Skip to comments.Debate #1: How Did They Do?
Posted on 10/01/2004 2:05:46 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta
Gary Andres I thought the debate boiled down to a classic head versus heart affair, with no major gaffes and not a lot of new information.
Senator Kerry came across as cool, polished, and intelligent. Yet he reminded me more of a competent management consult bloodless and cerebral than an endearing leader. His lines could have been right out of the Harvard Business Review "outsourcing the hunt for Bin Laden to Afghan war lords," changing the "dynamics on the ground" and numerous mentions of "international summits and cooperation" analytically dissecting White House decisions, without alternative concrete solutions.
President Bush, on the other hand, came across as a determined leader, facing tough terrorists adversaries, emotionally beckoning his people to stick with him in this noble, messy, yet essential campaign to promote freedom and keep America safe. He was like the plainspoken football coach that just had a tough first half, received some criticism from the armchair quarterbacks, but had the grit to press forward in a tough situation, knowing the pain in the road ahead was both necessary and inevitable.
I thought Bush's clear-eyed statement that he "understood how this world works," was one of his best lines. Kerry came close at times to sounding Pollyannaish, by suggesting the war on terrorism would be a lot better if we could just get more international cooperation.
Bottom line is neither side decked the other with a fatal blow. The president got his licks in on Kerry changing positions and the senator hammered home the point about Mr. Bush being strong but not smart in the war on terror. Yet I'm not sure the truly undecided voter (all ten of them) really learned anything new about either candidate Thursday night.
Gary Andres is vice chairman of research and policy at the Dutko Group Companies and a frequent NRO contributor.
1.The smirk is back; astoundingly, Bush won the Al Gore Debate Look-a-like Contest.
2. The debate revolved around Iraq, which is not good for the president.
3. Whoever told Bush that "mixed messages" is more effective than "flip-flop" should be fired; it was easy for Kerry to turn that one around.
4. Round one: Bush's turf, Bush's rules, Bush with less to lose, but he did.
Ed Kilgore is the policy director of the Democratic Leadership Council.
President Bush had to stumble for Kerry to get any real movement out of this debate. That didn't happen.
The president was himself. He was blunt, colloquial, and tough. His message and demeanor were the same. It's hard to imagine Bush losing votes based on his performance Thursday night.
Now we move to the spin phase. Kerry partisans will claim that their man passed the first test (but not a "global test") of these debates by looking and sounding intelligent and Presidential. Unfortunately for the Kerry camp, they needed more than that. They needed to draw blood. They didn't.
The Bush camp will have won the spin phase if they are able to (1) demonstrate that Kerry is still living in the 9/10 world by pasting him with his "global test" for military action and (2) dissect his dubious claims of consistency on Iraq.
Robert Moran is a vice president at Republican polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. He is an NRO contributor.
In his column Thursday morning, George Will sniffed that at the University of Miami we would see not a debate but "parallel press conferences." Will was mistaken. Both Bush and Kerry proved articulate enough to express their differences from each other at some length, and with some passion. And in doing so, each revealed much of his own character. The debate had little enough in common with the Lincoln-Douglas debates, to be sure, but it represented a credit to the nation all the same, offering voters a clean choice.
Who won? Nobody. To firm up his lead, ensuring a victory, Bush needed to equal or overmaster Kerry, demonstrating a sense of ease and relaxation at the lectern, while explaining the end game in Iraq making clear, in other words, how he's going to get us out. He did neither. Kerry, trailing in the polls for three weeks now, needed to make a convincing case that he could do a better job than the incumbent. Instead he did little but list Bush's mistakes.
Because Kerry proved articulate and because the press needs a new story the headlines tomorrow will all say that the race is tightening. Maybe. But I suspect Bush will retain his lead. Whereas in this first debate Kerry displayed the fox-like qualities of his mind he knows a little about a lot Bush proved by contrast that he is a Reagan-like hedgehog. Bush may know less than Kerry, but what he knows is central, and he knows it well. As Bush himself put it, "I want to tell Americans, you'd better have a president who chases their terrorists down."
Indeed we had and voters know it
Peter Robinson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and host of Uncommon Knowledge, is author of How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life.
Both candidates did the nation good last night. Finally a discussion of serious stuff.
The choice is clear. Shoot the undecideds.
If we look at what each has DONE - not just SAID - W wins hands down. Kerry served himself (by cutting-and-running), not his country, in Nam; W has done an excellent job in managing the unprecedented 9/11 (and after) events.
Of course it did. Because the Leftist moderator kept it focused on Iraq. Virtually each of his questions, particularly with regards to Iraq, was a pointed attack on Bush (akin to asking someone, "Are you still beating your wife?").
The media coverage will play to Kerry, giving him a win. No surprise there, but the harm is that the average sheep will take the MSM's word: G.W. Bush is in trouble after this train wreck. Let's at least be honest.
This election could have been lost, last night. I'm down to hoping Hillary's October Surprise is devastating to Kerry. I just can't see the Clintons allowing Kerry to win this one. Otherwise, hunker down and prepare for the worst.
I was unhappy with Pres. Bush's preformance last night.
After sleeping on it, (fitfully at best) I have a slightly different perspective.
The Pres. came across as sincere, kind and concerned with the best interests of the Iraqi people.
But I think he made one glaring mistake.
IMHO, he let Kerry get away with portraying himself as hawkish, pro-military and decisive.
A simple recounting of Kerry's voting record would have stopped that in its tracks.
OTOH, If I had been up ther in front of 50+ million viewers, I would have.. errr... peed my pants and forgot my name.
I am perhaps one of the most staunch, patriotic, America loving, God fearing conservative people in America and I have to say that I think the president did a TERRIBLE job in last nights debate. He stammered, He fumbled his thoughts. At times he did'nt know what to say. GWB is one piss poor public speaker. I saw many opportunities for him to drive home a winning run. This is GWB's to lose and thats just what he will do if his next two debates produce performances like that.
The last panelist had it right. This was a Fox/Hedgehog debate. I happen to like Hedgehogs, especially in our current climate.
Our enemy is determine to distract and divide, to paralyse the West and make it impossible for us to continue the war against Islamic imperialism (AKA The War on Terror). In this situation, the Fox is a disaster, because he will never stick with the program long enough to win.
Despite Kerry's protestations to the contrary, we know he will cut and run in Iraq. He's done it before. He will do it again.
Mr. President , if you happen to read this; we the ordinary
American people appreciate what you have done and continue to do. We will not let you down on Nov 2nd. Your mandate is about to increase greatly with the American people.
Have faith , and be of good cheer. You are going to win
It's almost as if they put a 'stupid' filter on the lens of the camera when they aimed it toward him.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement.I fear what this will do to him.
I know that Kerry will get rave reviews for Bush's 90 minute flop... and it's killing me.
On the other hand, W was obviously aggravated with the slanted questions. And he did whack Lurch with the Global Test?, what steenkin' Global Test?. Finally, unlike missing out on the 3 easy links between Saddam and terrorism, he called him out on insulting the allies.
I have to say John Kerry came off a lot better than I expected he would. Weeks of seeing news clips of Kerry at stump speeches left me with the impression we'd see a monotone, dull as dirt, and platitudinous lefty elitist.
I believe he is all those things, he just did a very good job pretending he's not.
He also knew the biggest obstacle he had to overcome was the impression that he'd be soft of terrorism and weak on defense. Sad to say, I think last night's performance will probably fool some people into thinking he's not. He spoke well and looked acceptable on defense. Too bad he's lying. Many people won't know that.
I agree. Read what I posted last night.
I have watched the debate THREE times so far since last night's airing, and you are wrong! The President was on message like a laser lighting up a target.
Most of those that are disappointed in his performance last night (wanted to see Bush launch an all out attack) do not understand who the target audience was, and exactly what the President needed to accomplish. He met EVERY goal. He won the debate. He did not get nasty, and he did not get in lurch's face... both of which would have lost him the women's vote!
I second that. I hope Bush and his advisors look over the tapes and really take an honest assessment and come better prepared, much better prepared, at the next debate.
This one was important. It probably drew the most viewers any of the three will have. Bush didn't blow it and he didn't damage himself. But he certainly isn't sitting as well as he would be had he knocked one out of the park.
He could have fired the shot the started the quick death of the Kerry campaign, but he didn't. Now we're going to have to endure a week of the media clamoring about how resurgent Kerry is likely to be coming out of this debate, and perception sometimes being reality, that may resonante with some voters.
At the very least, those who wanted to vote for Kerry but had serious doubts probably feel better about voting for him now. In that sense, Bush lost this one.
He better improve 200% for the next two debates or we could be in for a serious horse race.
It's true President Bush isn't a gifted speaker. He did stammer, he did fumble, etc.
But he removed his heart and placed it on the podium for all the world to see.
John Kerry's still trying to find his.
Pre. Bush could have pointed out that Kerry voted against the 87 billion to buy those very items.
BTW.. I counted 'only' 4 times that Kerry referred to his Viet Nam experience.
Don't be negative! The President will win the election. The American people won't elect an liberal Senator from Massachusetts in this testing times. We're winning the war on terror and the economy is going well.
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