President George Bush and Sen. John Kerry had a second debate at Washington University in St. Louis on Friday 10/8/04. Here some highlights of note to me.
Unlike the calm civil debate seen in round one, on Friday the gloves seemed to come off. Both Bush and Kerry came out swinging with energy in a the town meeting format. Members of the audience, who were identified as undecided, offered questions to each candidate.
Bush seemed more angry, really angry as he not only answered the questions directed to him but he really got feisty when responding to Kerry’s answers.
Kerry also seemed to get more animated in responding to Bush’s answers but overall he seemed more in control during his talking times. He jumped right at the President with the first question where he said the administration mislead us in going to war in Iraq. That set the stage for the tone of the debate.
For a question on why Bush banned importation of drugs from Canada, Bush claimed he hasn’t yet. He falsely told the questioner he wants to be sure they are safe. The fact is the drugs that would come from Canada are the exact same meds that are sold here in the states. Second, Bush signed the Medicare Reform Act that prohibited Medicare from negotiating for lower prices. Due to continued pressure from Senior groups, they are now reconsidering the ban on imports from Canada. They are dragging their feet but they are reconsidering the ban.
Kerry was asked why he picked John Edwards as VP when he was a trial lawyer making millions on liability cases. Kerry explained that Edwards was the author of the Patient’s Bill of Rights that the Congress wouldn’t pass. He also explained that large settlements only make up 1% of health care costs while those in Missouri saw there health care costs go up 64%.
Kerry was asked about embryonic stem cell research. It is a values issue because those opposed to it feel it is destroying a life. The Senator said while he respected the questioners view point but he feels if we can cure a host of disease with the research then we need to do that. Bush responded that he approved some limited research but won’t fund anymore. Kerry then responded that Bush was wishy washy with his response.
A audience member asked Bush who he would appoint to the Supreme Court and why. Bush said he would appoint a strict constructionist and one of the examples he gave of a judge he wouldn’t appoint is one that ruled in the Dred Scott decision. What? Kerry clarified that Bush has said his two favorite current justices are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas “so you see where he is heading..”
Abortion came up with a question to Kerry. The questioner wanted to know what he would tell someone who told him that abortion was murder. Kerry made a good answer in saying even though he is Catholic and he would support other options, he could not deny the constitutional rights of those who don’t hold his religious beliefs on the issue.
Bush said he got a partial birth abortion law passed and supports parental notification. He told the audience that Kerry was against both in voting against them. Kerry then said that he voted against them because they didn’t contain qualifiers he felt they needed such as life of the mother and another option for 16 year old raped by her father. The bills didn’t have those qualifiers so he voted against them.
I thought Bush did better as the debate went on but Kerry was able to stay slightly ahead even with the cheap shots with Bush’s use of the Liberal label.