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Highlights of the 2004 debate season

Issue: "2004 Election: Countdown," Oct. 23, 2004

Presidential Debate No. 1
Sept. 30, Miami

John Kerry: "But if and when you do it [go to war] you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

"This president just-I don't know if he sees what's really happened on there. But it's getting worse by the day. More soldiers killed in June than before. More in July than June. More in August than July. More in September than in August."

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"When I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

George W. Bush: "I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with the decisions I've made. And I made some tough decisions. But people know where I stand. People out there listening know what I believe. And that's how best it is to keep the peace."

"That's kind of a pre-Sept. 10th mentality, the hope that somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful place."

Vice Presidential Debate
Oct. 5, Cleveland

John Edwards: "One thing that's very clear is that a long resumé does not equal good judgment. I mean, we've seen over and over and over the misjudgments made by this administration."

Dick Cheney: "First, they voted to commit the troops, to send them to war, John Edwards and John Kerry, then they came back and when the question was whether or not you provide them with the resources they needed-body armor, spare parts, ammunition-they voted against it. I couldn't figure out why that happened initially. And then I looked and figured out that what was happening was Howard Dean was making major progress in the Democratic primaries. . . . Now if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to al-Qaeda?"

"You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate. Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."

Presidential Debate No. 2
Oct. 8, St. Louis

John Kerry: "Now, everyone in the world knows that there were no weapons of mass destruction. That was the reason Congress gave him the authority to use force, not [the] excuse to get rid of the regime."

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's his tax plan. He chose a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans over getting that equipment out into the homeland as fast as possible."

George W. Bush: "He talks about a grand idea: Let's have a summit; we're going to solve the problem in Iraq by holding a summit. And what is he going to say to those people that show up at the summit? Join me in the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place. Risk your troops in a war you've called a mistake. Nobody is going to follow somebody who doesn't believe we can succeed and with somebody who says that war where we are is a mistake." "What I'm telling you is, is that sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right."

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