to be Kerry's floor mop. If this scenario doesn't play out and Bush is able to step over the low bar, the punditocracy will revert to 2000 mode and cheer Bush's "clear improvement" which will leave Kerry in the dust.

Kerry hit a triple, but not a homerun. We can't breathe easy yet, and I hope Kerry doesn't either.

Posted by: Mark at October 1, 2004 09:46 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This is the most optimistic I have felt about Kerry in quite some time. And coming from me, that surely counts for something! Let's face it, Kerry looked and acted more presidential than the president. Surely, no one overlooked that fact.

Posted by: Pepe at October 1, 2004 10:09 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry may not have hit a homer, but we can have confidence knowing that Kerry can upstage the President in front of the American people. As long as Kerry doesn't have any Gore-esque moments (sighing anyone?) he should come out of the debates looking good. But I do fear what Karl Rove might do. It's situations like this that he turns into a raving animal that smells red meat. Kerry better watch his step...

By the way, did anyone hear when Bush said that 100,000 troops were being trained in Iraq? The AP says only 4,200 are being trained. On top of that, I also heard somewhere that the desertion rate of the Iraqi army is somewhere around 75%. Bush needs to get his facts straight if he wants to look good in front of people.

Posted by: Dale at October 1, 2004 10:15 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Someone confirm that, please

Posted by: Dale at October 1, 2004 10:16 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

bush was so bad it was embarrasing
but still i doubt you will see much movement, people seem to want a president who is dumber than they are.the next debate could be a problem for kerry in connecting with voters but also bush may have a problem with substance.it may all come down to the last debate and i expect bush to do better in that one.

Posted by: JOEL at October 1, 2004 10:21 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Iraqi recruits are being killed before they even make it to training. I doubt there's anywhere near 100,000 in training. This whole Iraq invasion has been half-baked from the start. The Iraqis are just doing what any country naturally does, resist an invasion and occupation. I think our "leaders" thought the resistence would wither without Saddam, but it seems to be more like we've awakened a sleeping giant and people who weren't free under Saddam want their freedom now and want the U.S. to leave.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 1, 2004 10:39 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry will not make the same mistakes as Al Bore. Gore just didn't have the temperment for debating. Kerry is an excellent debater. He didn't make any rookie mistakes last night. He looked like a college pro. Kerry won't make the same mistakes as Bore/Gore.

Remember, foreign policy is suppossed to be Bush's strong suit. Republicans in general are a foreign policy based party. They do an amazing job of getting the American people to focus on foreign policy matters. Bush was suppossed to be on solid ground last night and Kerry proved he wasn't. The next debates can't get any worse for Kerry. Perhaps Bush will be a bit more polished. But, Kerry will have the upper hand on the issues.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 1, 2004 10:43 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The "100,000 trained Iraqis" is pretty much an outright lie. A pretty good overview is given at http://www.ericumansky.com/2004/09/shocker_bush_li.html

Posted by: Marsden at October 1, 2004 10:45 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Actually, I don't think the split screen violated the agreement. The agreement said no cutaways...a split screen is not a cutaway. I cut away is a different shot while another person is talking...The split screen shows the both at once.

D Fuller - Who conducted that poll?

Posted by: Michael at October 1, 2004 10:52 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment



Posted by: DFuller at October 1, 2004 11:34 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It figures, Gallup tends to oversample Republicans. Not surpsing that they're results came out that way. What is surprising is the fact that USA Today would endorse such a biased survey by printing it in their pages.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 1, 2004 12:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I am a Republican who Will still vote for Bush,but Man... what the heck happened to our leader.I felt bad for him because he seemed unprepared.

Kerry had facts,figures and a stern serious demeanor and that is coming from someone who despises the liberal democratic ideals.

Posted by: Mark Campagna at October 1, 2004 12:47 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark C, Thanks for being honest.

The debates come down to this simple fact. They aren't going to sway many people who are already in one camp or the other, like yourself. You have your reasons for voting the way you do and supporting Bush. But, the debates can be very important in swaying undecided voters who haven't figured out who to support. Also, the debates allow candidates to cut through the media hype and the negative stereotypes that are perpetuated by the other campaign. I think this is where Kerry really came out the winner in last night's debate. He had been stereotyped as a flip/fopper and undetermined. Voters seeing Kerry for the first time last night, saw a whole other side of him. They saw a strong and decisive person.

It is those undecideds who will decide the winner of this race. In an amazingly evenly split political climate like that which exists in America today, a sway of a few percent in undecided or independent voters can have huge results on election night. Kerry scored points with the undecideds. Two more debates to go.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 1, 2004 01:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Republicans have been in denial about Bush for a very long time. They spin all of his shortcoming into positives and then brainwash the public into thing everything is great about Mr. Bush. I was shocked last night to see that they were grasping for ways to spin Bush performance in a positive light. They were at such a lost to do this because Kerry had done such an excellent job and Bush had done so poorly.

I always thought Gore won the debates in 2000, but after the mighty spin doctors got finished, they had the public thinking Bush had won. Because of Kerry's strong performance it was just too difficult a task to convience anyone, who watched the debates, that Bush had won. I never thought I would ever see the day that Republicans would come out of denial even for a second.

Posted by: Barbs at October 1, 2004 01:56 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Bush fumbles around for 90 minutes and the spin doctors say it is because he was being sincere in his answers. He seemed to be very arrogant last night. He was very impatient while Kerry was speaking and kept smirking at Kerry. His demeanor and speech was putting off the message that he thought Kerry was a waste of his time. He was very defensive and basically his entire debate theme was how dare you question me.

Posted by: DFuller at October 1, 2004 02:22 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

No spin doctor can convince me that Bush out-performed Kerry last night. It wasn't just what was said, but the body language and facial expressions. Kerry was far more presidential in his words and demeanor.

That said, I think it's still an uphill battle for Kerrry, but a little less so that it was before last night. I'm more optimistic than I have been in many weeks. The problem is that there are so very few truly undecided voters left. In fact, I personally don't know anyone who hasn't already made up their mind--do any of you? Where in heaven's name are all of these undecided voters and how do the pollsters find them?

Posted by: pepe at October 1, 2004 05:56 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Did you notice during the debate that Kerry made references to Ohio and Cincinnati? Ohio is definitely the most important battleground state.

Rasmussen and CNN/Gallup have Kerry ahead of Bush in Ohio. Watch that lead grow until the election. Ohio is turning blue!

All of the above being stated, I'm really looking forward to the other debates. An impressive debate performance will change voters' minds.

My thoughts on the debate: Bush was pathetic, scripted, exasperated, annoyed, tired, and, honestly, he will be happier retired on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Posted by: Shar at October 1, 2004 10:13 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Good News: Rasmussen's latest poll shows Kerry making ground in OH: it's now tied.

Bad News: Rasmussen's lates poll show Bush making ground in MI: it's now tied. This is the first time I can remember MI being anything but blue.

My gut feeling is that OH will wind up going for Bush again, and MI will wind up going for Kerry.

Posted by: pepe at October 2, 2004 08:05 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The first debate is the most widely watched debate. The Bushies thought foreing policy would be his strong card to play. They were wrong! Kerry will win the next two debates. He couldn't have started off October in a better way. It will probably come down to voter turnout on election day.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 2, 2004 09:20 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

TN is suprisingly close in a Ramussen poll. I think Bush wins TN, but Kerry holding close there is significant.

Tennessee: Bush 49% Kerry 43%

Survey of 500 Likely Voters

September 16-29, 2004

Tennessee 2004

Presidential Ballot

Bush 49%
Kerry 43%
Other 3%
Not Sure 5%

October 1, 2004--Tennessee was home to the Democrats' Presidential Nominee four years ago. This year, it's next door to the home state of the Democrats' Vice Presidential nominee. Despite those ties to the Democratic ticket, Tennessee's Electoral Votes went to the Republicans four years ago and appear ready to do so again in Election 2004.

President Bush leads Senator Kerry in Indiana by a margin of 49% to 43% in the latest Rasmussen Reports survey. When "leaners" are included, that lead grows to eight points, Bush 52% to Kerry 44%.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 2, 2004 11:04 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

RE: Bush's weird facial tics -- side-effects of drugs.

I got this nugget from a pro-Bush, Vietnam Vet Marine lifer -- who's beginning to see the light(God Bless, Devil Dog, or is now Desperate Dawg?)

"For the uninformed, the answer is -

Triavil is used to treat anxiety, agitation, and depression. Triavil is a combination of a tricyclic antidepressant (amitriptyline) and a tranquilizer (perphenazine).

Triavil can also help people with schizophrenia (distorted sense of reality) who are depressed and people with insomnia, fatigue, loss of interest, loss of appetite, or a slowing of physical and mental reactions."

Posted by: Ralph at October 2, 2004 12:17 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

i have lived in michigan my whole life, there is NO way we have to worry about bush winning michigan, even in some of the republican rural areas bush is doing very poorly due to job losses. Kerry will win michigan by at least 5 points.

Posted by: kevin at October 2, 2004 02:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


I know what you're saying. Humans are creatures of habit. It takes generations for states to change their voting habits. Despite close polls in Kerry Leaning states like MI, PA, NJ, MD and close polls in Bush leanings states like CO, WV, AR, MO, in the end the states are likely to vote the way they have in the recent past.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 2, 2004 02:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Just because Bush took Ohio by a scant 3.8% margin doesn't mean that he will win the state again. Clinton took Ohio in 1992 and in 1996.

Remember, too, that Gore pulled out of Ohio one month before the 2000 election. If he had stayed, that 3.8% might have been narrower.

It's a very close race in Ohio and Kerry wins Ohio, unless the election is rigged in some way by the Republicans.

Posted by: Shar at October 2, 2004 04:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Fuel for tonight's debate fire:

A) Paul Bremer on Iraq:

"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness,"

"We never had enough troops on the ground"

B) Job cuts highest since January as Job Recession continues:

"Challenger, Gray & Christmas said employers announced 107,863 layoffs in September, 41% more than in September 2003 and 45% more than in August of this year, when 74,150 were laid off."

"The September figure brings third-quarter job cuts to 251,585, 20% more than the 209,895 in the previous quarter and 4% more than the 241,548 for the third quarter of 2003."

3) Oil prices hit record high of $50.91 / barrel.

Posted by: DFuller at October 5, 2004 12:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment