NOTE: I have not read any other reports on the debates yet, and I am writing this the morning after I have slept on it. The only news I have heard about the debates has been from Paul Harvey and the local AM station.
I talked of the debates earlier, and here is what I predicted would happen.
When asked a question Kerry can do several things: Attack Bush's record, promote himself, attack Bush's ideas for the future. Attacking Bush's record is one of the worst things he can do. First off, everyone knows his record, so nothing new is going to come out of that. Secondly, Kerry will meet a wall of conviction. Bush will strip away the long, boring political process talk and concentrate on the reason why he acted in the way he did. In other words from Bush you will get, "I did what I did because I believed it made America safer" . You can argue if Bush's actions accomplished what he wanted to do, but you cannot argue with Bush's goal. Kerry can attempt to cast Bush's judgment into question. That is just trying to jump over the wall of conviction, not avoiding it entirely.
This debate help America a lot because it showed where the candidates are the same and they are different in several areas. Well I don't think it turned out for Kerry as bad at I thought it could have. Kerry seemed on the offensive and bush seemed repetitive. While listening to the debates, I had more moments of "what is he talking about with Kerry" than I did with bush, but I don't know if the rest of America felt the same way.
Major gaffes stories
The major gaff story of this debate is that there were no major gaffes. There were some minor ones that if repeated heavily in the second debates could lead to some trouble for either candidate. When Kerry was asked to what was wrong with Bush's president ideas on one subject, he laughed and said he as a long list of them. I think he meant it as a joke, but it seemed like a joke of contempt to me, I don't think that will play well with people. Bush's response to one question about what would happen if Kerry wins was that it is not going to happen. Everyone likes a winner, but no one likes a bragger. Though we have seen that from bush before, it still does not lessen the effect of it to me.
I heard that Kerry polled well in the focus groups immediately after the debate. This will fade as people sleep on what he said. It appears Bush did not poll well because he seemed irritable. My response is that it is really tough to be called a liar to your face and to not be able to do anything about it. [Crazy liberal in my head says, "But would not you get used to it after awhile." I say, "No, you would only become more agitated as time went on."]
Kerry did not our right contradict himself within the idea of Iraq, but He did suggest different views of Iraq. He at one time said that we should not have taken off our focus on Iraq and that Iraq is not the center of the war on terror. Then at another turn he criticized Bush for allowing terrorist to come across the boarder in Iraq, but yet Iraq is not important on the war on terror. I am confused.
The way Kerry wants to handle Iraq is completely different than the way he wants to handle North Korea. He repeatably said that he wanted Bi-lateral talks with North Korea instead of multi-party talks like the president wanted. That was until at the end of talking about North Korea, Kerry said we needed to not alienate China. He strayed from his idea, though I don't know if will hurt him.
I have no idea what Kerry wanted to do with Iran, that was different than what was already being done.
Kerry said he could do Iraq better than Bush because he can bring our allies in to share the cost. Kerry wanted to try something that did not work with North Korea, again.
Finally, Kerry did not have anything new to bring to the table where Iran was concerned. I wonder if everyone else realizes this.
update: CNN quick vote
Who do you think won the first U.S. presidential debate?
President George W. Bush 21% 85500 votes
Sen. John Kerry 72% 291577 votes
Evenly matched 7% 26371 votes
Total: 403448 votes
update2: I for got to mention the warmest moment of the debate, it was not when bush gave his mushy I pray with the family line, I was when both of the candidates were talking about their daughters. That helped both candidates, and both should replay the part they find most favorable, as much as possible.
Update 3: I left a fun game at say uncle.
"Fun game to play. See you can restate what Kerry's foreign policy will be.
Once you do that, ask yourself how is it different from what Bush is doing? "
update 4: Well most of the web agrees that Kerry won on presentation. My friends and I agree on that also, but we think Kerry lost the content part. One of my friends made a good point about the differences between the candidates. Kerry is the conservative when it comes to the war on terror (he wants to fight it the way it has always been done. one-more-resolution- Kerry, is my new nickname), and bush is the progressive in this debate.