September 30, 2004 George W. Bush and John Kerry Debate "Housekeeping" (02:06)
Jim Lehrer welcomes President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, and explains debate rules and format.
Terrorist Attack Prevention: Kerry (03:54)
Kerry argues that he would rebuild strong alliances, strengthen military intelligence, reach out to the Muslim world, and hold a summit for Iraqi allies. Bush defends his record of bringing Al-Qaeda members to justice, imprisoning Saddam Hussein, and disarming Libya.
Terrorist Attack Prevention: Bush (03:46)
Bush brings up voter turnout in Afghanistan and efforts to defeat the ideology of hate in Iraq. Kerry criticizes Bush's decision to divert attention from Osama Bin Laden to pursuing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and cites military endorsements.
Bush's Misjudgments (03:47)
Kerry criticizes Bush's failure to exhaust all U.N. efforts before going to war in Iraq, and shifting focus away from Afghanistan. Bush says Kerry agreed that Hussein was a threat in 2002, and points out that Hussein refused to disarm after a U.N. warning.
War on Terror Strategy (04:53)
Bush defends his double attack on Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and says Al-Qaeda must be pursued across the globe. Kerry argues that Bush doesn't have a plan for peace and that U.S. troops are under armed.
Homeland Security (04:50)
Kerry proposes stopping cuts to police and fire agencies, protecting nuclear and chemical plants, and securing nuclear material in the Soviet Union. Bush says he's increased border defense, tripled homeland security spending, and shifted FBI focus to counter-terrorism, but staying on the offense is the best strategy.
Ending the Iraq War (04:59)
Bush says U.S. troops will return when Iraqi citizens are trained to defend against terrorism and elections have been held. Kerry argues for recruiting allies to help U.S. forces, and Bush accuses him of voting against providing supplemental military equipment.
Mistakes in Iraq (04:48)
Kerry outlines flaws in Bush's invasion strategy and advocates bringing Arab countries together to end the conflict. Bush says Britain and Poland are allies, promises an Arab summit, and criticizes Kerry's negative attitude toward the war.
Post-War Iraq (03:49)
Bush explains that Saddam loyalists have returned to fight, after initial defeat, but election plans are on track. Kerry says there aren't enough troops from other nations to form a genuine coalition and 90% of casualties are Americans.
Dishonesty about Iraq (04:49)
Kerry points out Bush's claim about nonexistent nuclear weapons and failure to build a coalition or plan the invasion carefully. Bush criticizes Kerry for changing positions on the war.
Loss of American Life (05:16)
Bush believes the decision to fight for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan is worth troop casualties. Kerry compares the situation to Vietnam and argues that his own plan would be more effective at achieving free elections and hunting terrorists. Bush criticizes him for changing positions.
Kerry's Iraq Plan (04:56)
Kerry argues that Iraqis must be convinced that the U.S. doesn't want to stay permanently. He proposes closing borders and training Iraqis to maintain peace. Bush criticizes him for questioning PM Allawi’s credibility and says the U.S. should stay until Iraq is free.
Preemptive Military Action: Bush (04:42)
Bush defends his decision to commit troops in Iraq as protecting the U.S. from terrorism. Kerry points out that Saddam Hussein didn't attack the U.S. and criticizes Bush's decision to outsource Al-Qaeda elimination to Afghan warlords. They disagree whether U.N. negotiations would have disarmed Hussein.
Preemptive Military Action: Kerry (03:40)
Kerry argues that other nations have lost trust in the U.S. president's judgment on military actions, and points out that Iran and North Korea are more dangerous than Iraq. Bush says he didn't join the International Criminal Court because it was against national interest.
Nuclear Problem (04:59)
Bush discusses efforts with China to disarm North Korea through pressure; he thinks the same strategy will work in Iran. Kerry criticizes him for not initiating negotiations earlier, and advocates bilateral talks. Bush argues for multilateral talks.
Kerry proposes taking action in Sudan through the African Union, says the U.S. military is overextended in Iraq, and proposes adding Special Forces to the military. Bush has committed $200 million in humanitarian aid, and is participating in sanctions.
Kerry's Character (05:06)
Bush lauds Kerry's service and family values, but criticizes him for changing positions on Iraq. Kerry argues that Bush is wrong on his certainty on North Korea, stem cell research, and global warming. Bush refuses to change his core politics, and Kerry disagrees with his rational for invading Iraq.
National Security Threat (05:17)
Kerry and Bush agree nuclear weapons are the greatest threat, but Kerry criticizes Bush for failing to secure nuclear material in the former Soviet Union. Bush says he’s increased nuclear non-proliferation funding and started the Proliferation Security Initiative. He argues for increasing missile defense systems.
Putin's Policies (05:00)
Bush disagrees with the Russian leader's democracy reductions, but says he's a strong ally in the fight against terrorism. Kerry criticizes Putin’s censorship, defends his proposal to have bilateral talks with North Korea, and criticizes Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
Closing Statement: John Kerry (02:05)
Kerry references his service in Vietnam and promises win peace in Iraq by strengthening alliances. He proposes increasing Homeland Security funding and strengthening the military to win the War on Terror.
Closing Statement: George W. Bush (02:39)
Bush says he'll continue fighting terrorism, strengthen the military and homeland defenses, and free Iraq and Afghanistan. Lehrer thanks the candidates and announces the next debate.
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