Tags: Debate | Spin | from | Mike | Reagan | Rudy | McCain

Debate Spin from Mike Reagan, Rudy, McCain, Edwards, Dick Morris, More

Thursday, 30 September 2004 12:00 AM

The Republican Senator from Alabama was on Fox News Live, and remarked, "I have to say that I thought both President Bush and John Kerry did well in diiferent ways last night.

"President Bush talked of substance ... talked of being steady ... talked of leadership, and being Ccommander in Chief - President Bush was on the mark.

Sen. Kerry - as we all know, we debate here in the U.S. Senate every day; he's been here 20 years. He's a good debater - I think it was more style than it was substance.

"As the campaign wears on, and in the ensuing debates, I think the voters will see that President Bush is a real leader. Maybe not as a stylistic debater .. but a man that you can count on and be steady at the helm.

When asked by interviewer Birdgette Quinn whether Shelby though the president was 'smirking' last night, Shelby said, "I've known the president a long time .. I think [he] takes his job very seriously. It's not a smirk, it's a serious look. There's quite a difference"

For former Clinton strategist Dick Morris, Thursday night's presidential debate was a split decision.

"Bush won on substance - I think Kerry did better on style," he told the Fox News Channel.

The former White House political advisor said Kerry's positions on the Iraq war are "so contradictory and so mixed up that they obviously couldn't hold up in the debate."

Morris detailed the Kerry debate positions that he found most problematic and explained why they were wrong:

"You can't have a commander-in-chief who tells the troops to go fight 'the wrong war," the one-time Clinton strategist complained.

"Obviously you need bunker-busting nuclear weapons," which Kerry opposes. "Where do you think the weapons of mass destruction are - in store windows?" Morris said.

"Obviously we need China in multilateral talks. How else will you get the North Koreans to play ball?"

But though Kerry's failed on substance, Morris saved his harshest words for the president's performance, telling Fox:

"I thought that Bush was as unfocused, undisciplined, unenergetic, smirking - as I thought he was during the pre-primary debates in 2000."

Morris lamented the missed opportunity for Bush, saying, "If he was as effective in the first 88 minutes as he was in the last two minutes, Kerry would be out of the race now."

Zeroing in on John Kerry's description of the Iraq war during Thursday night's debate as a "grand diversion" to the real war on terror, former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks complained:

"I would find it very difficult to look in the eyes of an ally or to look in the eyes of a mom or a dad and describe what their sons and daughters are going through as a 'grand diversion.'"

"That bothered me, yes it did," Gen. Franks told the Fox News Channel.

Franks said Kerry's position - that the war was wrong in the first place but now must be won - sends a confusing message the troops on the ground.

"You've got to respect the troops. You've got to believe in your heart that what you're doing, if you're going to fight a war for the United States of America, is precisely right at precisely the right time.

"And so the Senator's comments give me a little problem."

Gen. Franks also took issue with Kerry's claim that troops and equipment from the Afghan war were diverted to Iraq.

"The fact of the matter is that I was responsible for both Afghanistan and Iraq, he told Fox. "The numbers speak for themselves.

"The day we started operations in Iraq we had about 9,500 Americans operating in Afghanistan. That number, in fact, increased during operations in Iraq and continues to increase today."

Former Reagan speechwriter – now an adviser to the Bush-Cheney campaign – said she thought both candidates "did just fine."

But Bush gave the more genuine and sincere performance, she said, telling the Fox News Channel, "I think it was a replay of Bush-Gore 2000 to this extent: You had the prosecutor versus the normal guy.

"Remember what that was like four years ago, with this guy sort of relentlessly hammering and this other guy being maybe less verbally agile and yet somehow winning your sympathy and winning your respect."

But Noonan said there was no question Kerry was the more focused of the two debaters.

"Kerry often seems to me like someone who is somewhat distracted when he speaks," she explained. "Sometimes to me he seems like someone who is distracted by a kind of a depression – as if he's depressed and he's trying to be cheerful and it's a distraction. Tonight he was focused. He didn't have any of that stuff."

"Kerry argued like a senator, and the president acted as president of the United States.

"One of the most telling moments in the debate was when the president talked about the International Criminal Court and his not wanting to turn over the military to that court while Kerry wanted to turn over everything to the U.N.

"And even more telling was Kerry stating that before we act pre-emptively that we need global approval.

"The president was very strong stating that when we are prepared to strike we don’t need global approval – we have to protect the citizens of the United States of America first.

"The debate showed that Kerry is very much an internationalist, very much a person who wants to go to the U.N. for everything. But if you look at the U.N., you can’t find anything they’ve ever accomplished. ...

"If my father would have gone to the U.N. about Grenada, we never would have gotten those people out.

"If my father had gone to the U.N. about Libya, he never would have gotten the fly-by.

"This president understands that, and even though he doesn’t like going to the U.N. – but he’s almost forced by public opinion to go to the U.N. – he understands that the U.N. doesn’t run our foreign policy and can’t.

"What was clear was that if you want the U.N. to control our foreign policy – when we can act pre-emptively and when we can’t – then we should vote for John Kerry. If you want a president who wants to protect the United States, vote for George Bush."

Sen. John McCain told Larry King on CNN he thought it was a good debate, without the "zingers" and one-liners that have characterized other debates.

He said, "The president was very convincing that what he has done is right."

McCain is glad the president pointed out that the "benefits of democracy are very significant for the world, and I think that appeals" to Americans.

King asked McCain if President Bush was different than he was four years ago during his debate with McCain.

The Arizona senator said, "I think four years of the presidentcy has had a maturing effect ... yes, he's really grown."

King asked McCain how he thought Sen. Kerry performed in the debate, and McCain thought Kerry did well, but added that Kerry "failed to resolve the inconsistencies on his position on Iraq."

"And listen, this idea" that Kerry can get others to help us in Iraq ... "Europeans and others are not going to help us until we get the situation stabilized."

When asked by Tom Brokaw what he thought Kerry's best moment of the debate was, the vice presidential candidate agreed with Tim Russert that tonight Kerry seemed to find his voice for the Democrats of the world.

He said Kerry had a strong voice, was ready to lead America, and "showed commitment to finishing the job and being successful in Iraq."

Edwards said that Bush "didn't explain how things are going to change in the next four years." Edwards thinks Bush had no plan for Iraq and said that Americans are less safe because of Bush's performance regarding Iraq.

Brokaw asked why Kerry and Edwards voted to give the president the authority to deal with Saddam, and how Kerry could possibly get other countries involved when those that are not in Iraq now – namely, Germany and France, along with the U.N.'s Kofi Annan – have said they want nothing to do with Iraq.

Edwards claimed it was the "right thing to confront Saddam," but not the right thing to create the "mess" we have now in Iraq, which he attributed directly to "the failures of George Bush and Dick Cheney."

He added that it was "impossible" to fix problems if you can't admit there are any, which he said Bush hadn't.

Edwards told Brokaw that "a new president will have a different level of credibility" and that would translate into a "real possibility" for others to get involved in Iraq.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told Tom Brokaw that President Bush's best moment of the debate was "making clear his firm resolve to complete the war on terror and to give hope" to the Iraqi people.

"America's Mayor" said that it was a "horrible message that Kerry sends – Kerry negates the purpose for which we are there" in Iraq.

He said that "we're trying to bring freedom" and a legitimate government and hope to our troops who are there that we're going to finish the job, and that's the "stark difference" between the two candidates.

Rudy said President Bush thinks "we have to be on offense against terror."

As for Kerry, Giuliani was incredulous that "in one breath he says Saddam is a threat, and at the end of the debate he said Saddam wasn't."

Giuliani said doublespeak like that gives the "American people a lack of confidence" that Kerry can be the commander in chief in a time of war.

He said the President talked to the American people, Kerry lectured.

"Bush had the certainty without the arguments.

"Kerry had the arguments without the affability.

"So, of the two, Bush would be the one you'd want to have a beer with, but only one because you'd tired pretty quick of his unsupported cockiness ... and, remember, we still have two more nights in the bar to go.

"Besides, as Jon Stewart has wisely noted, you really want the designated driver as your president - and that was Kerry.

"Kerry's faults - such as not looking at the audience and forgetting that presidents are also allowed to smile - are all either fixable or passable.

"Bush, on the other hand, sometimes seemed unsure of himself, repetitive, defensive, trying to remember something he had been told, and sounding like he was explaining to his father, Jim Lehrer, why his older brother shouldn't have the car tonight.

"It wasn't too damaging this time but if it keeps up, Kerry will have won the debates."


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The Republican Senator from Alabama was on Fox News Live, and remarked, "I have to say that I thought both President Bush and John Kerry did well in diiferent ways last night. "President Bush talked of substance ... talked of being steady ... talked of leadership, and...
Thursday, 30 September 2004 12:00 AM
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