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Bob Novak's Debate Blog: Round 3

Editor's Note: Nationally syndicated columnist Robert Novak is providing a view from the right on the second presidential debate through this blog. Follow along as he shares his observations and send us your own by typing them in the "Share Your Comments" box to the right.

Struggle over mistakes

CNN's Robert Novak
• Audio Slide Show: Debate history
• Formats

Posted: 10:33 p.m. ET

Bush is struggling with the question about wrong decisions he has made.

Bush defends pro-life

Posted: 10:30 p.m. ET

Bush's answer was a good defense of the pro-life position. Now as Kerry answers, he is answering to Bush again instead of the audience.

Kerry's pro-choice argument

Posted: 10:29 p.m. ET

Kerry's answer about abortion is the best pro-choice argument he has made.

Bush misses opportunity

Posted: 10:26 p.m. ET

I didn't hear Bush mention Thomas or Scalia in his answer about the Supreme Court. The president also missed a chance to attack the senator on holding up judges in the Senate. Kerry's nose will grow if he says he won't name a liberal.

Who would Bush choose?

Posted: 10:21 p.m. ET

That was a good question on who Bush would choose to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.

Stem cell response

Posted: 10:19 p.m. ET

This is a pretty good answer by Bush on the stem cell question.


Posted: 10:17 p.m. ET

Uh-oh. John Kerry is off-balance with this stem cell question. I knew he was going to bring up Nancy Reagan immediately and Michael J. Fox next.

Which side is Kerry on?

Posted: 10:16 p.m. ET

Kerry wants it both ways on the Patriot Act. Kerry is doing the left wing criticism while at the same time saying he supports it.

What's left?

Posted: 10:08 p.m. ET

It sounds like both candidates have pretty much depleted their material with almost half an hour left to go in the debate.

Liberal answer

Posted: 10:05 p.m. ET

Kerry's answer on the environment was a straight liberal answer.


Posted: 10:04 p.m. ET

Bush's answer on the environment seems like a memorized answer.

Three shouts for McCain

Posted: 10:03 p.m. ET

This is the third time Kerry has mentioned Sen. John McCain, who supports President Bush.

Teresa's cut?

Posted: 10:01 p.m. ET

When Kerry talks about who gets Bush's tax cuts he says himself, Bush and Gibson but what about Teresa?

Boring details

Posted: 9:59 p.m. ET

The pledge on taxes by Kerry was good but the details he is now offering are boring.

Answer the question

Posted: 9:58 p.m. ET

Bush should have answered Gibson's question on how he would cut the deficit in half and he didn't.

The heart of it

Posted: 9:57 p.m. ET

This is the heart of Kerry's economic attack.

Good response

Posted: 9:55 p.m. ET

That was a pretty good answer by Bush.

Tough question

Posted: 9:53 p.m. ET

That was a very good and tough question from the audience regarding spending.

Direct address

Posted: 9:52 p.m. ET

Bush is addressing Kerry directly for the first time. Now he is repeating himself again.


Posted: 9:51 p.m. ET

Is Bush getting too rough?

Can Bush handle it?

Post: 9:49 p.m. ET

This is a key attack by Bush. It will be interesting to see Bush handle it.

Standard defense

Posted: 9:48 p.m. ET

Kerry is delivering the standard defense of trial lawyers.

Bad answer

Posted: 9:47 p.m. ET

This is a terrible senatorial answer by Sen. Kerry.

Liar, liar

Posted: 9:45 p.m. ET

Kerry is calling Bush a liar again.


Posted: 9:44 p.m. ET

Bush is trying to take the offense on an issue where he is supposed to be very weak.

Deja vu

Posted: 9:42 p.m. ET

Bush didn't answer Gibson's question, either.

Tough question, no answer

Posted: 9:41 p.m. ET

Kerry didn't answer Gibson's question about whether a terrorist attack is inevitable, which is a tough one.

Not attractive

Posted: 9:40 p.m. ET

Kerry is nodding, which is not one of his most attractive features.

Are we there yet?

Posted: 9:37 p.m. ET

This is a key Kerry theme that they are cheating security to give tax cuts to the rich and it took him 35 minutes to get there.

Not a good start

Posted: 9:36 p.m. ET

Not a good start by Kerry on that answer regarding why no terrorist attacks.


Posted: 9:33 p.m. ET

Bush is much better prepared unquestionably than he was for the Florida debate. Bush was really ready to take the draft question and run with it. Kerry is addressing Bush again and it is a very interesting tactic because I think he is trying to get him to smirk or look dumb again.


Posted: 9:30 p.m. ET

Just when he is talking about Iran I don't have any idea.

No smirks

Posted: 9:27 p.m. ET

Bush is not smirking.

Urban myth

Posted: 9:24 p.m. ET

That is an urban myth about Gen. Shinseki. It was repeated in Florida and Bush didn't challenge him on it.

Again, no response

Posted: 9:21 p.m. ET

Once again Bush did not respond to the claim they could have gotten Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, a claim which is dubious.

Front and center

Posted: 9:20 p.m. ET

Notice Bush addresses the audience instead of Kerry.

Who are you looking at?

Posted: 9:18 p.m. ET

It looks like Kerry is facing Bush instead of the audience which is not what you are supposed to do in a town hall format but it might work.

No response

Posted: 9:17 p.m. ET

Kerry did not respond to the global test question.

Global test

Posted: 9:16 p.m. ET

I wondered how long it would take before he brought up the global test. That is his best issue.


Posted: 9:15 p.m. ET

Bush has got Kerry on the defensive.

Brain block

Posted: 9:14 p.m. ET

Bush had one of those little brain blocks there.

Well played

Posted: 9:13 p.m. ET

The antiterrorist argument is Bush's strongest suit and he is playing it well.

Better start

Posted: 9:11 p.m. ET

Bush is off to a better start than his performance in Florida.

Straight face?

Posted: 9:10 p.m. ET

Bush is trying not to make faces.

First answer: Not good for Kerry

Posted: 9:08 p.m. ET

This is a real senatorial answer and that is not good for Kerry.

Town hall limitations

Posted: 9:06 p.m. ET

Don't expect the spin that Bush is a master of the town hall and Kerry is a master at it. They both have their limitations in this forum.

An author and former newspaper writer, nationally syndicated columnist Bob Novak participates in two of CNN's political public affairs programs, giving a perspective from the right: "Crossfire" and "The Capital Gang." He also helms CNN's "The Novak Zone," a weekly interview feature.

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