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Inside Politics

Key points of Wednesday's debate

Sen. John Kerry and President Bush greet the audience before the start of the debate.
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A wrapup of the final Bush-Kerry debate.

Debate between Bush and Kerry (Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
Audio Slide Show: The last debate

• The Big Picture: Round three
• Gallery: ASU students' views
• CNN fact check: A closer look
• CNN Access:  Karl Rove
• Audio Slide Show: Debate history
• Formats
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America Votes 2004
John F. Kerry
George W. Bush

TEMPE, Arizona (CNN) -- President Bush and Sen. John Kerry debated for a third time Wednesday night. Here are the highlights, with the candidate who was asked the question listed first. Issues are not in chronological order.


Bush: Would give people help to get education to fill new jobs. Says there is need to ensure education system works. "We've expanded trade adjustment assistance."

Kerry: Wages are lower and jobs are fewer. Would "lower corporate tax rates in America for all corporations, 5 percent" to stimulate job growth. Says Bush cut job training money but returned some because of election year.

Health insurance costs

Bush: A systemic problem. Most costs covered by third party; people are not involved. Health savings accounts will help. Medical liability reform is essential. A nonpartisan group says Kerry's plan would cost $1.2 trillion and 20 million people would be added to government-controlled health care.

Kerry: Administration has "stood in the way" of ways to lower costs by blocking less expensive drugs and bulk buying. People get sicker because they don't have coverage. Would allow persons ages 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare early. Would give small businesses "50 percent tax credit so that after we lower the costs of health care."

Economic policy

Kerry: Would bring back pay-as-you-go policies and restore fiscal responsibility. Start with rolling back tax cut for richest Americans. Need to close corporate loopholes.

Bush: Kerry would create a tax gap that the middle class will have to pay for. Promises to encourage fiscal sanity.

Social security

Bush: Seniors will still get checks. Personal savings accounts for young workers are a vital issue.

Kerry: Bush's plan is "invitation to disaster" because benefits would have to take a massive cut. Would protect through fiscal responsibility. "I will not privatize it. I will not cut the benefits."


Kerry: Can't legislate my beliefs on someone. Would not allow Roe v. Wade to be changed.

Bush: Country should promote a "culture of life." Need to put laws into place to reduce the number of abortions. Adoption laws can help.

Same-sex marriage

Bush: Need to treat people with respect. But as nation can show tolerance and keep its view on the sanctity of marriage.

Kerry: Marriage is between a man and woman. But in the United States, we cannot discriminate against people. Says he is for partnership rights.

Minimum wage

Kerry: We need to raise to $7 per hour within several years.

Bush: Supported a plan to raise wage.

Assault weapons ban

Bush: Would have signed a renewal, had it come up. Need to prosecute people who commit crimes with guns -- convictions of those criminals up 68 percent.

Kerry: It was a failure of leadership not to reauthorize it. Law enforcement agencies wanted the ban. Terrorists can go to a gun show and buy an assault weapon.

Homeland security

Kerry: Need better intelligence and to build alliances.

Bush: "I signed the homeland security bill to better align our assets and resources. My opponent voted against it."

Ease burden on National Guard

Kerry: Would add two Army divisions and double number of special operations forces. Would deploy National Guard differently -- more on domestic security duties.

Bush: Train Iraqis and give them a chance to defend their country.

Affirmative action

Kerry: We still need it even though progress was made during Clinton presidency.

Bush: "We shouldn't have quotas."


Bush: Border security has been increased and agents are using more technologically advanced equipment. Temporary worker cards should be issued to help fill employer needs, which would result in fewer people having to cross border illegally.

Kerry: Would toughen up borders. Illegal hiring needs to be stamped out. Some illegal immigrants need to be moved toward full citizenship. United States needs a guest worker program.

Flu shot shortage

Bush: U.S. relied on an English company that produced 50 percent of vaccine, and it was contaminated. Center for Disease Control is allocating vaccine appropriately.

Kerry: Underscores problems with health care system. Five million Americans have lost their insurance. President has "turned back on wellness of America."

Polarized country

Kerry: President presides over very divided country. Members of parties are locked out of meetings. Will work with Republicans like John McCain.

Bush: Biggest disappointment is how partisan Washington has become. Too many special interests groups.


Bush: Decisions are based on principle. "Prayer and religion sustain me."

Kerry: Differs with president on "how we live out our sense of our faith."

What have strong women in your life taught you?

Bush: "To listen to them. To stand up straight and not scowl."

Kerry: "Well, I guess the president and you [moderator Bob Schieffer] and I are three examples of lucky people who married up. And some would say maybe me more so than others." Says his mother taught him integrity.

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