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October 13, 2004
Final Presidential Debate: Live-Blog!

For those who want to link to my live-blogging, I'll be working off of this post. I just got done speaking to The Patriot's operations manager, who tells me that we are expecting 650 people for our event at the downtown Hilton! ...

7:35 - We are at least at 300 people so far and climbing! We are all pretty amazed that the response has been so enthusiastic. We have a 5' projection screen at the front of the room tuned to Fox News. A Kerry supporter in a bow tie tried handing out literature in the room, but The Patriot shut that down pretty quick ...

7:58 - Rocket Man just fired up the crowd here, preparing them to cheer and yell during the debate. Should be lively!

8:05 - First question is on national security. Kerry talks about the COPS program. Kerry will hunt them down and kill them, but how will he do that. Bush - spreading democracy, freedom on the march. Bush talks about comprehensive strategies. Kerry smiles when Bush mentions his nutty line about terrorism being a nuisance? Hmmm...

8:12 - Slow loading for my blog programming, and I hope you aren't having the same problem. So far, Bush has brought his A-game, and Kerry seems to be surlier and showing more irritation as a result. He also looks more tired tonight. Bush's line about a "plan not being a litany of complaints" got a big reaction from this very partisan crowd ...

8:15 - Bush has never vetoed a bill -- so what? Kerry has a strange grin stuck on his face during Bush's responses, which looks very strange. Jobs has gotten two straight questions, the second of which is a softball for Kerry. In fact, it sounds like it could have come from Kerry's website. Bush links jobs to education, a great point that didn't get enough play during the VP debate. So far, we're seeing a revitalized George Bush. Kerry tries a Sopranos reference -- which is really strange for a former prosecutor, isn't it? He's talking about price increases to argue against an administration that has held inflation in check.

8:21 - "I don't blame the President for all" of the job losses. Really? Sounds like a retreat to me. "We're going to shut that loophole in a nanosecond." Why didn't Kerry shut it in the Senate? Currency manipulation? Hah -- his biggest backer, George Soros, made his billions from just that activity. Bush just called him on Pell grants, which increased during his term. Bush took the opening to scold Kerry on taxes. Kerry's response -- "Anyone can play with these votes"? That's really weak. Bush takes him to the woodshed on that, re-emphasizing directly Kerry's Senate record...

8:26 - Where did Bob Schieffer come up with these questions? Do you believe homosexuality is a choice? Who cares? ... Bush does pretty well with it, saying he doesn't know, but uses the question to launch into a detailed explanation of DOMA and the Marriage Amendment. Kerry dredges up Dick Cheney's daughter, says we're all God's children. Kerry says the states are proving they can manage marriage adequately, even though his own state's Supreme Court is legislating from the bench ...

8:30 - Catholic Church and abortion. Kerry refers to his experience as an altar boy and says his beliefs should not be legislated. He then says his Catholicism informs his environmental efforts, though! As a Catholic, I can assure you that abortion is a much bigger deal than smog!!!

8:32 - Bush's response on abortion is fairly mild. Health-care costs - Bush says that the problem has been the lack of consumer input in the decision-making process. Lawsuits are a big problem, tying in defensive-medicine costs to the issue.

8:35 - Kerry on health care: Administration blocks common-sense initiatives, such as low-cost suppliers. Medicare made it illegal to negotiate with drug companies? Of course they can - -it's part of the prescription coverage. Bush attacks Kerry's Senate record. Kerry claims that he wrote 56 bills in the Senate -- that would be 2.8 bills per year. Nice part-time work if you can find it!

8:38 - Kerry seems defensive, testy, and lecturing. Bush, on the other hand, appears in a good mood, smiling, and on the offense. Kerry has fallen back on his droning speaking style. He's moving his hands all over the place, but his body seems pretty stiff. He's back to speaking in long sentences.

8:41 - Bush scores a point off the MSM, to the delight of the crowd ...

8:42 - Government expansion into health care leads to government control and rationing, poor health, and lack of choice. Bush calls out Kerry on another lie, this one the supposedly unfunded VA obligations. Bush reminded Kerry that his administration increased VA spending by $22B, twice as much as Clinton. As before, Bush appears more in command of the detail than his supposedly more-informed challenger ...

8:45 - Private Soc Sec options. Bush talks about the rate of return for current investments. Kerry says that people controlling their own money is a "recipe for disaster"!! You have to work hard to get that tone-deaf, folks. Kerry talks about his record on fiscal responsibility -- he talks about "no changes", and Schieffer nails him on it with the next question. King Banaian is having conniptions over Kerry's claim that Bush's tax cuts could have floated SocSec until 2075 ...

8:50 - Annette at Hosting Matters is busily working to help out on the load times while I live-blog. If you have a blog and you're not being hosted by HM, you need to switch. Now.

8:51 - Bush comes alive when defending his tax cuts. He has really turned on the enthusiasm for this debate ...

8:52 - Immigration - Bush talks well about the temporary-worker permit plan, which I think is a good idea. He rejected the idea of amnesty, which Kerry supported. Kerry claims that the middle-class isn't making it in America now, which is the last question. He's arguing that tax cuts are really tax increases, which I guess is the reason he keeps pushing tax increases, so your taxes will go down. I think.

8:56 - Thumbprints and iris identification technology won't stop people from crossing the Rio Grande, no matter how many goofy hand gestures Kerry adds to the argument ...

8:57 - Kerry wants to raise the minimum-wage rate to $7. Now he's talking about equal-pay! You have to read King Banaian to get the low-down on how foolish and destructive these initiatives would be. Bush again ties jobs to education, improving the results and closing the gap for minority students in order to give them the tools to get better jobs.

9:00 - Bush says he has no litmus test for judges, Kerry says he does. Kerry will not appoint judges who will undo Roe v. Wade. Kerry starts talking about how 50% of black men in New York are unemployed. Does someone want to check out that statistic? Sounds like another of the urban legends he likes to spout ...

9:03 - The draft: Schieffer claims the back-door draft. Kerry wants to add a "support" division and an "active" division, new nomenclature for all of us at the table. Kerry drags up "real alliances", apparently not having learned his lesson from the last time. Kerry seems to be getting a lot more time to answer than Bush. Bush talks about success, about the esprit de corps of the military. Bush brought up the "global test", and Kerry says he never said that. Now he talks about "truth standards" that we have to meet. Bush nailed Kerry on his Gulf War vote -- nice job ...

9:09 - Gun control. Bush says the best way to handle it is to enforce the laws we have already. Kerry says he's a hunter and a gunman, but the expiration of the assault-weapons ban is a failure of the administration. Kerry thinks that drug dealers were adhering to the assault-weapons ban before it expired ...

9:11 - Kerry will support continued Affirmative Action plans, arguing for the quota system. Kerry tweaks Bush for not meeting with the NAACP -- why is that an issue? Who cares? Bush: Minorities benefit most by education reform, and minority home ownership is at the highest level ever ...

9:15 - Faith in leadership... Bush talks about how everyone is equally American whether they worship or not. Bush speaks effectively about his faith and his principles, and how it informs his push for freedom and democracy around the world. Faith is a part of him. Kerry says "everything is a gift from the Almighty," now talking about Native Americans? He's all over the place on this one. He couldn't just say that he also believes and leaves it at that? He's still digging the hole. Unbelievable. Can't he just shut up?

9:20 - Unity -- Kerry invokes Daschle's hug of George Bush, releasing gales of laughter in the ballroom here. Kerry blames Bush for partisanship, and says that he will restore unity by bringing people together. He's going to work with John McCain to extend campaign-finance reform -- because it's worked so well in this electoral cycle!! Bush reminds people that John McCain is supporting Bush, not Kerry, mainly because Kerry wants to retreat in Iraq ...

9:23 - What is the most important thing you've learned from the strong women around them? Bush had the best line of the night -- "Listen to them!" Also, about his wife campaigning for him: "She speaks English a lot better than I do." He spoke effectively. Kerry: "I married up"??? He's not talking from the heart -- he's delivering another lecture on integrity, tossing in his dying mother for good measure. He answered last, and he couldn't even get started properly!

9:26 Closing statements. Kerry - "I offer tested, strong leadership". When? More on outsourcing. "I will never allow another country to have a veto over our security". Be safer forever.

Bush: Talks about optimism, lays out his priorities for the next four years. He says the war on terror requires resolve and the spread of democracy and freedom. The room erupts!

Summary: Bush stomped Kerry, without a doubt. Not only did he project a more interested demeanor, but he also showed a more pleasant speaking style and a superior grasp of detail. He projected an optimism that completely escapes Kerry, especially tonight. Kerry was the one stumbling through answers this time, including inexplicably on the question about his experience with strong women. Kerry could not stay on topic, and like John Edwards, wound up simply regurgitating his stump speeches. Bush offered more thoughtful answers, more extemporaneous, and seemed much more genuine as a result.

This debate will wind up being recognized as a disaster for the Kerry campaign within the next 48 hours, and within 96 hours the polls will demonstrate it.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 13, 2004 6:05 PM

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