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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
US media assess presidential debate
John Kerry and George W Bush
Both candidates are angling for undecided voters
US President George W Bush and his Democrat rival in the race for the White House, John Kerry, have sharply outlined their differences on a range of issues in the first head-to-head debate of the campaign.

Here are some reactions from US media.

"I think that George W Bush still has the upper hand, but my sense is that John Kerry is back in the game."

David Gergen on CNN

"John Kerry's staff is practically loopy with happiness after what they see as a clear win by their candidate."

Dan Harris, ABC's Good Morning America

"The Bush team was hoping for a knockout blow, even if they didn't say so. They didn't get it."

George Stephanopoulos, ABC

"The Kerry people are jubilant about Kerry's performance."

Dean Reynolds, ABC

"Kerry won Thursday night's debate on foreign policy by a comfortable margin, but Americans may yet decide that President Bush is better able to clean up the mess he created in Iraq."

Los Angeles Times editorial

"George W Bush is famous for fierce discipline when it comes to sticking to a carefully honed, simple message... But last night Mr. Bush sounded less convincing when he had to make his case in the face of Mr Kerry's withering criticism."

New York Times editorial

"The Kerry campaign would concede that there was no knock-out punch, but it showed that he is still in this game."

Candy Crowley, CNN

"Bush has made better arguments for his policies than he made tonight, but I think voters know that about him."

Conservative commentator Bill Kristol on CNN

"Mr Bush stoutly defended his decision to go to war and its results; Mr Kerry forcefully criticised that decision and the war's management... Both performed credibly enough to keep voters tuned in for the next debate."

Washington Post editorial

"In shorthand, the choice is this: A president who will act independently and quickly, even at the risk of alienating allies or making a grievous mistake. Or one who will proceed more deliberately in concert with allies, potentially at the price of missing a crucial opportunity."

USA Today editorial

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