In the run up to the American presidential elections we will be asking a panel of voters - selected from as wide a cross-section of people as possible across the US - to share their views on the key issues.
As I watched the Democratic Convention this week, I sat there disgusted with all the remarks aimed at George W Bush about the war on Iraq.
MEET THE PANEL
Name: Laura Stietz
Lives: Sidney, New York
Works: Law student
Current voting intention: Republican
In 10 words or less:
"Definite Republican, mother, George Bush supporter, politics and law enthusiast"
These are the senators and congressmen that gave Mr Bush the OK to go to war in the first place.
John Kerry is so sure that he is going to win, but watching that speech last night, if I did not know who I was going to vote for it certainly would not be him.
He served in Vietnam - but he does not tell the American people how he also protested against the war.
He states he will not raise taxes, but yet he voted to raise taxes and raise gas prices.
He attacked Bush on the war in Iraq and he says he has a plan, but said nothing about his plan.
We cannot pull out of Iraq now.
He says he will lower taxes for the middle class with incentives - what incentives?
He did not say what they were, and what else he is going to tax or raise in order to do this.
If you look at John Kerry's voting record, you will see someone that flip-flopped with the polls whichever way they were that week.
I do not believe this speech will have any effect on peoples' choice for president, because there is only one good choice out there - and that is George W Bush.
I think I have heard enough of John Kerry's 'flip-flopping'. It's a bit of an overkill for Laura as a Republican to mention it in this piece. But I am surprised that nobody tries to relate his voting record to the fact that all these votes happened over 20 years. How can you expect his priorities to be the same over 20 years? I'd rather have somebody like Kerry who has a lot of experience working with different issues and knows the world outside of the USA.
Anup Paul, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
The point of a round table is to give your point of view. Laura is doing just that. It would be impossible for a panel of six to represent all viewpoints or for each panellist to be balanced. That's normal. The liberals on this panel don't give "balanced" views either. Why should they. They are liberal because that is their persuasion.
James Ball, Louisiana, USA
It's a simple choice. Good old-fashioned pragmatism. We tried Bush's way for four years. It simply hasn't worked. When something doesn't work, you try something new. I don't know if Kerry will be successful, but give him a chance. We gave Bush a chance. When someone doesn't do the job right, you fire him. Plain and simple.
Teresa, Las Vegas, USA
I wonder if Laura really watched the Democratic National Convention. It seems to me that she is just swallowing the right wing's commentary about John Kerry's speech.
Pavitra Pandey, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, USA
I certainly respect the views of Laura Stietz, a fellow New Yorker and fellow American, but I also certainly disagree with her. She states that she was "disgusted with all the remarks aimed at George W Bush about the war on Iraq". I know that Senator Kerry strongly disagrees with the president on the Iraq war, but since when does honest disagreement count as "Bush bashing" or "disgusting". Whenever I see President Bush make statements in favour of the war, I am not disgusted, I simply recognise that he has a different opinion. Isn't freedom of thought what America is all about?
Craig, New York City, USA
Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought it impressive that he actually fought in the war despite his objections to it. It seems to me that it would give more credence to his objections. This is in contrast to others who may not have objected to the war, but clearly objected to putting their lives on the line for their country.
Mike, Washington, USA
People accuse Kerry of not accomplishing anything in the Senate. At least he was even in the Senate. All politics aside, I cannot see why anybody would vote for George Bush. He claims that he will make this country safer, yet there is more animosity towards the US than any previous time in history. You want to talk about flip-flopping? Take a look at the man you're supporting first.
Brent Calaway, Austin, Texas, USA
Just because you have a different opinion does not mean you can belittle someone else's views as "republican propaganda". Laura has a very good point: for all of Bush's failings I know what he his going to do if re-elected. I cannot say the same thing about Kerry, partly because his plans are so vague, and partly because his record is so self-contradictory (if you do not like the word flip-flop).
Ilya, Waltham, MA, USA
Flip-flop seems to have become the mantra of the Republicans, and it's a pretty nonsensical one, given that Mr Kerry has been a legislator for quite some time. Any elected official may find him or herself voting for a bill that they have at one time opposed. A legislator may do this for many reasons. They may be getting a vote for something they value more in return, the bill may be attached to other legislation they favour, the situation may have changed making the proposed legislation more important than it was before, or the legislator may simply have changed his or her mind. Changing one's vote for any of the above reasons is entirely legitimate, and I'd be very interested to hear of any non-first term legislators in the US federal government who haven't.
Justin Kim, New York, USA
Laura's no doubt deeply held politics seems to criticise Kerry without scrutinising Bush's record much. Some might describe this as blindly following a leader. As a Blair supporter, this doesn't mean I don't think he has made mistakes, and he has, but politicians are there to be challenged, not followed.
Scott Maxwell, Edinburgh, UK
Laura being a staunch Bush supporter is helping me realise what television and advertising in general can do to mobilise political forces. That said, Laura is simply repeating what she has heard by the GOP political machine. Flip-flopping, raising taxes, and the lack of an Iraq plan. These same points are raised by the GOP's political machine. Laura, I think you need to realise that if Kerry was going to outline in detail everything he was going to do in an acceptance speech, it would be a lot longer than an hour; and my attention span can only hold watching boring politicians for so long.
Shayaan Faruqi, NJ, USA
This Republican has certainly nailed her colours to the mast. By the use of the word "flip-flopping" she has said exactly what her Republican literature has told her to say.
Andy, Oxford, UK
Oh my, every time I read Laura's view, it's like going to the RNC's website. If you actually watched the entire convention, you would notice that many people mentioned that Kerry protested the Vietnam war. If you look at John Kerry's voting record and not take the edited version of the RNC to heart, you would learn why he voted that way. For example, the Republicans love to say Kerry voted against the additional $87M for the Iraqi invasion. They neglect to mention he offered another bill that wouldn't affect taxpayers as much as Bush's bill.
Anika, Hollywood, CA, USA
Laura: My son has served in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was when he came back from Iraq that we found out he had post traumatic stress disorder. He, like many of our soldiers, will sadly be affected with this. Why? Because Bush sent these soldiers into a war with a huge target on their backs!
Angie McClelland, Indiana, USA
I appreciate Laura's views, but maybe it's not that personal for her yet. Have the lives of over 900 of America's best and brightest and the critical injuries of several thousand more been worth the capture of one man? Has the world been made safer by following a lie? Does the increase of hate around the world towards America make Laura feel more secure? If it's justice for 9/11 we want, why are we in Iraq - the one place in the world we know Bin Laden isn't? And, please Laura, tell me you have a loved one serving in the war zone, or that you can see your child someday fighting in the streets in a country far away, and that's okay with you. If you can give up your family for Mr. Bush, then I applaud you and can respect your choice. I can't and I'll be voting for John Kerry as I believe will my son, via absentee ballot from Tikrit, Iraq.
Timothy Silverlake, Valencia, California USA
To Timothy Silverlake: We have not lost 900 American soldiers for one man and to say that makes it sound like those brave soldiers died in vain. They died for the future safety of the entire world and freedom for millions of Iraqis from a murderous, terrorising dictator. What much of the world must realise is that in this war on terror, many more will die so others may live. The dead American soldiers made an honourable sacrifice.
Tim, Bethesda, MD, USA
Good job Timothy, that was very well put. I pray for the safe return of your son and all those serving in Iraq. However, I completely disagree with the war and the way it was handled, and in response to what Laura said about the senators that voted for war: when the senators voted for war, Bush told them that he would only go to war as a last resort, and the way we went to war was clearly not a last resort. He was clearly hungry for war and it is sad that we went to war on a personal vendetta, rather than an imminent threat to the American people.
Jim Davis, Seattle, WA, USA
I wholeheartedly agree with Laura. What is more, I served 24 years on active duty in the US Air Force, retiring during the last Democratic administration. I have a daughter on active duty who is also an avid Bush supporter. It was high time that America stood up for itself and I'm proud we have a president with the courage to do just that. I would remind Mr Silverlake that we have an all-volunteer force; none of those 900 were forced to be here and all were proud to serve their country and their Commander-in-Chief.
Ed Tracey, Dalzell, SC, USA (Currently working in Baghdad, Iraq)
Perhaps Mr Tracey of Dalzell, SC, doesn't remember that serving in the armed forces is, often times, poor people's only means to pay for a college education - which taints its image as a truly volunteer force. If we made college education affordable for everyone in the US, how many would still sign up to carry guns around Iraq?
Catherine Kivelš, Finland/USA
When will politicians like Kerry realise that the public doesn't want every little piece of our lives regulated, taxed, or subsidised? When will politicians like Kerry see freedom from government intervention as a virtue?
Ralph Penn, Dayton, Ohio, USA
John Kerry's speech was great - especially in comparison to the earlier ones he made. I was a bit uncertain if he was capable of being the next president of the United States. Now I know that he is. But this election isn't really - in my mind - about choosing the next president, it's about getting George W Bush out of the White House. I can't understand why anyone would want him back in the driving seat.
Jan Sarin, Stockholm, Sweden
It seems to me that Laura did not watch the speech with open ears, but rather with the preconceived notion that Kerry is not a suitable candidate. She did not listen to his speech. She planned her reply when he was speaking, as so many of us do.
Casey Golden, St Paul, MN, USA
I don't think that this staunch Republican realises what this speech wanted to achieve. She says "I do not believe that this speech will have any effect on peoples' choice for President" but it wasn't meant to have any effect on voters who always vote Republican regardless. It was aimed at undecided voters who might actually vote for Kerry. Bush is always rambling on about safety and security but do Americans actually feel safer since the Iraq war? Kerry probably won't do a lot differently but at least he won't be a puppet on a string doing his dad's friends a few favours. If George W, who always seems to be on holiday in Texas, is a good choice for president then God help America.
Daniel Stirrat, Manchester, UK
In my view flip-flopping, at times, is completely appropriate. When a candidate, or better yet a president, listens to the voice of the people and reacts, it should be commended. The candidates are elected by the people and should therefore represent the people.
Tom, Chicago, Illinois
Well, so fervently predisposed a Bush supporter as Laura was never going to give us much of a balanced perspective on the speech. John Kerry saw live action in Vietnam, behaved heroically on the battlefield and then returned home to protest and legislate to end the war in Vietnam is exactly the kind of character we want leading the country rather than someone who can admit a wrong judgement and do something about it. His distinction from Bush's foreign policy is quite simple: a return to alliances, a return to the spirit of consensus amongst the democratic nations of the world when pursuing overseas objectives. This is just plain old fashioned neighbourliness. Bush has made America a bad neighbour in the international community; it's time to change the actions, the policies and the man who put us in such low esteem among our friends.
Igor Goldkind, Charlbury, UK