I think it's too early to call this debate because they were both so tough. It was, I thought, a great debate, because the questioners were good. The questions were tough. Charlie Gibson handled it brilliantly.
They each misstated each others programs. John Kerry overstated the job laws under George Bush by quite a good measure. It's 800-something-thousand in four years, not 1.6 million. And George Bush misstated John Kerry‘s education positions and health programs. So there was a lot of misstating.
I thought the president was on the defensive over Iraq, though, and that he misstated the Duelfer report—the broad conclusions of the Duelfer report—that there has not been weapons found, not that Saddam was trying to evade the sanctions. He recast it the way he has been for the last 48 hours, putting the best face on it. So I think that that is the downside, but I thought it was a very tough, not at all warm and fuzzy debate.
And it remains to be seen whether these guys were too tough for the pallet of the American voter.
Here are two guys— here are two guys in a room with citizens who are going to vote, and they couldn't connect with them. They were talking at them. It was abstract. All the nature, all the humanity was sucked out of this. They couldn't actually exchange remarks or talk to the people. They just had to take the question, then answer it at them.
I think quite candidly— maybe I am the only one here— I thought he wiped up the floor with John Kerry. Kerry was hit with that opening question, which was rough: "How do you explain whether you are wishy-washy? " It was like a boxing match where the president dropped him in the first round.
I never saw Kerry regain his footing. Looking at the president's body language, the president was making jokes! The president was winking. The president felt confident. And you could see the idea he felt he was winning.
Looking at that debate, it is impossible for me to say anything other than that the president of the United States defeated John Kerry handily. He was boring and repetitive, using the same lines as last week. And my guess is, you will see after this debate a firming up of the president's numbers.
Those were the two rams at the top of the hill pounding their heads together for an hour and a half, and it didn't move further in either direction.
I didn't hear any grand philosophical statement Reagan used to give us. I saw no human empathy, like Bill Clinton used to give us, no connection to average people who have lost their jobs, nothing about us, the people— it was all about their debating apparatus.
Nothing anecdotal. Nothing about Mrs. Sally McGee and very little human empathy. It was a battle of, I thought, technocrats.