US President George W Bush and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry, have held the second of their televised debates.
The two men took questions from voters in the audience in St Louis, Missouri in a session styled on a "town hall meeting".
Opinion polls after the first presidential debate last week suggested John Kerry has closed the gap on President Bush.
Who do you think won the debate? Have you changed your mind about the candidates as a result of the debate? How do you think the candidates performed? What would you like to have heard?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
Comments listed here from people who will not be voting are irrelevant and give a false sense of where the election is headed. Furthermore, people who do not understand the American mindset of way of life will have a hard time understanding the outcome of the November election. Americans are proud, energetic, fearless and stubborn. We do not give up or give in easily. Our choice in this election will reflect that. Care to guess who will win?
Jim, Joliet, ILLINOIS USA
Having watched both debates, when I read the comments in this debate I get the distinct feeling that many Americans are feeling as many of us Brits are feeling. We don't want the incumbent, but neither do we really want the alternatives. I wonder if democracy has had its day. After all every "democratic" state has really only got a restricted form of democracy, and corruption is rife. Many believe it is a two horse race, democracy or dictatorship. There are in fact many political systems, many of which are not only not dictatorial, but more benevolent than democracy.
DRL, Milton Keynes, UK
The debates do not matter that much to me. One of the things that has me determined to vote for Bush is the arrogance of people in Europe. My vote speaks for me and it will say that Americans will not be told what to do by terrorists or anti-American Europeans. We will protect ourselves and look out for our own best interests because after all, that is what everyone else in the world does.
Julie, Solon, Ohio USA
It's great to read the comments of the Europeans. Here in the US you can not get an honest opinion because of partisan. I just hope the some Americans can put that aside and vote for someone that can lead us into democracy again. It's really scary right now.
Wayne T., Ponchatoula. USA
Kerry not only won the debate, he showed once again that he was articulate and presidential in both appearance and substance.
Peter Del Bourgo,
I am surprised by the repetitiveness of this debate. Both of them just repeated or re-worded what was already known. Since there is only 2 choices: Kerry! I could never support Bush after living through the past four years of this Administration. It's sad that Americans have to choose the lesser of the two evils!
Ashley, NYC, USA
This was an even debate. No clear winner, but Bush did better than last time. However, the world will be better off without Bush.
Kyle Jackman, Trinidad and Tobago
If you actually listened to what the candidates SAID as opposed to facial expressions or reactions of the pundits, Bush won by miles. Kerry had no answers for anything but to speak loudly and claim "I have a plan"!
Dave M, Tonopah, Nevada, USA
Kerry did an excellent job laying out the plan he has for changing America for the better. Kerry won the debate.
Katrina Wilcox, Newfield, NY, USA
President Bush was honest and direct to the point. Senator Kerry does not seem genuine and never had a short answer.
F. Morlote, VA, USA
While Bush offered a better appearance than the last debate, it is crystal clear that Kerry understands the complexity of issues, as is really the one with the compassion and strength to lead the country and regain better global relations, the key to fighting terrorism.
Kathleen Dlugos, Greensburg, PA, USA
No one 'won' the 'debate'. Least of all the American people. It was the most sterile and boring piece of stage managed 'argument' I have ever witnessed. If Gallup truly managed to find an audience of people who were undecided, why were the candidates so afraid of them and felt they had to be silenced? One or two positions expressed deserved some applause but instead we got uncomfortable silences. Half the audience looked asleep and bored. This was no town hall meeting - if it had been, President Bush's last questioner would have been allowed to harry him for simply failing to ask answer the question. Some applause and 'noises off' would have given the debate some definition for those watching.
Graeme Smith, (ex-pat UK) Newport, RI, USA
The debate pointed out the stark contrast that Americans face between a subtle, nuanced, thoughtful approach to the problems of the nation and the world and an approach that is at once monochromal, simplistic, and unrepentant. If the President did not need to win the debate, he did well, but if he needed to win this one, his uncompromising assessment of life failed to carry the day.
Michael Meyer, Washington, DC
Simple. Bush won. Kerry has some devoted fans, but sooner or later they must accept the facts. It's a pity that Bush didn't hammer home the point that Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War, which had a solid coalition and a UN backing. So much for being tough on defence and being in favour of international cooperation.
Erik, NC, USA
This debate was not won on appearance but on substance. Kerry showed up Bush's lies about appointments to the Supreme Court, about the environment, etc. Bush sounded good but was hollow. Kerry delivered the goods.
Andy Foldes, New York, USA
It's too bad that the entire election cycle could not consist of 6 weeks and 12 debates of the open structure of the town hall debate. I've learned more about which "personality" I want as my leader than a year of one liners.
JW, Boston, MA
I'm not a big fan of either candidate and don't believe these debates represent anything. Both candidates are going to promise a lot but I think people should base their judgements on the candidates track records. Bush has made mistakes but Kerry's record in Congress is terrible. I think a lot of the individuals writing in have not truly looked into the facts of these debates and base their judgements on a lot of rhetoric. Not defending Bush but its obvious that a lot of people just don't like Bush and are letting their personal beliefs cloud their judgement on the facts. Frankly, these candidates are weak but when I look around the world, I can't find one leader who I feel is any better.
Ken, Wilmington, NC, USA
I thought Bush was the clear winner. I find it difficult to believe how anyone could vote for Kerry when he doesn't seem capable of maintaining a consistent view on any important subject. If he is so driven by the whims of public opinion on the campaign trail, what on earth would he do under the real pressures of government?
John, Belfast, Northern Ireland
I listened to it on the radio and in terms of delivery then Kerry was the clear winner. Whatever argument Bush presented, Kerry responded with clear counter-punches. If Bush wins, then surely Americans are voting on the basis of which candidate they pity the most.
Gerald Higgins, Nottingham, England
President Bush, hands down - won the debate. Fact is always better than fiction. Kerry remains a follower and indecisive; while Bush proves leadership. Kerry is incapable of taking a stand on any issue. My President [Bush] leads by example. I vote for President Bush.
Gisela M Stansel, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
I watched the debate in the early hours of this morning. I think, whatever your political viewpoint, Kerry seemed to be the more composed and professional of the two men. Bush seemed nervous, giving the impression that he's in way over his head.
Andy Bird, Cheshire, England
Bush did better in this debate than he did in the first one. But the man is scary. Kerry is far more thoughtful and balanced. We need British support over here to make a change.
David G Mills, Memphis, TN
Bush made a stronger showing than previously, but Kerry was far more responsive - intelligent, organized, thoughtful, as well as personally engaged. The president great "strength" comes across as sincere delusion -he is consistently determined to believe what he wants to believe. That is reckless egoism, not leadership. Most telling was his sad inability to admit having made any mistakes, a naive delusion dangerous to the country and the world.
Andrew Brown, Houston Texas
Kerry won again. He has a command of issues and looks far more knowledgeable and competent than Bush.
I felt Bush was much better this time, but Kerry had control of the debate. The situation in Iraq is only getting worse and Bush and his cohorts are desperately putting a spin on the latest information of why they went to war, when they shouldn't have. It is time for new blood and I would rather take my chances with Kerry than another four years with Bush. How much worse can it get?
Diana S Fetterman, Coconut Creek, Florida, USA
Kerry clearly won the debate. He offered real solutions to real problems. Bush offered nothing but attacks. It was disturbing to be to see Bush fly off of his stool in a temper flurry - schoolboy behaviour - not presidential behaviour.
Gail Vanderhoof, Green Valley AZ, USA
Bush must win for a decisive outcome of the war on terror. The world cannot live with terrorist and without balance of power.
Syed, Ontario, Canada
Kerry was the better debater at the first debate but Bush got this one hands down. Kerry reverted to one answer all night. He kept claiming, "I have a plan", but then time and again failed to state what that plan was, and how it differed from the Bush agenda. Bush on the other hand is very forthcoming in his views. This debate alone convinced me to stay clear from Kerry.
Don, Bend, USA
No winner. It's a choice that isn't. Democracy is a farce in the US. Hollywood democracy. A choice between the lesser of two evils. Corporate America or corporate America. Where are the so-called independent candidates? Why don't they get airtime? Big bucks is why.
Jan Wouters, Brussels, Belgium
All that Bush displayed the whole night were feats of anger and rehearsed spin phrases. On the other hand Kerry was in control and seemed to understand and respond to the questions far much better. Bush only beat the Bush of the last debate. Overall I think Kerry won.
David Kinyanjui, Paris, France
I think the American people will win the debate. They will get what they vote for. I hope they choose Kerry, and get the US back into the United Nations with vigour and aplomb. Their economy is doing ok which is good for Bush this time, makes Kerry almost the impossible victor in this election.
Don Oddy, London
Bush's statements about the environment were a great example of how he tries to spin his poor performance into a great accomplishment. Kerry did a great job of responding to the questions, even when Bush tried to attack.
Candice, Los Angeles, USA
The one good thing was that the debate reminded me that our local politicians are not too bad in relative terms. Kerry did not answer all the questions, preferring instead to bash Bush. Bush also did not answer many of the questions preferring instead to trumpet what a firm and brave President he was. Good entertainment though.
Nigel Darwent, Trinidad and Tobago
While both candidates came out swinging, it was clear that Kerry came out the victor again. He was clear and concise, and showed the kind of poise that a world leader should have. Bush showed more control than in the last debate, but he clearly lost. The most telling moment was when Bush could not admit to a single mistake made during his four years as president. This is the pinnacle of arrogance.
Bryan Kelch, San Francisco, CA, USA
I think it was a clear win for Kerry. Bush had obviously been thoroughly coached and he started OK, although I thought he was a little too eager and appeared desperate to raise the issue of the global test as soon as possible. However once again he was unable to sustain any momentum over the full 90 minutes and particularly in the foreign policy segment he got stuck in the same old loop.
Lee Tyrer, St Helens, England
Kerry was the clear winner. Bush's delivery was better than previously but he only offers nonsensical sound bites against Kerry's hard facts and arguments. At the end of the day, Kerry is simply right - "you can run but you cannot hide" indeed.
Dan, Luton, UK
I was actually up at 2am British time to watch the debates. What can I say? On the one side you have the resolute ignorance of Bush. On the other side you have the dreamy meanderings of Kerry. I truly feel sorry for the American people who have to choose between the two.
Joseph, Nottingham, UK
I think Kerry won the debate, He was clear and strong. I think Bush over acted and had nothing new to say. He kept winking at the audience. I thought that was weird.
Michael Jones, Los Angeles, USA
The key word is 'performance'. Yup, Bush may well have performed very well, but that's all it is. Surely it is better to have some flexibility than to be resolute no matter how the stage may change.
Simply put, this debate made clear that Kerry is obviously smarter and more in command of the facts and figures than Bush. Does that mean he won? No - Bush managed to come across as more coherent and consistent than his opponent. The Kerry ticket still lacks a simple and clear message - something everyone, not just the well-educated, can understand.
Alex van den Bergh, Haarlem, The Netherlands
I found it difficult to believe the promises Kerry made. He made many assertions, but provided failed to describe how he intended to deliver on his campaign promises. Kerry still did not demonstrate the resoluteness Bush seems to possess. I continue to feel that Kerry's opinions on important issues are so flexible as to accommodate whichever direction the prevailing political winds of the day are blowing.
I will choose Bush's black-and-white views over Kerry's unending shades of grey.
Les Matthews, Houston, USA
Kerry won this debate through his substantive answers over Bush's stump speech rhetoric. Bush cannot stop rolling his eyes and making schoolboy faces, showing contempt for his rival... very uncool behaviour for a president.
Jeff Sepeta, Chicago, USA
I think Bush won. He answered the questions and laid out the parameters well. Kerry is a good debater, but he did not convince me at all. It seems to me he wants to do everything with the money he is going to take in taxes from the $200,000+ income group: cut the deficit, unite the world, fund education and health care, eliminate terrorism, and do so without taxing someone, somewhere. Doesn't figure.
Nickie, Dallas, USA
Bush looked like a weak candidate going up against a strong president.
Ronnie, Los Angeles, USA (British)
Kerry won by being more responsive to the questions. Bush's answers just didn't square with the news. If you are at all informed, his answers about Iraq just didn't make sense
Lawrence Hui, New York, USA
Once again John Kerry demonstrated that he has the temperament as well as the intellectual capacity and vigour to lead the United States. President Bush improved his performance from the first debate, but only by delivering simple and superficial answers. He is an embarrassment to us.
Gloria Howard, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Kerry won. Bush couldn't connect with the audience the same way that Kerry could. Kerry knows how to talk to the home town crowd, call the speakers by their names, and he made mention of the state of Missouri several times. That wins votes the old fashioned way.
Amy Costa, Broward County FL, USA
Bush is the clear winner. I was voting for Kerry but now I see what his record is all about. I will vote for Bush on 2 November.
Drew Jones, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA
Bush was stronger in his presentation but Kerry still streets ahead on substance, Bush improved later when the debate turned to more moral issues, but Kerry judged things well especially when he connected the statistics to real situations in Missouri.
Kaal Nikolic, Sydney Australia
In my opinion, it is clear that President Bush is no longer capable of leading our government into the future. I voted for him four years ago and will not make the same mistake in November.
Erika, Cleveland, USA
Bush seemed much more comfortable & performed admirably tonight. The town hall format seemed to play to his strength. Kerry's performance was unchanged from the first debate.
Ryan, Leesburg, VA USA
Bush was a little more coherent than in the first debate, but that is not saying much as he was miserable in the first. He continues to use the same old clichés and tell lie after lie. The American public got another side by side view of Kerry and it was positive. I think that the Kerry momentum will accelerate and the Bushies will be all the more uptight.
Charles Clark, Roswell, Georgia USA