The first US presidential debate was held on Thursday, 30 Sept, 9 pm Eastern Time. It was a big time not only for Senator Kerry and President Bush but also for Americans. While I'm sure the debate would not much radically change in the division of votes, I really think the debate could and would make a chance, at least it could swing a little number of undeciding voters.
Debating about foreign policy, the talk yesterday evening focused much on Iraq war. In this debate, being calm and fairly confident, Kerry had been consistently criticizing Bush's treatment against Iraq (also North Korea) and called the conflict as a grand diversion of the broader war against terrorism. Kerry pointed out that Iraq war has no links with the 9-11 and was a 'colosal error of judgment'. He also criticized Bush that he did not do anything to gain international support, did not do enough to protect American soldiers, and concluded that the war wasn't planned well. Kerry emphasized the importance of creating allies and reaching for Muslim countries so US can gain credibilities and supports in handling terrorism rather than sending mix-messages to the global world. In the case of mix-message, Kerry bravely mentioned one example -- by protecting oil area in Iraq but not putting enough troops at the border and other fragile areas, US stimulated Middle East to think that US has a long interest in this region rather than short-term goal to free Iraq.
Bush looked a bit comfortable at the criticism but showed his toughness and convidence by saying that 'he knows how to lead' and 'people know where I stand' and criticized Kerry as being inconsistent. Bush also pointed out that by saying the Iraq war as 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time' Kerry had denigrated the sacrifice of warriors of Iraq war and someone like that is incapable to lead.
There were several sharp exchanges, Senator Kerry at one point saying the president's certainty about issues did not make him right and overall Kerry did a better job than Bush but neither man appeared to deliver a knock-out blow.