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.
I think we had a good and substantive debate. Both men did fine.
It was obvious Kerry had prepared well and he did a good job style-wise, but Bush appears to have matured into the role of president and had an obvious advantage on Iraq.
MEET THE PANEL
Name: Jorge Caspary
Lives: Tallahassee, Florida
Works: Civil engineer
Current voting intention: Republican
In 10 words or less:
"Bolivian immigrant, geologist, father-of-three, moderate Republican"
The debate showed a contrast of temperaments, in my opinion.
Kerry's slow, intellectual approach versus Bush's folksy, down-to-earth, less verbally agile but charismatic approach.
It was clear that Kerry had a difficult task. He believes the war was a mistake but at the same time he can't say we will leave there tomorrow.
Kerry speaks of a plan to leave, but so far has offered no specifics.
I also think there is a big difference showcased by the debate: how to define the enemy. Kerry believes the enemy should have been al-Qaeda all along, whereas Bush defines the enemy as more global. On this point, I feel President Bush won.
Another point showcased by the debate is Kerry's ever-changing position on Iraq.
Bush was devastating when he implied you can't be president if you keep changing positions or speak with two voices at the same time to our allies.
Kerry had some good points too, such as North Korea, which has seemingly disappeared from the administration's radar screen.
All in all, I think Bush came out ahead, due to his familiarity with the Iraq issue and because he has laid out a vision of his foreign policy.
But the true test of capturing the undecided vote will come when domestic issues are brought to the fore.
Nonetheless, this debate makes me proud to be a citizen of the US; it showcases a pillar of the democratic process, which is a frank interchange of ideas between contrasting points of view.
This is something the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan never had before we got rid of their ruthless rulers.
Send us your comments on Jorge's views using the form below.
I agree with a good portion of this analysis. A lot of people are declaring Kerry the winner with his more polished performance, which I do agree with, also. However, this debate, from all signs so far, has not changed the minds of a good portion of people. They might be leaning more towards one candidate, but I have heard only one say they have made a decision. I think most of us, myself included, who have been following the race closely learned little to nothing new in this debate. People seem to be more concerned with the information presented, than debate styles, which is good.
Jenna, Harrisburg, IL USA
Well, I don't think President Bush looked as strong as Jorge portrayed him. He looked overwhelmed and was repeating the same message all the time. I know that is his trademark but I don't think it worked well yesterday (as he was constantly bombarded with facts and failures of this administration).
Dear Jorge, you live in Florida and you seriously talk about the US as the pillar of the democratic process? Anyone who has been living in Florida for more than four years should be convinced that the US is as corrupt as one of the African or South American countries, albeit not as openly corrupt. I wonder how Americans can trust their election system when their president's brother is running the state of Florida.
Serge de la Rey, Napier, New Zealand
I think Jorge's assessment of the debates is a joke. He missed something important about them in his naive opinion, and that is that Bush kept on beating a broken drum. He kept on accusing Kerry of having "core values that change." The man standing next to the President last night was not the same person as the one he was describing. Kerry appeared consistent, presidential and well informed. Bush on the other hand, appeared flustered and made only emotional appeals. The majority of viewers saw this distinction last night and that is why every debate poll indicates a clear double digit victory for Kerry. The implications are that George Bush, just like Tony Blair, is about to get fired.
Patrick Lane, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
It seems as though Jorge and I were watching different debates. To me, Bush had the look of a deer caught in headlights for most of the second half of the debate. He kept mentioning 'humanitarian aid' which was the same level of support that we provided to Afghanistan prior to October, 2001. The president's insistence that Kerry sends 'mixed messages' highlighted Bush's need for a well-rehearsed script and his inflexibility.
Lori, Tallahassee, FL, USA
Open your ears, unclog your neurones and take off your blinkers and you'll at last understand that Bush and his cronies are devastating your country and the rest of the world. Whether it be for financial greed or by blind ideology - or both.
C Tree, Sete, France
I agree with Jorge on all counts. However, I would like to say that it's hard to relate to candidates who were born rich to rich families and don't have any idea what it takes for the average American to get through from pay check to pay check. I didn't hear any candidate make any mention of the way most of us have to struggle to survive with high taxes, high insurance premiums for minimal care, high cost of living on fixed incomes, possibly no social security that we have paid into all our lives at retirement and no indication of any relief from rising costs on just staples like food and health care. Why spend so much on foreign countries when we at home are suffering to try to keep from becoming "street people" ourselves? Most average Americans are just a pay check away from total ruination, after all, we are the paying for all this, who's looking out for us?
Cathy Larkins, Florida, USA
Mr. Caspary, your final paragraph shows your complete lack of knowledge about these two countries and their current situation. Are you seriously saying that these countries now have democratic processes? They may have something approaching democracy two decades from now, but how many more thousands will die first? And will it have been worth it for their citizens. Unfortunately no-one asked them for their opinion!!
Martin, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Sorry to read that Jorge finds stubborn attachment to a bad idea preferable to flexibility in handling a job gone wrong.
Mary Sinclair, San Antonio, Texas, US
A fair man's conclusions and in the final analysis a Republican who wants to believe his faith in his chosen political leader is justified.
David Hanna, Shellharbour Australia
I agree with much of Jorge's analysis. However I disagree when he said that Kerry offered no specifics on Iraq, he at least said he wanted to start moving US troops out of Iraq within 6 months. He implied that he would get more international peace keeping troops in via the UN. Bush was very vague as to when some US troops would come home, and is not even acknowledging the reality on the ground that the US troops bear the brunt of the casualties and costs of war with even Britain far behind. Bush clearly needs to get more foreign troops involved in Iraq so that the Iraqi people do not feel like they are being occupied. Hopefully that will bring more stability to the region.
Des, Newport Wales