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Text Of Bush-Kerry Debate II (2)

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Below is the text of the town-hall debate between President Bush and John Kerry:

KERRY: Now, that's not a good way to build support and reduce the risk for our troops and make America safer.

I'm going to get the training done for our troops. I'm going to get the training of Iraqis done faster. And I'm going to get our allies back to the table.

BUSH: Two days ago in the Oval Office, I met with the finance minister from Iraq. He came to see me. And he talked about how optimistic he was and the country was about heading toward elections.

Think about it: They're going from tyranny to elections. He talked about the reconstruction efforts that are beginning to take hold. He talked about the fact that Iraqis love to be free.

He said he was optimistic when he came here, then he turned on the TV and listened to the political rhetoric and all of a sudden he was pessimistic.
Now, this is guy a who, along with others, has taken great risk for great freedom. And we need to stand with him.

My opponent says he has a plan; it sounds familiar, because it's called the Bush plan. We're going to train troops, and we are. We'll have 125,000 trained by the end of December. We're spending about $7 billion.

BUSH: He talks about a grand idea: Let's have a summit; we're going to solve the problem in Iraq by holding a summit.

And what is he going to say to those people that show up at the summit? Join me in the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place. Risk your troops in a war you've called a mistake.

Nobody is going to follow somebody who doesn't believe we can succeed and with somebody who says that war where we are is a mistake.

I know how these people think. I meet with them all the time. I talk to Tony Blair all the time. I talk to Silvio Berlusconi. They're not going to follow an American president who says follow me into a mistake. Our plan is working. We're going to make elections. And Iraq is going to be free, and America will be better off for it.

GIBSON: Do you want to follow up, Senator?

KERRY: Yes, sir, please.

Ladies and gentlemen, the right war was Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan. That was the right place. And the right time was Tora Bora, when we had him cornered in the mountains.

Now, everyone in the world knows that there were no weapons of mass destruction. That was the reason Congress gave him the authority to use force, not after excuse to get rid of the regime.

Now we have to succeed. I've always said that. I have been consistent. Yes, we have to succeed, and I have a better plan to help us do it.

BUSH: First of all, we didn't find out he didn't have weapons until we got there, and my opponent thought he had weapons and told everybody he thought he had weapons.

And secondly, it's a fundamental misunderstanding to say that the war on terror is only Osama bin Laden. The war on terror is to make sure that these terrorist organizations do not end up with weapons of mass destruction. That's what the war on terror is about.

Of course, we're going to find Osama bin Laden. We've already 75 percent of his people. And we're on the hunt for him.

But this is a global conflict that requires firm resolve.

GIBSON: The next question is for President Bush, and it comes from Nikki Washington.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.
Mr. President, my mother and sister traveled abroad this summer, and when they got back they talked to us about how shocked they were at the intensity of aggravation that other countries had with how we handled the Iraq situation.

Diplomacy is obviously something that we really have to really work on.
What is your plan to repair relations with other countries given the current situation?

BUSH: No, I appreciate that. I -- listen, I -- we've got a great country. I love our values. And I recognize I've made some decisions that have caused people to not understand the great values of our country.

I remember when Ronald Reagan was the president; he stood on principle. Somebody called that stubborn. He stood on principle standing up to the Soviet Union, and we won that conflict. Yet at the same time, he was very -- we were very unpopular in Europe because of the decisions he made.
I recognize that taking Saddam Hussein out was unpopular.

But I made the decision because I thought it was in the right interests of our security.

You know, I've made some decisions on Israel that's unpopular. I wouldn't deal with Arafat, because I felt like he had let the former president down, and I don't think he's the kind of person that can lead toward a Palestinian state.

And people in Europe didn't like that decision. And that was unpopular, but it was the right thing to do.

I believe Palestinians ought to have a state, but I know they need leadership that's committed to a democracy and freedom, leadership that would be willing to reject terrorism.

I made a decision not to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is where our troops could be brought to -- brought in front of a judge, an unaccounted judge.

I don't think we ought to join that. That was unpopular.

And so, what I'm telling you is, is that sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right.

We'll continue to reach out.

Listen, there is 30 nations involved in Iraq, some 40 nations involved in Afghanistan.

People love America. Sometimes they don't like the decisions made by America, but I don't think you want a president who tries to become popular and does the wrong thing.

You don't want to join the International Criminal Court just because it's popular in certain capitals in Europe.

GIBSON: Senator Kerry, a minute and a half.

KERRY: Nikki, that's a question that's been raised by a lot of people around the country.

Let me address it but also talk about the weapons the president just talked about, because every part of the president's answer just now promises you more of the same over the next four years.

The president stood right here in this hall four years ago, and he was asked a question by somebody just like you, Under what circumstances would you send people to war?

And his answer was, With a viable exit strategy and only with enough forces to get the job done.

He didn't do that. He broke that promise. We didn't have enough forces.
General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand. And guess what? They retired General Shinseki for telling him that.

This president hasn't listened.

I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable.

I came away convinced that, if we worked at it, if we were ready to work and letting Hans Blix do his job and thoroughly go through the inspections, that if push came to shove, they'd be there with us.

But the president just arbitrarily brought the hammer down and said, Nope. Sorry, time for diplomacy is over. We're going.

He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.

Ladies and gentleman, he gave you a speech and told you he'd plan carefully, take every precaution, take our allies with us. He didn't. He broke his word.

GIBSON: Mr. President?

BUSH: I remember sitting in the White House looking at those generals, saying, Do you have what you need in this war? Do you have what it takes?
I remember going down to the basement of the White House the day we committed our troops as last resort, looking at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them, Do we have the right plan with the right troop level?

And they looked me in the eye and said, Yes, sir, Mr. President. Of course, I listen to our generals. That's what a president does. A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to execute that strategy.



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