The only public confrontation between Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards occurred at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

The Oct. 5 vice presidential debate focused largely on foreignpolicy, with domestic policy playing a supportive role to thecontentions aroused by the administration’s foreignpolicy.

The debate was decidedly more pointed than the presidentialdebate, involving personal attacks from both sides.

“Your facts are just wrong,” Cheney said.”Senator, frankly, you have a record in the Senate that isnot very distinguished.”

Edwards likewise attacked Cheney’s record of publicservice.

“One thing that’s very clear is that a long resumedoes not equal good judgment,” Edwards said. “I mean,we’ve seen over and over and over the misjudgments made bythis administration.”

The main clash during the debate concerned the decision and thejustification for the American presence in Iraq. Cheney argued thatformer head of state Sadaam Hussein’s activities andconnections warranted an American military response.

“There is clearly an Iraqi record with terror,”Cheney said. “Hussein has been on the state sponsors ofterror list. He has an established relationship with AlQueda.”

He further argued that Iraq was but one step on the path tointernational security.

“Iraq is part of the broader context of the global war onterror,” Cheney said. “We will go after terroristswherever we might find them. We will go to any place that givessanctuary for terrorists.”

Edwards attacked the logic of going to Iraq from the beginning,citing the lack of a connection between the attacks on Sept. 11 andHussein.

“There is no connection between 9/11 and SadaamHussein,” Edwards said. “We need to be straight withthe American people.”

Edwards also criticized that handling of post-war Iraq by theadministration.

“We lost more troops in September than in August,”Edwards said. “We lost more in August than in July and morein July than June. This administration did not put together analliance and did not have a plan to win the peace.”

Edwards also responded to the widespread conservative criticismof Kerry’s mention of a “global test” in theprevious presidential debate.

“We are going to go back to the proud tradition of tellingthe American people the truth about what’s happening,”Edwards said. “We are going to make sure the people know whywe are using force. We are also going to make sure we tell theworld the truth. For America to lead it is critical that we becredible.”

Both candidates laid out their plans for improving the domesticwell-being for Americans. Cheney focused on job creation and accessfor the impoverished.

“The best remedy to poverty is a good-paying job,”Cheney said.

Edwards countered by focusing on the administration’sineffectiveness in creating job opportunities.

Edwards cited the 1.6 million private sector jobs and the 2.6manufacturing jobs that have been lost. He’s the firstpresident since Herbert Hoover to end his term with fewer jobs thanwhen he started.”

According to both Gallup and Economist polls, the vicepresidential debate returned the Republicans to solid ground afterthe relative defeat of Bush in the first debate. This set thefoundation for the second presidential debate, where Kerry and Bushwould once again try and tip the scales for their respectivetickets.

The second presidential debate took place in St. Louis atWashington University on October 8. This debate was widelydifferent than the first in format and coverage: the questions weretaken directly from undecided voters in the audience and couldcover domestic or foreign policy.

The character of the candidate dominated the beginning minutesof the exchange; this was a reprisal of the vice presidentialdebate a few days earlier. The question was directed to Kerryconcerning his “wishy-washiness.”

“They try to say I’ve changed position on the Patriot Act;I haven’t. I support it,” Kerry said. “I just don’tlike the way John Ashcroft has applied it. Now, the president haspresided over an economy where we’ve lost 1.6 million jobs, thefirst president in 72 years to lose jobs. I have a plan to putpeople back to work. That’s not wishy washy.”

Bush argued that Kerry determines his viewpoint on a givenpolicy concern based on the popularity of the position.

“You know, for a while he was a strong supporter ofgetting rid of Saddam Hussein,” Bush said. “He saw thewisdom — until the Democrat primary came along, and Howard Dean,the anti-war candidate, began to gain on him, and he changedpositions.”

The administration’s Middle Eastern foreign policydominated the next half hour of questioning. The most contentiousexchange concerned the recent CIA report that definitively statedthere were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush argued thatHussein’s status as a unique threat was justifiable towarrant American interaction.

“I wasn’t happy when we found out there wasn’t weapons,and we’ve got an intelligence group together to figure outwhy,” Bush said. “But Saddam Hussein was a uniquethreat. And the world is better off without him inpower.”

Kerry agreed with Bush on the identification of Hussein as athreat but argued that Bush failed in his application of power.

“I would have used that force wisely, I would have usedthat authority wisely, not rushed to war without a plan to win thepeace,” Kerry said. “I would have brought our allies toour side. I would have fought to make certain our troops hadeverybody possible to help them win the mission. This presidentrushed to war, pushed our allies aside. And Iran now is moredangerous, and so is North Korea, with nuclear weapons. He took hiseye off the ball, off of Osama bin Laden.”

Similar disagreement followed as the debate turned to domesticpolicy. The issue of medical lawsuits and their influence on themedical profession as a whole proved a notable point of contention.Kerry argued that conservatives exaggerate the financial damagecaused by medical liability lawsuits.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, important to understand, thepresident and his friends try to make a big deal out of it. Is it aproblem? Yes, it’s a problem,” Kerry said. “But it’sless than one percent of the total cost of health care.”

Bush argued that Kerry’s analysis is a vastoversimplification.

“First, he says he’s for medical liability reform,particularly for OB/GYNs. There’s a bill on the floor of the UnitedStates Senate that he could have showed up and voted for if he’s somuch for it,” Bush said. “Secondly, he says thatmedical liability costs only cause a 1 percent increase. That showsa lack of understanding. Doctors practice defensive medicinebecause of all the frivolous lawsuits that cost our government $28billion a year.”

A poll conducted by CNN gave victory to both candidates in equalquantities. This is in relative contrast to the victory given toKerry by various national polls. The president and Senator Kerrywill meet for the final debate in Arizona Wednesday, Oct. 13.

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