Reviews from the media of the Vice President Debate: CBS BOB SCHIEFFER (Face the Nation host): I'll tell you, Dan [Rather], this was not the vice pr
October 5, 2004

Reviews from the media of the Vice President Debate:


BOB SCHIEFFER (Face the Nation host): I'll tell you, Dan [Rather], this was not the vice presidential debate that we saw in 2000, when you had the avuncular Cheney trading good-natured barbs with a whimsical Joe Lieberman. This was a very testy debate. The vice president tonight had the unfortunate task of defending a war that does not appear to be going very well these days, on the very day that the former top civilian official in Iraq was making a speech saying that we went about it in the wrong way. That was a tall hill for the vice president to climb tonight, and he had to explain it as best he could. And he was going up against a very good trial lawyer. But he did what trial lawyers do, he began to poke holes in Cheney's arguments, he began to probe. Mainly it seemed to me that his strategy tonight was simply to raise questions about the credibility of this administration, and on a day when the former top official in Iraq was saying they had gone about the war in the wrong way, it seemed to me that he had an easier task tonight.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (This Week anchor): I don't think that either candidate tonight did much to sway any voters who were on the fence. And I didn't see any new line of attack being opened up tonight.

PETER JENNINGS (ABC anchor and senior editor): Anybody who thought that Senator Edwards was going to be rolled by the experienced vice president, I think will have a second thought. But perhaps those people who were disposed to the president will think that Mr. Bush did well today. And those who are disposed toward Mr. Kerry will think that Mr. Kerry -- Mr. Edwards did well.

GEORGE WILL (Washington Post columnist and ABC contributor): I think both the men did what they were supposed to do. They did something perhaps they were not supposed to do, which is show the top of each ticket how this is done. I think both these men did a superior job. Both campaigns have noticed, I believe, in the last six months, that their candidate does better when the focus is on the other guy's candidate. And therefore, you saw tonight a relentless attack from both sides tonight. Particularly Mr. Cheney did what a lot of Republicans felt the president neglected sufficiently to do, that is to raise the record of John Kerry in the Senate. And Mr. Edwards gave just as good as he got, as you indicated, the first words after he thanked Case Western Reserve was -- Mr. Cheney, you're not leveling with the American people. You're not being straight, therefore you're being dishonest. This was a tough debate, but remarkably civil, all told.

MARK HALPERIN (ABC News political director): My sense was it was pretty much of a draw. Both men were strong, as George [Stephanopoulos] and George [Will] said, in making the case, in defending their principal, the top of the ticket.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS (presidential historian and ABC contributor): You know, in 1984 there was another vice presidential debate, four or five days after the first presidential one. Ronald Reagan had done very badly against Walter Mondale the first time. People felt that he was not really up to his usual performance. George Bush running for vice president -- George Bush the elder -- did quite well. That sort of stopped the bleeding. And for people who feel that George W. Bush, the last two days, has been suffering from a bad performance in his first debate, people may conclude the same thing. ... Senator Edwards served Senator Kerry well. I think he did. ... It was a little bit tough because you saw Vice President Cheney basically trying to say this is a guy who's unqualified. I've been president of the Senate for four years. This is the first time I met John Edwards tonight, he said. That's an old tradition. 1988, very famously, Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle, "You're no Jack Kennedy." He [Cheney] was trying to do the same thing.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN (ABC News senior national correspondent): It's interesting, it was a very different debate to watch than the one we watched with Dick Cheney four years ago. The Edwards team was determined to put him [Cheney] on the defensive and Cheney is hard to get on the defensive, it's hard to get him mad in public. And they did it to some extent. At the same time the vice president was determined to keep turning the subject back to terror; he did it.

JUDY WOODRUFF (CNN anchor): Neither side wants to acknowledge that their guy was anything less than fabulous. The Democrats are saying, we won, we put it away. The Republicans are saying Dick Cheney gave John Edwards a good old-fashioned whipping, John Edwards didn't know what he was talking about. But I talked to, also, reporters who, you know, one assumes they're coming at this from the center. In their opinion this debate was close to a draw. And what they go on to say, though, is that if the Republicans if Dick Cheney was hoping to put away John Edwards by virtue of the vice president's considerable experience, he didn't do that tonight. John Edwards came back. He parried. He -- there was no charge that laid on the table that wasn't responded to. Having said that, there is a consensus that it was a draw. But we will see. It is still early in the reaction time out here.

WOLF BLITZER (CNN anchor): Jeff Greenfield, the fact that it was a draw, isn't that effectively a win for John Edwards, the newcomer, as opposed to the vice president?

GREENFIELD: Well, I guess so. ... One very quick note, this whole notion that people from each campaign pouring into this area to claim their guy won, it would be a great idea if you could abolish that. The day that somebody comes out from the campaign and says, you know, my guy really stunk out the joint, I will personally send that person a check for $100. This is the most useless exercise in postmodern media coverage that I know of. And I think, really, enough's enough.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.