Along with many other voters in this swing state, I watched the first debate. I've read the news and seen the coverage and very little of what Kerry and Bush had to say was new to me. So what did I get out of it?
I heard what the candidates avoided, which is great for decoding spin. Who was the person doing the most avoiding?
Bush avoided telling you that the reasons he used to go into Iraq don't exist (weapons of mass destruction, a connection to the 9/11 attacks). There were no weapons of mass destruction and the bipartisan 9/11 Commission confirmed there were no Iraq connections to 9/11.
Bush avoided the fact that our occupation of Iraq makes us an even bigger target for terrorists. So tell me how this war made us safer? It didn't, though it did make certain oil men richer.
Bush didn't tell you that most of the terrorists they've caught are little fish and the most wanted list has hardly been touched. The big guys are still out there, and Iraq is like a smoke screen for them.
This is what came through to me - George stayed on topic and ran out of material because there was only so much he was allowed to talk about. John found a spine and we'll see in future debates if it sticks.
All I know is in this battleground state, no matter how you vote, we need to show up to the polls.
Chester SpringsThe debate was a definite victory for Senator John Kerry. Everything I heard, all that I saw in the way of respectful reactions, and the way I felt after the debate completely showed Senator John Kerry as our next president. He made clear that he has a plan to help Iraq, to fight terrorism at home and abroad, and that it can be done maintaining respectability. He represents his ability to be our Commander-in-Chief through his experience, strength and convictions. I feel confident once again that real leadership is on the way.
Heather K. Horrigan
There were two points that John Kerry did not hammer home enough.
First, he didn't emphasize the fact that the war on terrorism is separate from the invasion of Iraq. Kerry should have informed us that Bush's advisors had full plans to invade Iraq well before the 9/11 attacks. Kerry should have reiterated that most of the disruption of Al-Queda has come about from investigative police work and international cooperation, and that his plans focus on strengthening those much smarter tools in the fight against terrorism.
Second, Kerry didn't challenge Bush's notion of "exporting" the war of terrorism so that it doesn't reach us at home. It is exactly Bush's fixation on "only America matters" and the notion that it's okay to wreak havoc in other countries in the name of anti-terrorism that give fanatics more reason to seek revenge. Kerry should have pointed out that Bush's cavalier disregard for world opinion has made it easier for Putin, Sharon, and even North Korea to commit atrocities in the name of defense.
With my experience as an overseas volunteer for seven years, I can say with confidence that only John Kerry can restore the respect and positive influence America had before the Bush Administration took over.