Watching the debate, I thought Bush was tentative in the beginning, but much more confident as the debate progressed. The turning point came when he was asked about homosexuality, etc., and got an opportunity to speak about religion and faith, matters obviously close to his heart.
Kerry did well, although I felt there were many points at which he could delivered a knockout blow, and he passed up. I think there is some kink which causes him to mention John McCain at every turn, as though this is going to fetch him some benediction from Republicans. It does not at all serve him well. One would think his unseemly overtures to McCain for the VP slot, and the latter's deliberate, public, snubbing should have taught Kerry something. Bush neatly turned his McCain chant into a plus by saying briefly that McCain had endorsed and was working for him.
Clearly, Bush was quite wobbly on most matters, and reverted to his mantras of 'liberal', 'Ted Kennedy', 'Senate Record', etc. I think the public is now on to this coverup.
In conclusion, the debates have been great, even if they have not served to answer (or have answered) the basic question of an Iraq solution. Kerry also passed up a great opportunity during the debate to nail the administration's negligence in allowing 9-11 to happen. Bush has been shown up for a president with lots of strong opinions (beliefs?) but with a rather tenuous grip on facts. A lifetime of short-cuts and disdain for learning were clearly manifest in his answers. The delightful Dick CHeney momen t of this debate ("I don't recall saying I wasn't concerned about Osama Bin Laden", similar to "I never said Saddam Husain had anything to do with Al Qaeda or 9-11") came early in the debate. Perhaps they are so used to thinking the media will let everything pass. Or to the months of handpicked audiences who will cheer everything they say.
Kerry may not be the best candidate in the world, but there is no doubt he is better suited to be president than Bush. A long list, that.