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Inside Politics

Mixed views in first presidential debate

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(CNN) -- asked its users whether they thought President Bush or Sen. John Kerry made a stronger case about preventing terrorist attacks in the United States during the first of three presidential debates.

Here is a sampling of thousands of responses, some of which have been edited.

Josh Daniel from Montclair, New Jersey:

John Kerry is by far making a better case for leadership than President Bush. He has proved tonight that he will make smarter decisions, investing in safety at home, and building coalitions abroad. He speaks candidly about the situation in Iraq, unlike the president, and he makes a case for an honest, real leader who will keep our country safer than Bush.

Jessica from Staten Island, New York:

Have we had an attack since 9/11? No, I think it is clear that President Bush has kept us safe since then, and there is no question that this consistent, strong president is the best.

April Thayer from Centennial, Colorado:

Based on the response to Jim Lehrer's question re: national defense, I thought John Kerry's response about not supporting our local police, local first responders, not taking care of the holes in our ports, borders and air traffic control made Bush's policies look war-like, but security-weak. Kerry made excellent points and Bush's face betrayed his concerns.

G. Keating from Halifax, Nova Scotia:

What a job President Bush has done in this debate!! As a neighbor, our only wish is that we could cast a vote in his favor!! Senator Kerry came off as a pancake FLIP-FLOP. Kudos, Mr. President -- you give Canada great comfort and we salute you sir!

Alice Jeffries from Chapel Hill, North Carolina:

John Kerry did a better job. He outlined what he would do to secure potential targets in New York, inspect more cargo coming into the country and try to re-establish our relationships with other countries, just to list a few of the points he made. George Bush spent most of his time saying the same thing over and over. It is clear that his plan was to focus on a few phrases that Kerry has used in the past and bring them up repeatedly even if they didn't apply to the current question. He was more focused on attacking Kerry than in answering questions.

Lily from Dorchester, Massachusetts:

So far, Kerry seems to be much more concrete about having a plan for changing the situation in Iraq in a way that will calm the situation down and not have us trapped there as occupiers, and he seems more adamant about spending the immense amount we're spending there more usefully. As a military brat, with a brother in the reserves, I feel better about Kerry tonight than I have so far. Bush has been repeating the same thing he has been saying for over a year, and, frankly, things need to change. I also liked what Kerry said about better preparing first responders, and others involved with our homeland safety -- this is something I haven't seen enough of by a long shot.

Becky from Campton, Kentucky:

President Bush continues to speak clearly and has always backed up his words with the same in action. Sen. Kerry would be wrong for this country and could not in any way protect our nation from an attack like 9/11. I would guess the Taliban and others like them would love for Kerry to be elected so we would once again be vulnerable to their tactics.

Hugh Ashton from Kamakura-shi, Japan:

Kerry has definite plans for the future. ... Bush has flip-flopped on the need for homeland security and under-funded the programs he reluctantly supported under bipartisan pressure. He finds it impossible to articulate any consistent views, more than three years after the tragic events that brought home the weaknesses in his administration's intelligence and anti-terrorism capabilities.

Maxx from Manahawkin, New Jersey:

I believe that the president has effectively "nailed" the debate issue of homeland security by stating that in order to protect America, we as a country must be on the offensive. This means going into Iraq and other terrorist strongholds (not just al Qaeda) at the source. If you look at it logically, you go after everything at the source. Whether it's a toenail infection to a leak in a ceiling. The president, in my opinion, has a much clearer view on the war on terror.

Jane Ruby from Cincinnati, Ohio:

President Bush has won this debate hands down. He is the clear leader!!

Anita Blutinger from San Diego, California:

Kerry is succinct, forceful clear on future plans on fighting terrorists and making America secure. President Bush is repetitive, vague and snide, with no specifics and no plan to adapt to conditions as now existing.

Sandy Leppert from Copperas Cove, Texas:

I know where we stand with Bush. ... Kerry you never know! When we start a mission, we need to finish it. The military is there to fight and win wars. I can't stand a leader that is indecisive, and I would never go to war with him. Kerry is the type that would get us killed! Bush isn't perfect; no one is. You can't expect the president to please all of the people all of the time. As long as Bush is in office, I know decisions will be made and we will not waffle around. Kerry, make up your mind!

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