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


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Sen. John Kerry and President Bush debate foreign policy issues Thursday night.
TRANSCRIPT
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? 
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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, Mr. President. Two minutes.

What about Senator Kerry's point, the comparison he drew between the priorities of going after Osama bin Laden and going after Saddam Hussein?

BUSH: Jim, we've got the capability of doing both.

As a matter of fact, this is a global effort.

We're facing a group of folks who have such hatred in their heart, they'll strike anywhere, with any means.

And that's why it's essential that we have strong alliances, and we do.

That's why it's essential that we make sure that we keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people like Al Qaeda, which we are.

But to say that there's only one focus on the war on terror doesn't really understand the nature of the war on terror.

Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden.

He's isolated.

Seventy-five percent of his people have been brought to justice. The killer -- the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is in prison.

We're making progress.

But the front on this war is more than just one place. The Philippines -- we've got help -- we're helping them there to bring -- to bring Al Qaeda affiliates to justice there.

And, of course, Iraq is a central part in the war on terror. That's why Zarqawi and his people are trying to fight us.

Their hope is that we grow weary and we leave.

The biggest disaster that could happen is that we not succeed in Iraq. We will succeed. We've got a plan to do so. And the main reason we'll succeed is because the Iraqis want to be free.

I had the honor of visiting with Prime Minister Allawi. He's a strong, courageous leader. He believes in the freedom of the Iraqi people.

He doesn't want U.S. leadership, however, to send mixed signals, to not stand with the Iraqi people.

He believes, like I believe, that the Iraqis are ready to fight for their own freedom. They just need the help to be trained.

There will be elections in January. We're spending reconstruction money. And our alliance is strong.

That's the plan for victory.

And when Iraq if free, America will be more secure.

LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.

KERRY: The president just talked about Iraq as a center of the war on terror. Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror before the president invaded it.

The president made the judgment to divert forces from under General Tommy Franks from Afghanistan before the Congress even approved it to begin to prepare to go to war in Iraq.

And he rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace. Now, that is not the judgment that a president of the United States ought to make.

You don't take America to war unless have the plan to win the peace. You don't send troops to war without the body armor that they need.

I've met kids in Ohio, parents in Wisconsin places, Iowa, where they're going out on the Internet to get the state-of-the-art body gear to send to their kids. Some of them got them for a birthday present.

I think that's wrong. Humvees -- 10,000 out of 12,000 Humvees that are over there aren't armored. And you go visit some of those kids in the hospitals today who were maimed because they don't have the armament.

This president just -- I don't know if he sees what's really happened on there.

But it's getting worse by the day.

More soldiers killed in June than before. More in July than June. More in August than July. More in September than in August.

And now we see beheadings. And we got weapons of mass destruction crossing the border every single day, and they're blowing people up. And we don't have enough troops there.

BUSH: Can I respond to that?

LEHRER: Let's do one of these one-minute extensions. You have 30 seconds.

BUSH: Thank you, sir.

First of all, what my opponent wants you to forget is that he voted to authorize the use of force and now says it's the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place.

I don't see how you can lead this country to succeed in Iraq if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place.

What message does that send our troops? What message does that send to our allies? What message does that send the Iraqis?

No, the way to win this is to be steadfast and resolved and to follow through on the plan that I've just outlined.

LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Senator.

KERRY: Yes, we have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am.

And I will succeed for those troops, now that we're there.

We have to succeed. We can't leave a failed Iraq.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake of judgment to go there and take the focus off of Osama bin Laden. It was.

Now, we can succeed. But I don't believe this president can.

I think we need a president who has the credibility to bring the allies back to the table and to do what's necessary to make it so America isn't doing this alone.

Next question: How would you improve homeland security?


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