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Bob Novak's Debate Blog: Round 1

Editor's Note: Nationally syndicated columnist Robert Novak is providing a view from the right on the first presidential debate through this blog. Follow along as he shares his observations and send us your own by typing them in the "Share Your Comments" box to the right.

Kerry stops short again

CNN's Robert Novak
• Audio Slide Show: Debate history
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Posted: 10:28 p.m. ET

At the end of the debate, Kerry again came close to calling Bush liar.

Where do you stand on Iraq?

Posted: 10:21 p.m. ET

Kerry remains very difficult to decipher on Iraq.

Bush dodges 'trap'

Posted: 10:14 p.m. ET

Bush avoids trap of Lehrer's question to challenge Kerry's character.

Troops in Africa?

Posted: 10:12 p.m. ET

Kerry brings up Army strength into talking about the Sudan problem. He said he would never flinch from sending troops to Africa. But would the American people?

Bush pounces on blunder

Posted: 10:03 p.m. ET

Kerry blundered in talking about "passing a global test" for preemptive action -- and Bush called him on it.

Kerry backs off

Posted: 10:01 p.m. ET

Kerry backs away from fully engaging Bush on preemptive strikes.

Kerry fumbles

Posted: 9:57 p.m. ET

Kerry did not look good on the Allawi exchange.

'Parsing words'

Posted: 9:54 p.m. ET

Kerry is parsing words about whether he would bring back the troops in six months.

Kerry tones down for debate

Posted: 9:44 p.m. ET

Kerry privately calls Bush a liar, but backs away from it in debate.

'Mixed signals'

Posted: 9:41 p.m. ET

Bush stressing mixed signals to world in Kerry's criticism -- a major theme of his campaign.

Kerry cites urban legend

Posted: 9:40 p.m. ET

Kerry repeats urban legend that Gen. Shinseki was fired for asking for more troops.

Kerry does not differentiate Iraq plan

Posted: 9:33 p.m. ET

Kerry is constantly on the attack, but he doesn't make clear what he would do himself in Iraq. He's unable to explain how he would act differently.

When will troops return?

Posted: 9:30 p.m. ET

Bush dodges question of when troops come home but stands firm with troops.

Too many words

Posted: 9:28 p.m. ET

Kerry rolls on and on to fill two minutes. He should stop when he finishes his answer.

Kerry's bad habit

Posted: 9:24 p.m. ET

Rules were supposed to prevent cutaway shots, but Fox has ignored them. Kerry is shown nodding his head when Bush talks -- not a good habit.

Bush picks up pace

Posted: 9:22 p.m. ET

Bush picking up pace as he gets going. Kerry says Bush diverted forces from Gen. Tommy Franks in Afghanistan, which Franks in his memoir denies.

Kerry 'looked snide'

Posted: 9:18 p.m. ET

Kerry looked snide in chucklng, "where do you want me to be begin" when asked to list Bush's mistakes.

Bush opening statement

Posted: 9:12 p.m. ET

Bush looked like he had a temporary brainlock when he started but he recovered and got in the flow.

Kerry opening statement

Posted: 9:09 p.m. ET

Kerry opens by pandering to Florida.

'Much easier task' for Bush

Posted: 9:01 p.m. ET

Bush has a much easier task tonight than Kerry. All he has to do is avoid making a big blunder. Kerry has to somehow convince that slender band of undecided voters that he is demonstrably more able than Bush to win the war on terrorism -- and to be likable in doing so.

An author and former newspaper writer, nationally syndicated columnist Bob Novak participates in two of CNN's political public affairs programs, giving a perspective from the right: "Crossfire" and "The Capital Gang." He also helms CNN's "The Novak Zone," a weekly interview feature.

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