LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Two minutes.
What about Senator Kerry's point, the comparison he drew between the priorities of going after Osama bin Laden and going after Saddam Hussein?
BUSH: Jim, we've got the capability of doing both.
As a matter of fact, this is a global effort.
We're facing a group of folks who have such hatred in their heart, they'll strike anywhere, with any means.
And that's why it's essential that we have strong alliances, and we do.
That's why it's essential that we make sure that we keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people like Al Qaida, which we are.
But to say that there's only one focus on the war on terror doesn't really understand the nature of the war on terror.
Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden. He's isolated. Seventy-five percent of his people have been brought to justice. The killer -- the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is in prison.
BUSH: We're making progress.
But the front on this war is more than just one place. The Philippines -- we've got help -- we're helping them there to bring -- to bring Al Qaida affiliates to justice there.
And, of course, Iraq is a central part in the war on terror. That's why Zarqawi and his people are trying to fight us. Their hope is that we grow weary and we leave.
The biggest disaster that could happen is that we not succeed in Iraq. We will succeed. We've got a plan to do so. And the main reason we'll succeed is because the Iraqis want to be free.
I had the honor of visiting with Prime Minister Allawi. He's a strong, courageous leader. He believes in the freedom of the Iraqi people.
He doesn't want U.S. leadership, however, to send mixed signals, to not stand with the Iraqi people.
He believes, like I believe, that the Iraqis are ready to fight for their own freedom. They just need the help to be trained.
There will be elections in January. We're spending reconstruction money. And our alliance is strong.
BUSH: That's the plan for victory.
And when Iraq if free, America will be more secure.
LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 90 seconds.
KERRY: The president just talked about Iraq as a center of the war on terror. Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror before the president invaded it.
The president made the judgment to divert forces from under General Tommy Franks from Afghanistan before the Congress even approved it to begin to prepare to go to war in Iraq.
And he rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace. Now, that is not the judgment that a president of the United States ought to make. You don't take America to war unless have the plan to win the peace. You don't send troops to war without the body armor that they need.
KERRY: I've met kids in Ohio, parents in Wisconsin places, Iowa, where they're going out on the Internet to get the state-of-the-art body gear to send to their kids. Some of them got them for a birthday present.
I think that's wrong. Humvees -- 10,000 out of 12,000 Humvees that are over there aren't armored. And you go visit some of those kids in the hospitals today who were maimed because they don't have the armament.
This president just -- I don't know if he sees what's really happened on there. But it's getting worse by the day. More soldiers killed in June than before. More in July than June. More in August than July. More in September than in August.
And now we see beheadings. And we got weapons of mass destruction crossing the border every single day, and they're blowing people up. And we don't have enough troops there.
BUSH: Can I respond to that?
LEHRER: Let's do one of these one-minute extensions. You have 30 seconds.
BUSH: Thank you, sir.
First of all, what my opponent wants you to forget is that he voted to authorize the use of force and now says it's the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place.
BUSH: I don't see how you can lead this country to succeed in Iraq if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place. What message does that send our troops? What message does that send to our allies? What message does that send the Iraqis?
No, the way to win this is to be steadfast and resolved and to follow through on the plan that I've just outlined.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Senator.
KERRY: Yes, we have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we're there. We have to succeed. We can't leave a failed Iraq. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake of judgment to go there and take the focus off of Osama bin Laden. It was. Now, we can succeed. But I don't believe this president can. I think we need a president who has the credibility to bring the allies back to the table and to do what's necessary to make it so America isn't doing this alone.
LEHRER: We'll come back to Iraq in a moment. But I want to come back to where I began, on homeland security. This is a two-minute new question, Senator Kerry.
As president, what would you do, specifically, in addition to or differently to increase the homeland security of the United States than what President Bush is doing?
KERRY: Jim, let me tell you exactly what I'll do. And there are a long list of thing. First of all, what kind of mixed message does it send when you have $500 million going over to Iraq to put police officers in the streets of Iraq, and the president is cutting the COPS program in America?
What kind of message does it send to be sending money to open firehouses in Iraq, but we're shutting firehouses who are the first- responders here in America.
The president hasn't put one nickel, not one nickel into the effort to fix some of our tunnels and bridges and most exposed subway systems. That's why they had to close down the subway in New York when the Republican Convention was there. We hadn't done the work that ought to be done.
The president -- 95 percent of the containers that come into the ports, right here in Florida, are not inspected.
KERRY: Civilians get onto aircraft, and their luggage is X- rayed, but the cargo hold is not X-rayed.
Does that make you feel safer in America?
This president thought it was more important to give the wealthiest people in America a tax cut rather than invest in homeland security. Those aren't my values. I believe in protecting America first.
And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut -- and that's who gets it -- long before we do, I'm going to invest in homeland security and I'm going to make sure we're not cutting COPS programs in America and we're fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the nuclear and chemical plants.
The president also unfortunately gave in to the chemical industry, which didn't want to do some of the things necessary to strengthen our chemical plant exposure.
And there's an enormous undone job to protect the loose nuclear materials in the world that are able to get to terrorists. That's a whole other subject, but I see we still have a little bit more time.
KERRY: Let me just quickly say, at the current pace, the president will not secure the loose material in the Soviet Union -- former Soviet Union for 13 years. I'm going to do it in four years. And we're going to keep it out of the hands of terrorists.
LEHRER: Ninety-second response, Mr. President.
BUSH: I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises. It's like a huge tax gap. Anyway, that's for another debate.
My administration has tripled the amount of money we're spending on homeland security to $30 billion a year.
My administration worked with the Congress to create the Department of Homeland Security so we could better coordinate our borders and ports. We've got 1,000 extra border patrol on the southern border; want 1,000 on the northern border. We're modernizing our borders.
We spent $3.1 billion for fire and police, $3.1 billion.
We're doing our duty to provide the funding.
But the best way to protect this homeland is to stay on the offense.
BUSH: You know, we have to be right 100 percent of the time. And the enemy only has to be right once to hurt us.
There's a lot of good people working hard.
And by the way, we've also changed the culture of the FBI to have counterterrorism as its number one priority. We're communicating better. We're going to reform our intelligence services to make sure that we get the best intelligence possible.
The Patriot Act is vital -- is vital that the Congress renew the Patriot Act which enables our law enforcement to disrupt terror cells.
But again, I repeat to my fellow citizens, the best way to protection is to stay on the offense.
LEHRER: Yes, let's do a little -- yes, 30 seconds.
KERRY: The president just said the FBI had changed its culture. We just read on the front pages of America's papers that there are over 100,000 hours of tapes, unlistened to. On one of those tapes may be the enemy being right the next time.
KERRY: And the test is not whether you're spending more money. The test is, are you doing everything possible to make America safe?
We didn't need that tax cut. America needed to be safe.
BUSH: Of course we're doing everything we can to protect America. I wake up every day thinking about how best to protect America. That's my job.
I work with Director Mueller of the FBI; comes in my office when I'm in Washington every morning, talking about how to protect us. There's a lot of really good people working hard to do so.
It's hard work. But, again, I want to tell the American people, we're doing everything we can at home, but you better have a president who chases these terrorists down and bring them to justice before they hurt us again.
LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Two minutes.
What criteria would you use to determine when to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq?
BUSH: Let me first tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job.
BUSH: And that's what we're doing. We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year. That is the best way. We'll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not want to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves. I believe they want to. Prime Minister Allawi believes they want to.
And so the best indication about when we can bring our troops home -- which I really want to do, but I don't want to do so for the sake of bringing them home; I want to do so because we've achieved an objective -- is to see the Iraqis perform and to see the Iraqis step up and take responsibility.
And so, the answer to your question is: When our general is on the ground and Ambassador Negroponte tells me that Iraq is ready to defend herself from these terrorists, that elections will have been held by then, that their stability and that they're on their way to, you know, a nation that's free; that's when.
BUSH: And I hope it's as soon as possible. But I know putting artificial deadlines won't work. My opponent at one time said, "Well, get me elected, I'll have them out of there in six months." You can't do that and expect to win the war on terror.
My message to our troops is, "Thank you for what you're doing. We're standing with you strong. We'll give you all the equipment you need. And we'll get you home as soon as the mission's done, because this is a vital mission."
A free Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror, and that's essential. A free Iraq will set a powerful example in the part of the world that is desperate for freedom. A free Iraq will help secure Israel. A free Iraq will enforce the hopes and aspirations of the reformers in places like Iran. A free Iraq is essential for the security of this country.
LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Senator Kerry.
KERRY: Thank you, Jim.
My message to the troops is also: Thank you for what they're doing, but it's also help is on the way. I believe those troops deserve better than what they are getting today.
You know, it's interesting. When I was in a rope line just the other day, coming out here from Wisconsin, a couple of young returnees were in the line, one active duty, one from the Guard. And they both looked at me and said: We need you. You've got to help us over there.
Now I believe there's a better way to do this. You know, the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said -- he wrote in his book -- because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land.
That's exactly where we find ourselves today. There's a sense of American occupation. The only building that was guarded when the troops when into Baghdad was the oil ministry. We didn't guard the nuclear facilities.
KERRY: We didn't guard the foreign office, where you might have found information about weapons of mass destruction. We didn't guard the borders.
Almost every step of the way, our troops have been left on these extraordinarily difficult missions. I know what it's like to go out on one of those missions when you don't know what's around the corner.
And I believe our troops need other allies helping. I'm going to hold that summit. I will bring fresh credibility, a new start, and we will get the job done right.
LEHRER: All right, go ahead. Yes, sir?
BUSH: I think it's worthy for a follow-up.
LEHRER: Sure, right.
LEHRER: We can do 30 second each here. All right.
BUSH: My opponent says help is on the way, but what kind of message does it say to our troops in harm's way, "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time"? Not a message a commander in chief gives, or this is a "great diversion."
As well, help is on the way, but it's certainly hard to tell it when he voted against the $87-billion supplemental to provide equipment for our troops, and then said he actually did vote for it before he voted against it.
BUSH: Not what a commander in chief does when you're trying to lead troops.
LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.
KERRY: Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?
I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.