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Inside Politics

Who won the first debate?

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(CNN) -- asked its users whether they thought President Bush or Sen. John Kerry won the first of three presidential debates.

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

Tim Thompson from Glen Carbon, Illinois:

Prior to this debate, I was undecided, but after seeing John Kerry speak, I will definitely be voting for him. Kerry set forth real points in support of his position on the war. Conversely, President Bush seemed to continually rely on the assertion that Kerry flip flopped. This seems to have become a trend for Bush. Rather than speak to his own record and things he and his administration have done, he has attempted to garner votes with the use of sound bites.

Mark Mazur from Irvington, New York:

It was actually a pretty good exchange for such a stage managed event! John Kerry, who really had to do more, did do it, and he consistently expressed himself more simply, clearly and effectively that many people expected him to. It was a close debate, but Kerry comes out as the better communicator and having achieved more after debate #1.

Richard Roadman from Gastonia, North Carolina:

I think Bush won the debate, and Kerry only reinforced my fears of having a non-committal weak leader as commander in chief of our military.

Susan Rutberg from San Francisco, California:

John Kerry displayed a deep thoughtful understanding of the global pressures that should influence American foreign policy. Pres. Bush revealed his narrower perspective, never even responding to Kerry's point that protecting American corporate oil interests was the true motivation for the war on Iraq. Bush was a broken record, repeating sound bites without content. John Kerry was presidential.

Duane Savage from Saint Marys, Ohio:

I thought both candidates did well, although I think President Bush gets the edge in my opinion, for two reasons. Sen. Kerry apparently misquoted a few facts, which president Bush corrected him on. The one point that stands out the most clearly to me, though, was when Sen. Kerry tried to make the point that he would build a stronger coalition with regard to Iraq. He turned around and took the opposite stance with regard to North Korea saying he would open bilateral talks, rather than continue the current process with China, Russia, Japan, etc.

E.J. Ehrmann from Point Pleasant, New Jersey:

John Kerry is an excellent debater. Unfortunately, the substance of Kerry's solutions for Iraq were either unclear or unrealistic and his solutions for North Korea were purely weak and appeasing. Good thing the best debater doesn't make the best President. I hope the Senator enjoys the lecture circuit on losing a Presidential election.

Jill Clifford from Sarasota, Florida:

Both candidates held their own for the most part, and John Kerry did not deliver the grand slam punch he really needed here. However, his plan to resolve the Iraq mess, was much more appealing than "more of the same."

Wes Robbins from South Bend, Indiana:

Senator Kerry was the clear winner. He made concise, well thought out points. He made it very clear how absurd President Bush's charge of flip-flopping is. President Bush seems to think that repeating the same thing over and over again somehow is a sign of strength and conviction in a leader. It is not.

Barbara from Atlanta, Georgia:

Bush won. Fighting terrorism doesn't follow the old rules.

Judith Hudson from New York:

Kerry clearly won by presenting a strong and clear message. Bush seemed weak and confused and could not clearly deliver the facts. And how many times can you say "this is a hard job"?

Derek Corson from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

President Bush sent a strong and consistent message. The United States is strong in their resolve. Senator Kerry seems unsure of his position on Iraq before and after the war that he voted to support. He acknowledged Saddam as a major threat prior to the war, he voted for the use of force, but then didn't vote to support the troops with $87 billion of funding. He also doesn't know what country Osama Bin Laden is in. He's a waffling FLIP-FLOP. HE SCARES ME!! Bush isn't a "Slick Willy," he's just more honest and more consistent.

Marilyn from Mobile, Alabama:

President Bush had the advantage in the debate by being himself: straightforward and unequivocal about his commitment to protect Americans and promote freedom. Bush is running for president of the U.S.; Kerry seems to think the election is going to be put to a "global" vote.

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