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Transcript (& Poll Results): Bush/Kerry Debate #1

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      NHNE News List Current Members: 1074 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archiv info at the bottom of this message. ... EDITOR S COMMENT: For hose of you who missed the
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2004
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      Current Members: 1074
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archiv info at the bottom of this message.



      For hose of you who missed the Bush/Kerry debate tonight, the Los Angeles
      Times has posted the complete transcript of the event on thei website (see
      below). They have also made three RealVideo videos available f the event:

      Complete Debate:

      Bush Closing Statement:

      Kerry Closing Statement:

      Wile most of the polls I have seen indicate that viewers believe Kerry won
      tonght's debate, Nightline reports that Kerry's win hasn't changed manyminds as to who people will vote for.



      "Who do you think won the first Bush-erry debate?"

      9.2 percent = Bush (1159 responses)
      87.2 percent = Kerry 10996 responses)
      3.6 percent = It was a draw (448 responses)
      12603 total vots


      "Who do you think won the first U.S. presidential debat?"

      18 percent = President George W. Bush (39137 votes
      78 percent = Sen. Jhn Kerry (169227 votes)
      4 percent = Evenly matched (9195 votes)
      217559 total votes

      FOX NEWS:


      "oth CBS and ABC released quickie reaction polls. The CBS survey of 200
      'ence sitters' showed 44 percent said Kerry won, 26 percent said Bush won
      nd 30 percent said it was a tie. The ABC numbers were similar in that 5
      percent gave the edge to Kerry while 36 chose Bush and 17 percent said itwas a tie.

      "Stephanie Cutter, the Kerry campaign communications director, tod FOX News
      that their internal flash polling showed Kerry's favorability going from 43
      to 68 percent. The Kerry campaign usually doesn't release internal polls.

      "OX News' political contributors largely agreed that Kerry came out ahead.

      "'here was a chance that the president would knock Kerry out of the race
      toight. ... I think Kerry survived and I think he did pretty well tonight.
      Kery was forceful and articulate,' said William Kristol, editor of the
      WeeklyStandard. 'He did a pretty good job of making the case that the
      invasion of Iraq was wrong.'"



      "Political strategists declare debate a draw"
      "President Bush and Sen. John Kerry essentially stuck to their scripts,
      landd few significant blows and fought to a draw in last night's opening
      presidenial debate, political strategists from both parties said."

      The complete debae follows...

      --- David Sunfellow


      Los Angeles Times
      September 30, 2004


      Full text from the debate between President Bush and Se. John F. Kerry. The
      moderator was Jim Lehrer of PBS. The transcript is provided by the Federal

      MR. LEHRER: Good evening from the University of Miami Convocation enter in
      Coral Gables, Florida. I'm Jim Lehrer of the NewsHour on PBS, and I welcome
      you to the first of the 2004presidential debates between President George
      W. Bush, the Republican nomnee, and Senator John Kerry, the Democratic

      These debates are sposored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
      Tonight's will last 90 minutes folowing detailed rules of engagement worked
      out by representatives of the candidates. I have agreed to enorce their
      rules on them. The umbrella topic is foreign policy and homeland security,
      but the specific subjects were chosen by me, the question were composed by
      me. The candidates have not been told what they are, nor as anyone else.

      For each question there can only be a two-minute response, a 90- second
      rebuttal, and at my discretion, a discussion extnsion of one minute. A
      green light will come on when 30 seconds remain n any given answer, yellow
      at 15, red at five seconds, and then flashing rd means time's up. There is
      also a back-up buzzer system, if needed.

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

      here is an audience here in the hall, but they will remain absolutely
      sient for the next 90 minutes, except for now, when they join me in
      welcomin President Bush and Senator Kerry. (Cheers, applause.)

      Good evening, Mr. President, Senator Kerry.

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

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

      SEN. KERRY: Yes, I do.

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

      I can make America safer than Presiden Bush has made us. And I believe
      President Bush and I both love our country qually, but we just have a
      different set of convictions about how you make Aerica safe. I believe
      America is safest and strongest when we are leaing the world, and when we
      are leading strong alliances.

      I'll never give a vto to any country over our security. But I also know how
      to lead those allances. This president has left them in shatters across the
      globe, and e're now 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq and 90 percent of
      the costs. 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 trror, by strengthening our military, strengthening our
      intelligence, by oing after the financing more authoritatively, by doing
      what we need to do to rebuild the alliances, by reaching out to theMuslim
      world, which the president has almost not done, and beginning to isolae the
      radical Islamic Muslims, not have them isolate the United States of Aerica.

      I know I can do a better job in Iraq, where I have a plan to havea summit
      with all of the allies, something this president has not yet achived, 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 elections.

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

      MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, you have 90 seconds for rebuttal.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: I -- I, too, thankthe University of Miami, and -- and --
      and say our prayers are with the good people of this state, who have
      suffered a lot.

      September the 11th changed how America mustlook at the world.

      And since that day, our nation has been on a multi-prong trategy to keep
      our country safer. We pursued al Qaeda wherever al Qaeda ties to hide.
      Seventy-five percent of known al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice.
      The rest of them know we're after them.

      Weve upheld the doctrine that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're
      equaly as guilty as the terrorist. And the Taliban no longer in power. Te
      million people have registered to vote in Afghanistan in the upcoming
      presiential election.

      In Iraq, we saw a threat, and we realized that after Sepember 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 fr it.

      We continue to pursue our policy of disrupting those who would prolferate
      weapons of mass destruction. Libya has disarmed. The A.Q. Khan network has
      been brought to justice.

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

      MR. LEHRER: New question. Mr. Presidet, two minutes. Do you believe the
      election of Senator Kerry on November th 2nd would increase the chances of
      the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type errorist attack?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: 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'v shown the
      American people I know how to lead. I have -- I understand evrybody in this
      country doesn't agree with the decisions that I've made. An I've made some
      tough decisions.

      But people know where I stand. People out here listening know what I
      believe, and that's how best it is to keep he peace.

      This nation of ours has got a solemn duty to defeat this ideolog 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 will attack unmercifully in Iraq
      hoping to shake ou will. We have a duty to defeat this enemy. We have a
      duty to protect or children and grandchildren. The best way to defeat them
      is to never waver, to bestrong, to use every asset at our disposal; is to
      constantly stay on the ffensive, and at the same time spread liberty. And
      that's what people are seing now is happening in Afghanistan. Ten million
      citizens have registered to vote. It's a phenomeal statistic; that if given
      a chance to be free, they will show up t 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 kno 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 wy they're fighting so vociferously.

      They showed up in Afghanistan when thy were there because they tried to
      beat us and they didn't, and they're shwing up in Iraq for the same reason.
      They're trying to defeat us. And if we ose our will, we lose; but if we
      remain strong and resolute, we will defeatthis enemy.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety-second response, Sena tor Kerry.

      SEN. KERR: 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 attenton from the real
      war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Lade and taking it off to
      Iraq, where the 9/11 commission confirms there was n connection to 9/11
      itself and Saddam Hussein, and where the reason for gong to war was weapons
      of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein

      This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judment, and
      judgment is what we look for in the president of the United Sttes of
      America. I'm proud that important military figures are supporting me n this
      race. Former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili. Justyesterday, General Eisenhower's son, General John Eisenhower, endorsed me.
      Gneral -- Admiral William Crowe, General Tony McPeak, 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 becuse they know I would not take my eye off of the
      goal: Osama bin Laden. Unfortunately, he escaped in the mountains of Tora
      Bora. We had him srrounded. But we didn't use American forces, the
      best-trained in the world o go kill him. The president relied on Afghan
      warlords that he outsourced hat job to.

      That's wrong.

      MR. LEHRER: New question. Two minutes, Senator Kery. Colossal misjudgments.
      What colossal misjudgments, in your opinin, has President Bush made in
      these areas?

      SEN. KERRY: Well, where do you wnt me to begin? (Light laughter.)

      First of all, he made the misjudgent of saying to America that he was going
      to build a true alliance, that he would exhaust the remedies of the nited
      Nations and go through with the inspections. In fact, he first didn't ven
      want to do that. And it wasn't until former Secretary of State im Baker and
      General Scowcroft and others pushed publicly and said, You got to go to the
      U.N., that the resident finally changed his mind -- his campaign has a wod
      for that -- and went to the United Nations.

      Now, once there, w could have continued those inspections. We had Saddam
      Hussein trapped.

      He also promised America that he would go to war as a last resort. Those
      words mean soething to me, as somebody who's been in combat: last resort.
      You've got to be able to look in the eyes of families and say to those
      parnts, "I tried to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of your
      son an daughter." I don't believe the United States did that. And we pushe
      our allies aside. And so, today, we are 90 percent of the casualties nd 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 Iaq is not even the center of the focus of the war on terror; the
      center is Afhanistan, where, incidentally, there were more Americans killed
      last yer than the year before; where the opium production is 75 percent of
      the worlds opium production; where 40 to 60 percent of the economy of
      Afghanistn is based on opium; where the elections have been postponed three
      times. The president moved the troops so he's got ten times the number of
      troops in Iraq than he has in Afghaistan, where Osama bin Laden is. Does
      that mean that Saddam Hussein wa ten times more important than Osama bin --
      than -- excuse me -- Saddm Hussein more important that Osama bin Laden? I
      don't think so.

      MR. LEHRR: Ninety-second response, Mr. President.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: My opponent looke at the same intelligence I looked at and
      declared, in 2002, that Saddam Hssein was a grave threat. He also said, in
      December of 2003, that anyone who oubts that the world is safer without
      Saddam Hussein does not have the judgment to be president. I agree with him.
      The world i better off without Saddam Hussein.

      I was hoping diplomacy would work. I uderstand the serious co nsequences of
      committing our troops into harm's way.It's the hardest decision a president
      makes. So I went to the United Natins. I didn't need anybody to tell me to
      go to the United Nations, I decided to go there myself. And I wen there
      hoping that once and for all the free world would act in concert t get
      Saddam Hussein to listen to our demands. They passed a resolution that aid
      disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. I believe when an
      internaional body speaks it must mean what it says. But Saddam Hussein had
      no intention of disarming. Why should he? He had 16 other resolutions and
      nothing tok place.

      As a matter of fact -- my opponent talks about inspectors. The acts are
      that he was systematically deceiving the inspectors. That wasn't goig to
      work. That's kind of a pre-September 10th mentality, to hope that someow
      resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful
      place. He was hoping we'd turn away. But thre was, fortunately, others
      beside myself who believed that we ought to take ction; we did. The world
      is safer without Saddam Hussein.

      MR. LEHRER: Newquestion. Mr. President, two minutes. What about Senator
      Kerry's point, the cmparison he drew between the priorities of going after
      Osama bin Laden and ging after Saddam Hussein?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Jim, we've got the capability o doing both. As a matter of
      fact, this is a global effort. We're facin a group of folks who have such
      hatred in their heart, they'll strike anywhee with any means. And that's
      why it's essential that we have strong alliances and we do. That's why it's
      essential that we make sure that we keep weaons of mass destruction out of
      the hands of people like al Qaeda, which we ae.

      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 (sic) -- I mean bin Laden.He's isolated. Seventy-five percent of
      his people have been brought to ustice. The killer in -- the mastermind of
      the September the 11th attacks, halid Sheikh Mohammed, is in prison. We're
      making progress.

      But the front onthis war is more than just one place. The Philippines.
      We've got help -- were helping them there to bring al Qaeda affiliates to
      justice there.

      And o course Iraq is a central part of the war on terror. That's why
      Zarqawi and his people are trying to fight us. Their ope is that we grow
      weary and we leave. The biggest disaster that could happen is that we not
      succeed in Irq. We will succeed. We've got a plan to do so.

      And the main reason we'll suceed is because the Iraqis want to be free.

      I had the honor of visitingwith Prime Minister Allawi. He's a strong,
      courageous leader. He believesin the freedom of the Iraqi people. He
      doesn't want U.S. leadership, howeve, to send mixed signals, to not stand
      with the Iraqi people. He believes like I believe that the Iraqis are redy
      to fight for their own freedom; they just need the help to be trained. Thee
      will be elections in January, we're spending reconstruction money, and our
      alliance is stron. That's the plan for victory. And when Iraq is free,
      America will be more scure.

      MR. LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.

      SEN. KERRY: The president justtalked about Iraq as a center of the war on
      terror. Iraq was not even closeto the center of the war on terror before
      the president invaded it.

      The prsident 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 rushe to 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 you have a plan to wi the peace. You
      don't send troops to war without the body armor that they need. 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 the ir
      kids. Some of them got them for a birthday present. I think tat's wrong.
      Humvees, 10,000 out of 12,000 humvees that are over there aren'tarmored.
      And you go visit some of those kids in the hospitals today who wer maimed
      because they don't have the armament.

      This president just -- I don' know if he sees what's really happened on
      there, but it's getting worse by the day. More soldiers killed in June than
      efore, more in July than June, more in August than July, more in September
      thn in August. And we see beheadings, and we got weapons of mass
      destruction crssing the border every single day, and they're blowing people

      And w don't have enough troops there.

      MR. LEHRER: A --

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Can I respond?

      MR. LEHRER: Let's do a -- one-minute extension. You have 30 seconds.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir.

      First of all, what my opponent ants you to forget is that he voted to
      authorize the use of force, and nowsays it's the wrong war at the wrong
      time at the wrong place. I don't see how you can lead this ountry to
      succeed in Iraq if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place. What message
      does that send our trops? What message does that send to our allies? What
      message does that send th Iraqis? No, the way to win this is to be
      steadfast and resolved and to follo through on the plan that I just

      MR. LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Senator.

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

      MR. LEHRER: We'll come back to Iraq in a moment, but I want to come back to
      where Ibegan, on homeland security. This is a two- minute new question,
      Senator Krry. As president, what would you do specifically, in addition to
      or differenly, to increase the homeland security of the United States than
      what Prsident Bush is doing?

      SEN. KERRY: Jim, let me exactly what I'll do. And there are a long list of

      First of al, what kind of mixed message does it send when you've got $500
      million goingover to Iraq to put police officers in the streets of Iraq and
      the president is cutting the COPS program in Aerica? What kind of message
      does it send to be sending money to open fire houes in Iraq, but we're
      shutting fire houses, who are the first responders herein America?

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

      The president -- 95 percent of the containers thatcome into the ports,
      right here in Florida, are not inspected. Civilias get onto aircraft and
      their luggage is x-rayed, but the cargo hold s not x- rayed. Does that make
      you feel safer in America?

      This president tought it was more important to give the wealthiest people
      in America a tax ct rather than invest in homeland security.

      Those aren't my values. I belive in protecting America first. And long
      before President Bush and I get tax cut -- and that's who gets it -- long
      before we do, I'm going to investin homeland security, and I'm going to
      make sure we're not cutting COPS programs in America, and we're fully
      staffed at our firehouses, and thatwe protect the nuclear and chemical
      plants. The president also, unfortunatel, gave in to the chemical industry,
      which didn't want to do some of the thngs necessary to strengthen our
      chemical plant exposure.

      And there's an enorous 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 westill have a little bit more time. Let me just quickly say,
      at the currentpace, the president will not secure the loose material in the
      Soviet Union, ormer Soviet Union, for 13 years. I'm going to do it in four
      years, and we'r going to keep it out of the hands of terrorists.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety-second response, Mr. President.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: I on't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for
      all these promises. It's like a huge tax gap an -- anyway, that's for
      another debate.

      My administration has triple the amount of money we're spending on homeland
      security to $30 billion a yea. My administration worked with the Congress
      to create the Department of Homeand Security so we could better coordinate
      our borders and ports.

      We've ot a thousand extra border patrol on the southern border; more than a
      housand on the northern border. We're modernizing our borders. We pent
      $3.1 billion for fire and police -- $3.1 billion.

      No, we're doing ot duty to provide the funding. But the best way to protect
      this homeland is to stay on the offense. You know, we have to beright a
      hundred percent of the time, and the enemy only has to be right once to hurt

      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. It's vital that the Congress renew the Patriot Act,
      which enables our law enforcement to disrupt terrorist cells.

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

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

      SEN. KERRY: The president just said the FBI changed its culture. We just
      read in 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.

      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.

      PRESIDENT 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

      I work with Director Mueller of the FBI. He comes into 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'd better have a president who chases these terrorists down
      and bring them to justice before they hurt us again.

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

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

      PRESIDENT 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, and that's
      what we're doing. We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this
      year, over 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 matter into
      their own hands and 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 -- is to
      see the Iraqis perform, is to see the Iraqis step up and take
      responsibility. And so the answer to your question is when our generals 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 there's stab ility, and that they're on their way to, you know, a
      nation of -- of -- that's free, that's when.

      And I hope it's as soon as possible, but I know putting artificial deadlines
      won't work. My opponent one time said, well, get me elected and I'll have
      them out of there in six months. That's -- 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.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Senator Kerry.

      SEN. 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 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 went into
      Baghdad was the Oil Ministry. We didn't guard the nuclear facilities. We
      didn't guard the foreign office, where you might have found information
      about weapons of mass destruction. We didn't guard the borders.

      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 where 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


      MR. LEHRER: New -- all right, go ahead. Yes, sir?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: I think it's worthy for a follow, if you don't mind?

      SEN. KERRY: Sure, fine. Happy to.

      MR. LEHRER: Okay.

      SEN. KERRY: Sure, let's change the rules, we can have a whole --

      MR. LEHRER: We can do 30 seconds each here.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: All right. My opponent says that 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"? That's 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. That's not what commander-in-chiefs does when you're trying to lead

      MR. LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.

      SEN. 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.

      MR. LEHRER: All right, new question. Two minutes. Senator Kerry, speaking of
      Vietnam, you s poke 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." Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?

      SEN. KERRY: No. And they don't have to, providing we have the leadership
      that we put -- that I'm offering. I believe that we -- 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. And 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 Shinseki. The
      Army chief of staff, said. "You're going to need several hundred thousand

      Instead of listening to him, they retired him.

      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 doorstep.

      But this president hasn't even held the kind of statesmanlike summits that
      pull people together and get them to invest in those stakes. 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." That's not a way to
      invite people.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety seconds.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: That -- 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 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? I mean, 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 for 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 -- ah -- 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. Ah -- $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 have set -- helped set up that

      MR. LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Senator.

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

      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

      MR. LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Mr. President.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, actually, you forgot Poland. And now there are 30
      nations involved, standing side by side with our American troops. And I
      honor their sacrifices, and I don't appreciate it when a candidate for
      president denigrates the contributions of these brave -- brave soldiers. It
      -- it -- you cannot lead the world if you, ah, do not honor the
      contributions of those who are with us. You call them the cohearsed (sic)
      bribed. That's not how you bring people together.

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

      MR. 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?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid
      victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. In other words, we
      thought we'd whip more of them going in. But because Tommy Franks did such a
      great job in planning the operations, we moved rapidly. And a lot of the
      Ba'athists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared.

      I thought we would -- they would stay and fight. But they didn't. And now
      we're fighting them now.

      It's a -- 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

      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.

      Now 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.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Senator Kerry.

      SEN. 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
      of al Qaeda, he would still have done everything the same way. Those are his

      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 -- I have nothing
      but respect for the British and for 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 of 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 gotten nuclear weapons. Talk about mixed
      messages! The president is the one who said we can't allow countries to get
      nuclear weapons. They have. I'll change that.

      MR. LEHRER: New question. Senator Kerry, two minutes.

      You've just -- you have 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.

      SEN. 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 Nation(s) and go through that full process. He
      didn't. He cut it off sort of arbitrarily. And we know that there were
      further diplomatics under -- efforts under way. They just decided the time
      for diplomacy is over, and rushed to war without planning for what happens

      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 the -- American has declared war on Islam. We need to
      be smarter about how 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 others did that
      more effectively, and I'm going to try to follow in their footsteps.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Mr. President.

      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 great 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, if you -- anyone who doubted whether the world was
      better off without Saddam Hussein in power didn't have the judgement 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.

      I -- let me finish. The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence
      my opponent looked at. It's the very same intelligence. And when I stood up
      there and spoke to the Congress, I was speaking of f the same intelligence
      he looked at to make his decision to support he authorization of force.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety -- 30 seconds. We'll do a 30-second here.

      SEN. 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.

      MR. LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Mr. President.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: The only thing 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

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

      Has the war in Iraq been worth the cost in American lives, 10,052 -- I mean,
      1,052 as of today?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Now every life's 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 and wife.

      And you know, I think about -- Missy Johnson's a fantastic young lady I met
      in Charlotte, North Carolina, she and her son, Bryan. They came to see me.
      Her husband, P.J., 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 -- 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 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

      Missy understood that. That's what she told me her husband understood.

      So you say, was it worth it? This wasn't -- it's -- it's -- 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 example in a part of the world that's desperate for freedom.

      They will help change the world, that we can look back and say we did our

      MR. LEHRER: Senator, 90 seconds.

      SEN. 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.

      MR. LEHRER: New question -- all right, sir, go ahead. Thirty seconds.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah. I -- I -- I -- (laughs). I understand what it means to
      be the commander in chief. And if I were to ever say this is the wrong war
      at the wrong time at the right -- 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 I -- the plan he talks about simply won't work.

      MR. LEHRER: Senator Kerry, new -- you have 30 seconds -- you have 30
      seconds, right, then a new question.

      SEN. 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 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.

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

      Can you give us specifics in terms of a scenario, a timeline, et cetera, for
      ending U.S. -- major U.S. military involvement in Iraq?

      SEN. KERRY: The timeline 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
      -- well, 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 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're 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 the 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 afterward -- "Oops, we haven't done the job. We got to start to spend
      the money now. Will you guys give us permission to shift it over into

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety second.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: There's a hundred thousand troops trained, police, guard,
      special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end
      of this year. Yeah, 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. And 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 -- ah -- that 25 million people, the vast majority,
      long to -- long to have elections. I reject this notion -- and I'm not
      suggesting that my opponent says this, but I reject the notion that some say
      that if you're Muslim, you can't be free, you don't desire freedom. I
      disagree. Strongly disagree with that.

      MR. LEHRER: Thirty seconds.

      SEN. 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.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, let me --

      MR. LEHRER: Yes. Thirty seconds.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: The reason why Prime Minister Allawi said they're coming
      across the border is (be)cause 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.

      MR. 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?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: I would hope I'd never have to. I understand how hard it is
      to commit troops. I never wanted to commit troops. I never -- when I was
      running -- when we had the debate in 2000, I never dreamt I'd be doing that.
      But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and -- ah -- 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 and must -- as a last resort. The, ah --

      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 he said let's let the inspectors work or let's, you know,
      hope to talk him out, maybe that the 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 we -- if
      Saddam Hussein had been in power.

      So we use diplomacy every chance we get, believe me. And I -- 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 the world is better for it.

      So in answer to your question, I would hope we'd never have to. I think by
      acting firmly and decisively, it'll mean it's less likely we use -- less
      likely we have to use force.

      MR. LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.

      SEN. 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 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 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

      PRESIDENT BUSH: First, listen --

      MR. LEHRER: Thirty seconds.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: -- of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know

      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.

      MR. LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Senator.

      SEN. KERRY: Thirty-five to 40 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 nine out of 10 active duty
      divisions of our Army either going to Iraq, coming back from Iraq, or
      getting ready to go, North Korea has got nuclear weapons and the world is
      more dangerous. Iran is moving towards nuclear weapons and the world is more
      dangerous. Darfur has a genocide. The world is more dangerous. I'd have made
      a better choice.

      MR. LEHRER: New question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry. What is your position
      on the whole concept of preemptive war?

      SEN. KERRY: A president always has the right, and always had 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

      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've got 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's 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 Pa ris to meet with DeGaulle. And in the middle of the discussion,
      to tell him about the missiles in Cuba, he said, here, let me show you the
      photos. And DeGaulle waved him off and said, 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 (sic) are now more -- Iran and
      North Korea are now more dangerous.

      Now, whether preemption is ultimately what has to happen or not, 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.

      MR. LEHRER: Ninety seconds.

      PRESIDENT 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.

      Now, my opponent talks about me not signing certain treaties. Well, 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.

      This is a body based in the Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecutors
      could pull our troops, our diplomats up for trial. And I wouldn't join it.
      And I understand that in certain capitals of -- around the world that -- ah
      -- 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 -- 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 other nations and
      do a lot of it. But I'm not going to make decisions that I think are wrong
      for America.

      MR. LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Do you believe that diplomacy and
      sanctions can resolve the nuclear problems with North Korea and Iran, taking
      them in any order you would like?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: North Korea, first. I do. Let me say, I certainly hope so.

      Ah -- before I, ah, was sworn in, the policy of this government was to have
      bilateral negotiations with North Korea. And we -- ah -- signed an agreement
      with North Korea that my administration found out that, ah, was not, ah,
      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 -- a nuclear
      weapons-free North -- peninsula, Korean peninsula was in his interests and
      our interests and the world's interests. And so, we began a new dialogue
      with North Korea, one that included not only the United States, but now
      China. And China's got a lot of influence over North Korea. In 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 -- ah -- ah -- doing
      injustice to America, it would 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. That's what he wants. He wants to unravel the six-party
      talks or the five -- the five-nation coalition that's sending him a clear

      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've
      worked very closely with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Great
      Britain, who have been the -- 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 instant inspections. I hope we can do
      it, and we've got a good strategy.

      MR. LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.

      SEN. 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
      dialogue and work with the North Koreans. The president reversed him
      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 possible send.

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me --

      MR. LEHRER: I want to make sure -- yes, sir. But in this one minute I want
      to make sure that we understand -- that people -- the people watching
      understand the differences between the two of you on this.

      You want to continue the multinational talks, correct?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: Right.

      MR. LEHRER: And you want --

      SEN. KERRY: Both.

      MR. LEHRER: -- you're wanting to do it?

      SEN. KERRY: 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

      MR. LEHRER: And you're opposed to that, sir, right?

      PRESIDENT BUSH: The minute we have bilateral talks, the six- party talks
      will unwind. It'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.

      The -- secondly, he said -- my opponent said he'd work <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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