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Sparring in the Late Rounds

October 1st, 2004

A lot may depend on which parts of the debate people remember: if people remember the whole debate, Kerry will have won. If Bush can hold on to the even fight right now, and if people only focus on the last part of the debate, then it might be called a draw or even a Bush win, if the spinmeisters can spin it that way.

But wait–Kerry is really getting it out here on Korea! Hitting Bush hard, and a point made by Lehrer allowed Kerry to make his point more solidly before Bush could get in his 30-second interruption. For the even fight, Bush still seems less comfortable than Kerry. Bush is more down-home, Kerry is more solid and confident.

Kerry: Bush has overextended the military, stretched out tours by soldiers; Kerry will build them back up and reconstitute our ability to fight a war if necessary. Both he and Bush somewhat sidestepped the Sudan question, using it more to sell their policies.

Lehrer: does Kerry have the character to be president. Bush: “Whew! That’s a loaded question.” Here’s where Bush gets to be noble and “admire” Kerry, but you know there will be a “but” in there. He’s just laid a few–doesn’t agree with Kerry’s record, he went to Yale… Hits Kerry on his “mixed messages” (read: flip-flops). Bush: “I just know how this world works!” Oh really?

Kerry: acknowledges Bush on family. Bush and Kerry exchange compliments, laugh at the same point. Kerry goes on the defensive about certainty, but also hits Bush: “it’s one thing to be certain, it’s another to be certain and be wrong.”

The debate feels like it’s winding down, like it won’t end with a knock-out (we’ll see). They’re pounding home their points, beginning to repeat themselves.

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