Blue vs. Red: The Debate Wasn't Exactly a TieFriday, October 1, 2004; Page C01 John Kerry came off as more presidential than the president last night as the two candidates met for their first face-to-face debate, televised live on all the networks from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. President Bush did not appear to have a firm grasp on the major issues being discussed, opting instead for the repetition of sloganlike remarks and repeated attacks on his Democratic challenger.
Over and over -- and over -- Bush accused Sen. Kerry of having called Bush's invasion of Iraq "the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." He also hammered away with one of the Republicans' favorite themes in their assault on Kerry: that he vacillates on issues depending on how political winds are blowing. The term "flip-flopping" may not itself have been used, or at least not often, but Kerry once referred to Bush changing his mind and said, "His campaign has a word for that." It could be that flip-flopping has played itself out, thanks in part to relentless lampooning of the phrase by topical TV comics.
Kerry acknowledged a bit of flip-floppery by conceding, "I made a mistake in how I talk about the war," but said that Bush's mistake, actually starting the war, was worse...read on