In the run up to the American presidential elections we will be asking a panel of voters to share their views on the key issues. Here they give their opinion on Thursday's debate between US President George W Bush and his Democratic challenger John Kerry.
Kerry came out on the offensive and from the beginning of the debate had George W Bush on the defensive.
MEET THE PANEL
Name: Shankar Iyer
Lives: Fairfax, Virginia
Works: Business Professor
In 10 words or less: "University Professor, humanitarian, Democrat"
The first presidential debate served to highlight the clear differences between Senator Kerry's approach of combining strength with wisdom, and Presidential Bush's belief in a unilateral "shoot from the hip" approach.
Kerry reiterated the need for building broad consensus and coalitions and using war only as a last resort when all other options had been exhausted.
He also stressed the need to stay focused on the key threats - of terrorism, nuclear proliferation and the possibility of nuclear material getting into the hands of terrorists.
He emphasised the consistency in his message and approach and underscored the need to adapt to changing ground conditions in war.
Bush seemed to spend more time accusing Kerry of sending mixed messages rather than debate the issues. Kerry aptly characterised Bush's plan to be a four word plan - more of the same.
It was clear Kerry had much better command of the subjects discussed and he seemed a lot more at ease.
Bush had moments when he seemed to be at a loss for words, or just confused.
In sum, Kerry offered a message of change for the better - make America once again strong within and respected among the nations of the world.
Bush claimed he knew how to fight the war on terror and staying the course was the right answer.
As a patriotic American who believes the aggression on Iraq is immoral, illegal and unnecessary - and one who is looking for a better alternative -I believe Kerry articulated that well in this debate.
In my view, Kerry won the debate, with sound ideas and a clear, resolute commitment to leading America in a change for the better.
Send us your comments on Shankar's views using the form below.
Some of you expressed a concern for President Bush's ingnorance and Mr Iyer said that Kerry had a better grasp of many topics. Kerry is a smooth public speaker, but do not confuse that with understanding. Kerry proved to me that he does not understand Iraq or coalition building. Calling for troops to leave in six months is irresponsible. His claim to clean up Russia's nuclear stockpile in four years is laughable. He argues for unilateral action with North Korea rather than using North Korea's neighbours to talk it down. Was not this Kerry's complaint against Bush about Iraq? The US did this for 12 years, but the fact is largely ignored. Please, get a basic understanding of military operations and diplomacy. Bush was frustrated during the debate. He offered answers. Kerry spouted idealistic platitudes. I want a president who will listen to those around him and find solutions, not just talk a good talk.
Brian, Tokyo, Japan
Peter in Vancouver - Bush had more on his mind? Pity no one could tell with his endless pauses and petulant, irritable expressions and exasperated whining about "hard work". If you are so convinced that Bush has a winning strategy, just how long are you prepared to wait to see it accomplished?
JR, Toronto, Canada
I agree with Shankar. Bush spoke better than he had during the 2000 election debates, but he still embarrasses the country by his ignorance. Kerry seemed like he would be a strong and reasonable leader, more like Clinton.
Diane Jones, Tampa, Florida, US
It would be nice to live in a world determined by Shankar however we live in Bush's world which is a lot more dirty, unreasoned, barbaric and continually confronting, so Shankar's views should probably be ignored. However many have similar views and if there are enough of them, they will decide who will be the next president of the USA. I hope, but I doubt it, that Kerry can do the impossible and bring us all back to a world which is more reasoned and safe for all.
David Hanna, Shellharbour, Australia
While I prefer Senator Kerry, I do not see how Professor Iyar can support him on Iraq. Prof. Iyar describes the war as "aggression...immoral, illegal." If he were right, then the only legal or moral response would be immediate withdrawal by the entire coalition that fought the war. Sen. Kerry, to the contrary, says that "failure is not an option" in the current effort to create a new and more democratic government and a peaceful, orderly land and he consequently plans to keep troops there for months or years.
Michael , Framingham, Massachusetts, USA
Iraq is not the only substance issue and is not the most important, but the only one which Bush has a chance. My son is in Iraq drafted by Bush and I want him home. His wife and 6 month old son want him home. Let the Bush and Chaney families take their own guns to Iraq and do their own killing for the Iraq oil which they want for their own profit. Kerry is my only hope for peace. To Mr. Shankar I say "Right On"
Reginald M Cracken, Martinsville, IN , USA
Shankar's comments were the most on-target and articulate of all your panellists.
Vigen Baboghlian, Somerset/New Brunswick, NJ, USA
"Kerry was a lot more at ease" - so what! Perhaps he had less on his mind.
Peter Macdonald, Vancouver, Canada
I completely agree - this is an excellent summation of the debate. At times President Bush sounded like a 10 year old whining "It's hard, it's hard". I also thought that President Bush sounded like he had memorised 30 minutes worth of material, which he kept spewing out over and over again.
Joy Newsome, Burlington, Ontario, Canada