Kerry did better than I expected. He was smooth, and clearly had the better delivery. I think the overall edge on debating form goes to Kerry. Aside from Bush’s ordinary pronunciation gaffes, Bush was repetitive, but that may ultimately play to his advantage. The repetition likely drove the points home, or assured that the viewer who tuned in for just a few minutes got his message.
But before Bush and Kerry readers draw the wrong conclusions, let me say that Bush did what he needed to do. Bush didn’t need a slam dunk--he just needed to show. He had the lead--Kerry needed a strong win, and Bush needed to be crushed for the dynamics to change. This didn’t happen.
Furthermore, Kerry’s substance was quite thin. Does anyone really think that Kerry is going to win the war in Iraq by holding a summit? He needed more to overcome his indecisive policy.
My one regret is that Bush didnt score a few easy points. Kerry attacked Bushs State of the Union statement about Yellowcake uranium. But we now know that Bush was fundamentally right: Saddam had been in negotiations to purchase uranium. Kerry said that he would stop the development of bunker-busting nuclear weapons. Bush should have given him a "there you go again--yet another weapon that Kerry is voting against." You get the idea. But, as I said, Bush did enough.