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Candidate Clash
by Alex Davis, Staff Writer

With only weeks until the presidential elections, the campaign high season is in dead heat. George W. Bush and John Kerry are neck and neck in the polls, posting an even 48% after the debates with likely voters in a gallup poll. Before the debates, the Kerry camp was down nearly ten points. Now, after the Senator had time to lay out his plan for American and appeal to undecided, the race for the Presidency has never been closer.
The first debate that was held in Miami centered on the war in Iraq and foreign policy. Bush stuck to the decisions he made before and after the war, while Kerry blasted the President on intelligence failures and distortions of the truth. The second hottest topic was the issue of North Korea and disassembling its nuclear program; Bush favors working with China and other countries, while Kerry has a bilateral talk position. John Kerry was overwhelming considered the winner of the debate at University of Miami. A vast majority was more impressed with Kerry's performance than Bush's.
The one and only vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards was held at Case Western Reserve University on Tuesday, October 5th. The debate issues varied from the Iraq war and same sex unions to poverty and education. Between Cheney defending the No Child Left Behind and Patriot Acts and Edwards pointing out the job loss and poverty statistics, both candidates found time to attack each other's personal voting records. While the tension was noticeable between the two candidates, both Edwards and Cheney remained respectful throughout the debate. Overall, the American public was more split on the vice presidential debate's outcome, as public opinion barely changed after the debate.
Friday, October 8th, the second debate between Bush and Kerry was held in St. Louis. The second debate dealt with questions from voters on a variety of subjects including foreign policy, taxes, health care and abortion. According to the Plain Dealer, Bush faired better in the second debate, seeming more comfortable with interaction with voters, rather than speaking on a podium. However, the Plain Dealer also found that Bush spent the majority of his time defending his records, letting Kerry seem more confident. Polls only solidified after the second debate, registered voters tallied 47% each in Gallup poll. Kerry, however, seems to be gaining momentum, gaining a 2% lead among likely voters, helping boost a somewhat lackluster August and September campaign.
The final debate in Tempe, Arizona, returned to the formal podium format. Both candidates filled their responses with staggering statistics about inflation, tax cuts, health care to help bolster their case. Some of their claims being skewed or otherwise untrue, but, they also tried to appeal to voters with their personal stories and faiths, particularly during a question about the women in their lives. President Bush said he has learned to, "Listen to them", referring to his wife and daughters while Senator Kerry talked about his late mother whose advice to him was, "Remember integrity, integrity, integrity."
Overall, the debates helped define the message that each candidate wanted the American public to see. Bush's strategy can by summed up by, "I'm optimistic that we'll win on terror, but I understand it requires firm resolve and clear purpose. We must never waver in the face of this enemy; these ideologues of hate." Kerry has a different perspective for America: "We can lift our schools up; we can create jobs that pay more than the jobs we're losing overseas. We can have health care for all Americans. We can further the cause for equality in our nation." Now that the debates are over, it's up to the nation to decide what they want in a President.

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