2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
GEORGE W. BUSH & JOHN KERRY
THE THIRD PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
TEMPE, AZ • OCTOBER 13, 2004
MR. SCHIEFFER: Good evening from Arizona
State University in Tempe, Ariz. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS
News. I want to welcome you to the third and last of the
2004 debates between President George Bush and Senator John
Kerry. As Jim Lehrer told you before the first one, these
debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Tonight the topic will be domestic affairs. But the format
will be the same as that first debate. I'll moderate our
discussion under detailed rules agreed to by the candidates.
But the questions and the areas to be covered were chosen
by me. I have not told the candidates or anyone else what
To refresh your memory on the rules, I will ask a question,
the candidate is allowed two minutes to answer, his opponent
then has a minute and a half to offer a rebuttal. At my discretion
I can extend the discussion by offering each candidate an
additional 30 seconds. A green light will come on to signal
the candidate has 30 seconds left, a yellow light signals
15 seconds left, a red light means 5 seconds left. There
is also a buzzer if it is needed.
The candidates may not question each other directly. There
are no opening statements but there will be two-minutes closing
statements. There is an audience here tonight but they have
agreed to remain silent except for right now when they join
me in welcoming President George Bush and Senator John Kerry.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both. By coin toss the first question
goes to Senator Kerry. Senator, I want to set the stage for
this discussion by asking the question that I think hangs
over all of our politics today and is probably on the minds
of many people watching this debate tonight. And that is
will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world
as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?
MR. KERRY: Well, first of all, Bob, thank you for moderating
tonight. Thank you, Arizona State, for welcoming us. And
thank you to the Presidential Commission for undertaking
this enormous task. We're proud to be here. Mr. President,
I'm glad to be here with you again to share similarities
and differences with the American people.
Will we ever be safe and secure again? Yes, we absolutely
must be. That's the goal. Now how do we achieve it is the
most critical component of it. I believe that this president,
regrettably, rushed us into a war, made decisions about foreign
policy, pushed alliances away and, as a result, America is
now bearing this extraordinary burden where we are not as
safe as we ought to be.
The measurement is not are we safer, the measurement is
are we as safe as we ought to be. And there are a host of
options that this president had available to him like making
sure that at all our ports in America containers are inspected
- only 95 percent of them - 95 percent come in today uninspected.
That's not good enough. People who fly on airplanes today,
the cargo hold is not X-rayed, but the baggage is. That's
not good enough.
Firehouses don't have enough firefighters in them. Police
officers are being cut from the streets of America because
the president decided to cut the cops program.
So we can do a better job of homeland security. I can do
a better job of waging a smarter, more effective war on terror
and guarantee that we go after the terrorists. I will hunt
them down and will kill them, will capture them, will do
whatever's necessary to be safe. But I pledge this to you,
America: I will do it in the way that Franklin Roosevelt
and Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy and others did, where
we build the strongest alliances, where the world joins together,
where we have the best intelligence and where we are able,
ultimately, to be more safe and secure.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President you have 90 seconds.
MR. BUSH: Bob, thank you very much. I want to thank Arizona
State as well. Yes, we can be safe and secure if we stay
on the offense against the terrorists. And if we spread freedom
and liberty around the world. I have got a comprehensive
strategy to not only chase down Al Qaeda wherever it exists
- and we're making progress, three-quarters of Al Qaeda leaders
have been brought to justice - but to make sure that countries
who harbor terrorists are held to account.
As a result of securing ourselves and ridding the Taliban
out of Afghanistan, the Afghan people had elections this
weekend. And the first voter was a 19-year-old woman. Think
about that. Freedom is on the march.
We held to account a terrorist regime and Saddam Hussein.
In other words, in order to make sure we're secure there
must be a comprehensive plan. My opponent just this weekend
talked about how terrorism can be reduced to a nuisance,
comparing it to prostitution, illegal gambling. I think that
attitude and that point of view is dangerous. I don't think
you can secure America for the long run if you don't have
a comprehensive view as to how to defeat these people.
At home we'll do everything we can to protect the homeland.
I signed the Homeland Security Bill to better align our assets
and resources. My opponent voted against it. We're doing
everything we can to protect our borders and ports. But absolutely
we can be secure in the long run. It just takes good strong
MR. SCHIEFFER: Anything to add, Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: Yes. When the president had an opportunity to
capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of
him, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords and Osama bin
Laden escaped. Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must
be caught dead or alive this president was asked, where's
Osama bin Laden? And he said, "I don't know. I don't
really think about very much. I'm not that concerned." We
need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
MR. BUSH: Gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried
about Osama bin Laden. That's kind of one of those exaggerations.
Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden. We're on the
hunt after Osama bin Laden. We're using every asset at our
disposal to get Osama bin Laden.
My opponent said this war is a matter of intelligence and
law enforcement. No, this is a war as a matter of using every
asset at our disposal to keep the American people protected.
MR. SCHIEFFER: New question, Mr. President, to you. We're
talking about protecting ourselves from the unexpected, but
the flu season is suddenly upon us, flu kills thousands of
people every year, suddenly we find ourselves with a severe
shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?
MR. BUSH: Bob, we relied upon a company out of England to
provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States
citizens and it turned out that the vaccine they were producing
was contaminated. And so we took the right action and didn't
allow contaminated medicine into our country.
We're working with Canada to - hopefully they'll produce
a - help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our
citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season.
My call to our fellow Americans is if you're healthy, if
you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year. Help us prioritize
those who need to get the flu shot, the elderly and the young.
The C.D.C., responsible for health in the United States,
is setting those priorities and is allocating the flu vaccine
accordingly. I haven't gotten a flu shot and I don't intend
to because I want to make sure that those who are most vulnerable
We have a problem with litigation in the United States of
America. Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting
sued and so therefore they have backed off from providing
this kind of vaccine. One of the reasons I'm such a strong
believer in legal reform is so that people aren't afraid
of producing a product that is necessary for the health of
our citizens and then end up getting sued in a court of law.
But the best thing we can do now, Bob, given the circumstances
with the company in England is for those of us who are younger
and healthy, don't get a flu shot.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: This really underscores the problem with the
American health care system. It's not working for the American
family. And it's gotten worse under President Bush over the
course of the last years. Five million Americans have lost
their health insurance in this country. You've got about
a million right here in Arizona, just shy, 950,000 who have
no health insurance at all. Eighty-two thousand Arizonians
lost their health insurance under President Bush's watch.
Two hundred and twenty-three thousand kids in Arizona have
no health insurance at all. All across our country, go to
Ohio, 1.4 million Ohioans have no health insurance. One hundred
and fourteen thousand of them lost it under President Bush.
Wisconsin, 82,000 Wisconsinites lost it under President Bush.
This president has turned his back on the wellness of America.
And there is no system. In fact, it's starting to fall apart
not because of lawsuits, though they are a problem and John
Edwards and I are committed to fixing them, but because of
the larger issue that we don't cover Americans. Children
across our country don't have health care. We're the richest
country on the fact of the planet, the only industrialized
nation in the world not to do it. I have a plan to cover
all Americans. We're going to make it affordable and accessible.
We're going to let everybody buy into the same health care
plan senators and congressmen give themselves.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President would you like to add something?
MR. BUSH: I would, thank you. I want to remind people listening
tonight that a plan is not a litany of complaints. And a
plan is not to lay out programs that you can't pay for. He
just said he wants everybody to be able to buy into the same
plan that senators and congressmen get. That costs the government
$7,700 per family. If every family in America signed up like
the senator suggested it would cost us five trillion dollars
over 10 years. It's an empty promise. It's called bait and
MR. SCHIEFFER: Time's up.
MR. BUSH: Thank you.
MR. KERRY: Actually, it's not an empty promise. It's really
interesting because the president used that very plan as
a reason for seniors to accept his prescription drug plan.
He said, if it's good enough for their congressmen and senators
to have choice, seniors ought to have choice. What we do
is we have choice. I choose Blue Cross/Blue Shield; other
senators, other congressman choose other programs. But the
fact is we're going to help Americans be able to buy into
it. Those that can afford it are going to buy in themselves.
We're not giving this away for nothing.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Kerry, a new question.
Let's talk about economic security. You pledged during the
last debate that you would not raise taxes on those making
less than $200,000 a year. But the price of everything is
going up and we all know it. Health care costs, as you all
are talking about, is skyrocketing, the cost of the war.
My question is how can you or any president, whoever is elected
next time, keep that pledge without running this country
deeper into debt and passing on more of the bills that we're
running up to our children?
MR. KERRY: I'll tell you exactly how I can do it, by reinstating
what President Bush took away, which is called pay as you
go. During the 1990's, we had pay-as-you-go rules. If you
were going to pass something in the Congress, you had to
show where you were going to pay for it and how. President
Bush has taken - he's the only president in history to do
this. He's also the only president since - in 72 years to
lose jobs: 1.6 million jobs lost. He's the only president
to have incomes of families go down for the last three years.
The only president to see exports go down. The only president
to see the lowest level of business investment in our country
as it is today.
Now I'm going to reverse that. I'm going to change that.
We're going to restore the fiscal discipline we had in the
1990's. Every plan that I have laid out - my health care
plan, my plan for education, my plan for kids to be able
to get better college loans - I've shown exactly how I'm
going to pay for those. And we start - we don't do it exclusively,
but we start - by rolling back George Bush's unaffordable
tax cut for the wealthiest people, people earning more than
$200,000 a year, and we pass, hopefully, the McCain-Kerry
Commission, which identified some $60 billion that we can
We shut the loophole, which has American workers actually
subsidizing the loss of their own job. They just passed an
expansion of that loophole in the last few days, $43 billion
of giveaways including favors to the oil and gas industry
and to people importing ceiling fans from China. I'm going
to stand up and fight for the American workers and I'm going
to do it in a way that's fiscally sound. I show how I pay
for the health care, how we pay for education. I have a manufacturing
jobs credit, we pay for it by shutting that loophole overseas.
We raise the student loans. I pay for it by changing the
relationship with the banks.
This president has never once vetoed one bill. First president
in 100 years not to do that.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
MR. BUSH: Well his rhetoric doesn't match his record. He'd
been a senator for 20 years, he voted to increase taxes 98
times. When they'd try to reduce taxes he voted against that
127 times. He talks about being a fiscal conservative or
fiscally sound but he voted 277 times to waive the budget
caps, which would have cost the taxpayers $4.2 trillion.
He talks about pay-go. I'll tell you what pay-go means:
when you're a senator from Massachusetts, when you're a colleague
of Ted Kennedy, pay-go means you pay and he goes ahead and
He's proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending and yet the
so-called tax on the rich, which is also a tax on many small
business owners in America, raises $600 million by our account
- billion, $800 billion by his account. There is a tax gap.
And guess who usually ends up filling the tax gap? The middle
I proposed a detailed budget, Bob. I send up my budget man
to the Congress and he says here's how we're going to reduce
the deficit in half by five years, it requires pro-growth
policies that grow our economy and fiscal sanity in the halls
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question, Mr. President.
Two minutes. And let's continue on jobs. You know there are
all kind of statistics out there, but I want to bring it
down to an individual. Mr. President, what do you say to
someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas
who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in
the United States?
MR. BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to
grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century.
And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's
some help for you to go to a community college. We've expanded
trade adjustment assistance. We want to help pay for you
to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st
century. You know there's a lot of talk about how to keep
the economy growing and we talk about fiscal matters. But
perhaps the best way to keep jobs here in America and to
keep this economy growing is to make sure our education system
I went to Washington to solve problems and I saw a problem
in the public education system in America. They were just
shuffling too many kids through the system year after year,
grade after grade without learning the basics. And so we
said let's raise the standards. We're spending more money
but let's raise the standards and measure early and solve
problems now before it's too late. Education is how to help
the person who's lost a job. Education is how to make sure
this - we've got a work force that's productive and competitive.
Got four more years, I've got more to do to continue to raise
standards, to continue to reward teachers in school districts
that are working, to emphasize math and science in the classrooms,
to continue to expand Pell Grants, to make sure that people
have an opportunity to start their career with a college
diploma. And so to the person you talked to I say here's
some help. Here's some trade adjustment assistance money
for you to go to a community college in your neighborhood,
a community college which is providing the skills necessary
to fill the jobs of the 21st century. And that's what we'd
say to that person.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: I want you to notice how the president switched
away from jobs and started talking about education principally.
Let me come back in one moment to that. But I want to speak
for a second if I can to what the president said about fiscal
responsibility. Being lectured by the president on fiscal
responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking
to me about law and order in this country. This president
has take a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits
as far as the eye can see. Health care costs for the average
American have gone up 64 percent. Tuitions have gone up 35
percent. Gasoline prices up 30 percent. Medicare premiums
went up 17 percent a few days ago. Prescription drugs are
up 12 percent a year. But guess what, America? The wages
of Americans have gone down. The jobs that are being created
in Arizona right now are paying about $13,700 less than the
jobs that we're losing. And the president just walks on by
this problem. The fact is that he's cut job training money
- $1 billion was cut, they only added a little bit back this
year because it's an election year.
They've cut the Pell Grants and the Perkins Loans to help
kids be able to go to college. They've cut the training money.
They've wound up not even extending unemployment benefits
and not even extending health care to those people who are
I'm going to do those things because that's what's right
in America - help workers to transition in every respect.
MR. SCHIEFFER: New question to you, Senator Kerry, two minutes,
and it's still on jobs. You know, many experts say that a
president really doesn't have much control over jobs. For
example, if someone invents a machine that does the work
of five people, that's progress. That's not the president's
fault. So I ask you is it fair to blame the administration
entirely for this loss of jobs?
MR. KERRY: I don't blame them entirely for it. I blame the
president for the things the president could do that has
an impact on it. Outsourcing is going to happen. I've acknowledged
that in union halls across the country. I've had shop stewards
stand up and say, will you promise me you're going to stop
all this outsourcing? And I've looked them in the eye and
I've said, no, I can't do that. What I can promise you is
that I will make the playing field as fair as possible, that
I will, for instance, make certain that, with respect to
the tax system, that you as a worker in America are not subsidizing
the loss of your job. Today, if you're an American business,
you actually get a benefit for going overseas. You get to
defer your taxes. So if you're looking at a competitive world,
you say to yourself, hey, I do better overseas than I do
here in America. That's not smart. I don't want American
workers subsidizing the loss of their job, and when I'm president,
we're going to shut that loophole in a nanosecond and we're
going to use that money to lower corporate tax rates in America
for all corporations, 5 percent, and we're going to have
a manufacturing jobs credit and a job hiring credit so we
actually help people be able here.
The second thing that we can do is provide a fair trade
playing field. This president didn't stand up for Boeing
when Airbus was violating international rules with subsidies.
He discovered Boeing during the course of this campaign after
I've been talking about it for months. The fact is that the
president had an opportunity to stand up and take on China
for currency manipulation. There are companies that wanted
to petition the administration - they were told, don't even
bother. We're not going to listen to it. The fact is that
there have been markets shut to us that we haven't stood
up and fought for.
I'm going to fight for a fair trade playing field for the
American worker. And I will fight for the American worker
just as hard as I fight for my own job. That's what the American
worker wants. And if we do that, we can have an impact.
Plus, we need fiscal discipline. Restore fiscal discipline,
we'll do a lot better.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
MR. BUSH: Whew! Let me start with the Pell grants. In his
last litany of misstatements he said we cut Pell grants.
We've increased Pell grants by a million students. That's
You know, he talks to the workers. Let me talk to the workers.
You got more money in your pocket as a result of the tax
relief we passed and he opposed. If you have a child you
got a $1,000 child credit. That's money in your pocket. If
you're married, we reduced the marriage penalty. The code
ought to encourage marriage, not discourage marriage. We
created a 10 percent bracket to help lower-income Americans.
A family of four making $40,000 received about $1,700 in
tax relief. It's your money.
The way my opponent talks, he said we're going to spend
the government's money. No, we're spending your money. And
when you have more money in your pocket you're able to better
afford things you want. I believe the role of government
is to stand side by side with our citizens to help them realize
their dreams, not tell citizens how to live their lives.
My opponent talks about fiscal sanity, his record in the
United States Senate does not match his rhetoric. He voted
to increase taxes 98 times and to bust the budget 277 times.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: Bob, anybody can play with these votes. Everybody
knows that. I have supported or voted for tax cuts over 600
times. I broke with my party in order to balance the budget,
and Ronald Reagan signed into law the tax cut that we voted
for. I voted for I.R.A. tax cuts. I voted for small business
tax cuts. But you know why the Pell grants have gone up in
their numbers? Because more people qualify for them because
they don't have money. But they're not getting the $5,100
the president promised them. They're getting less money.
There are more people who qualify. That's not what we want.
MR. BUSH: Senator, no one's playing with your votes. You
voted to increase taxes 98 times. When they proposed reducing
taxes you voted against it 126 times. You voted against 126
times. You voted to violate the budget caps 277 times. You
know there's a mainstream in American politics and you sit
right on the far left bank. As a matter of fact, your record
is such that Ted Kennedy, your colleague, is the conservative
senator from Massachusetts.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's get back to economic
issues but let's shift to some other questions here. Both
of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how
you have come to that conclusion I want to ask you a more
basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
MR. BUSH: You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know.
I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that
is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity.
It's important that we do that. I also know in a free society
people, consenting adults can live the way they want to live.
And that's to be honored. But as we respect someone's rights
and as we profess tolerance, we shouldn't change or have
to change our basic views on the sanctity of marriage.
I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I think it's very
important that we protect marriage as an institution between
a man and a woman. I proposed a constitutional amendment.
The reason I did so was because I was worried that activist
judges are actually defining the definition of marriage.
And the surest way to protect marriage between a man and
woman is to amend the Constitution. It has also the benefit
of allowing citizens to participate in the process. After
all, when you amend the Constitution state legislatures must
participate in the ratification of the Constitution.
I'm deeply concerned that judges are making those decisions
and not the citizenry of the United States. You know, Congress
passed a law called DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. My
opponent was against it. It basically protected states from
the action of one state to another. It also defined marriage
as between a man and a woman. But I'm concerned that that
will get overturned. And if it gets overturned then we'll
end up with marriage being defined by courts. And I don't
think that's in our nation's interest.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: We're all God's children, Bob, and I think if
you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian,
she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being
who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's
not a choice. I've met people who struggled with this for
years, people who were in a marriage, because they were living
a sort of convention, and they struggled with it. And I've
met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa
when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves
to live who they were, who they felt God had made them. I
think we have to respect that.
The president and I share the belief that marriage is between
a man and a woman. I believe that, I believe marriage is
between a man and a woman. But I also believe that because
we are the United States of America, we're a country with
a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford
people, that you can't discriminate in the workplace, you
can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people.
You can't disallow someone the right to visit their partner
in a hospital. You have to allow people to transfer property,
which is why I'm for partnership rights and so forth.
Now, with respect to DOMA and the marriage laws, the states
have always been able to manage those laws, and their proving
today - every state - that they can manage them adequately.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry a new question for you. The
New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are
telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote
for a candidate like you because you support a woman's right
to choose an abortion and unlimited stem call research. What
is your reaction to that?
MR. KERRY: I respect their views. I completely respect their
views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect
those views, but I disagree with them, as do many. I believe
that I can't legislate or transfer to another American citizen
my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is
not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn't
share that article of faith. I believe that choice, a woman's
choice is between a woman, God and her doctor. And that's
why I support that. Now I will not allow somebody to come
in and change Roe v. Wade. The president has never said whether
or not he would do that. But we know from the people he's
tried to appoint to the court he wants to. I will not. I
will defend the right of Roe v. Wade.
Now with respect to religion, you know, as I said I grew
up a Catholic. I was an altar boy. I know that throughout
my life this has made a difference to me. And as President
Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said, I'm not
running to be a Catholic president. I'm running to be a president
who happens to be Catholic. Now my faith affects everything
that I do and choose. There's a great passage of the Bible
that says What does it mean my brother to say you have faith
if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead. And I
think that everything you do in public life has to be guided
by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring
it in any official way to other people. That's why I fight
against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment
and protect this earth. That's why I fight for equality and
justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental
teaching and belief of faith. But I know this: that President
Kennedy in his inaugural address told of us that here on
earth God's work must truly be our own. And that's what we
have to - I think that's the test of public service.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
MR. BUSH: I think it's important to promote a culture of
life. I think a hospitable society is a society where every
being counts and every person matters. I believe the ideal
world is one in which every child is protected in law and
welcomed to life.
I understand there's great differences on this issue of
abortion. But I believe reasonable people can come together
and put good law in place that will help reduce the number
Take, for example, the ban on partial-birth abortion. It's
a brutal practice. People from both political parties came
together in the halls on Congress and voted overwhelmingly
to ban that practice. Made a lot of sense. My opponent out
- in that he's out of the mainstream, voted against that
What I'm saying is that as we promote life and promote a
culture of life, surely there are ways we can work together
to reduce the number of abortions. Continue to promote adoption
laws - that's a great alternative to abortion. Continue to
fund and promote maternity group homes. I will continue to
promote abstinence programs.
The last debate my opponent said his wife was involved with
those programs. That's great. I appreciate that very much.
All of us ought to be - involved with programs that provide
a viable alternative to abortion.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's have a new question.
It goes to you and let's get back to economic issues. Health
insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last
four years, according to The Washington Post. We're paying
more, we're getting less. I would like to ask you who bears
responsibility for this? Is it the government, is it the
insurance companies, is it the lawyers, is it the doctors,
is it the administration?
MR. BUSH: Gosh, I sure hope it's not the administration.
No, there is a - look, here - there's a systemic problem.
Health care costs are on the rise because the consumers are
not involved in the decision-making process. Most health
costs are covered by third parties. And therefore, the actual
user of health care is not the purchaser of health care.
And there's no market forces involved with health care.
It's one of the reasons I'm a strong believer in what they
call health savings accounts. These are accounts that allow
somebody to buy a low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic
plan and couple it with tax-free savings. Businesses can
contribute, employees can contribute on a contractual basis.
But this is the way to make sure people are actually involved
with the decision-making process on health care.
Secondly, I do believe the lawsuits - I don't believe, I
know that the lawsuits are causing health care costs to rise
in America. That's why I'm such a strong believer in medical
liability reform. At the last debate, my opponent said, well,
they only - these lawsuits only cause costs to go up by 1
percent. Well, he didn't include the defensive practice of
medicine that costs the federal government some $28 billion
a year and costs our society between $60 and $100 billion
Thirdly, one of the reasons why there's still high costs
in medicine is because this is they don't use any information
technology. It's like if you looked at the - it's the equivalent
of the buggy and horse days compared to other industries
here in America. And so we've got to introduce high technology
into health care. We're beginning to do it, we're changing
the language. We want there to be electronic medical records
to cut down on error as well as to reduce costs. People tell
me that when the health care field is fully integrated with
information technology, it'll wring some 20 percent of the
costs out of the system.
And finally, moving generic drugs to the market quicker.
So those are four ways to help control the costs in health
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: The reason health care costs are getting higher,
one of the principal reasons is that this administration
has stood in the way of common-sense efforts that would have
reduced the costs. Let me give you a prime example. In the
Senate we passed the right of Americans to import drugs from
Canada. But the president and his friends took it out in
the House, and now you don't have that right. The president
blocked you from the right to have less expensive drugs from
We also wanted Medicare to be able to negotiate bulk purchasing.
The V.A. does that. The V.A. provides lower cost drugs to
our veterans. We could have done that in Medicare. Medicare
is paid for by the American taxpayer. Medicare belongs to
you. Medicare is for seniors who are many of them on fixed
income to lift them out of poverty. But rather than help
you, the taxpayer, have lower costs, rather than help seniors
have less expensive drugs, the president made it illegal,
illegal for Medicare to actually go out and bargain for lower
prices. Result, $139 billion windfall profit to the drug
companies coming out of your pockets. That's a large part
of your 17 percent increase in Medicare premiums. When I'm
president, I'm sending that back to Congress. And we're going
to get a real prescription drug benefit.
Now we also have people sicker because they don't have health
insurance. So whether it's diabetes or cancer they come to
the hospitals later. And it costs America more. We've got
to have health care for all Americans.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Go ahead, Mr. President.
MR. BUSH: I think it's important since he talked about the
Medicare plan I passed. He's been in the United States for
20 years, he has no record on reforming of health care, no
record at all. He introduced some 300 bills, and he's passed
five. No record of leadership. I came to Washington to solve
problems. I was deeply concerned about seniors having to
choose between prescription drugs and food. And so I led.
And in 2006 our seniors will get a prescription drug coverage
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry 30 seconds.
MR. KERRY: Once again, the president is misleading America.
I've actually passed 56 individual bills that I've personally
written. And in addition to that, they're not always under
my name, there is amendments on certain bills. But more importantly,
with respect to the question of no record I help write, I
did write, I was one of the original authors of the early
childhood health care and the expansion of health care that
we did in the middle of the 1990's. And I'm very proud of
that. So the president's wrong.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me direct the next question to you, Senator
Kerry. And again let's stay on health care. You have, as
you have proposed and as the president has commented on tonight,
proposed a massive plan to extend health care coverage to
children. You're also talking about the government picking
up a big part of the catastrophic bills that people get at
the hospital. And you have said that you can pay for this
by rolling back the president's tax cut on the upper 2 percent.
MR. KERRY: That's correct.
MR. SCHIEFFER: You heard the president say earlier tonight
that it's going to cost a whole lot more money than that.
I'd just ask you where are you going to get the money?
MR. KERRY: Well two leading national news networks have
both said the president's characterization of my health care
plan is incorrect. One called it fiction, the other called
The fact is that my health care plan, America, is very simple.
It gives you the choice. I don't force you to do anything.
It's not a government plan. The government doesn't require
you to do anything. You choose your doctor. You choose your
plan. If you don't want to take the offer of the plan that
I want to put forward you don't have to. You can keep what
you have today - keep a high deductible, keep high premiums,
keep a high co-pay, keep low benefits.
But I've got a better plan. And I don't think a lot of people
are going to want to keep what they have today. Here's what
I do. We take over Medicaid children from the states so that
every child in America is covered. And in exchange, if the
states want to - they're not forced to, they can choose to
- they cover individuals up to 300 percent of poverty. It's
their choice. I think they'll choose it because it's a net
plus of $5 billion to them.
We allow you if you choose to, you don't have to, but we
give you broader competition to allow you to buy in to the
same health care plan that senators and congressmen give
themselves. If it's good enough for us, it's good enough
for every American. I believe that your health care is just
as important as any politician in Washington, D.C. If you
want to buy in to it, you can. We give you broader competition,
that helps lower prices.
In addition to that we're going to allow people 55 to 64
to buy in to Medicare early. And most importantly we give
small business a 50 percent tax credit so that after we lower
the cost of health care they also get, whether they're self-employed
or a small business, a lower cost to be able to cover their
Now what happens is when you begin to get people covered
like that - for instance in diabetes, if you diagnose diabetes
early you could save $50 billion in the health care system
of America by avoiding surgery and dialysis. It works. And
I'm going to offer it to America.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
MR. BUSH: In all due respect, I'm not so sure it - it's
credible to quote leading news organizations about - oh,
never mind. Anyway, let me quote the Lewin Report. The Lewin
Report is a group of folks who are not politically affiliated.
They analyzed the senator's plan. It cost $1.2 trillion.
The Lewin Report accurately noted that there are going to
be 20 million people - over 20 million people added to government-controlled
health care. Be the largest increase in government health
If you raise the Medicaid to 300 percent, it provides an
incentive for small businesses not to provide private insurance
to their employees. Why should they insure somebody when
the government's going to insure it for them? It's estimated
that eight million people will go from private insurance
to government insurance.
We have a fundamental difference of opinion. I think government-run
health will lead to poor-quality health, will lead to rationing,
will lead to less choice. Once a health care program ends
up in a line item in the federal government budget, it leads
to more controls. And just look at other countries that have
tried to have federally-controlled health care. They have
poor quality health care. Our health care system is the envy
of the world because we believe in making sure that the decisions
are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in the
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator.
MR. KERRY: The president just said that government-run health
care results in poor quality. Now maybe that explains why
he hasn't fully funded the V.A., and the V.A. hospital is
having trouble and veterans are complaining. Maybe that explains
why Medicare patients are complaining about being pushed
off of Medicare, he doesn't adequately fund it.
But let me just say to America: I am not proposing a government-run
program. That's not what I have. I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Senators and congressmen have a wide choice; Americans ought
to have it, too.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
MR. BUSH: We talk about the V.A. We've increased V.A. funding
by $22 billion in the four years since I've been president.
That's twice the amount that my predecessor increased V.A.
funding. Of course we're meeting our obligations to our veterans.
And the veterans know that. We're expanding veterans' health
care throughout the country, we're aligning facilities where
the veterans live now. Veterans are getting very good health
care under my administration, and they will continue to do
so during the next four years.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, the next question is to you.
We all know that Social Security's running out of money and
it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting
people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into
private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that's
going to mean finding a trillion dollars over the next 10
years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being
set up. So where do you get the money? Are you going to have
to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?
MR. BUSH: Bob, first let me make sure that every senior
listening today understands that when we're talking about
reforming Social Security that they'll still get their checks.
I remember the 2000 campaign people said if George W. gets
elected, your check will be taken away. Well, people got
their checks. And they'll continue to get their checks.
There is a problem for our youngsters, a real problem. And
if we don't act today the problem will be valued in the trillions.
And so I think we need to think differently. We'll honor
our commitment to our seniors. But for our children or grandchildren
we need to have a different strategy. And recognizing that
I called together a group of our fellow citizens to study
the issue. It was a committee chaired by the late Senator
Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, a Democrat. And they
came up with a variety of ideas for people to look at.
I believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take
some of their own money and put it in a personal savings
account. Because I understand that they need to get better
rates of return than the rates of return being given in the
current Social Security trust. And the compounding rate of
interest effect will make it more likely that the Social
Security system is solvent for our children and our grandchildren.
I will work with Republicans and Democrats. Will be a vital
issue in my second term. It is an issue that I'm willing
to take on. And so I bring Republicans and Democrats together.
And we're of course going to have to consider the costs.
But I want to warn my fellow citizens the cost of doing nothing,
the cost of saying the current system is O.K. far exceeds
the cost of trying to make sure we save the system for our
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: You just heard the president say that young people
ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and
put it in their own accounts. Now, my fellow Americans, that's
an invitation to disaster. The C.B.O. said very clearly that
if you were to adopt the president's plan, there'll be a
$2 trillion hole in Social Security because today's workers
pay in to the system for today's retirees. And the C.B.O.
said - that's the Congressional Budget Office, it's bipartisan
- they said that there would have to be a cut in benefits
of 25 to 40 percent.
Now, the president has never explained to America, ever
- hasn't done it tonight - where does the transitional money,
that $2 trillion, come from? He's already got $3 trillion,
according to The Washington Post, of expenses that he's put
on the line from his convention and the promises of this
campaign, none of which are paid for, not one of them are
The fact is that the president is driving the largest deficits
in American history, he's broken the pay-as-you-go rules.
I have a record of fighting for fiscal responsibility. In
1985, I was one of the first Democrats, broke with my party,
we balanced the budget in the 90's, we paid down the debt
for two years.
And that's what we're going to do. We're going to protect
Social Security. I will not privatize it. I will not cut
the benefits. And we're going to be fiscally responsible
and we will take care of Social Security.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me just stay on Social Security with
a new question for Senator Kerry because, Senator Kerry,
you have just said you will not cut benefits. Alan Greenspan,
the chairman of the Federal Reserve, says there's no way
that Social Security can pay retirees what we have promised
them unless we recalibrate. What he's suggesting: We're going
to have to cut benefits or we're going to have to raise retirement
age. We may have to take some other reform. But if you've
just said you've promised no changes, does that mean you're
just going leave this as a problem, another problem for our
children to resolve?
MR. KERRY: Not at all. Absolutely not, Bob. This is the
same thing we heard, I remember I appeared on "Meet
the Press" with Tim Russert in 1990-something, we heard
the same thing. And we fixed it. In fact we put together
a $5.6 trillion surplus in the 90's that was for the purpose
of saving Social Security.
If you take the tax cut that the president of the United
States has given, President Bush gave to Americans in the
top 1 percent of America, just that tax cut that went to
the top 1 percent of America, would have saved Social Security
until the year 2075. The president decided to give it to
the wealthiest Americans in a tax cut.
Now Alan Greenspan, who I think has done a terrific job
in monetary policy, supports the president's tax cut. I don't.
I support it for the middle class, not that part of it that
goes to people earning more than $200,000 a year. And when
I roll it back and we invest in the things that I've talked
about to move our economy, we're going to grow sufficiently
that we begin to cut the deficit in half and we get back
to where we were at the end of the 1990's when we balanced
the budget and paid down the debt of this country.
Now we can do that. Now if, later on after a period of time,
we find that Social Security is in trouble, we'll pull together
the top experts of the country, we'll do exactly what we
did in the 1990's, and we'll make whatever adjustment is
But the first and most important thing is to start creating
jobs in America. The jobs the president creating pay $9,000
less than the jobs that we're losing. And this is the first
president in 72 years to preside over an economy in America
that has lost jobs - 1.6 million jobs. Eleven other presidents
- six Democrats and five Republicans - had wars, had recessions,
had great difficulties. None of them lost jobs the way this
I have a plan to put America back to work. And if we're
fiscally responsible and put America back to work we're going
to fix Social Security.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
MR. BUSH: He forgot to tell you he voted to tax Social Security
benefits more than one time. I didn't hear any plan to fix
Social Security. I heard more of the same. He talks about
middle-class tax cuts. That's exactly where the tax cuts
went. Most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income
Americans. And now the tax code is more fair. Twenty percent
of the upper income people pay about 80 percent of the taxes
in America today because of how we structured the tax cuts.
People listening out there know the benefits of the tax cuts
we passed. If you have a child you got tax relief. If you're
married you got tax relief. If you pay any tax at all you
got tax relief. All of which was opposed by opponent. And
the tax relief was important to spur consumption and investment
to get us out of the recession.
People need to remember six months prior to my arrival the
stock market started to go down. And it was one of the largest
declines in our history. And then we had a recession. And
we got attacked, which cost us one million jobs. But we acted.
I led the Congress. We passed tax relief. And now this economy's
growing. We had 1.9 million new jobs over the last 13 months.
Sure there's more work to do. But the way to make sure our
economy grows is not to raise taxes on small business owners.
It's not to increase the scope of the federal government.
It's to make sure we have fiscal sanity and keep taxes low.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question. Mr. President,
I got more e-mail this week on this question than any other
question, and it is about immigration. I'm told that at least
8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some
people believe this is a security issue, as you know; some
believe it's an economic issue; some see it as a human rights
issue. How do you see it, and what do we need to do about
MR. BUSH: I see it as a serious problem. I see it as a security
issue. I see it as an economic issue, and I see it as a human
We're increasing the border security of the United States.
We've got 1,000 more Border Patrol agents on the Southern
border. We're using new equipment, we're using unmanned vehicles
to spot people coming across. And we'll continue to do so
over the next four years. It's a subject I'm very familiar
with. After all, I was a border governor for a while.
Many people are coming to this country for economic reasons.
They're coming here to work. If you can make 50 cents in
the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5 here in America,
$5.15, you're going to come here if you're worth your salt,
if you want to put food on the table for your families. And
that's what's happening.
And so in order to take pressure off the border, in order
to make the borders more secure, I believe there ought to
be a temporary worker card that allows a willing worker and
a willing employer to mate up, so long as there's not an
American willing to do the job, to join up in order to be
able to fulfill the employer's needs.
That has the benefit of making sure our employers aren't
breaking the law as they try to fill their workforce needs.
It makes sure that the people coming across the border are
humanly treated, that they're not kept in the shadows of
our society, that they're able to go back and forth to see
their families. See, the card will have a period of time
attached to it.
It also means it takes pressure off the border. If somebody
is coming here to work with a card, it means they're not
going to have to sneak across the border. It means our Border
Patrol will be more likely to be able to focus on doing their
Now, it's very important for our citizens to also know that
I don't believe we ought to have amnesty. I don't think we
ought to reward illegal behavior. There are plenty of people
standing in line to become a citizen, and we ought not to
crowd these people ahead of them in line. If they want to
become a citizen, they can stand in line, too. And here's
where my opponent and I differ. In September 2003, he supported
amnesty for illegal aliens.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Time's up. Senator?
MR. KERRY: Let me just answer one part of the last question
quickly and then I'll come to immigration. The American middle
class isn't making it right now, Bob. And what the president
said about the tax cuts has been wiped out by the increase
in health care, the increase in gasoline, the increase in
tuitions, the increase in prescription drugs. The fact is
the take home pay of a typical American family as a share
of national income is lower than it's been since 1929. And
the take home pay of the richest .1 percent of Americans
is the highest it's been since 1928. Under President Bush
the middle class has seen their tax burden go up and the
wealthiest tax burden has gone down. Now that's wrong.
Now with respect to immigration reform, the president broke
his promise on immigration reform. He said he would reform
it. Four years later he's now promising you another plan.
Here's what I'll do. Number one, the borders are more leaking
today than they were before 9/11. The fact is we haven't
done what we need to do to toughen up our borders. And I
will. Secondly, we need a guest-worker program. But if it's
all we have it's not going to solve the problem. The second
thing we need is to crack down on illegal hiring. It's against
the law in the United States to hire people illegally. And
we ought to be enforcing that law properly. And thirdly,
we need an earned legalization program for people who've
been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job,
paid their taxes and their kids are American. We've got to
start moving them towards full citizenship out of the shadows.
MR. SCHIEFFER: You want to respond, Mr. President?
MR. BUSH: Well, to say that the borders are not as protected
as they were prior to Sept. 11 shows he doesn't know the
borders. They're much better protected today than they were
when I was the governor of Texas. We've got much more manpower
and much more equipment there. It's just he just doesn't
understand how the borders work evidently to say that. That
is an outrageous claim. And we'll continue to protect our
borders. We'll continue to increase manpower and equipment.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator?
MR. KERRY: Four-thousand people a day coming across the
border. The fact is that we now have people from the Middle
East allegedly coming across the border. And we're not doing
what we ought to do in terms of the technology. We have iris
identification technology. We have thumbprint, fingerprint
technology today. We can know who the people are, that they're
really the people they say they are when they cross the border.
We can speed it up. There are huge delays. The fact is our
borders are not as secure as they ought to be. And I'll make
MR. SCHIEFFER: Next question to you, Senator Kerry. The
gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are
dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck
at, what, $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it
time to raise it?
MR. KERRY: Well, I'm glad you raised that question. It's
long overdue time to raise the minimum wage.
And America, this is one of those issues that separates
the president and myself. We have fought to try to raise
the minimum wage in the last years, but the Republican leadership
of the House and Senate won't even let us have a vote on
it. We're not allowed to vote on it. They don't want to raise
the minimum wage.
The minimum wage is the lowest minimum wage value it has
been in our nation in 50 years. If we raise the minimum wage,
which I will do over several years, to $7 an hour, 9.2 million
women who are trying to raise their families would earn another
$3,800 a year. The president has denied 9.2 million women
$3,800 a year. But he doesn't hesitate to fight for $136,000
to a millionaire. One percent of America got $89 billion
last year in a tax cut. But people working hard, playing
by the rules, trying to take care of their kids, family values
that we're supposed to value so much in America - I'm tired
of politicians who talk about family values and don't value
families. What we need to do is raise the minimum wage.
We also need to hold on to equal pay. Women work for 76
cents on the dollar for the same work that men do. That's
not right in America. And we had an initiative that we were
working on to raise women's pay. They've cut it off. They've
stopped it. They don't enforce these kinds of things.
Now I think that it is a matter of fundamental right that
if we raise the minimum wage 15 million Americans would be
positively affected. We'd put money into the hands of people
who work hard, who obey the rules, who play for the American
dream. And if we did that we'd have more consumption ability
in America, which is what we need right now in order to kick
our economy into gear. I will fight tooth and nail to pass
the minimum wage.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
MR. BUSH: Actually, Mitch McConnell had a minimum wage plan
that I supported that would have increased the minimum wage.
But let me talk about what's really important for the worker
you're referring to, and that's to make sure the education
system works, it's to make sure we raise standards. Listen,
the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act, when you
think about it. The No Child Left Behind Act says we'll raise
standards, we'll increase federal spending. But in return
for extra spending, we now want people to measure, states
and local jurisdictions to measure, to show us whether or
not a child can read or write or add and subtract.
You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem,
and we weren't diagnosing problems and therefore just kids
were being shuffled through the school. And guess who would
get shuffled through? Children whose parents wouldn't speak
English as a first language just moved through. Many inner-city
kids just moved through. We've stopped that practice now
by measuring early, and when we find a problem, we spend
extra money to correct it.
I remember a lady in Houston, Tex., telling me reading is
the new civil right. And she's right. In order to make sure
people have jobs for the 21st century, we've got to get it
right in the education system. And we're beginning to close
a minority achievement gap now.
You see, we'll never be able to compete in the 21st century
unless we have an education system that doesn't quit on children,
an education system that raises standards, an education that
makes sure there's excellence in every classroom.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President I want to go back to something
Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of
my own. He said, and this will be a new question to you,
he said that you had never said whether you would like to
overturn Roe v. Wade. So I'd ask you directly would you like
MR. BUSH: What he's asking me is will I have a litmus test
for my judges. And the answer is no, I will not have a litmus
test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution.
But I'll have no litmus tests.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, would you like to respond?
MR. KERRY: Is that a new question?
MR. SCHIEFFER: That's a new question for the president.
MR. KERRY: Which time limit are we in?
MR. SCHIEFFER: You have 90 seconds.
MR. KERRY: Thank you very much. Well again, the president
didn't answer the question. I'll answer it straight to America.
I'm not going to appoint a judge to the court who's going
to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment
or the Fifth Amendment or some other right that's given under
our courts today under the Constitution. And I believe that
the right of choice is a constitutional right. So I don't
intend to see it undone. Clearly the president wants to leave
an ambivalence or intends to undo it.
Let me go a step further. We have a long distance yet to
travel in terms of fairness of America. I don't know how
you can govern in this country when you look at New York
City and you see that 50 percent of the black males there
are unemployed. When you see 40 percent of Hispanic children
or black children in some cities dropping out of high school.
And yet the president who talks about No Child Left Behind
refused to fully fund by $28 billion that particular program
so you can make a difference in the lives of those young
people. Now right here in Arizona that difference would have
been $131 million to the state of Arizona to help its kids
be able to have better education and to lift the property
tax burden from its citizens. The president reneged on his
promise to fund No Child Left Behind. He'll tell you he's
raised the money and he has. But he didn't put in what he
promised. And that makes a difference in the lives of our
MR. SCHIEFFER: Yes, sir.
MR. BUSH: Two things. One, he clearly has a litmus test
for his judges, which I disagree with. And secondly, only
a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49
percent increase in funding for education was not enough.
We've increased funds. But more importantly, we've reformed
the system to make sure that we solve problems early before
they're too late. He talked about the unemployed. Absolutely,
we've got to make sure they get educated. He talked about
children whose parents don't speak English as a first language.
Absolutely, we've got to make sure they get educated. And
that's what the No Child Left Behind Act does.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator.
MR. KERRY: You don't measure it by a percentage increase.
Mr. President, you measure it by whether you're getting the
job done. Five hundred thousand kids lost after-school programs
because of your budget. Now that's not in my gut. That's
not my value system. And certainly not so that the wealthiest
people in America can walk away with another tax cut - $89
billion last year to the top 1 percent of Americans, but
kids lost their after-school programs. You be the judge.
MR. SCHIEFFER: All right, let's go to another question,
and it is to Senator Kerry. You have two minutes, sir. Senator,
the last debate President Bush said he did not favor a draft.
You agreed with him. But our National Guard and Reserve forces
are being severely strained because many of them are being
held beyond their enlistments. Some of them say that it's
a back-door draft. Is there any relief that could be offered
to these brave Americans and their families? If you became
president, Senator Kerry, what would you do about this situation,
holding National Guard and Reservists for these extended
periods of time and these repeated call-ups that they're
MR. KERRY: Well, I think that the fact that they're facing
these repeated call-ups, some of them two and three deployments,
and there's a stop-loss policy that prevents people from
being able to get out when their time was up is a reflection
of the bad judgment this president exercised in how he has
engaged in the world and deployed our forces.
Our military is overextended. Nine out of 10 active duty
Army divisions are either in Iraq, going to Iraq or have
come back from Iraq. One way or the other, they're wrapped
up in it.
Now, I've proposed adding two active-duty divisions to the
Armed Forces of the United States - one combat, one support.
In addition, I'm going to double the number of special forces
so that we can fight a more effective war on terror with
less pressure on the National Guard and Reserve.
And what I would like to do is see the National Guard and
Reserve be deployed differently here in our own country.
There's much we can do with them with respect to homeland
security. We ought to be doing that. And that would relieve
an enormous amount of pressure.
But the most important thing to relieve the pressure on
all of our armed forces is, frankly, to run a foreign policy
that recognizes that America is strongest when we are working
with real alliances, when we are sharing the burdens of the
world by working through our statesmanship at the highest
levels and our diplomacy to bring other nations to our side.
I've said it before, I say it again: I believe the president
broke faith with the American people in the way that he took
this nation to war. He said he would work through the - a
real alliance. He said in Cincinnati we would plan carefully,
we would take every precaution. Well, we didn't. And the
result is our forces today are overextended. The fact is
that he did not choose to go to war as a last resort, and
America now is paying already $120 billion, up to $200 billion
before we're finished and much more probably, and that is
the result of this president taking his eye off of Osama
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
MR. BUSH: The best way to take the pressure off our troops
is to succeed in Iraq, is to train Iraqis so they can do
the hard work of democracy, is to give them a chance to defend
their country - precisely what we're doing. We'll have 125,000
troops trained by the end of this year.
I remember going on an airplane in Bangor, Me., to say thanks
to the Reservists and Guard that were headed overseas from
Tennessee and North Carolina and Georgia. Some of them been
there before. People I talked to, the spirits were high.
They didn't view this, their service as a back-door draft.
They viewed their service as an opportunity to serve their
My opponent, the senator, talks about foreign policy. In
our first debate he proposed America pass a global test.
In order to defend ourselves we have to get international
approval. That's one of the major differences we have about
defending our country.
I work with allies. I work with friends. We'll continue
to build strong coalitions. But I will never turn over our
national security decisions to leaders of other countries.
We'll be resolute, we'll be strong and we'll wage a comprehensive
war against the terrorists.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator.
MR. KERRY: I have never suggested a test where we turn over
our security to any nation. In fact I've said the opposite,
I will never turn the security of the United States over
to any nation. No nation will ever have a veto over us.
But I think it makes sense, I think most Americans in their
guts know, that we ought to pass a sort of truth standard.
That's how you gain legitimacy with your own countrypeople
and that's how you gain legitimacy in the world. But I'll
never fail to protect the United States of America.
MR. BUSH: In 1990 there was a vast coalition put together
to run Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The international community,
the international world said this is the right thing to do.
But when it came time to authorize the use of force on the
Senate floor, my opponent voted against the use of force.
Apparently, you can't pass any test under his vision of the
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, new question, two minutes.
You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on
assault weapons that you'd sign the legislation. But you
did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?
MR. BUSH: Actually, I made my intentions, my views clear.
I did think we ought to extend the assault-weapons ban and
was told the fact that the bill wasn't ever going to move.
Because the Republicans and Democrats were against the assault-weapon
ban, people of both parties. I believe law-abiding citizens
ought to be able to own a gun. I believe in background checks
at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don't get
in the hands of people that shouldn't have them.
But the best way to protect our citizens from guns is to
prosecute those who commit crimes with guns. And that's why
early in my administration I called the attorney general
and the U.S. attorneys and said put together task force all
around the country to prosecute those who commit crimes with
guns. And the prosecutions are up by about 68 percent I believe
is the number. Neighborhoods are safer when we crack down
on people who commit crimes with guns. To me that's the best
way to secure America.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator.
MR. KERRY: I believe it was a failure of presidential leadership
not to reauthorize the assault-weapons ban. I am a hunter.
I'm a gun owner. I've been a hunter since I was a kid - 12,
13 years old. And I respect the Second Amendment, and I will
not tamper with the Second Amendment. But I'll tell you this:
I'm also a former law enforcement officer. I ran one of the
largest district attorney offices in America, one of the
10 largest. I've put people behind bars for the rest of their
life. I've broken up organized crime. I know something about
prosecuting. And most of the law enforcement agencies in
America wanted that assault weapons ban. They don't want
to go into a drug bust and be facing an AK-47. I was hunting
in Iowa last year with the sheriff of one of the counties
there, and he pointed to a house in back of us and said, "See
that house over there? We just did a drug bust a week earlier
and the guy we arrested had an AK-47 lying on the bed right
beside him." Because of the president's decision, today
law enforcement officers will walk into a place that'll be
more dangerous. Terrorists can now come into America and
go to a gun show and without even a background check buy
an assault weapon today. And that's what Osama bin Laden's
handbook said, because we captured it in Afghanistan and
it encouraged them to do it. So I believe America's less
safe. If Tom DeLay or someone in the House said to me, Sorry,
we don't have the votes, I'd have said, Then we're going
to have a fight. And I'd have taken it out to the country
and I'd have had every law enforcement officer in the country
visit those congressmen. We'd have won what Bill Clinton
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question for you, Senator
Kerry, two minutes. Affirmative action: Do you see a need
for affirmative action programs or have we moved far enough
along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a
factor in school admissions and federal and state contracts
and so on?
MR. KERRY: No, Bob, regrettably, we have not moved far enough
along. And I regret to say that this administration has even
blocked steps that could help us move further along. I'll
give you an example. I'm the - I've served on the Small Business
Committee for a long time, I was chairman of it once, now
I'm the senior Democrat on it. We used to, you know, we have
a goal there for minority set-aside programs to try to encourage
ownership in the country. They don't reach those goals. They
don't even fight to reach those goals. They've tried to undo
The fact is that in too many parts of our country we still
have discrimination. And affirmative action is not just something
that applies to people to color. Some people have a mistaken
view of it in America. It also is with respect to women,
it's with respect to other efforts to try to reach out and
be inclusive in our country.
I think that we have a long way to go, regrettably. If you
look at what's happened - we've made progress. I want to
say that at the same time. During the Clinton years, as you
may recall, there was a fight over affirmative action. And
there were many people, like myself, who opposed quotas,
who felt there were places were it was overreaching. So we
had a policy called mend it, don't end it. We fixed it. And
we fixed it for a reason: because there are too many people
still in this country who feel the stark resistance of racism.
And so we have a distance to travel. As president, I will
make sure we travel it.
Now, let me just share something. This president is the
first president ever, I think, not to meet with the N.A.A.C.P.
This is a president who hasn't met with the Black Congressional
Caucus. This is a president who has not met with the civil
rights leadership of our country.
If a president doesn't reach out and bring people in and
be inclusive, then how are we going to get over those barriers?
I see that as part of my job as president and I'll make my
best effort to do it.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
MR. BUSH: Well first of all it's - it is just not true that
I haven't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. I've met
with the Black Congressional Caucus at the White House.
And secondly, like my opponent, I don't agree we ought to
have quotas. I agree. We shouldn't have quotas. But we ought
to have an aggressive effort to make sure people are educated,
to make sure when they get out of high school there's Pell
grants available for them, which is what we've done, we've
expanded Pell grants by a million students.
Do you realize today in America we spend $73 billion to
help 10 million low- and middle-income families better afford
college? That's the access I believe is necessary, is to
make sure every child learns to read, write, add and subtract
early, to be able to build on that education by going to
college so they can start their careers with a college diploma.
I believe the best way to help our small businesses is not
only through small business loans, which we have increased
since I've been the president of the United States, but to
unbundle government contracts so people have a chance to
be able to bid and receive a contract to help get their business
Minority ownership of businesses are up because we created
an environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong.
I think - I believe part of a hopeful society is one in which
somebody owns something. Today in America more minorities
own a home than ever before. And that's hopeful. And that's
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's go to a new question.
You were asked before the invasion or after the invasion
of Iraq if you had checked with your dad. And I believe,
I don't remember the quote exactly, but I believe you said
you had checked with a higher authority. I would like to
ask you what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?
MR. BUSH: First, my faith plays a big part in my life. And
when I was answering that question what I was really saying
to the person was that I pray a lot. And I do. And my faith
is a very, it's very personal. I pray for strength. I pray
for wisdom. I pray for our troops in harm's way. I pray for
my family. I pray for my little girls.
But I'm mindful in a free society that people can worship
if they want to or not. You're equally an American if you
choose to worship an Almighty and if you choose not to. If
you're a Christian, Jew or Muslim you're equally an American.
That's the great thing about America is the right to worship
the way you see fit. Prayer and religion sustain me. I receive
calmness in the storms of the presidency. I love the fact
that people pray for me and my family all around the country.
Somebody asked me one time, how do you know? I said I just
Religion is an important part. I never want to impose my
religion on anybody else. But when I make decisions I stand
on principle. And the principles are derived from who I am.
I believe we ought to love our neighbor like we love ourself.
That's manifested in public policy through the faith-based
initiative where we've unleashed the armies of compassion
to help heal people who hurt. I believe that God wants everybody
to be free. That's what I believe. And that's one part of
my foreign policy. In Afghanistan I believe that the freedom
there is a gift from the Almighty. And I can't tell you how
encouraged how I am to see freedom on the march. And so my
principles that I make decisions on are a part of me. And
religion is a part of me.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: Well, I respect everything that the president
has said and certainly respect his faith. I think it's important
and I share it. I think that he just said that freedom is
a gift from the Almighty. Everything is a gift from the Almighty.
And as I measure the words of the Bible, and we all do, different
people measure different things: the Koran, the Torah or,
you know, Native Americans who gave me a blessing the other
day had their own special sense of connectedness to a higher
being. And people all find their ways to express it. I was
taught - I went to a church school, and I was taught that
the two greatest commandments are: love the Lord your God
with all your mind, your body and your soul; and love your
neighbor as yourself. And frankly, I think we have a lot
more loving of our neighbor to do in this country and on
this planet. We have a separate and unequal school system
in the United States of America. There's one for the people
who have and there's one for the people who don't have. And
we're struggling with that today. The president and I have
a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of
our faith. I talked about it earlier when I talked about
the works and faith without works being dead. I think we've
got a lot more work to do. And as president I will always
respect everybody's right to practice religion as they choose
or not to practice, because that's part of America.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, after 9/11 - and this is a
new question for you - it seemed to me that the country came
together as I've never seen it come together since World
War II. But some of that seems to have melted away. I think
it's fair to say we've become pretty polarized, perhaps because
of the political season. But if you were elected president
- or whoever is elected president - will you set a priority
in trying to bring the nation back together or what would
be your attitude on that?
MR. KERRY: Oh, very much so. Let me pay a compliment to
the president, if I may. I think in those days after 9/11,
I thought the president did a terrific job. And I really
was moved, as well as impressed, by the speech that he gave
to the Congress. And I think the hug Tom Daschle gave him
at that moment was about as genuine a sense of there being
no Democrats, no Republicans. We were all just Americans.
That's where we were.
That's not where we are today. I regret to say that the
president who called himself a uniter, not a divider is now
presiding over the most divided America in the recent memory
of our country. I've never seen such ideological squabbles
in the Congress of the United States. I've never seen members
of a party locked out of meetings the way they're locked
We have to change that. And as president, I am committed
to changing that. You know, I don't care if the idea comes
from the other side or this side. I think we have to come
together and work to change it. And I've done that. Over
20 years in the United States Senate, I've worked with John
McCain, who's sitting here. I've worked with other colleagues.
I've reached across the aisle. I've tried to find the common
ground because that's what makes us strong as Americans.
And if Americans trust me with the presidency, I can pledge
to you: We will have the most significant effort - openly,
not secret meetings in the White House with special interests,
not ideologically driven efforts to push people aside, but
a genuine effort to try to restore America's hope and possibilities
by bringing people together.
And one of the ways we're going to do it is I'm going to
work with my friend John McCain to further campaign finance
reform so we get these incredible amounts of money out of
the system and open it up to average people so America is
really represented by the people who make up America.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
MR. BUSH: Well my biggest disappointment in Washington is
how partisan the town is. I had a record of working with
Republicans and Democrats as the governor of Texas. And I
was hopeful to be able to do the same thing. And we made
good progress early on. The No Child Left Behind Act, incredibly
enough, was good work between me and my administration and
people like Senator Ted Kennedy.
And we worked together with Democrats to relieve the tax
burden on the middle class and all who pay taxes in order
to make sure this economy continues to grow.
But Washington is a tough town. And the way I view it is
there's a lot of entrenched special interests there. People
who are, you know, on one side of the issue or another, and
they spend enormous sums of money, and they convince different
senators to tout their way or different congressmen to talk
about their issue. And they dig in.
I'll continue in the four years to continue to try to work
to do - my opponent said this is a bitterly divided time.
Pretty divided in the 2000 election. So in other words it's
pretty divided during the 1990's as well. We're just in a
period and we've to got work to bring it out. My opponent
keeps mentioning John McCain, and I'm glad he did. John McCain
is for me for president because he understands I have the
right view in winning the war on terror and that my plan
will succeed in Iraq, and my opponent has got a plan of retreat
and defeat in Iraq.
MR. SCHIEFFER: We've come gentlemen, to our last question.
And it occurred to me as I came to this debate tonight that
the three of us share something. All three of us are surrounded
by very strong women. We're all married to strong women.
Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. I'd
like to ask each of you what is the most important thing
you've learned from these strong women?
MR. BUSH: To listen to them. To stand up straight and not
scowl. I love the strong women around me. I can't tell you
how much I love my wife and our daughters. I am, you know,
it's really interesting, I tell the people on the campaign
trail when I asked Laura to marry me she said fine, just
so long as I never have to give a speech. I said O.K., you've
got a deal. Fortunately, she didn't hold me to that deal.
And she's out campaigning along with our girls. And she speaks
English a lot better than I do. I think people understand
what she's saying. But they see a compassionate, strong,
great first lady in Laura Bush. I can't tell you how luck
I am when I met her in the backyard of Joe and Jan O'Neill
in Midland, Tex. It was the classic backyard barbecue. O'Neil
said come on over, I think you'll find somebody who might
interest you. So I said all right, bopped over there. There's
only four of us there. And not only did she interest me,
I guess you could say it was love at first sight.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
MR. KERRY: Well, I guess the president and you and I are
three examples of lucky people who married up. And some would
say maybe me more so than others. But I can take it. Can
I say, if I could just say a word about a woman that you
didn't ask about, but my mom passed away a couple years ago.
And just before I was deciding to run and she was in the
hospital and I went in to talk to her and tell her what I
was thinking of doing. And she looked at me from her hospital
bed and she just looked at me and she said, "Remember:
integrity, integrity, integrity." Those are the three
words that she left me with. And my daughters and my wife
are people who just are filled with that sense of what's
right and what's wrong. They also kick me around. They keep
me honest. They don't let me get away with anything. I can
sometimes take myself too seriously. They surely don't let
me do that. And I'm blessed, as I think the president is
blessed. As I said last time, I've watched him with the first
lady, who I admire a great deal, and his daughters. He's
a great father. And I think we're both very lucky.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, gentlemen, that brings us to the closing
statements. Senator Kerry, I believe you're first.
MR. KERRY: My fellow Americans, as you heard from Bob Schieffer
a moment ago, America is being tested by division. More than
ever we need to be united as a country. And like Franklin
Roosevelt, I don't care whether an idea is a Republican idea
or a Democrat idea. I just care whether it works for America
and whether it's going to make us stronger.
These are dangerous times. I believe I offer tested, strong
leadership that can calm the waters of a troubled world.
And I believe that we can, together, do things that are within
the grasp of Americans. We can lift our schools up. We can
create jobs that pay more than the jobs we're losing overseas.
We can have health care for all Americans. We can further
the cause of equality in our nation.
Let me just make it clear: I will never allow any country
to have a veto over our security. Just as I fought for our
country as a young man, with the same passion, I will fight
to defend this nation that I love.
And with faith in God and with conviction in the mission
of America, I believe that we can reach higher. I believe
we can do better. I think the greatest possibilities of our
country - our dreams and our hopes - are out there just waiting
for us to grab onto them.
And I ask you to embark on that journey with me. I ask you
for your trust. I ask you for your help. I ask you to allow
me the privilege of leading this great nation of ours, of
helping us to be stronger here at home and to be respected
again in the world. And most of all, to be safer forever.
Thank you, good night and God bless the United States of
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
MR. BUSH: In the Oval Office there's a painting by a friend
of Laura and mine named, by Tom Lea. It's a West Texas painting,
a painting of a mountain scene. And he said this about it.
He said, "Sarah and I live on the east of the mountain.
It's the sunrise side not the sunset side. It's the side
to see the day that is coming not to see the day that has
gone." I love the optimism in that painting. Because
that's how I feel about America.
We've been through a lot together during the last three-and-three-quarters
years. We've come through a recession, a stock market decline,
an attack on our country. And yet because of the hard work
of the American people and good policies this economy is
growing. Over the next four years we'll make sure the economy
continues to grow. We reformed our school system. And now
there's an achievement gap in America that's beginning to
close. Over the next four years we'll continue to insist
on excellence in every classroom in America so that our children
have a chance to realize the great promise of America.
Over the next four years we'll continue to work to make
sure health care is available and affordable. Over the next
four years we'll continue to rally the armies of compassion
to help heal the hurt that exists in some of our country's
I'm optimistic that we'll win the war on terror. But I understand
it requires firm resolve and clear purpose. We must never
waver in the face of this enemy, these ideologues of hate.
And as we pursue the enemy wherever it exists we'll also
spread freedom and liberty. We've got great faith in the
ability of liberty to transform societies, to convert a hostile
world to a peaceful world. My hope for America is a prosperous
America, a hopeful America and a safer world. I want to thank
you for listening tonight. I'm asking for your vote. God
MR. SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Senator
Kerry. Well, that brings these debates to a close. But the
campaign goes on. I want to wish both of you the very best
of luck between now and election day.
That's it for us from Arizona State University and Tempe,
Ariz. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News. Good night, everyone.
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