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Transcript: What 'misjudgments' has Bush made?

Sen. John Kerry and President Bush debate foreign policy issues Thursday night.
Full transcript of the September 30, 2004 presidential debates. 
• Question 6 -- When should troops come home? 
• Question 11 -- When will the war in Iraq end? 
• Question 15 -- Why not send troops to Sudan? 
• Question 18 -- Did Bush misjudge Putin? 
• Audio Slide Show: Debate history
• Formats
John F. Kerry
George W. Bush

CORAL GABLES, Florida (CNN) -- The following is a partial transcript of the debate between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry held Thursday night at the University of Miami. The topic of the debate is foreign affairs, and the moderator is Jim Lehrer of PBS:

LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry.

"Colossal misjudgments." What colossal misjudgments, in your opinion, has President Bush made in these areas?

KERRY: Well, where do you want me to begin?

First of all, he made the misjudgment of saying to America that he was going to build a true alliance, that he would exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and go through the inspections.

In fact, he first didn't even want to do that. And it wasn't until former Secretary of State Jim Baker and General Scowcroft and others pushed publicly and said you've got to go to the U.N., that the president finally changed his mind -- his campaign has a word for that -- and went to the United Nations.

Now, once there, we could have continued those inspections.

We had Saddam Hussein trapped.

He also promised America that he would go to war as a last resort.

Those words mean something to me, as somebody who has been in combat.

"Last resort."

You've got to be able to look in the eyes of families and say to those parents, "I tried to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of your son and daughter."

I don't believe the United States did that.

And we pushed our allies aside.

And so, today, we are 90 percent of the casualties and 90 percent of the cost: $200 billion -- $200 billion that could have been used for health care, for schools, for construction, for prescription drugs for seniors, and it's in Iraq.

And Iraq is not even the center of the focus of the war on terror.

The center is Afghanistan, where, incidentally, there were more Americans killed last year than the year before; where the opium production is 75 percent of the world's opium production; where 40 to 60 percent of the economy of Afghanistan is based on opium; where the elections have been postponed three times.

The president moved the troops, so he's got 10 times the number of troops in Iraq than he has in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is.

Does that mean that Saddam Hussein was 10 times more important than Osama bin Laden -- than, excuse me, Saddam Hussein more important than Osama bin Laden? I don't think so.

LEHRER: Ninety-second response, Mr. President.

BUSH: My opponent looked at the same intelligence I looked at and declared in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat.

He also said in December of 2003 that anyone who doubts that the world is safer without Saddam Hussein does not have the judgment to be president.

I agree with him. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

I was hoping diplomacy would work. I understand the serious consequences of committing our troops into harm's way.

It's the hardest decision a president makes. So I went to the United Nations. I didn't need anybody to tell me to go to the United Nations. I decided to go there myself.

And I went there hoping that, once and for all, the free world would act in concert to get Saddam Hussein to listen to our demands. They passed the resolution that said, "Disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences." I believe, when an international body speaks, it must mean what it says.

Saddam Hussein had no intention of disarming. Why should he? He had 16 other resolutions and nothing took place. As a matter of fact, my opponent talks about inspectors. The facts are that he was systematically deceiving the inspectors.

That wasn't going to work. That's kind of a pre-September 10th mentality, the hope that somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful place.

He was hoping we'd turn away. But there was fortunately others beside himself who believed that we ought to take action.

We did. The world is safer without Saddam Hussein.

Next question: Who's top target, bin Laden or Saddam?

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