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Presidential debate transcript / Comments

By tbragsda ·
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? 2004 Commission on Presidential Debates.

http://www.debates.org/

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Question 8

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question, Mr. President, two minutes. You have said there was a, quote, "miscalculation," of what the conditions would be in post-war Iraq. What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen?

BUSH: No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in.
But because Tommy Franks did such a great job in planning the operation, we moved rapidly, and a lot of the Baathists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared. I thought they would stay and fight, but they didn't.
And now we're fighting them now. And it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work.
And I'm optimistic. See, I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. I'm optimistic we'll achieve -- I know we won't achieve if we send mixed signals. I know we're not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens.
We've got a plan in place. The plan says there will be elections in January, and there will be. The plan says we'll train Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work, and we are.
And it's not only just America, but NATO is now helping, Jordan's helping train police, UAE is helping train police.
We've allocated $7 billion over the next months for reconstruction efforts. And we're making progress there.
And our alliance is strong. And as I just told you, there's going to be a summit of the Arab nations. Japan will be hosting a summit. We're making progress.
It is hard work. It is hard work to go from a tyranny to a democracy. It's hard work to go from a place where people get their hands cut off, or executed, to a place where people are free.
But it's necessary work. And a free Iraq is going to make this world a more peaceful place.

LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Senator Kerry.

KERRY: What I think troubles a lot of people in our country is that the president has just sort of described one kind of mistake. But what he has said is that, even knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, even knowing there was no imminent threat, even knowing there was no connection with Al Qaida, he would still have done everything the same way. Those are his words.
Now, I would not. So what I'm trying to do is just talk the truth to the American people and to the world. The truth is what good policy is based on. It's what leadership is based on.
The president says that I'm denigrating these troops. I have nothing but respect for the British, Tony Blair, and for what they've been willing to do.
But you can't tell me that when the most troops any other country has on the ground is Great Britain, with 8,300, and below that the four others are below 4,000, and below that, there isn't anybody out of the hundreds, that we have a genuine coalition to get this job done.
You can't tell me that on the day that we went into that war and it started -- it was principally the United States, the America and Great Britain and one or two others. That's it. And today, we are 90 percent of the casualties and 90 percent of the costs. And meanwhile, North Korea has got nuclear weapons. Talk about mixed messages. The president is the one that said, "We can't allow countries to get nuclear weapons." They have. I'll change that.

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Question 9

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question. Senator Kerry, two minutes. You just -- you've repeatedly accused President Bush -- not here tonight, but elsewhere before -- of not telling the truth about Iraq, essentially of lying to the American people about Iraq. Give us some examples of what you consider to be his not telling the truth.

KERRY: Well, I've never, ever used the harshest word, as you did just then. And I try not to. I've been -- but I'll nevertheless tell you that I think he has not been candid with the American people. And I'll tell you exactly how.
First of all, we all know that in his state of the union message, he told Congress about nuclear materials that didn't exist.
We know that he promised America that he was going to build this coalition. I just described the coalition. It is not the kind of coalition we were described when we were talking about voting for this.
The president said he would exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and go through that full process. He didn't. He cut if off, sort of arbitrarily.
And we know that there were further diplomatic efforts under way. They just decided the time for diplomacy is over and rushed to war without planning for what happens afterwards.
Now, he misled the American people in his speech when he said we will plan carefully. They obviously didn't. He misled the American people when he said we'd go to war as a last resort. We did not go as a last resort. And most Americans know the difference.
Now, this has cost us deeply in the world. I believe that it is important to tell the truth to the American people. I've worked with those leaders the president talks about, I've worked with them for 20 years, for longer than this president. And I know what many of them say today, and I know how to bring them back to the table.
And I believe that a fresh start, new credibility, a president who can understand what we have to do to reach out to the Muslim world to make it clear that this is not, you know -- Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq in order to go out to people and say that America has declared war on Islam.
We need to be smarter about now we wage a war on terror. We need to deny them the recruits. We need to deny them the safe havens. We need to rebuild our alliances.
I believe that Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy, and the others did that more effectively, and I'm going to try to follow in their footsteps.

LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Mr. President.

BUSH: My opponent just said something amazing. He said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn't going to determine how we defend ourselves.
Osama bin Laden doesn't get to decide. The American people decide.
I decided the right action was in Iraq. My opponent calls it a mistake. It wasn't a mistake.
He said I misled on Iraq. I don't think he was misleading when he called Iraq a grave threat in the fall of 2002.
I don't think he was misleading when he said that it was right to disarm Iraq in the spring of 2003.
I don't think he misled you when he said that, you know, anyone who doubted whether the world was better off without Saddam Hussein in power didn't have the judgment to be president. I don't think he was misleading.
I think what is misleading is to say you can lead and succeed in Iraq if you keep changing your positions on this war. And he has. As the politics change, his positions change. And that's not how a commander in chief acts.
Let me finish.
The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence my opponent looked at, the very same intelligence. And when I stood up there and spoke to the Congress, I was speaking off the same intelligence he looked at to make his decisions to support the authorization of force.

LEHRER: Thirty seconds. We'll do a 30 second here.

KERRY: I wasn't misleading when I said he was a threat. Nor was I misleading on the day that the president decided to go to war when I said that he had made a mistake in not building strong alliances and that I would have preferred that he did more diplomacy.
I've had one position, one consistent position, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a right way to disarm him and a wrong way. And the president chose the wrong way.

LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Mr. President.

BUSH: The only consistent about my opponent's position is that he's been inconsistent. He changes positions. And you cannot change positions in this war on terror if you expect to win.
And I expect to win. It's necessary we win.
We're being challenged like never before. And we have a duty to our country and to future generations of America to achieve a free Iraq, a free Afghanistan, and to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.

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Question 10

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Two minutes.
Has the war in Iraq been worth the cost of American lives, 1,052 as of today?
BUSH: You know, every life is precious. Every life matters. You know, my hardest -- the hardest part of the job is to know that I committed the troops in harm's way and then do the best I can to provide comfort for the loved ones who lost a son or a daughter or a husband or wife.
You know, I think about Missy Johnson. She's a fantastic lady I met in Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her son Bryan, they came to see me. Her husband PJ got killed. He'd been in Afghanistan, went to Iraq.
You know, it's hard work to try to love her as best as I can, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm's way.
I told her after we prayed and teared up and laughed some that I thought her husband's sacrifice was noble and worthy. Because I understand the stakes of this war on terror. I understand that we must find Al Qaida wherever they hide.
We must deal with threats before they fully materialize. And Saddam Hussein was a threat, and that we must spread liberty because in the long run, the way to defeat hatred and tyranny and oppression is to spread freedom.
Missy understood that. That's what she told me her husband understood. So you say, "Was it worth it?" Every life is precious. That's what distinguishes us from the enemy. Everybody matters. But I think it's worth it, Jim.
I think it's worth it, because I think -- I know in the long term a free Iraq, a free Afghanistan, will set such a powerful in a part of the world that's desperate for freedom. It will help change the world; that we can look back and say we did our duty.
LEHRER: Senator, 90 seconds.
KERRY: I understand what the president is talking about, because I know what it means to lose people in combat. And the question, is it worth the cost, reminds me of my own thinking when I came back from fighting in that war.
And it reminds me that it is vital for us not to confuse the war, ever, with the warriors. That happened before.
And that's one of the reasons why I believe I can get this job done, because I am determined for those soldiers and for those families, for those kids who put their lives on the line.
That is noble. That's the most noble thing that anybody can do. And I want to make sure the outcome honors that nobility.
Now, we have a choice here. I've laid out a plan by which I think we can be successful in Iraq: with a summit, by doing better training, faster, by cutting -- by doing what we need to do with respect to the U.N. and the elections.
There's only 25 percent of the people in there. They can't have an election right now.
The president's not getting the job done.
So the choice for America is, you can have a plan that I've laid out in four points, each of which I can tell you more about or you can go to johnkerry.com and see more of it; or you have the president's plan, which is four words: more of the same.
I think my plan is better.
And my plan has a better chance of standing up and fighting for those troops.
I will never let those troops down, and will hunt and kill the terrorists wherever they are.
LEHRER: All right, sir, go ahead. Thirty seconds.
BUSH: Yes, I understand what it means to the commander in chief. And if I were to ever say, "This is the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place," the troops would wonder, how can I follow this guy?
You cannot lead the war on terror if you keep changing positions on the war on terror and say things like, "Well, this is just a grand diversion." It's not a grand diversion. This is an essential that we get it right.
And so, the plan he talks about simply won't work.
LEHRER: Senator Kerry, you have 30 seconds. You have 30 seconds, right. And then the president.
KERRY: Secretary of State Colin Powell told this president the Pottery Barn rule: If you break it, you fix it.
Now, if you break it, you made a mistake. It's the wrong thing to do. But you own it. And then you've got to fix it and do something with it.
Now that's what we have to do. There's no inconsistency. Soldiers know over there that this isn't being done right yet. I'm going to get it right for those soldiers, because it's important to Israel, it's important to America, it's important to the world, it's important to the fight on terror.
But I have a plan to do it. He doesn't.

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Question 11

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: Speaking of your plan, new question, Senator Kerry. Two minutes.
Can you give us specifics, in terms of a scenario, time lines, et cetera, for ending major U.S. military involvement in Iraq?
KERRY: The time line that I've set out -- and again, I want to correct the president, because he's misled again this evening on what I've said. I didn't say I would bring troops out in six months. I said, if we do the things that I've set out and we are successful, we could begin to draw the troops down in six months.
And I think a critical component of success in Iraq is being able to convince the Iraqis and the Arab world that the United States doesn't have long-term designs on it.
As I understand it, we're building some 14 military bases there now, and some people say they've got a rather permanent concept to them.
When you guard the oil ministry, but you don't guard the nuclear facilities, the message to a lot of people is maybe, "Wow, maybe they're interested in our oil."
Now, the problem is that they didn't think these things through properly. And these are the things you have to think through.
What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of the Fallujahs and other places, and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders.
You've got to show you're serious in that regard. But you've also got to show that you are prepared to bring the rest of the world in and share the stakes.
I will make a flat statement: The United States of America has no long-term designs on staying in Iraq.
And our goal in my administration would be to get all of the troops out of there with a minimal amount you need for training and logistics as we do in some other countries in the world after a war to be able to sustain the peace.
But that's how we're going to win the peace, by rapidly training the Iraqis themselves.
Even the administration has admitted they haven't done the training, because they came back to Congress a few weeks ago and asked for a complete reprogramming of the money.
Now what greater admission is there, 16 months afterwards. "Oops, we haven't done the job. We have to start to spend the money now. Will you guys give us permission to shift it over into training?"
LEHRER: Ninety seconds.
BUSH: There are 100,000 troops trained, police, guard, special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end of this year. Yes, we're getting the job done. It's hard work. Everybody knows it's hard work, because there's a determined enemy that's trying to defeat us.
Now, my opponent says he's going to try to change the dynamics on the ground. Well, Prime Minister Allawi was here. He is the leader of that country. He's a brave, brave man. When he came, after giving a speech to the Congress, my opponent questioned his credibility.
You can't change the dynamics on the ground if you've criticized the brave leader of Iraq.
One of his campaign people alleged that Prime Minister Allawi was like a puppet. That's no way to treat somebody who's courageous and brave, that is trying to lead his country forward.
The way to make sure that we succeed is to send consistent, sound messages to the Iraqi people that when we give our word, we will keep our word, that we stand with you, that we believe you want to be free. And I do.
I believe that 25 million people, the vast majority, long to have elections.
I reject this notion -- and I'm suggesting my opponent isn't -- I reject the notion that some say that if you're Muslim you can't free, you don't desire freedom. I disagree, strongly disagree with that.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds.
KERRY: I couldn't agree more that the Iraqis want to be free and that they could be free.
But I think the president, again, still hasn't shown how he's going to go about it the right way. He has more of the same.
Now, Prime Minister Allawi came here, and he said the terrorists are pouring over the border. That's Allawi's assessment.
The national intelligence assessment that was given to the president in July said, best-case scenario, more of the same of what we see today; worst-case scenario, civil war.
I can do better.
BUSH: Yes, let me...
LEHRER: Yes, 30 seconds.
BUSH: The reason why Prime Minister Allawi said they're coming across the border is because he recognizes that this is a central part of the war on terror. They're fighting us because they're fighting freedom.
They understand that a free Afghanistan or a free Iraq will be a major defeat for them. And those are the stakes.
And that's why it is essential we not leave. That's why it's essential we hold the line. That's why it's essential we win. And we will. Under my leadership we're going to win this war in Iraq.

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Question 12

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: Mr. President, new question. Two minutes. Does the Iraq experience make it more likely or less likely that you would take the United States into another preemptive military action?
BUSH: I would hope I never have to. I understand how hard it is to commit troops. Never wanted to commit troops. When I was running -- when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I'd be doing that.
But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us.
I think that by speaking clearly and doing what we say and not sending mixed messages, it is less likely we'll ever have to use troops.
But a president must always be willing to use troops. It must -- as a last resort.
I was hopeful diplomacy would work in Iraq. It was falling apart. There was no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was hoping that the world would turn a blind eye.
And if he had been in power, in other words, if we would have said, "Let the inspectors work, or let's, you know, hope to talk him out. Maybe an 18th resolution would work," he would have been stronger and tougher, and the world would have been a lot worse off. There's just no doubt in my mind we would rue the day, had Saddam Hussein been in power.
So we use diplomacy every chance we get, believe me. And I would hope to never have to use force.
But by speaking clearly and sending messages that we mean what we say, we've affected the world in a positive way.
Look at Libya. Libya was a threat. Libya is now peacefully dismantling its weapons programs.
Libya understood that America and others will enforce doctrine and that the world is better for it.
So to answer your question, I would hope we never have to. I think by acting firmly and decisively, it will mean it is less likely we have to use force.
LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.
KERRY: Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, "The enemy attacked us."
Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaida attacked us. And when we had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, 1,000 of his cohorts with him in those mountains. With the American military forces nearby and in the field, we didn't use the best trained troops in the world to go kill the world's number one criminal and terrorist.
They outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who only a week earlier had been on the other side fighting against us, neither of whom trusted each other.
That's the enemy that attacked us. That's the enemy that was allowed to walk out of those mountains. That's the enemy that is now in 60 countries, with stronger recruits.
He also said Saddam Hussein would have been stronger. That is just factually incorrect. Two-thirds of the country was a no-fly zone when we started this war. We would have had sanctions. We would have had the U.N. inspectors. Saddam Hussein would have been continually weakening.
If the president had shown the patience to go through another round of resolution, to sit down with those leaders, say, "What do you need, what do you need now, how much more will it take to get you to join us?" we'd be in a stronger place today.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds.
BUSH: First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.
And secondly, to think that another round of resolutions would have caused Saddam Hussein to disarm, disclose, is ludicrous, in my judgment. It just shows a significant difference of opinion.
We tried diplomacy. We did our best. He was hoping to turn a blind eye. And, yes, he would have been stronger had we not dealt with him. He had the capability of making weapons, and he would have made weapons.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Senator.
KERRY: Thirty-five to forty countries in the world had a greater capability of making weapons at the moment the president invaded than Saddam Hussein. And while he's been diverted, with 9 out of 10 active duty divisions of our Army, either going to Iraq, coming back from Iraq, or getting ready to go, North Korea's gotten nuclear weapons and the world is more dangerous. Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons and the world is more dangerous. Darfur has a genocide.
The world is more dangerous. I'd have made a better choice.

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Question 13

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry.
What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war? KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.
No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.
But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global 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.
Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations.
I mean, we can remember when President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis sent his secretary of state to Paris to meet with DeGaulle. And in the middle of the discussion, to tell them about the missiles in Cuba, he said, "Here, let me show you the photos." And DeGaulle waved them off and said, "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."
How many leaders in the world today would respond to us, as a result of what we've done, in that way? So what is at test here is the credibility of the United States of America and how we lead the world. And Iran and Iraq are now more dangerous -- Iran and North Korea are now more dangerous.
Now, whether preemption is ultimately what has to happen, I don't know yet. But I'll tell you this: As president, I'll never take my eye off that ball. I've been fighting for proliferation the entire time -- anti-proliferation the entire time I've been in the Congress. And we've watched this president actually turn away from some of the treaties that were on the table.
You don't help yourself with other nations when you turn away from the global warming treaty, for instance, or when you refuse to deal at length with the United Nations.
You have to earn that respect. And I think we have a lot of earning back to do.
LEHRER: Ninety seconds.
BUSH: Let me -- I'm not exactly sure what you mean, "passes the global test," you take preemptive action if you pass a global test.
My attitude is you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure.
My opponent talks about me not signing certain treaties. Let me tell you one thing I didn't sign, and I think it shows the difference of our opinion -- the difference of opinions. And that is, I wouldn't join the International Criminal Court. It's a body based in The Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecutors can pull our troops or diplomats up for trial.
And I wouldn't join it. And I understand that in certain capitals around the world that that wasn't a popular move. But it's the right move not to join a foreign court that could -- where our people could be prosecuted.
My opponent is for joining the International Criminal Court. I just think trying to be popular, kind of, in the global sense, if it's not in our best interest makes no sense. I'm interested in working with our nations and do a lot of it. But I'm not going to make decisions that I think are wrong for America.

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Question 14

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Do you believe that diplomacy and sanctions can resolve the nuclear problems with North Korea and Iran? Take them in any order you would like.
BUSH: North Korea, first, I do. Let me say -- I certainly hope so. Before I was sworn in, the policy of this government was to have bilateral negotiations with North Korea.
And we signed an agreement with North Korea that my administration found out that was not being honored by the North Koreans.
And so I decided that a better way to approach the issue was to get other nations involved, just besides us. And in Crawford, Texas, Jiang Zemin and I agreed that the nuclear-weapons-free peninsula, Korean Peninsula, was in his interest and our interest and the world's interest.
And so we began a new dialogue with North Korea, one that included not only the United States, but now China. And China's a got a lot of influence over North Korea, some ways more than we do.
As well, we included South Korea, Japan and Russia. So now there are five voices speaking to Kim Jong Il, not just one.
And so if Kim Jong Il decides again to not honor an agreement, he's not only doing injustice to America, he'd be doing injustice to China, as well.
And I think this will work. It's not going to work if we open up a dialogue with Kim Jong Il. He wants to unravel the six- party talks, or the five-nation coalition that's sending him a clear message.
On Iran, I hope we can do the same thing, continue to work with the world to convince the Iranian mullahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions.
We worked very closely with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Great Britain, who have been the folks delivering the message to the mullahs that if you expect to be part of the world of nations, get rid of your nuclear programs.
The IAEA is involved. There's a special protocol recently been passed that allows for inspections.
I hope we can do it. And we've got a good strategy.
LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.
KERRY: With respect to Iran, the British, French, and Germans were the ones who initiated an effort without the United States, regrettably, to begin to try to move to curb the nuclear possibilities in Iran. I believe we could have done better. I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together. The president did nothing.
With respect to North Korea, the real story: We had inspectors and television cameras in the nuclear reactor in North Korea. Secretary Bill Perry negotiated that under President Clinton. And we knew where the fuel rods were. And we knew the limits on their nuclear power.
Colin Powell, our secretary of state, announced one day that we were going to continue the dialog of working with the North Koreans. The president reversed it publicly while the president of South Korea was here.
And the president of South Korea went back to South Korea bewildered and embarrassed because it went against his policy. And for two years, this administration didn't talk at all to North Korea.
While they didn't talk at all, the fuel rods came out, the inspectors were kicked out, the television cameras were kicked out. And today, there are four to seven nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea.
That happened on this president's watch.
Now, that, I think, is one of the most serious, sort of, reversals or mixed messages that you could possibly send.
LEHRER: I want to make sure -- yes, sir -- but in this one minute, I want to make sure that we understand -- the people watching understand the differences between the two of you on this.
You want to continue the multinational talks, correct?
BUSH: Right.
LEHRER: And you're willing to do it...
KERRY: Both. I want bilateral talks which put all of the issues, from the armistice of 1952, the economic issues, the human rights issues, the artillery disposal issues, the DMZ issues and the nuclear issues on the table.
LEHRER: And you're opposed to that. Right?
BUSH: The minute we have bilateral talks, the six-party talks will unwind. That's exactly what Kim Jong Il wants. And by the way, the breach on the agreement was not through plutonium. The breach on the agreement is highly enriched uranium. That's what we caught him doing. That's where he was breaking the agreement.
Secondly, he said -- my opponent said where he worked to put sanctions on Iran -- we've already sanctioned Iran. We can't sanction them any more. There are sanctions in place on Iran.
And finally, we were a party to the convention -- to working with Germany, France and Great Britain to send their foreign ministers into Iran.

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Question 15

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question, two minutes.
Senator Kerry, you mentioned Darfur, the Darfur region of Sudan. Fifty thousand people have already died in that area. More than a million are homeless. And it's been labeled an act of ongoing genocide. Yet neither one of you or anyone else connected with your campaigns or your administration that I can find has discussed the possibility of sending in troops.
Why not?
KERRY: Well, I'll tell you exactly why not, but I first want to say something about those sanctions on Iran.
Only the United States put the sanctions on alone, and that's exactly what I'm talking about.
In order for the sanctions to be effective, we should have been working with the British, French and Germans and other countries. And that's the difference between the president and me.
And there, again, he sort of slid by the question.
Now, with respect to Darfur, yes, it is a genocide. And months ago, many of us were pressing for action.
I think the reason that we're not saying send American troops in at this point is severalfold.
Number one, we can do this through the African Union, providing we give them the logistical support. Right now all the president is providing is humanitarian support. We need to do more than that. They've got to have the logistical capacity to go in and stop the killing. And that's going to require more than is on the table today.
I also believe that it is -- one of the reasons we can't do it is we're overextended.
Ask the people in the armed forces today. We've got Guards and Reserves who are doing double duties. We've got a backdoor draft taking place in America today: people with stop-loss programs where they're told you can't get out of the military; nine out of our 10 active duty divisions committed to Iraq one way or the other, either going, coming or preparing.
So this is the way the president has overextended the United States.
That's why, in my plan, I add two active duty divisions to the United States Army, not for Iraq, but for our general demands across the globe. I also intend to double the number of special forces so that we can do the job we need to do with respect fighting the terrorists around the world. And if we do that, then we have the ability to be able to respond more rapidly.
But I'll tell you this, as president, if it took American forces to some degree to coalesce the African Union, I'd be prepared to do it because we could never allow another Rwanda.
It's the moral responsibility for us and the world.
LEHRER: Ninety seconds.
BUSH: Back to Iran, just for a second.
It was not my administration that put the sanctions on Iran. That happened long before I arrived in Washington, D.C.
In terms of Darfur, I agree it's genocide. And Colin Powell so stated.
We have committed $200 million worth of aid. We're the leading donor in the world to help the suffering people there. We will commit more over time to help.
We were very much involved at the U.N. on the sanction policy of the Bashir government in the Sudan. Prior to Darfur, Ambassador Jack Danforth had been negotiating a north-south agreement that we would have hoped would have brought peace to the Sudan.
I agree with my opponent that we shouldn't be committing troops. We ought to be working with the African Union to do so -- precisely what we did in Liberia. We helped stabilize the situation with some troops, and when the African Union came, we moved them out.
My hope is that the African Union moves rapidly to help save lives. And fortunately the rainy season will be ending shortly, which will make it easier to get aid there and help the long-suffering people there.

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Question 16

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question, President Bush. Clearly, as we have heard, major policy differences between the two of you. Are there also underlying character issues that you believe, that you believe are serious enough to deny Senator Kerry the job as commander in chief of the United States?
BUSH: That's a loaded question. Well, first of all, I admire Senator Kerry's service to our country. I admire the fact that he is a great dad. I appreciate the fact that his daughters have been so kind to my daughters in what has been a pretty hard experience for, I guess, young girls, seeing their dads out there campaigning.
I admirer the fact that he served for 20 years in the Senate. Although I'm not so sure I admire the record.
I won't hold it against him that he went to Yale. There's nothing wrong with that.
My concerns about the senator is that, in the course of this campaign, I've been listening very carefully to what he says, and he changes positions on the war in Iraq. He changes positions on something as fundamental as what you believe in your core, in your heart of hearts, is right in Iraq.
You cannot lead if you send mixed messages. Mixed messages send the wrong signals to our troops. Mixed messages send the wrong signals to our allies. Mixed messages send the wrong signals to the Iraqi citizens.
And that's my biggest concern about my opponent. I admire his service. But I just know how this world works, and that in the councils of government, there must be certainty from the U.S. president.
Of course, we change tactics when need to, but we never change our beliefs, the strategic beliefs that are necessary to protect this country in the world.
LEHRER: Ninety second response, Senator.
KERRY: Well, first of all, I appreciate enormously the personal comments the president just made. And I share them with him. I think only if you're doing this -- and he's done it more than I have in terms of the presidency -- can you begin to get a sense of what it means to your families. And it's tough. And so I acknowledge that his daughters -- I've watched them.
I've chuckled a few times at some of their comments.
(LAUGHTER)
And...
BUSH: I'm trying to put a leash on them.
(LAUGHTER)
KERRY: Well, I know. I've learned not to do that.
(LAUGHTER)
And I have great respect and admiration for his wife. I think she's a terrific person...
BUSH: Thank you.
KERRY: ... and a great first lady.
But we do have differences. I'm not going to talk about a difference of character. I don't think that's my job or my business.
But let me talk about something that the president just sort of finished up with. Maybe someone would call it a character trait, maybe somebody wouldn't.
But this issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong.
It's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right.
What I worry about with the president is that he's not acknowledging what's on the ground, he's not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he's not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem-cell research or of global warming and other issues.
And certainty sometimes can get you in trouble.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds.
BUSH: Well, I think -- listen, I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq. Our commanders have got all the flexibility to do what is necessary to succeed.
But what I won't do is change my core values because of politics or because of pressure.
And it is one of the things I've learned in the White House, is that there's enormous pressure on the president, and he cannot wilt under that pressure. Otherwise, the world won't be better off.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds.
KERRY: I have no intention of wilting. I've never wilted in my life. And I've never wavered in my life.
I know exactly what we need to do in Iraq, and my position has been consistent: Saddam Hussein is a threat. He needed to be disarmed. We needed to go to the U.N. The president needed the authority to use force in order to be able to get him to do something, because he never did it without the threat of force.
But we didn't need to rush to war without a plan to win the peace.

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Question 17

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry.
If you are elected president, what will you take to that office thinking is the single most serious threat to the national security to the United States?
KERRY: Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. There's some 600-plus tons of unsecured material still in the former Soviet Union and Russia. At the rate that the president is currently securing it, it'll take 13 years to get it.
I did a lot of work on this. I wrote a book about it several years ago -- six, seven years ago -- called "The New War," which saw the difficulties of this international criminal network. And back then, we intercepted a suitcase in a Middle Eastern country with nuclear materials in it. And the black market sale price was about $250 million.
Now, there are terrorists trying to get their hands on that stuff today.
And this president, I regret to say, has secured less nuclear material in the last two years since 9/11 than we did in the two years preceding 9/11.
We have to do this job. And to do the job, you can't cut the money for it. The president actually cut the money for it. You have to put the money into it and the funding and the leadership.
And part of that leadership is sending the right message to places like North Korea.
Right now the president is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn't make sense.
You talk about mixed messages. We're telling other people, "You can't have nuclear weapons," but we're pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using.
Not this president. I'm going to shut that program down, and we're going to make it clear to the world we're serious about containing nuclear proliferation.
And we're going to get the job of containing all of that nuclear material in Russia done in four years. And we're going to build the strongest international network to prevent nuclear proliferation.
This is the scale of what President Kennedy set out to do with the nuclear test ban treaty. It's our generation's equivalent. And I intend to get it done.
LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Mr. President.
BUSH: Actually, we've increased funding for dealing with nuclear proliferation about 35 percent since I've been the president. Secondly, we've set up what's called the -- well, first of all, I agree with my opponent that the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network. And that's why proliferation is one of the centerpieces of a multi-prong strategy to make the country safer.
My administration started what's called the Proliferation Security Initiative. Over 60 nations involved with disrupting the trans-shipment of information and/or weapons of mass destruction materials.
And we've been effective. We busted the A.Q. Khan network. This was a proliferator out of Pakistan that was selling secrets to places like North Korea and Libya. We convinced Libya to disarm. It's a central part of dealing with weapons of mass destruction and proliferation.
I'll tell you another way to help protect America in the long run is to continue with missile defenses. And we've got a robust research and development program that has been ongoing during my administration. We'll be implementing a missile-defense system relatively quickly.
And that is another way to help deal with the threats that we face in the 21st century.
My opponent opposed the missile defenses.
LEHRER: Just for this one-minute discussion here, just for whatever seconds it takes: So it's correct to say, that if somebody is listening to this, that both of you agree, if you're reelected, Mr. President, and if you are elected, the single most serious threat you believe, both of you believe, is nuclear proliferation?
BUSH: In the hands of a terrorist enemy.
KERRY: Weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation.
But again, the test or the difference between us, the president has had four years to try to do something about it, and North Korea has got more weapons; Iran is moving toward weapons. And at his pace, it will take 13 years to secure those weapons in Russia.
I'm going to do it in four years, and I'm going to immediately set out to have bilateral talks with North Korea.
LEHRER: Your response to that?
BUSH: Again, I can't tell you how big a mistake I think that is, to have bilateral talks with North Korea. It's precisely what Kim Jong Il wants. It will cause the six-party talks to evaporate. It will mean that China no longer is involved in convincing, along with us, for Kim Jong Il to get rid of his weapons. It's a big mistake to do that.
We must have China's leverage on Kim Jong Il, besides ourselves.
And if you enter bilateral talks, they'll be happy to walk away from the table. I don't think that'll work.

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