Friday, October 15, 2004 Politics - The RS Blog Politics - The RS Blog: "Three weeks to go, three debates down, and we've got ourselves one hell of a race. For anyone who enjoys the horserace aspect of politics, these are heady days. But to take a snapshot of the dead heat in this moment is to lose perspective of how the race has evolved. Kerry is the hard-charging challenger, who has made up three lengths on the faltering favorite heading into the stretch run.
Kerry is renowned for being a strong finisher and nothing we saw in last night's debate -- his third win in as many bouts -- undermined that reputation. In a near repeat of the second debate, uncommitted voters scored the 'Duel in the Desert' (ugh!) a decisive win for Senator Kerry (39-to-25 -- with 36 percent scoring it a tie) in a CBS News poll. A general Gallup poll scored the debate a knockout 52-to-39 percent victory for Kerry.
In this blogger's humble opinion, this was Bush's best debate. Except for the nonsensical evocation of 'PAYGO' ('He talks about PAYGO. I'll tell you what PAYGO means'), the president articulated his positions quite clearly. He seemed to have reasonable command of the issues and he found the language he needed to frame them. He seemed sure of himself. Not desperate as in the second debate. And not as cocky as in the first.
Kerry was stronger in the second debate. However the senator continued to clean Bush's clock as a debater. When Bush took only 30 seconds of his allotted two minutes while dodging Bob Schieffer's question about wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade, Kerry milked the clock for all it was worth, riffing not only on the president's intent to make abortion illegal again but also to talk about the failings of No Child Left Behind, and specifically the under-funding of Arizona's public schools."



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