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Transcript: First Presidential Debate

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  • James
    Following is the transcript of the presidential debate between President Bush (R) and Sen. John F. Kerry (D). The moderator of the nationally televised debate
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30 8:05 PM
      Following is the transcript of the presidential debate between
      President Bush (R) and Sen. John F. Kerry (D). The moderator of the
      nationally televised debate was Jim Lehrer of PBS.

      After the debate, staff writers from The Washington Post and
      washintonpost.com will make the calls, examining the candidates'
      claims and charges.

      LEHRER: Good evening from the University of Miami Convocation Center
      in Coral Gables, Florida. I'm Jim Lehrer of "The NewsHour" on PBS.

      And I welcome you to the first of the 2004 presidential debates
      between President George W. Bush, the Republican nominee, and Senator
      John Kerry, the Democratic nominee.

      These debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

      Tonight's will last 90 minutes, following detailed rules of engagement
      worked out by representatives of the candidates. I have agreed to
      enforce their rules on them.

      The umbrella topic is foreign policy and homeland security, but the
      specific subjects were chosen by me, the questions were composed by
      me, the candidates have not been told what they are, nor has anyone

      For each question there can only be a two-minute response, a 90-
      second rebuttal and, at my discretion, a discussion extension of one

      A green light will come on when 30 seconds remain in any given answer,
      yellow at 15, red at five seconds, and then flashing red means time's
      up. There is also a backup buzzer system if needed.

      Candidates may not direct a question to each other. There will be two-
      minute closing statements, but no opening statements.

      There is an audience here in the hall, but they will remain absolutely
      silent for the next 90 minutes, except for now, when they join me in
      welcoming President Bush and Senator Kerry.


      LEHRER: Good evening, Mr. President, Senator Kerry.

      As determined by a coin toss, the first question goes to you, Senator
      Kerry. You have two minutes.

      Do you believe you could do a better job than President Bush in
      preventing another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States?

      KERRY: Yes, I do.

      But before I answer further, let me thank you for moderating. I want
      to thank the University of Miami for hosting us. And I know the
      president will join me in welcoming all of Florida to this debate.
      You've been through the roughest weeks anybody could imagine. Our
      hearts go out to you. And we admire your pluck and perseverance.

      KERRY: I can make American safer than President Bush has made us.

      And I believe President Bush and I both love our country equally. But
      we just have a different set of convictions about how you make America

      I believe America is safest and strongest when we are leading the
      world and we are leading strong alliances.

      I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But I also
      know how to lead those alliances.

      This president has left them in shatters across the globe, and we're
      now 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq and 90 percent of the costs.

      I think that's wrong, and I think we can do better.

      I have a better plan for homeland security. I have a better plan to be
      able to fight the war on terror by strengthening our military,
      strengthening our intelligence, by going after the financing more
      authoritatively, by doing what we need to do to rebuild the alliances,
      by reaching out to the Muslim world, which the president has almost
      not done, and beginning to isolate the radical Islamic Muslims, not
      have them isolate the United States of America.

      KERRY: I know I can do a better job in Iraq. I have a plan to have a
      summit with all of the allies, something this president has not yet
      achieved, not yet been able to do to bring people to the table.

      We can do a better job of training the Iraqi forces to defend
      themselves, and I know that we can do a better job of preparing for

      All of these, and especially homeland security, which we'll talk about
      a little bit later.

      LEHRER: Mr. President, you have a 90-second rebuttal.

      BUSH: I, too, thank the University of Miami, and say our prayers are
      with the good people of this state, who've suffered a lot.

      September the 11th changed how America must look at the world. And
      since that day, our nation has been on a multi-pronged strategy to
      keep our country safer.

      BUSH: We pursued al Qaeda wherever al Qaeda tries to hide. Seventy-
      five percent of known al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice.
      The rest of them know we're after them.

      We've upheld the doctrine that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're
      equally as guilty as the terrorist.

      And the Taliban are no longer in power. Ten million people have
      registered to vote in Afghanistan in the upcoming presidential

      In Iraq, we saw a threat, and we realized that after September the
      11th, we must take threats seriously, before they fully materialize.
      Saddam Hussein now sits in a prison cell. America and the world are
      safer for it.

      We continue to pursue our policy of disrupting those who proliferate
      weapons of mass destruction.

      BUSH: Libya has disarmed. The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to

      And, as well, we're pursuing a strategy of freedom around the world,
      because I understand free nations will reject terror. Free nations
      will answer the hopes and aspirations of their people. Free nations
      will help us achieve the peace we all want.

      LEHRER: New question, Mr. President, two minutes.

      Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would
      increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type
      terrorist attack?

      BUSH: No, I don't believe it's going to happen. I believe I'm going to
      win, because the American people know I know how to lead. I've shown
      the American people I know how to lead.

      I have -- I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with
      the decisions I've made. And I made some tough decisions. But people
      know where I stand.

      BUSH: People out there listening know what I believe. And that's how
      best it is to keep the peace.

      This nation of ours has got a solemn duty to defeat this ideology of
      hate. And that's what they are. This is a group of killers who will
      not only kill here, but kill children in Russia, that'll attack
      unmercifully in Iraq, hoping to shake our will.

      We have a duty to defeat this enemy. We have a duty to protect our
      children and grandchildren.

      The best way to defeat them is to never waver, to be strong, to use
      every asset at our disposal, is to constantly stay on the offensive
      and, at the same time, spread liberty.

      And that's what people are seeing now is happening in Afghanistan.

      BUSH: Ten million citizens have registered to vote. It's a phenomenal
      statistic. They're given a chance to be free, and they will show up at
      the polls. Forty-one percent of those 10 million are women.

      In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's
      incredibly hard. You know why? Because an enemy realizes the stakes.
      The enemy understands a free Iraq will be a major defeat in their
      ideology of hatred. That's why they're fighting so vociferously.

      They showed up in Afghanistan when they were there, because they tried
      to beat us and they didn't. And they're showing up in Iraq for the
      same reason. They're trying to defeat us.

      And if we lose our will, we lose. But if we remain strong and
      resolute, we will defeat this enemy.

      LEHRER: Ninety second response, Senator Kerry.

      KERRY: I believe in being strong and resolute and determined. And I
      will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are.

      But we also have to be smart, Jim. And smart means not diverting your
      attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin
      Laden and taking if off to Iraq where the 9/11 Commission confirms
      there was no connection to 9/11 itself and Saddam Hussein, and where
      the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, not the
      removal of Saddam Hussein.

      KERRY: This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of
      judgment. And judgment is what we look for in the president of the
      United States of America.

      I'm proud that important military figures who are supporting me in
      this race: former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John
      Shalikashvili; just yesterday, General Eisenhower's son, General John
      Eisenhower, endorsed me; General Admiral William Crown; General Tony
      McBeak, who ran the Air Force war so effectively for his father -- all
      believe I would make a stronger commander in chief. And they believe
      it because they know I would not take my eye off of the goal: Osama
      bin Laden.

      KERRY: Unfortunately, he escaped in the mountains of Tora Bora. We had
      him surrounded. But we didn't use American forces, the best trained in
      the world, to go kill him. The president relied on Afghan warlords and
      he outsourced that job too. That's wrong.

      LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry.

      "Colossal misjudgments." What colossal misjudgments, in your opinion,
      has President Bush made in these areas?

      KERRY: Well, where do you want me to begin?

      First of all, he made the misjudgment of saying to America that he was
      going to build a true alliance, that he would exhaust the remedies of
      the United Nations and go through the inspections.

      In fact, he first didn't even want to do that. And it wasn't until
      former Secretary of State Jim Baker and General Scowcroft and others
      pushed publicly and said you've got to go to the U.N., that the
      president finally changed his mind -- his campaign has a word for that
      -- and went to the United Nations.

      Now, once there, we could have continued those inspections.

      KERRY: We had Saddam Hussein trapped.

      He also promised America that he would go to war as a last resort.

      Those words mean something to me, as somebody who has been in combat.
      "Last resort." You've got to be able to look in the eyes of families
      and say to those parents, "I tried to do everything in my power to
      prevent the loss of your son and daughter."

      I don't believe the United States did that.

      And we pushed our allies aside.

      And so, today, we are 90 percent of the casualties and 90 percent of
      the cost: $200 billion -- $200 billion that could have been used for
      health care, for schools, for construction, for prescription drugs for
      seniors, and it's in Iraq.

      And Iraq is not even the center of the focus of the war on terror. The
      center is Afghanistan, where, incidentally, there were more Americans
      killed last year than the year before; where the opium production is
      75 percent of the world's opium production; where 40 to 60 percent of
      the economy of Afghanistan is based on opium; where the elections have
      been postponed three times.

      KERRY: The president moved the troops, so he's got 10 times the number
      of troops in Iraq than he has in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden
      is. Does that mean that Saddam Hussein was 10 times more important
      than Osama bin Laden -- than, excuse me, Saddam Hussein more important
      than Osama bin Laden? I don't think so.

      LEHRER: Ninety-second response, Mr. President.

      BUSH: My opponent looked at the same intelligence I looked at and
      declared in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat.

      He also said in December of 2003 that anyone who doubts that the world
      is safer without Saddam Hussein does not have the judgment to be

      I agree with him. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

      I was hoping diplomacy would work. I understand the serious
      consequences of committing our troops into harm's way.

      BUSH: It's the hardest decision a president makes. So I went to the
      United Nations. I didn't need anybody to tell me to go to the United
      Nations. I decided to go there myself.

      And I went there hoping that, once and for all, the free world would
      act in concert to get Saddam Hussein to listen to our demands. They
      passed the resolution that said, "Disclose, disarm, or face serious
      consequences." I believe, when an international body speaks, it must
      mean what it says.

      Saddam Hussein had no intention of disarming. Why should he? He had 16
      other resolutions and nothing took place. As a matter of fact, my
      opponent talks about inspectors. The facts are that he was
      systematically deceiving the inspectors.

      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.

      BUSH: We did. The world is safer without Saddam Hussein.

      LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Two minutes.

      What about Senator Kerry's point, the comparison he drew between the
      priorities of going after Osama bin Laden and going after Saddam

      BUSH: Jim, we've got the capability of doing both.

      As a matter of fact, this is a global effort.

      We're facing a group of folks who have such hatred in their heart,
      they'll strike anywhere, with any means.

      And that's why it's essential that we have strong alliances, and we

      That's why it's essential that we make sure that we keep weapons of
      mass destruction out of the hands of people like al Qaeda, which we

      But to say that there's only one focus on the war on terror doesn't
      really understand the nature of the war on terror.

      Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden. He's
      isolated. Seventy-five percent of his people have been brought to
      justice. The killer -- the mastermind of the September 11th attacks,
      Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is in prison.

      BUSH: We're making progress.

      But the front on this war is more than just one place. The Philippines
      -- we've got help -- we're helping them there to bring -- to bring al
      Qaeda affiliates to justice there.

      And, of course, Iraq is a central part in the war on terror. That's
      why Zarqawi and his people are trying to fight us. Their hope is that
      we grow weary and we leave.

      The biggest disaster that could happen is that we not succeed in Iraq.
      We will succeed. We've got a plan to do so. And the main reason we'll
      succeed is because the Iraqis want to be free.

      I had the honor of visiting with Prime Minister Allawi. He's a strong,
      courageous leader. He believes in the freedom of the Iraqi people.

      He doesn't want U.S. leadership, however, to send mixed signals, to
      not stand with the Iraqi people.

      He believes, like I believe, that the Iraqis are ready to fight for
      their own freedom. They just need the help to be trained.

      There will be elections in January. We're spending reconstruction
      money. And our alliance is strong.

      BUSH: That's the plan for victory.

      And when Iraq if free, America will be more secure.

      LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.

      KERRY: The president just talked about Iraq as a center of the war on
      terror. Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror
      before the president invaded it.

      The president made the judgment to divert forces from under General
      Tommy Franks from Afghanistan before the Congress even approved it to
      begin to prepare to go to war in Iraq.

      And he rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace. Now,
      that is not the judgment that a president of the United States ought
      to make. You don't take America to war unless have the plan to win the
      peace. You don't send troops to war without the body armor that they

      KERRY: I've met kids in Ohio, parents in Wisconsin places, Iowa, where
      they're going out on the Internet to get the state-of-the-art body
      gear to send to their kids. Some of them got them for a birthday

      I think that's wrong. Humvees -- 10,000 out of 12,000 Humvees that are
      over there aren't armored. And you go visit some of those kids in the
      hospitals today who were maimed because they don't have the armament.

      This president just -- I don't know if he sees what's really happened
      on there. But it's getting worse by the day. More soldiers killed in
      June than before. More in July than June. More in August than July.
      More in September than in August.

      And now we see beheadings. And we got weapons of mass destruction
      crossing the border every single day, and they're blowing people up.
      And we don't have enough troops there.

      BUSH: Can I respond to that?

      LEHRER: Let's do one of these one-minute extensions. You have 30

      BUSH: Thank you, sir.

      First of all, what my opponent wants you to forget is that he voted to
      authorize the use of force and now says it's the wrong war at the
      wrong time at the wrong place.

      BUSH: I don't see how you can lead this country to succeed in Iraq if
      you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place. What message does that
      send our troops? What message does that send to our allies? What
      message does that send the Iraqis?

      No, the way to win this is to be steadfast and resolved and to follow
      through on the plan that I've just outlined.

      LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Senator.

      KERRY: Yes, we have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will
      succeed for those troops, now that we're there. We have to succeed. We
      can't leave a failed Iraq. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake
      of judgment to go there and take the focus off of Osama bin Laden. It
      was. Now, we can succeed. But I don't believe this president can. I
      think we need a president who has the credibility to bring the allies
      back to the table and to do what's necessary to make it so America
      isn't doing this alone.

      LEHRER: We'll come back to Iraq in a moment. But I want to come back
      to where I began, on homeland security. This is a two-minute new
      question, Senator Kerry.

      As president, what would you do, specifically, in addition to or
      differently to increase the homeland security of the United States
      than what President Bush is doing?

      KERRY: Jim, let me tell you exactly what I'll do. And there are a long
      list of thing. First of all, what kind of mixed message does it send
      when you have $500 million going over to Iraq to put police officers
      in the streets of Iraq, and the president is cutting the COPS program
      in America?

      What kind of message does it send to be sending money to open
      firehouses in Iraq, but we're shutting firehouses who are the first-
      responders here in America.

      The president hasn't put one nickel, not one nickel into the effort to
      fix some of our tunnels and bridges and most exposed subway systems.
      That's why they had to close down the subway in New York when the
      Republican Convention was there. We hadn't done the work that ought to
      be done.

      The president -- 95 percent of the containers that come into the
      ports, right here in Florida, are not inspected.

      KERRY: Civilians get onto aircraft, and their luggage is X- rayed, but
      the cargo hold is not X-rayed.

      Does that make you feel safer in America?

      This president thought it was more important to give the wealthiest
      people in America a tax cut rather than invest in homeland security.
      Those aren't my values. I believe in protecting America first.

      And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut -- and that's who
      gets it -- long before we do, I'm going to invest in homeland security
      and I'm going to make sure we're not cutting COPS programs in America
      and we're fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the
      nuclear and chemical plants.

      The president also unfortunately gave in to the chemical industry,
      which didn't want to do some of the things necessary to strengthen our
      chemical plant exposure.

      And there's an enormous undone job to protect the loose nuclear
      materials in the world that are able to get to terrorists. That's a
      whole other subject, but I see we still have a little bit more time.

      KERRY: Let me just quickly say, at the current pace, the president
      will not secure the loose material in the Soviet Union -- former
      Soviet Union for 13 years. I'm going to do it in four years. And we're
      going to keep it out of the hands of terrorists.

      LEHRER: Ninety-second response, Mr. President.

      BUSH: I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all
      these promises. It's like a huge tax gap. Anyway, that's for another

      My administration has tripled the amount of money we're spending on
      homeland security to $30 billion a year.

      My administration worked with the Congress to create the Department of
      Homeland Security so we could better coordinate our borders and ports.
      We've got 1,000 extra border patrol on the southern border; want 1,000
      on the northern border. We're modernizing our borders.

      We spent $3.1 billion for fire and police, $3.1 billion.

      We're doing our duty to provide the funding.

      But the best way to protect this homeland is to stay on the offense.

      BUSH: You know, we have to be right 100 percent of the time. And the
      enemy only has to be right once to hurt us.

      There's a lot of good people working hard.

      And by the way, we've also changed the culture of the FBI to have
      counterterrorism as its number one priority. We're communicating
      better. We're going to reform our intelligence services to make sure
      that we get the best intelligence possible.

      The Patriot Act is vital -- is vital that the Congress renew the
      Patriot Act which enables our law enforcement to disrupt terror cells.

      But again, I repeat to my fellow citizens, the best way to protection
      is to stay on the offense.

      LEHRER: Yes, let's do a little -- yes, 30 seconds.

      KERRY: The president just said the FBI had changed its culture. We
      just read on the front pages of America's papers that there are over
      100,000 hours of tapes, unlistened to. On one of those tapes may be
      the enemy being right the next time.

      KERRY: And the test is not whether you're spending more money. The
      test is, are you doing everything possible to make America safe?

      We didn't need that tax cut. America needed to be safe.

      BUSH: Of course we're doing everything we can to protect America. I
      wake up every day thinking about how best to protect America. That's
      my job.

      I work with Director Mueller of the FBI; comes in my office when I'm
      in Washington every morning, talking about how to protect us. There's
      a lot of really good people working hard to do so.

      It's hard work. But, again, I want to tell the American people, we're
      doing everything we can at home, but you better have a president who
      chases these terrorists down and bring them to justice before they
      hurt us again.

      LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Two minutes.

      What criteria would you use to determine when to start bringing U.S.
      troops home from Iraq?

      BUSH: Let me first tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and
      secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job.

      BUSH: And that's what we're doing. We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,
      000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year. That is
      the best way. We'll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not
      want to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves. I
      believe they want to. Prime Minister Allawi believes they want to.

      And so the best indication about when we can bring our troops home --
      which I really want to do, but I don't want to do so for the sake of
      bringing them home; I want to do so because we've achieved an
      objective -- is to see the Iraqis perform and to see the Iraqis step
      up and take responsibility.

      And so, the answer to your question is: When our general is on the
      ground and Ambassador Negroponte tells me that Iraq is ready to defend
      herself from these terrorists, that elections will have been held by
      then, that their stability and that they're on their way to, you know,
      a nation that's free; that's when.

      BUSH: And I hope it's as soon as possible. But I know putting
      artificial deadlines won't work. My opponent at one time said, "Well,
      get me elected, I'll have them out of there in six months." You can't
      do that and expect to win the war on terror.

      My message to our troops is, "Thank you for what you're doing. We're
      standing with you strong. We'll give you all the equipment you need.
      And we'll get you home as soon as the mission's done, because this is
      a vital mission."

      A free Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror, and that's
      essential. A free Iraq will set a powerful example in the part of the
      world that is desperate for freedom. A free Iraq will help secure
      Israel. A free Iraq will enforce the hopes and aspirations of the
      reformers in places like Iran. A free Iraq is essential for the
      security of this country.

      LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Senator Kerry.

      KERRY: Thank you, Jim.

      My message to the troops is also: Thank you for what they're doing,
      but it's also help is on the way. I believe those troops deserve
      better than what they are getting today.

      You know, it's interesting. When I was in a rope line just the other
      day, coming out here from Wisconsin, a couple of young returnees were
      in the line, one active duty, one from the Guard. And they both looked
      at me and said: We need you. You've got to help us over there.

      Now I believe there's a better way to do this. You know, the
      president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra.
      And the reason he didn't is, he said -- he wrote in his book --
      because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops
      would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land.

      That's exactly where we find ourselves today. There's a sense of
      American occupation. The only building that was guarded when the
      troops when into Baghdad was the oil ministry. We didn't guard the
      nuclear facilities.

      KERRY: We didn't guard the foreign office, where you might have found
      information about weapons of mass destruction. We didn't guard the

      Almost every step of the way, our troops have been left on these
      extraordinarily difficult missions. I know what it's like to go out on
      one of those missions when you don't know what's around the corner.

      And I believe our troops need other allies helping. I'm going to hold
      that summit. I will bring fresh credibility, a new start, and we will
      get the job done right.

      LEHRER: All right, go ahead. Yes, sir?

      BUSH: I think it's worthy for a follow-up.

      LEHRER: Sure, right.


      LEHRER: We can do 30 second each here. All right.

      BUSH: My opponent says help is on the way, but what kind of message
      does it say to our troops in harm's way, "wrong war, wrong place,
      wrong time"? Not a message a commander in chief gives, or this is a
      "great diversion."

      As well, help is on the way, but it's certainly hard to tell it when
      he voted against the $87-billion supplemental to provide equipment for
      our troops, and then said he actually did vote for it before he voted
      against it.

      BUSH: Not what a commander in chief does when you're trying to lead

      LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.

      KERRY: Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a
      mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake
      in invading Iraq. Which is worse?

      I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it
      right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that
      war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I
      stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote.
      And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.

      LEHRER: All right, new question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry.

      Speaking of Vietnam, you spoke to Congress in 1971, after you came
      back from Vietnam, and you said, quote, "How do you ask a man to be
      the last man to die for a mistake?"

      LEHRER: Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?

      KERRY: No, and they don't have to, providing we have the leadership
      that we put -- that I'm offering.

      I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always
      agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the
      authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did
      accept that intelligence.

      But I also laid out a very strict series of things we needed to do in
      order to proceed from a position of strength. Then the president, in
      fact, promised them. He went to Cincinnati and he gave a speech in
      which he said, "We will plan carefully. We will proceed cautiously. We
      will not make war inevitable. We will go with our allies."

      He didn't do any of those things. They didn't do the planning. They
      left the planning of the State Department in the State Department
      desks. They avoided even the advice of their own general. General
      Shinsheki, the Army chief of staff, said you're going to need several
      hundred thousand troops. Instead of listening to him, they retired

      KERRY: The terrorism czar, who has worked for every president since
      Ronald Reagan, said, "Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like
      Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor."

      That's what we have here.

      And what we need now is a president who understands how to bring these
      other countries together to recognize their stakes in this. They do
      have stakes in it. They've always had stakes in it.

      The Arab countries have a stake in not having a civil war. The
      European countries have a stake in not having total disorder on their

      But this president hasn't even held the kind of statesman-like summits
      that pull people together and get them to invest in those states. In
      fact, he's done the opposite. He pushed them away.

      When the Secretary General Kofi Annan offered the United Nations, he
      said, "No, no, we'll go do this alone."

      To save for Halliburton the spoils of the war, they actually issued a
      memorandum from the Defense Department saying, "If you weren't with us
      in the war, don't bother applying for any construction."

      KERRY: That's not a way to invite people.

      LEHRER: Ninety seconds.

      BUSH: That's totally absurd. Of course, the U.N. was invited in. And
      we support the U.N. efforts there. They pulled out after Sergio de
      Mello got killed. But they're now back in helping with elections.

      My opponent says we didn't have any allies in this war. What's he say
      to Tony Blair? What's he say to Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland? You
      can't expect to build an alliance when you denigrate the contributions
      of those who are serving side by side with American troops in Iraq.

      Plus, he says the cornerstone of his plan to succeed in Iraq is to
      call upon nations to serve. So what's the message going to be: "Please
      join us in Iraq. We're a grand diversion. Join us for a war that is
      the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time?"

      I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit
      down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone
      frequently. They're not going to follow somebody who says, "This is
      the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time."

      BUSH: I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I
      sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the
      phone frequently.

      They're not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war at
      the wrong place at the wrong time. They're not going to follow
      somebody whose core convictions keep changing because of politics in

      And finally, he says we ought to have a summit. Well, there are
      summits being held. Japan is going to have a summit for the donors;
      $14 billion pledged. And Prime Minister Koizumi is going to call
      countries to account, to get them to contribute.

      And there's going to be an Arab summit, of the neighborhood countries.
      And Colin Powell helped set up that summit.

      LEHRER: Forty seconds, Senator.

      KERRY: The United Nations, Kofi Annan offered help after Baghdad fell.
      And we never picked him up on that and did what was necessary to
      transfer authority and to transfer reconstruction. It was always

      Secondly, when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain,
      Australia and the United States. That's not a grand coalition. We can
      do better.

      LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Mr. President.

      BUSH: Well, actually, he forgot Poland. And now there's 30 nations
      involved, standing side by side with our American troops.

      BUSH: And I honor their sacrifices. And I don't appreciate it when
      candidate for president denigrates the contributions of these brave

      You cannot lead the world if you do not honor the contributions of
      those who are with us. He called them coerced and the bribed. That's
      not how you bring people together.

      Our coalition is strong. It will remain strong, so long as I'm the

      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.

      BUSH: 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.

      BUSH: 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 Qaeda, he would still have done
      everything the same way. Those are his words.

      KERRY: 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.

      KERRY: 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.

      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.

      KERRY: 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

      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

      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.

      KERRY: 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.

      BUSH: Osama bin Laden doesn't get to decide. The American people

      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

      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.

      BUSH: 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.

      LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Two minutes.

      Has the war in Iraq been worth the cost of American lives, 1,052 as of

      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 Brian, 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.

      BUSH: 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 Qaeda 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.

      BUSH: 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.

      KERRY: 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.

      KERRY: 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.

      KERRY: 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.

      LEHRER: Speaking of your plan, new question, Senator Kerry. Two

      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.

      KERRY: 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.

      KERRY: 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.

      BUSH: 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.

      BUSH: 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.

      BUSH: 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.

      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.

      BUSH: 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

      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.

      BUSH: 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 Qaeda
      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.

      KERRY: 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

      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

      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.

      KERRY: The world is more dangerous. I'd have made a better choice.

      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, though 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.

      KERRY: 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.

      KERRY: 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.

      BUSH: 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.

      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.

      BUSH: And we signed an agreement with North Korea that my
      administration found out that was not being honored by the North

      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

      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.

      BUSH: 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

      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

      KERRY: 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

      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.

      LEHRER: 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.

      KERRY: 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

      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 terrori<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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