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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 18

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: All right. Mr. President, this is the last question. And two minutes. It's a new subject -- new question, and it has to do with President Putin and Russia. Did you misjudge him or are you -- do you feel that what he is doing in the name of antiterrorism by changing some democratic processes is OK?
BUSH: No, I don't think it's OK, and said so publicly. I think that there needs to be checks and balances in a democracy, and made that very clear that by consolidating power in the central government, he's sending a signal to the Western world and United States that perhaps he doesn't believe in checks and balances, and I told him that.
I mean, he's also a strong ally in the war on terror. He is -- listen, they went through a horrible situation in Beslan, where these terrorists gunned down young school kids. That's the nature of the enemy, by the way. That's why we need to be firm and resolve in bringing them to justice.
That's precisely what Vladimir Putin understands, as well.
I've got a good relation with Vladimir. And it's important that we do have a good relation, because that enables me to better comment to him, and to better to discuss with him, some of the decisions he makes. I found that, in this world, that it's important to establish good personal relationships with people so that when you have disagreements, you're able to disagree in a way that is effective.
And so I've told him my opinion.
I look forward to discussing it more with him, as time goes on. Russia is a country in transition. Vladimir is going to have to make some hard choices. And I think it's very important for the American president, as well as other Western leaders, to remind him of the great benefits of democracy, that democracy will best help the people realize their hopes and aspirations and dreams. And I will continue working with him over the next four years.
LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Senator Kerry.
KERRY: Well, let me just say quickly that I've had an extraordinary experience of watching up close and personal that transition in Russia, because I was there right after the transformation. And I was probably one of the first senators, along with Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, a former senator, go down into the KGB underneath Treblinka Square and see reams of files with names in them.
It sort of brought home the transition to democracy that Russia was trying to make.
I regret what's happened in these past months. And I think it goes beyond just the response to terror. Mr. Putin now controls all the television stations. His political opposition is being put in jail.
And I think it's very important to the United States, obviously, to have a working relationship that is good. This is a very important country to us. We want a partnership.
But we always have to stand up for democracy. As George Will said the other day, "Freedom on the march; not in Russia right now."
Now, I'd like to come back for a quick moment, if I can, to that issue about China and the talks. Because that's one of the most critical issues here: North Korea.
Just because the president says it can't be done, that you'd lose China, doesn't mean it can't be done. I mean, this is the president who said "There were weapons of mass destruction," said "Mission accomplished," said we could fight the war on the cheap -- none of which were true.
We could have bilateral talks with Kim Jong Il. And we can get those weapons at the same time as we get China. Because China has an interest in the outcome, too.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Mr. President.
BUSH: You know my opinion on North Korea. I can't say it any more plainly.
LEHRER: Well, but when he used the word "truth" again...
BUSH: Pardon me?
LEHRER: ... talking about the truth of the matter. He used the word "truth" again. Did that raise any hackles with you?
BUSH: Oh, I'm a pretty calm guy. I don't take it personally.
LEHRER: OK. All right.
BUSH: You know, we looked at the same intelligence and came to the same conclusion: that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat.
And I don't hold it against him that he said grave threat. I'm not going to go around the country saying he didn't tell the truth, when he looked at the same intelligence I did.
KERRY: It was a threat. That's not the issue. The issue is what you do about it.
The president said he was going to build a true coalition, exhaust the remedies of the U.N. and go to war as a last resort.
Those words really have to mean something. And, unfortunately, he didn't go to war as a last resort.
Now we have this incredible mess in Iraq -- $200 billion. It's not what the American people thought they were getting when they voted.

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closing statements.

by tbragsda In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

LEHRER: All right, that brings us to closing statements.
And, again, as determined by a coin toss, Senator Kerry, you go first, and you have two minutes.
KERRY: Thank you, Jim, very much.
Thank you very much to the university, again.
Thank you, Mr. President.
My fellow Americans, as I've said at the very beginning of this debate, both President Bush and I love this country very much. There's no doubt, I think, about that.
But we have a different set of convictions about how we make our country stronger here at home and respected again in the world.
I know that for many of you sitting at home, parents of kids in Iraq, you want to know who's the person who could be a commander in chief who could get your kids home and get the job done and win the peace.
And for all the rest of the parents in America who are wondering about their kids going to the school or anywhere else in the world, what kind of world they're going to grow up in, let me look you in the eye and say to you: I defended this country as a young man at war, and I will defend it as president of the United States.
But I have a difference with this president. I believe when we're strongest when we reach out and lead the world and build strong alliances.
I have a plan for Iraq. I believe we can be successful. I'm not talking about leaving. I'm talking about winning. And we need a fresh start, a new credibility, a president who can bring allies to our side.
I also have a plan to win the war on terror, funding homeland security, strengthening our military, cutting our finances, reaching out to the world, again building strong alliances.
I believe America's best days are ahead of us because I believe that the future belongs to freedom, not to fear.
That's the country that I'm going to fight for. And I ask you to give me the opportunity to make you proud. I ask you to give me the opportunity to lead this great nation, so that we can be stronger here at home, respected again in the world, and have responsible leadership that we deserve.
Thank you. And God bless America.
LEHRER: Mr. President, two minutes.
BUSH: Thank you very much tonight, Jim. Senator.
If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. That's not going to happen, so long as I'm your president.
The next four years we will continue to strengthen our homeland defenses. We will strengthen our intelligence-gathering services. We will reform our military. The military will be an all-volunteer army.
We will continue to stay on the offense. We will fight the terrorists around the world so we do not have to face them here at home.
We'll continue to build our alliances. I'll never turn over America's national security needs to leaders of other countries, as we continue to build those alliances. And we'll continue to spread freedom. I believe in the transformational power of liberty. I believe that the free Iraq is in this nation's interests. I believe a free Afghanistan is in this nation's interest.
And I believe both a free Afghanistan and a free Iraq will serve as a powerful example for millions who plead in silence for liberty in the broader Middle East.
We've done a lot of hard work together over the last three and a half years. We've been challenged, and we've risen to those challenges. We've climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace.
By being steadfast and resolute and strong, by keeping our word, by supporting our troops, we can achieve the peace we all want.
I appreciate your listening tonight. I ask for your vote. And may God continue to bless our great land.
LEHRER: And that ends tonight's debate. A reminder, the second presidential debate will be a week from tomorrow, October 8th, from Washington University in St. Louis. Charles Gibson of ABC News will moderate a town hall-type event. Then, on October 13th, from Arizona State University in Tempe, Bob Schieffer of CBS News will moderate an exchange on domestic policy that will be similar in format to tonight's.
Also, this coming Tuesday, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the vice presidential candidates, Vice President Cheney and Senator Edwards, will debate with my PBS colleague, Gwen Ifill, moderating.
For now, thank you, Senator Kerry, President Bush.
From Coral Gables, Florida, I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
(APPLAUSE)

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Excellent Post, thank you very much for posting this

by Garion11 In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

I thought the best response was

That wasn't going to work. That's kind of a pre-September 10th mentality, the hope that somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful place. He was hoping we'd turn away. But there was fortunately others beside himself who believed that we ought to take action.
We did. The world is safer without Saddam Hussein.

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Excellent Post, thank you very much for posting this

by Garion11 In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

I thought the best response was

That wasn't going to work. That's kind of a pre-September 10th mentality, the hope that somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful place. He was hoping we'd turn away. But there was fortunately others beside himself who believed that we ought to take action.
We did. The world is safer without Saddam Hussein.

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Garion

by Oz_Media In reply to Presidential debate trans ...

WIthout ANY intent on getting into a he said/she said battle with you, the one KEY quote that I think isn't being addressed in that response is about inspections.

GWB is trying to just quickly slip in 'failed inspections' without his comment being noticed.

Now I think Kerry's perspective on this entire issue was that the President had promised that he would use force to complete inspections if neccessary and go to war as a last resort.

From what I have seen and read, inspections were NOT failing at all, inspections were FINALLY being permitted as scheduled and were progressing exactly as planned. I agree wholly that Saddam had not allowed as much in the past and they kept getting kicked out. GWB made a final statement that he would not accept them being kicked out and if they weren't allowed to inspect, America would attack.

At this point even I was almost fully supportive of the action, as was Kerry and most of the world including America's allies.

Inspections had not failed though, they HAD found some unused warheads etc. but not really the stockpiles of WMD that they expected to find (which later on GWB has actually said himself).

GWB STILL removed the remaining inspectors that had not failed in any way, and proceeded to attack because they had NOT found what they were SURE Saddam was hiding, which again is fair enough but at least SAY so. He went against his word, he had lied to the allies and the UN, he had lied to the people of America. He didn't lie regading WMD so mush as he agreed it would be a last resort to force inspections and FINALY go to war if needed.

THIS is why allies didn't respond, THIS is why Kerry was against the war now and accused of a flip-flop, THIS was why one half of America (and most of the world)watched, stunned as a hasty war had begun.

Now you're in it, you're in it til the end though. There's no turning back and no stopping, BOTH candidates agree with this much. GWB feels he has adequate allied support and simply continuing the current force witll eventually suffice.

Kerry thinks the best resolution is to let HIM talk to the allies and use HIS influence to get them to increase force and take on more of the costs and responsibility. This will in turn offer needed rest and support to US troops, it will offer a whole new energy and momentum to the whole thing, terrorists WILL see that this isn't tolerated by ANYONE in the world, now THAT is effective.

Therefore, I would say Bush was not convincing in enough in his resolutions yet he is sincere in his goals.

Kerry is certain of his resolution he is as firm behind his convictions to win this war as Bush is, now that it has begun. And I feel that his ideas WILL be more effective and globally accepted.

He and GWB have VERY similar ideas at this point, both agree this must be won, one thinks he can continue as is, the other thinks it needs more support and force.

I would think even a Republican (without predjudice)would see this as a more effective approach. Inrcease force and numbers.

It worked in 1944 when Europe sought allied help, it WILL work today. Follow the proven paths, one already looks dismal, the other made history and a better world for all involved.

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