United States presidential election debates, 2004

United States presidential election debates, 2004

United States presidential election debates were held in the 2004 presidential elections. Three debates were held between Republican incumbent George W. Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry, the major candidates, and one debate was held with their vice presidential running mates, incumbent Dick Cheney and John Edwards. All four debates were sponsored by the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which has organized presidential debates since its establishment in 1987.

The vice presidential debate was October 5 at Case Western Reserve University. The presidential debates were September 30 at the University of Miami, October 8 at Washington University in St. Louis, and October 13 at Arizona State University, ahead of the November 2 Election Day. Different moderators and debate formats were used in each debate.

An alternative was proposed by the Citizens' Debate Commission, but was not carried out. There were several third-party candidate debates also held independently from the CPD-sponsored debates. The debates were the latest in a series of presidential debates first held during the 1960 presidential election and held every four years since the 1976 election.

Participant selection

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the predetermined criteria for selecting candidates to participate in its 2004 presidential debates are based on evidence of eligibility (as defined in Article Two of the United States Constitution), evidence of ballot access, and evidence of electoral support based on national public opinion polls.

Participants must have appeared on enough state ballots to have at least a mathematical chance of securing the Electoral College majority needed to win the election. While several third-party candidates met the eligibility and ballot access criteria, none had the support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate based on the average of five"selected national public opinion polling organizations. The criteria also specified that invitations to the CPD's vice-presidential debate would be extended to the running mates of the candidates participating in the first presidential debate.

Only President George W. Bush and U.S. Senator John Kerry met the CPD selection criteria for any of the presidential debates. As a result, only Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards met the criteria for the vice presidential debate.

On October 1, 2004, the Arizona Libertarian Party (AZLP) filed suit against the Commission on Presidential Debates and Arizona State University in the Superior Court of Arizona for Maricopa County regarding the staging of the third presidential debate. They contested that the debate, to be held on the grounds of and partially funded by a state university, constituted an illegal in kind campaign donation because it excluded Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian candidate. (Only Bush, Kerry, and Badnarik had ballot access in Arizona.) In the complaint the Arizona Libertarian Party alleged that ASU was "making a donation to two individual campaigns [Bush and Kerry] through the Commission on Presidential Debates as a conduit, in violation of the Arizona Constitution's prohibition on making gifts or donations to individuals or corporations."

Superior Court Judge F. Pendleton Gaines III issued an order to show cause for the president of ASU and for the director of the CPD to appear in court for a hearing on October 12, a day before the scheduled debate. Gaines denied a restraining order on the grounds of laches and that there was a sufficient public purpose for the debate, but also ruled that the AZLP could continue to pursue damages for any violations to their constitutional rights.

The Arizona debate nonetheless proceeded on October 13.

On October 8, at the second debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Badnarik and another third-party nominee, Green candidate David Cobb, were arrested in a civil disobedience action after crossing a police line outside the debate venue to protest their exclusion from the debate. Badnarik said he was attempting to serve the order to show cause; both candidates were released after being ticketed for trespassing and refusing a reasonable order from a policeman. [http://www.azlp.org/NEWS/?041012.txt] [http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2008/chrndebs08.html] [http://www.nysun.com/article/2962]

Presidential debates memorandum of understanding

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Bush 2004 campaign and the Kerry 2004 campaign, covering in minute detail all aspects of the presidential candidate debates held between the two candidates was created. It was 32 pages long and dated September 20th.

The Citizens' Debate Commission (CDC) and others were instrumental in getting the campaigns to publish the MOU in advance of the debates. One of the commissioners of the CDC, George Farah, has written about the earlier debate MOUs in the 2004 tome "No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates". ["No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates" (2004, ISBN 1-58322-665-6.]


Three presidential debates were scheduled by the Commission on Presidential Debates:
# September 30 at the University of Miami, with questions from moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS;
# October 8 at Washington University in St. Louis, in a town-hall format moderated by Charles Gibson of ABC;
# October 13 at Arizona State University, with questions from moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS.

One vice-presidential debate was held:
* October 5 at Case Western Reserve University, moderated by Gwen Ifill of PBS

Originally, the CPD specified that the first debate would be focused on domestic policy and the third focused on foreign policy. Those terms were changed in an announcement by the CPD on September 24, after it had reviewed the terms of the MOU. The CPD agreed that foreign affairs and homeland security would be the primary topic for the first debate and domestic and economic policy will be the "primary" topic of the third debate. More broadly, it also agreed to make a "good faith effort" to accommodate the rest of the terms of the MOU.

The September 24 announcement, which was released in the format of a copy of a letter sent to the two campaigns, also noted CPD's pleasure at the willingness of the two campaigns to participate in the second, "town meeting"-style debate, yet was ambiguous about just what had been agreed to.

Originally, the CPD had announced that questions for the second debate would come from undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization from the standard metropolitan statistical area surrounding the host city. This had been the policy followed for the 1992, 1996, and 2000 debates. But the September 24 letter to the two candidates did not comment on this; instead, it noted that campaign representatives can discuss participant selection methodology with Dr. Frank Newport of Gallup in order to resolve any open issues. One such issue was that the MOU specified that half the questions be asked by "soft Kerry supporters" and half by "soft Bush supporters," though what is meant by those terms was not made clear.


For 2004, each debate lasted ninety minutes, included a live audience, had no opening statements, could have included follow-up questions from the moderator and ended with closing statements of two minutes in length.

eptember 30: First presidential debate (University of Miami)

This debate is the most well known of the three debates, because of the "You forgot Poland" incident, and the .

The debate was held in the Convocation Center of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.

Jim Lehrer of PBS's "The NewsHour" posed nine questions for each candidate:

Questions for President Bush

#Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?
#What about Senator Kerry's point, the comparison he drew between the priorities of going after Osama bin Laden and going after Saddam Hussein?
#What criteria would you use to determine when to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq?
#You have said there was a, quote, "miscalculation of what the conditions would be in postwar Iraq." What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen?
#Has the war in Iraq been worth the cost in American lives? Ten thousand fifty two—I mean, one thousand fifty two—as of today.
#Does the Iraq experience make it more likely or less likely that you would take the United States into another preemptive military action?
#Do you believe that diplomacy and sanctions can resolve the nuclear problems with North Korea and Iran?
#There are clearly, as we have heard, major policy differences between the two of you. Are there also underlying character issues that you believe—that you believe are serious enough to deny Senator Kerry the job as commander-in-chief of the United States?
#Did you misjudge President Putin, or are you—do you feel that what he is doing in the name of anti-terrorism by changing some democratic processes is OK?

Questions for Senator Kerry

#Do you believe you could do a better job than President Bush in preventing another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States?
#What colossal misjudgments, in your opinion, has President Bush made in fighting the war on terror?
#As President, what would you do specifically, in addition to, or differently, to increase the homeland security of the United States than what President Bush is doing?
#Speaking of Vietnam, you spoke to Congress in 1971, after you came from Vietnam, and you said, quote, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?
#You've repeatedly accused President Bush—not here tonight, but elsewhere before—of not telling the truth about Iraq, essentially of lying to the American people about Iraq. Give us some examples of what you consider to be his not telling the truth.
#Can you give us specifics — in terms of a scenario, timelines, et cetera—for ending U.S. — major U.S. military involvement in Iraq?
#What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?
#You mentioned Darfur, the Darfur region of Sudan. Fifty thousand people have already died in that area, more than a million are homeless and it has been labeled an act of ongoing genocide, yet, neither one of you—or anyone else connected with your campaigns or your administration that I can find — has discussed the possibility of sending in troops. Why not?
#If you are elected President, what will you take to that office thinking is the single most serious threat to the national security of the United States?

Transcript and video stream

* from Wikisource
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/news_web/video/40134000/nb/40134718_nb_16x9.ram Real player video stream of the debate] from the BBC website
* [http://www.archive.org/movies/details-db.php?collection=election_2004&collectionid=presidential_debate_9-30-04 Video and stream of the debate] from the Internet Archive

Post-debate poll

62.5 million people tuned in to the debates, an increase of just over 35% from 2000. A Gallup poll conducted following the debate among 615 registered voters found that 53 percent felt Kerry had done better than Bush, while those who were of the opposite opinion amounted to 37 percent. 46 percent said they had a more favorable opinion of Kerry after the debate, compared to 21 percent for Bush. [http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/20041001-9999-1n1assess.html]


A bulge in the back of Bush's suit jacket during this debate triggered rumors that he was "wired" with a radio receiver, presumably to receive instructions from his strategists. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3730364.stm] Contributing to the rumors was the perception by some that, at one point, Bush stated "Let me finish" in response to no apparent interruption and when he still had time on the clock, and some long pauses by Bush before he began answering a question. Others dismissed these accusations, saying that the "Let me finish" was a response to a gesture that Lehrer made, and the pauses were a result of Bush gathering his thoughts before responding. The story gained momentum on the Internet throughout the remaining debates, with some websites devoted exclusively to the issue, often referred to as the "Bush bulge" or "Bush wired" story. Comedy talk show hosts had fun with "Bulgegate" jokes.

White House officials initially claimed that the bulge was a "wrinkle in the fabric," and that President Bush was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, as many conjectured. President Bush's tailor later said that the bulge was nothing more than a pucker along the jacket's back seam, according to the Seattle Times newspaper. After the election, unidentified sources in the Secret Service told "The Hill" that Bush had been wearing a bullet-proof vest and that campaign handlers had not admitted it earlier for security reasons. [http://www.hillnews.com/under_dome/110404.aspx]

There is also evidence that the device was a portable defibrillator the president supposedly began wearing after the infamous "pretzel incident" in January 2002. [http://houston.indymedia.org/news/2004/12/35839.php]

A photo imaging scientist at NASA, Dr. Robert M. Nelson, applied photo enhancement techniques to images of Bush at each of the three debates. [http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2004/11/10_402.html] He concluded that Bush was "obviously wearing something—probably a receiver of some kind—under his jacket for each debate." [http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2004/11/10_407.html] Nelson sent his evidence to "The New York Times", which prepared an investigative report on the matter, but it was killed by editors, one of whom later explained that the story did not make the cut because it was mere "speculation"; a reporter on the "Times" science desk disagreed. [http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2012] The story received some coverage, for example in "Salon", "Mother Jones" and "Extra!" magazines.

The bulge appeared in the second presidential debate as well, albeit differently-shaped; this furthered speculation as to what was under Bush's jacket. In addition to the bulge, C-SPAN footage of the second debate revealed what appeared to be a black object under Bush's tie for a brief second; there has been no definitive word on what caused this to appear.

Kerry has also been the subject of misconduct rumors. Footage shows him removing something from his jacket, in violation of section 5(c) of the Memorandum of Understanding, which states, in part: "No props ... or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by any candidate." At first there was speculation that it might have been an index card or a piece of paper containing notes, but subsequent investigation by the Fox News Channel [http://www.dailyrecycler.com/blog/2004/10/mystery-solved.html] revealed that what Kerry removed from his jacket was a pen.

"You forgot Poland"

During the debate John Kerry accused Bush of having failed to gain international support for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, saying the only countries assisting the USA during the invasion were the United Kingdom and Australia. Kerry's assertion was incorrect. There were four countries that participated in the invasion. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Poland [ [http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/coalition/index.html Iraq War: U.S. & Coalition - Special Reports from CNN.com ] ] Bush prefaced his reply by saying "Well, actually, he forgot Poland and now there's 30 nations involved, standing side by side with our American troops."

Vice-presidential debate — October 5


The only Vice Presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards was held at the Veale Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The debate attracted a large audience, as 43.6 million people tuned in, nearly as many as had watched the presidential debates from 2000.

Moderator Gwen Ifill of the Public Broadcasting Service posed a total of twenty questions to the candidates:

Questions for Vice President Cheney

# Vice President Cheney, there have been new developments in Iraq, especially having to do with the administration's handling. Paul Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, gave a speech in which he said that we have never had enough troops on the ground, or we've never had enough troops on the ground. Donald Rumsfeld said he has not seen any hard evidence of a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Was this approved—of a report that you requested that you received a week ago that showed there was no connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein?
# Tonight we mentioned Afghanistan. We believe that Osama bin Laden is hiding perhaps in a cave somewhere along the Afghan-Pakistan border. If you get a second term, what is your plan to capture him and then to neutralize those who have sprung up to replace him?
# When the president says that Senator Kerry is emboldening enemies and you say that we could get hit again if voters make the wrong choice in November, are you saying that it would be a dangerous thing to have John Kerry as president?
# Mr. Vice President, in June 2000 when you were still CEO of Halliburton, you said that U.S. businesses should be allowed to do business with Iran because, quote, "Unilateral sanctions almost never work." After four years as vice president now, and with Iran having been declared by your administration as part of the "axis of evil," do you still believe that we should lift sanctions on Iran?
# Mr. Vice President, the Census Bureau ranked Cleveland as the biggest poor city in the country, 31 percent jobless rate. You two gentlemen are pretty well off. You did well for yourselves in the private sector. What can you tell the people of Cleveland, or people of cities like Cleveland, that your administration will do to better their lives?
#I want to read something you said four years ago at this very setting: "Freedom means freedom for everybody." You said it again recently when you were asked about legalizing same-sex unions. And you used your family's experience as a context for your remarks. Can you describe then your administration's support for a constitutional ban on same-sex unions?
# President Bush has derided in John Kerry for putting a trial lawyer on the ticket. You yourself have said that lawsuits are partly to blame for higher medical costs. Are you willing to say that John Edwards, sitting here, has been part of the problem?
# I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts. What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?
# Without mentioning them by name at all, explain to us why you are different from your opponent.
# Whichever one of you is elected in November—you mentioned those three electoral votes in Wyoming and how critical they've turned out to be. But what they're a sign of also is that you're going to inherit a very deeply divided electorate, economically, politically, you name it. How will you set out, Mr. Vice President, in a way that you weren't able to in these past four years, to bridge that divide?

Questions for Senator Edwards

# You and Senator Kerry have said that the war in Iraq is the wrong war at the wrong time. Does that mean that if you had been president and vice president that Saddam Hussein would still be in power?
# Senator Kerry was asked about preemptive action at the last debate—he said, "You've got 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 can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." What is a global test if it's not a global veto?
# Part of what you have said and Senator Kerry has said that you are going to do in order to get us out of the problems in Iraq is to internationalize the effort. Yet French and German officials have both said they have no intention even if John Kerry is elected of sending any troops into Iraq for any peacekeeping effort. Does that make your effort or your plan to internationalize this effort seem kind of naive?
# If this report that we've read about today is true, and if Vice President Cheney ordered it and asked about this, do you think that, in the future, that your administration or the Bush administration would have sufficient and accurate enough intelligence to be able to make decisions about where to go next?
# Senator Edwards, as we wrap up the foreign policy part of this, I do want to talk to you about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, a senior member of Islamic Jihad was killed in Gaza. There have been suicide bombings, targeted assassinations, mortar attacks, all of this continuing at a time when the United States seems absent in the peace-making process. What would your administration do? First of all, do you agree that the United States is absent? Maybe you don't. But what would your administration do to try to resolve that conflict?
# Senator Kerry said in a recent interview that he absolutely will not raise taxes on anyone under, who earns under $200,000 a year. How can he guarantee that and also cut the deficit in half, as he's promised?
# As the vice president mentioned, John Kerry comes from the state of Massachusetts, which has taken as big a step as any state in the union to legalize gay marriage. Yet both you and Senator Kerry say you oppose it. Are you trying to have it both ways?
# Do you feel personally attacked when Vice President Cheney talks about liability reform and tort reform and the president talks about having a trial lawyer on the ticket?
# Ten men and women have been nominees of their parties since 1976 to be vice president. Out of those ten, you have the least governmental experience of any of them. What qualifies you to be a heartbeat away?
# Flip-flopping has become a recurring theme in this campaign, you may have noticed. Senator Kerry changed his mind about whether to vote to authorize the president to go to war. President Bush changed his mind about whether a homeland security department was a good idea or a 9/11 Commission was a good idea. What's wrong with a little flip-flop every now and then?

Transcript and video stream

* from Wikisource
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/news_web/video/40150000/nb/40150484_nb_16x9.ram Real player video stream of the debate] from the BBC website
* [http://www.archive.org/movies/details-db.php?collection=election_2004&collectionid=vice_presidential_debate_10_5_04 Video and stream of the debate] from the Internet Archive

Post-debate poll

CBS News interviewed a nationally representative sample of 178 uncommitted debate-watchers. The sample was of voters who are either undecided about who to vote for or who have a weak preference that could be changed. Of the group 41 percent said Edwards won the debate, 28 said Cheney won, and 31 percent thought it was a tie. Both uncommitted men and uncommitted women preferred Edwards. [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/05/opinion/polls/main647648.shtml]

According to telephone interviews conducted by SurveyUSA in Florida, 44 percent of people thought that Cheney had "clearly won" the debate, while 40 percent of people said the same of Edwards. [http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/survey/docs/debate2.pdf] A separate poll found of 1000 likely voters found that 43 percent believed Cheney won while 37 percent felt Edwards did better. Moreover, after the debate 47 percent said that Cheney was "very qualified" to assume the responsibilities of president (a 7 percent rise), while only 25% said the same of Edwards (no change). [http://www.rasmussenreports.com/VP%20Debate.htm]

econd presidential debate — October 8


The debate was held at Washington University in St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri. Charles Gibson mediated the town hall session, which consisted of prospective voters reading questions preselected by Gibson to the candidates.

Questions for Senator Kerry

# Senator Kerry, after talking to several co-workers and family and friends, I asked the ones who said they were not voting for you, why. They said that you were too wishy-washy. Do you have a reply for them?
# Senator Kerry, the U.S. is preparing a new Iraq government, and we'll proceed to withdraw U.S. troops. Would you proceed with the same plans as President Bush?
# Iran sponsors terrorism and has missiles capable of hitting Israel and southern Europe. Iran will have nuclear weapons in two to three years' time. In the event that U.N. sanctions don't stop this threat, what will you do as President?
# Senator Kerry, we have been fortunate that there have been no further terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. Why do you think this is? And if elected, what will you do to assure our safety?
# Senator Kerry, you've stated your concern for the rising cost of health care. Yet you chose the vice presidential candidate who has made millions of dollars successfully suing medical professionals. How do you reconcile this with the voters?
# Senator Kerry, would you be willing to look directly into the camera and, using simple and unequivocal language, give the American people your solemn pledge not to sign any legislation that will increase the tax burden on families earning less than $200,000 a year during your first term?
# Senator Kerry, how can the U.S. be competitive in a manufacturing given — in manufacturing, excuse me, given the wage necessary and comfortably accepted for American workers to maintain the standard of living that they expect?
# Senator Kerry, thousands of people have already been cured or treated by the use of adult stem cells, or umbilical cord stem cells. However, no one has been cured by using embryonic stem cells. Wouldn't it be wise to use stem cells obtained without the destruction of an embryo.
# Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder, and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion. What would you say to that person?

Questions for President Bush

# Mr. President, yesterday in a statement you admitted that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, but justified the invasion by stating — I quote — "he retained the knowledge, the materials, the means, and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction, and could have passed this knowledge to our terrorist enemies." Do you sincerely believe this to be a reasonable justification for invasion when this statement applies to so many other countries, including North Korea?
# Mr. President, my mother and sister traveled abroad this summer and, when they got back, they talked to us about how shocked they were at the intensity of aggravation that other countries had with how we handled the Iraq situation. Diplomacy is, obviously, something that we have to really work on. What is your plan to repair relations with other countries, given the current situation?
# Mr. President, since we continue to police the world, how do you intend to maintain a military presence without re-instituting a draft?
# Mr. President, why did you block the reimportation of safer and inexpensive drugs from Canada, which would have cut 40–60 percent off of the cost?
# Mr. President, you have enjoyed a Republican majority in the House and Senate for most of your presidency. In that time, you've not vetoed a single spending bill. Excluding $120 billion spent in Iran and Afghan — I'm sorry, Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been $700 billion spent and not paid for by taxes. Please explain how the spending you have approved and not paid for is better for the American people than the spending proposed for your opponent.
# Mr. President, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist? What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition of our nation's air and water supply?
# President Bush, 45 days after 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which takes away checks on law enforcement, weakens American citizens' rights and freedoms, especially Fourth Amendment rights. With expansions of the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, my question to you is, why are my rights being watered down and my citizens around me, and what are the specific justifications for these reforms?
# Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court, and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose, and why?
# President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it.

Transcript and video stream

* from Wikisource
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/news_web/video/40159000/nb/40159072_nb_16x9.ram Real player video stream of the debate] from the BBC website
* [http://www.archive.org/movies/details-db.php?collection=election_2004&collectionid=presidential_debate_10_8_04 Video and stream of the debate] from the Internet Archive

Post-debate poll

A [http://edition.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/10/09/snap.poll/index.html CNN/USA Today/Gallup snap poll] taken immediately after the presidential debate found that 47% of respondents felt Kerry had won while 45% said the same of Bush.


Bush attempted to deflect criticism of what was described as his scowling demeanor during the first debate, joking at one point about one of Kerry's remarks, "That answer made me want to scowl". [http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-deb09.html]

When asked about possible appointments to the Supreme Court, Bush replied he would not pick the type of judge who would support the Dred Scott decision. As that case dealt with slavery, abolished in the United States almost a century and a half ago, some commentators thought that Bush's reply was a rather strange bit of historical minutia. Others commented that the President's citation was aimed at the pro-life voters, for whom "Dred Scott" is code for Roe v. Wade, meaning that President Bush would appoint Justices who were opposed to keeping abortion legal. [http://slate.msn.com/id/2108083/] Further, the reference might have been meant to draw a parallel between the judicial activism of Judge Taney's Dred Scott decision to allow the morally abominable practice of slavery, and the pro-life position that Roe v. Wade was judicial activism allowing (in their opinion) the morally abominable practice of abortion.

Third presidential debate — October 13


The final debate was held in the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium at Arizona State University. [http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/index.php?sty=30208] The history of this venue is interesting in light of the current occupation of Iraq: architect Frank Lloyd Wright originally designed the building as an opera theater for Baghdad. In 1957, King Faisal of Iraq commissioned the aging Wright, then 90 years old, to design a new opera house for his capital city. Wright designed a building quite different from his prairie style, instead using domes, spires and ziggurats. He expanded the plan into a broader scheme for Baghdad, planning museums, parks, a university and bazaar. The 1958 revolution prevented Wright's plans from ever going into effect, and instead his opera house was built at Arizona State University. [http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110003910]

Moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News posed twenty total questions to the candidates:

Questions for Senator Kerry

# Will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?
# You pledged during the last debate that you would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 a year. But the price of everything is going up, and we all know it. Health care costs, as you all talking about, is skyrocketing, the cost of the war. My question is, how can you or any president, whoever is elected next time, keep that pledge without running this country deeper into debt and passing on more of the bills that we're running up to our children?
# Is it fair to blame the administration entirely for this loss of jobs?
# The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem-cell research. What is your reaction to that?
# You have, as you have proposed and as the president has commented on tonight, proposed a massive plan to extend health-care coverage to children. You're also talking about the government picking up a big part of the catastrophic bills that people get at the hospital. And you have said that you can pay for this by rolling back the president's tax cut on the upper 2 percent. You heard the president say earlier tonight that it's going to cost a whole lot more money than that. I'd just ask you, where are you going to get the money?
# Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, says there's no way that Social Security can pay retirees what we have promised them unless we recalibrate. What he's suggesting, we're going to cut benefits or we're going to have to raise the retirement age. We may have to take some other reform. But if you've just said, you've promised no changes, does that mean you're just going to leave this as a problem, another problem for our children to solve?
# The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?
# If you became president, Senator Kerry, what would you do about this situation of holding National Guard and Reservists for these extended periods of time and these repeated call-ups that they're now facing?
# Affirmative action: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs, or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor in school admissions and federal and state contracts and so on?
# Senator Kerry, after 9/11... it seemed to me that the country came together as I've never seen it come together since World War II. But some of that seems to have melted away. I think it's fair to say we've become pretty polarized, perhaps because of the political season. But if you were elected president, or whoever is elected president, will you set a priority in trying to bring the nation back together? Or what would be your attitude on that?

Questions for President Bush

# We are talking about protecting ourselves from the unexpected, but the flu season is suddenly upon us. Flu kills thousands of people every year. Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?
# Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?
# Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
# Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four years according to The Washington Post. We're paying more. We're getting less. I would like to ask you: Who bears responsibility for this? Is it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers? Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?
# We all know that Social Security is running out of money, and it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that's going to mean finding $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being set up. So where do you get the money? Are you going to have to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?
# [A] t least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know. Some believe it's an economic issue. Some see it as a human rights issue. How do you see it? And what we need to do about it?
# Mr. President, I want to go back to something Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of my own. He said... that you had never said whether you would like to overturn "Roe v. Wade". So I'd ask you directly, would you like to?
# You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?
# You were asked before the invasion, or after the invasion, of Iraq if you'd checked with your dad. And I believe, I don't remember the quote exactly, but I believe you said you had checked with a higher authority. I would like to ask you, what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?
# [T] he three of us "(Bush, Kerry, & Schieffer)" share something. All three of us are surrounded by very strong women. We're all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. I'd like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing you've learned from these women?

Transcript and video stream

* from Wikisource
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/news_web/video/40177000/nb/40177262_nb_16x9.ram Real player video stream of the debate] from the BBC website

Third-party candidate debates

*January 29 — Former Green Party presidential nomination candidate and independent vice-presidential candidate Peter Camejo debated Normon Solomon at the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento, regarding what direction the Green Party should take in 2004. Camejo supported Ralph Nader, even as an independent candidate, and hoped that Nader could be persuaded to run with the Green Party. Solomon said that Nader should not run, and that the Greens should work to defeat George W. Bush . The debate was a benefit for listener-sponsored KVMR.
*August 31 — Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) and David Cobb (Green) debated in New York City. George W. Bush (Republican), John Kerry (Democrat), and Ralph Nader (independent) were invited to debate, but none of them accepted. The debate was moderated by Rob Richie, Executive Director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, and Walter Kane, a reporter for Channel 12 News. C-SPAN televised the debate on September 6.
*September 30 — Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) and David Cobb (Green) debated at 5 p.m. in Miami, across the street from the Bush-Kerry debate, which began at 9 p.m. Unlike Bush and Kerry, Badnarik and Cobb took unscripted questions from the audience and from correspondents. The event was carried live by Pacifica Radio, and broadcast later by PBS Television.
*October 6 — Michael Badnarik (Libertarian), Walt Brown (Socialist), David Cobb (Green), and Michael Peroutka (Constitution) debated at 8 p.m. at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The format of this event was similar to that of the September 30 debate: opening statements, questions from the audience, and closing statements. However, the debate was slightly shorter than the prior two third-party debates, at about 80 minutes total. Time was split between four candidates rather than two, and most of the questions came from Cornell undergraduate and graduate students.
*October 7 — Vice-Presidential debate conducted by "Democracy Now!" featuring Pat LaMarche (Green), Peter Camejo (Independent Ralph Nader's running mate), and Richard Campagna (Libertarian).
*October 7 — Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) and David Cobb (Green) at the University of Texas at Austin at 11:30 a.m.
*October 15 — Walt Brown (Socialist), David Cobb (Green), Charles Jay (Personal Choice Party), Gary Nolan (radio host) standing in for Michael Badnarik (Libertarian), former presidential candidate Deirdre Griswold standing in for John Parker (Workers World Party), former presidential candidate Jerry White standing in for Bill Van Auken (Socialist Equality Party) at East Tennessee State University. The debate was released on DVD.


External links

* [http://www.debates.org/ Commission on Presidential Debates]
* [http://www.citizensdebate.org/ Citizens' Debate Commission]
* [http://www.opendebates.org/ Open Debates]
* [http://www.fair.org/articles/appleseed.html The Appleseed Citizens' Task Force on Fair Debates]
* [http://www.c-span.org/2004vote/debates.asp?Cat=Current_Event&Code=PresVP_04&ShowVidNum=10&Rot_Cat_CD=PresVP_04&Rot_HT=206&Rot_WD=&ShowVidDays=100&ShowVidDesc=&ArchiveDays=365/ C-SPAN page on presidential debates]
* Copy of the 2004 MOU, in PDF format from the [http://opendebates.org/news/documents/debateagreement.pdf Open Debates] website
* [http://opendebates.org/news/documents.html List of documents] from Open Debates website, with links to MOUs for the 1988, 1992, and 1996 debates
* Factcheck: [http://www.factcheck.org/article271.html first debate] [http://www.factcheck.org/article275.html second debate] [http://www.factcheck.org/article281.html third debate]
* [http://www.justicetalking.org/viewprogram.asp?progID=452 Debate on the state of elections] between Howard Dean and Ralph Nader, sponsored by Justice Talking

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