Here is the text of the third and final debate between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry:
SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question, Mr. President.
I got more e-mail this week on this question than any other question. And it is about immigration.
I'm told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know. Some believe it's an economic issue. Some see it as a human-rights issue.
How do you see it? And what we need to do about it?
BUSH: I see it as a serious problem. I see it as a security issue, I see it as an economic issue, and I see it as a human-rights issue.
We're increasing the border security of the United States. We've got 1,000 more Border Patrol agents on the southern border.
We're using new equipment. We're using unmanned vehicles to spot people coming across.
And we'll continue to do so over the next four years. It's a subject I'm very familiar with. After all, I was a border governor for a while.
Many people are coming to this country for economic reasons. They're coming here to work. If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5 here in America, $5.15, you're going to come here if you're worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families. And that's what's happening.
And so in order to take pressure off the borders, in order to make the borders more secure, I believe there ought to be a temporary worker card that allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up, so long as there's not an American willing to do that job, to join up in order to be able to fulfill the employers' needs.
That has the benefit of making sure our employers aren't breaking the law as they try to fill their workforce needs. It makes sure that the people coming across the border are humanely treated, that they're not kept in the shadows of our society, that they're able to go back and forth to see their families. See, the card, it'll have a period of time attached to it.
It also means it takes pressure off the border. If somebody is coming here to work with a card, it means they're not going to have to sneak across the border. It means our border patrol will be more likely to be able to focus on doing their job.
Now, it's very important for our citizens to also know that I don't believe we ought to have amnesty. I don't think we ought to reward illegal behavior. There are plenty of people standing in line to become a citizen. And we ought not to crowd these people ahead of them in line.
BUSH: If they want to become a citizen, they can stand in line, too.
And here is where my opponent and I differ. In September 2003, he supported amnesty for illegal aliens.
SCHIEFFER: Time's up.
KERRY: Let me just answer one part of the last question quickly, and then I'll come to immigration.
The American middle class family isn't making it right now, Bob. And what the president said about the tax cuts has been wiped out by the increase in health care, the increase in gasoline, the increase in tuitions, the increase in prescription drugs.
The fact is, the take home pay of a typical American family as a share of national income is lower than it's been since 1929. And the take home pay of the richest .1 percent of Americans is the highest it's been since 1928.
Under President Bush, the middle class has seen their tax burden go up and the wealthiest's tax burden has gone down. Now that's wrong.
Now with respect to immigration reform, the president broke his promise on immigration reform. He said he would reform it. Four years later he is now promising another plan.
Here's what I'll do: Number one, the borders are more leaking today than they were before 9/11. The fact is, we haven't done what we need to do to toughen up our borders, and I will.
Secondly, we need a guest-worker program, but if it's all we have, it's not going to solve the problem.
The second thing we need is to crack down on illegal hiring. It's against the law in the United States to hire people illegally, and we ought to be enforcing that law properly.
And thirdly, we need an earned-legalization program for people who have been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes, and their kids are American. We got to start moving them toward full citizenship, out of the shadows.
SCHIEFFER: Do you want to respond, Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, to say that the borders are not as protected as they were prior to September the 11th shows he doesn't know the borders. They're much better protected today than they were when I was the governor of Texas.
We have much more manpower and much more equipment there.
He just doesn't understand how the borders work, evidently, to say that. That is an outrageous claim.
And we'll continue to protect our borders. We're continuing to increase manpower and equipment.
KERRY: Four thousand people a day are coming across the border.
The fact is that we now have people from the Middle East, allegedly, coming across the border.
And we're not doing what we ought to do in terms of the technology. We have iris-identification technology. We have thumbprint, fingerprint technology today. We can know who the people are, that they're really the people they say they are when the cross the border.
We could speed it up. There are huge delays.
The fact is our borders are not as secure as they ought to be, and I'll make them secure.
SCHIEFFER: Next question to you, Senator Kerry.
The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?
KERRY: Well, I'm glad you raised that question.
It's long overdue time to raise the minimum wage.
And, America, this is one of those issues that separates the president and myself.
We have fought to try to raise the minimum wage in the last years. But the Republican leadership of the House and Senate won't even let us have a vote on it. We're not allowed to vote on it. They don't want to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage is the lowest minimum wage value it has been in our nation in 50 years.
If we raise the minimum wage, which I will do over several years to $7 an hour, 9.2 million women who are trying to raise their families would earn another $3,800 a year.
The president has denied 9.2 million women $3,800 a year, but he doesn't hesitate to fight for $136,000 to a millionaire.
One percent of America got $89 billion last year in a tax cut, but people working hard, playing by the rules, trying to take care of their kids, family values, that we're supposed to value so much in America -- I'm tired of politicians who talk about family values and don't value families.
What we need to do is raise the minimum wage. We also need to hold onto equal pay. Women work for 76 cents on the dollar for the same work that men do. That's not right in America.
And we had an initiative that we were working on to raise women's pay. They've cut it off. They've stopped it. They don't enforce these kinds of things.
Now, I think that it a matter of fundamental right that if we raise the minimum wage, 15 million Americans would be positively affected. We'd put money into the hands of people who work hard, who obey the rules, who play for the American Dream.
And if we did that, we'd have more consumption ability in America, which is what we need right in order to kick our economy into gear. I will fight tooth and nail to pass the minimum wage.
BUSH: Actually, Mitch McConnell had a minimum-wage plan that I supported that would have increased the minimum wage.
But let me talk about what's really important for the worker you're referring to. And that's to make sure the education system works. It's to make sure we raise standards.
Listen, the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it. The No Child Left Behind Act says, We'll raise standards. We'll increase federal spending. But in return for extra spending, we now want people to measure -- states and local jurisdictions to measure to show us whether or not a child can read or write or add and subtract.
You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. And we weren't diagnosing problems. And therefore just kids were being shuffled through the school.
And guess who would get shuffled through? Children whose parents wouldn't speak English as a first language just move through.
Many inner-city kids just move through. We've stopped that practice now by measuring early. And when we find a problem, we spend extra money to correct it.
I remember a lady in Houston, Texas, told me, Reading is the new civil right, and she's right. In order to make sure people have jobs for the 21st century, we've got to get it right in the education system, and we're beginning to close a minority achievement gap now.
You see, we'll never be able to compete in the 21st century unless we have an education system that doesn't quit on children, an education system that raises standards, an education that makes sure there's excellence in every classroom.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, I want to go back to something Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of my own. He said -- and this will be a new question to you -- he said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I'd ask you directly, would you like to?
BUSH: What he's asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test.
SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, you'd like to respond?
KERRY: Is that a new question or a 30-second question?
SCHIEFFER: That's a new question for Senator -- for President Bush.
KERRY: Which time limit...
SCHIEFFER: You have 90 seconds.
KERRY: Thank you very much.
Well, again, the president didn't answer the question.
I'll answer it straight to America. I'm not going to appoint a judge to the Court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or some other right that's given under our courts today -- under the Constitution. And I believe that the right of choice is a constitutional right.
So I don't intend to see it undone.
Clearly, the president wants to leave in ambivalence or intends to undo it.
But let me go a step further. We have a long distance yet to travel in terms of fairness in America. I don't know how you can govern in this country when you look at New York City and you see that 50 percent of the black males there are unemployed, when you see 40 percent of Hispanic children -- of black children in some cities -- dropping out of high school.
And yet the president who talks about No Child Left Behind refused to fully fund -- by $28 billion -- that particular program so you can make a difference in the lives of those young people.
Now right here in Arizona, that difference would have been $131 million to the state of Arizona to help its kids be able to have better education and to lift the property tax burden from its citizens. The president reneged on his promise to fund No Child Left Behind.
He'll tell you he's raised the money, and he has. But he didn't put in what he promised, and that makes a difference in the lives of our children.
SCHIEFFER: Yes, sir?
BUSH: Two things. One, he clearly has a litmus test for his judges, which I disagree with.
And secondly, only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 percent increase in funding for education was not enough.
We've increased funds. But more importantly, we've reformed the system to make sure that we solve problems early, before they're too late.
He talked about the unemployed. Absolutely we've got to make sure they get educated.
He talked about children whose parents don't speak English as a first language? Absolutely we've got to make sure they get educated.
And that's what the No Child Left Behind Act does.
KERRY: You don't measure it by a percentage increase. Mr. President, you measure it by whether you're getting the job done.
Five hundred thousand kids lost after-school programs because of your budget.
Now, that's not in my gut. That's not in my value system, and certainly not so that the wealthiest people in America can walk away with another tax cut.
$89 billion last year to the top 1 percent of Americans, but kids lost their after-school programs. You be the judge.
SCHIEFFER: All right, let's go to another question. And it is to Senator Kerry.
You have two minutes, sir.
Senator, the last debate, President Bush said he did not favor a draft. You agreed with him. But our National Guard and Reserve forces are being severely strained because many of them are being held beyond their enlistments. Some of them say that it's a back-door draft.
Is there any relief that could be offered to these brave Americans and their families?
If you became president, Senator Kerry, what would you do about this situation of holding National Guard and Reservists for these extended periods of time and these repeated call-ups that they're now facing?
KERRY: Well, I think the fact that they're facing these repeated call-ups, some of them two and three deployments, and there's a stop- loss policy that prevents people from being able to get out when their time was up, is a reflection of the bad judgment this president exercised in how he has engaged in the world and deployed our forces.
Our military is overextended. Nine out of 10 active-duty Army divisions are either in Iraq, going to Iraq or have come back from Iraq. One way or the other, they're wrapped up in it.
Now, I've proposed adding two active-duty divisions to the Armed Forces of the United States -- one combat, one support.
In addition, I'm going to double the number of Special Forces so that we can fight a more effective war on terror, with less pressure on the National Guard and Reserve. And what I would like to do is see the National Guard and Reserve be deployed differently here in our own country. There's much we can do with them with respect to homeland security. We ought to be doing that. And that would relieve an enormous amount of pressure.
But the most important thing to relieve the pressure on all of the armed forces is frankly to run a foreign policy that recognizes that America is strongest when we are working with real alliances, when we are sharing the burdens of the world by working through our statesmanship at the highest levels and our diplomacy to bring other nations to our side.
I've said it before, I say it again: I believe the president broke faith to the American people in the way that he took this nation to war. He said he would work through a real alliance. He said in Cincinnati we would plan carefully, we would take every precaution. Well, we didn't. And the result is our forces today are overextended.
The fact is that he did not choose to go to war as a last result. And America now is paying, already $120 billion, up to $200 billion before we're finished and much more probably. And that is the result of this president taking his eye off of Osama bin Laden.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
BUSH: The best way to take the pressure off our troops is to succeed in Iraq, is to train Iraqis so they can do the hard work of democracy, is to give them a chance to defend their country, which is precisely what we're doing. We'll have 125,000 troops trained by the end of this year.
I remember going on an airplane in Bangor, Maine, to say thanks to the reservists and Guard that were headed overseas from Tennessee and North Carolina, Georgia. Some of them had been there before.
The people I talked to their spirits were high. They didn't view their service as a back-door draft. They viewed their service as an opportunity to serve their country.
BUSH: My opponent, the senator, talks about foreign policy.
In our first debate he proposed America pass a global test. In order to defend ourselves, we'd have to get international approval. That's one of the major differences we have about defending our country.
I'll work with allies. I'll work with friends. We'll continue to build strong coalitions. But I will never turn over our national- security decisions to leaders of other countries.
We'll be resolute, we'll be strong, and we'll wage a comprehensive war against the terrorists.
KERRY: I have never suggested a test where we turn over our security to any nation. In fact, I've said the opposite: I will never turn the security of the United States over to any nation. No nation will ever have a veto over us.
But I think it makes sense, I think most Americans in their guts know, that we ought to pass a sort of truth standard. That's how you gain legitimacy with your own countrypeople, and that's how you gain legitimacy in the world.
But I'll never fail to protect the United States of America.
BUSH: In 1990, there was a vast coalition put together to run Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The international community, the international world said this is the right thing to do, but when it came time to authorize the use of force on the Senate floor, my opponent voted against the use of force.
Apparently you can't pass any test under his vision of the world.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, new question, two minutes.
You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?
BUSH: Actually, I made my intentions -- made my views clear. I did think we ought to extend the assault weapons ban, and was told the fact that the bill was never going to move, because Republicans and Democrats were against the assault weapon ban, people of both parties. I believe law-abiding citizens ought to be able to own a gun. I believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don't get in the hands of people that shouldn't have them.
But the best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns. And that's why early in my administration I called the attorney general and the U.S. attorneys and said: Put together a task force all around the country to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns. And the prosecutions are up by about 68 percent -- I believe -- is the number.
Neighborhoods are safer when we crack down on people who commit crimes with guns.
To me, that's the best way to secure America.
KERRY: I believe it was a failure of presidential leadership not to reauthorize the assault weapons ban.
I am a hunter. I'm a gun owner. I've been a hunter since I was a kid, 12, 13 years old. And I respect the Second Amendment and I will not tamper with the Second Amendment.
But I'll tell you this. I'm also a former law enforcement officer. I ran one of the largest district attorney's offices in America, one of the ten largest. I put people behind bars for the rest of their life. I've broken up organized crime. I know something about prosecuting.
And most of the law enforcement agencies in America wanted that assault weapons ban. They don't want to go into a drug bust and be facing an AK-47.
I was hunting in Iowa last year with a sheriff from one of the counties there, and he pointed to a house in back of us, and said, See the house over? We just did a drug bust a week earlier, and the guy we arrested had an AK-47 lying on the bed right beside him.
Because of the president's decision today, law enforcement officers will walk into a place that will be more dangerous. Terrorists can now come into America and go to a gun show and, without even a background check, buy an assault weapon today.
And that's what Osama bin Laden's handbook said, because we captured it in Afghanistan. It encouraged them to do it.
So I believe America's less safe.
If Tom DeLay or someone in the House said to me, Sorry, we don't have the votes, I'd have said, Then we're going to have a fight.
And I'd have taken it out to the country and I'd have had every law enforcement officer in the country visit those congressmen. We'd have won what Bill Clinton won. SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question. For you, Senator Kerry, two minutes.
Affirmative action: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs, or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor in school admissions and federal and state contracts and so on?
KERRY: No, Bob, regrettably, we have not moved far enough along.
And I regret to say that this administration has even blocked steps that could help us move further along. I'll give you an example.
I served on the Small Business Committee for a long time. I was chairman of it once. Now I'm the senior Democrat on it. We used to -- you know, we have a goal there for minority set-aside programs, to try to encourage ownership in the country. They don't reach those goals. They don't even fight to reach those goals. They've tried to undo them.
The fact is that in too many parts of our country, we still have discrimination. And affirmative action is not just something that applies to people of color. Some people have a mistaken view of it in America. It also is with respect to women, it's with respect to other efforts to try to reach out and be inclusive in our country.
I think that we have a long way to go, regrettably. If you look at what's happened -- we've made progress, I want to say that at the same time.
During the Clinton years, as you may recall, there was a fight over affirmative action. And there were many people, like myself, who opposed quotas, who felt there were places where it was overreaching. So we had a policy called Mend it, don't end it. We fixed it.
And we fixed it for a reason: because there are too many people still in this country who feel the stark resistance of racism, and so we have a distance to travel. As president, I will make certain we travel it.
Now, let me just share something. This president is the first president ever, I think, not to meet with the NAACP. This is a president who hasn't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. This is a president who has not met with the civil rights leadership of our country.
If a president doesn't reach out and bring people in and be inclusive, then how are we going to get over those barriers? I see that as part of my job as president, and I'll make my best effort to do it.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, first of all, it is just not true that I haven't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. I met with the Black Congressional Caucus at the White House.
And secondly, like my opponent, I don't agree we ought to have quotas. I agree, we shouldn't have quotas.
But we ought to have an aggressive effort to make sure people are educated, to make sure when they get out of high school there's Pell Grants available for them, which is what we've done. We've expanded Pell Grants by a million students.
Do you realize today in America, we spend $73 billion to help 10 million low- and middle-income families better afford college?
That's the access I believe is necessary, is to make sure every child learns to read, write, add and subtract early, to be able to build on that education by going to college so they can start their careers with a college diploma.
I believe the best way to help our small businesses is not only through small-business loans, which we have increased since I've been the president of the United States, but to unbundle government contracts so people have a chance to be able to bid and receive a contract to help get their business going.
Minority ownership of businesses are up, because we created an environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong.
I believe part of a hopeful society is one in which somebody owns something. Today in America more minorities own a home than ever before. And that's hopeful, and that's positive.