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Thursday, September 30, 2004
By Steven L. Taylor

I think that everyone on TV (and I have flipped around a bit) is trying too hard to declare a winner–and to define what criteria they are using to do so. I think that on substance that it was something of a tie. The lack of major gaffes or memorable sound bites also means it was somewhat dull. Given that the expectation was that this was Bush’s area of expertise, and therefore a chance to knock Kerry out, some will argue that since Kerry didn’t lose, he therefore won.

Here’s the real question: if Kerry gets any momentum, will Kerry be able to stay on message for more than a week?

Still, should be interesting to see how the coverage evolves–it will be three days before we really know who won.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Stephanopolous on ABC News was reporting that ABC and CBS have polling that show Kerry having won the debate handily–however, I can find no links at this moment.

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By Steven L. Taylor

The more I think about it, the more I think that there was no overarching storyline from this debate–certainly not on the order of the Gore sighing routine or Clinton showing how he can feel everyone’s pain. Rather, the analysis will be in the bites–which ones get played over and over and what is said about them.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Andrea Mitchell (MSNBC): thinks that Kerry was “very tough” and she isn’t sure that the American people will respond well to it. She also thought that the reaction shots will damage Bush.

Ron Reagan (MSNBC): “I think we’ve got a race on out hands here” and “Kerry was the clear winner.”

The Newsweek Guy (I forget his name) wasn’t willing to say who won.

Bill Kristol (Fox) noted the whole “global test” business.

Ceco Connolly (Fox/WaPo) think that Bush studied up on Kerry and that Kerry displayed “a depth of knowledge” and that Bush “ran out of material.”

Mort Kondrake and Brit Hume think that Bush looked annoyed and tired. Connolly stated he looked “sour” at times.

Now the fox folks are discussing that Kerry looked bigger and Bush smaller in the split screen. My initial reaction is that they are grasping for something to talk about.

I agree with Bill Kristol that Kerry supporters will take heart from this debate.

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By Steven L. Taylor

My flash assessment is that Kerry did not accomplish what he needed to accomplish—which was to hit a homerun, land a knock-out punch, or whichever sports analogy one prefers. He did not have a clear statement on Iraq, has left himself open for the attack that he doesn’t understand the war on terror, and did nothing to elucidate a clear difference better himself and Bush beyond just the idea he would do it all “better.?

On a first viewing (and Heaven knows I will end up seeing parts of it over and over) I have seen no major gaffes by either candidate. Further, there really wasn’t anything all the particularly amusing.

Bush did stumble on occasion, but given that that was expected, I am not sure that that mattered.

Bush’s closing statement was better than Kerry’s—it had a vision behind, while Kerry’s was a continuation of his vague pronouncements.

Of course, as with speeches, the coverage is more significant than the event itself.

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By Steven L. Taylor

CNN’s debate page already has the first two parts of the debate online–with other debate-y goodness.

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By Steven L. Taylor

In responding to the Korea/China follow-up on the truth issue Bush went into auto-pilot by going back to Iraq. Of course, Kerry played along, making it less of a gaffe.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Bush worked in a reference to the terrorist and the schoolchildren in Beslan, something I expected.

Also, somewhat clever for him to speak with familiarity with “Vladimir”–which is clearly an attempt to underscore how Kerry can talk about talking to foreign leaders, while he actually does speak on a first-name basis with world leaders. Although, granted, Putin wouldn’t be first on my list of guys I wanted to be chummy with.

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By Steven L. Taylor

I think Kerry brought up nuclear proliferation just to force Bush to say “nu-cue-lar”.

However, the idea that the US shouldn’t develop new weapons because it sends the wrong signal to the rest of the world is the kind of mistake that Democrats have been making on defense for decades–and one that is reflective of his Senate career vis-a-vis the Cold War. Further, it actually brings him into Zell Miller’s crosshairs.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Ok, this one can’t be left alone: Bush keeps calling the Mullahs, the “mooo-las”.

That may be a classic.

However, I will say, I haven’t seen much good SNL material thus far.

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