- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 9, 2004

The following are excerpts from last night’s presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. Questions were prepared and asked by voters leaning toward one candidate, but not committed:

Sen. John Kerry: “The president didn’t find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so he’s really turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception. And the result is that you’ve been bombarded with advertisements suggesting that I’ve changed a position on this or that or the other.”

President Bush: “I can see why people think that he changes position quite often, because he does. You know, for a while he was a strong supporter of getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He saw the wisdom — until the Democrat primary came along and Howard Dean, the anti-war candidate, began to gain on him, and he changed positions. I don’t see how you can lead this country in a time of war, in a time of uncertainty, if you change your mind because of politics.”

Mr. Kerry: “I’ve never changed my mind about Iraq. I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat. I always believed he was a threat. Believed it in 1998 when [Bill] Clinton was president. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary. But I would have used that force wisely. I would have used that authority wisely, not rushed to war without a plan to win the peace. I would have brought our allies to our side.”

Mr. Bush: “My opponent said that America must pass a global test before we used force to protect ourselves. That’s the kind of mind-set that says sanctions were working. That’s the kind of mind-set that said, ‘Let’s keep it at the United Nations and hope things go well.’ Saddam Hussein was a threat because he could have given weapons of mass destruction to terrorist enemies. Sanctions were not working.”

Mr. Kerry: “The goal of the sanctions was not to remove Saddam Hussein; it was to remove the weapons of mass destruction. And, Mr. President, just yesterday the [Charles A.] Duelfer report told you and the whole world they worked. He didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, Mr. President. That was the objective. And if we’d used smart diplomacy, we could have saved $200 billion and an invasion of Iraq. And right now, Osama bin Laden might be in jail or dead. That’s the war against terror.”

Mr. Bush: “He talks about a grand idea: Let’s have a summit; we’re going to solve the problem in Iraq by holding a summit. And what is he going to say to those people that show up at the summit? Join me in the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place? Risk your troops in a war you’ve called a mistake? Nobody is going to follow somebody who doesn’t believe we can succeed and with somebody who says that war where we are is a mistake.”

Mr. Kerry: “The fact is that the Kyoto treaty was flawed. I was in Kyoto, and I was part of that. I know what happened. But this president didn’t try to fix it. He just declared it dead, ladies and gentlemen, and we walked away from the work of 160 nations over 10 years. You wonder why it is that people don’t like us in some parts of the world. You just say: Hey, we don’t agree with you. Goodbye. The president’s done nothing to try to fix it.”

Mr. Bush: “Well, had we joined the Kyoto treaty, which I guess he’s referring to, it would have cost America a lot of jobs. It’s one of these deals where, in order to be popular in the halls of Europe, you sign a treaty. But I thought it would cost a lot — I think there’s a better way to do it.”

Mr. Kerry: “I think we can do ethically guided embryonic stem-cell research. … And I believe if we have the option, which scientists tell us we do, of curing Parkinson’s, curing diabetes, curing, you know, some kind of a, you know, paraplegic or quadriplegic or, you know, a spinal cord injury, anything, that’s the nature of the human spirit.”

Mr. Bush: “Embryonic stem-cell research requires the destruction of life to create a stem cell. I’m the first president ever to allow funding — federal funding — for embryonic stem-cell research. I did to because I too hope that we’ll discover cures from the stem cells and from the research derived. But I think we’ve got to be very careful in balancing the ethics and the science.”

Mr. Kerry: “I subscribe to the Justice Potter Stewart standard. He was a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. And he said the mark of a good judge, good justice, is that when you’re reading their decision, their opinion, you can’t tell if it’s written by a man or woman, a liberal or a conservative, a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian. You just know you’re reading a good judicial decision.

“What I want to find, if I am privileged to have the opportunity to do it — and the Supreme Court of the United States is at stake in this race, ladies and gentlemen.”

Mr. Bush: “I wouldn’t pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn’t be said in a school because it had the words under God in it. I think that’s an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process as opposed to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

“Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges, years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights. That’s a personal opinion. That’s not what the Constitution says.”

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