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The Candidates:
• George W. Bush
• John Kerry
• Ralph Nader
• Third Parties
Showdown States:
The Conventions:
• Democratic
• Republican

How do you rate each candidate's debate performance?


Paul Begala
Political strategist
B- C- A+ A

Bob Novak
Political analyst
B B- D A

Carlos Watson
Political analyst
Grades show the average of user scores in each category.

Total: 1100178 user votes
C C A- B

Paul Begala
Bush didn't face reality and accept that we're in a mess in Iraq. You can't fix the problem until you acknowledge there is a problem. He was defensive through almost the entire debate. He seemed a little befuddled, and often seemed to be grasping.

Kerry had a remarkable command of policy. He knew how many hours of terrorist tapes the FBI has not translated. He quoted from the president's father. He has clearly mastered the material. And he was on offense the whole night -- forcing Bush back onto his heels. What happened to the windy, verbose senator we thought we knew?

Kerry was strong, certain and in command. He was more presidential than the president himself was. If a Martian were watching this debate, he'd think Kerry was the president, not Mr. Bush.

Carlos Watson
The debate was solid for both sides, but not spectacular. I think Kerry did well enough to pique voters' interests, so that more people will end up watching the second debate than the first one.

• Debate 1: Bush vs. Kerry
• Debate 2: Cheney vs. Edwards
• Debate 3: Bush vs. Kerry
• Debate 4: Bush vs. Kerry
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