Marquette University students Sara Johnson and Kristen Hall are reflected in a television as they watch the third presidential debate in the student union in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Polls indicate that John Kerry performed better in the first debate than President Bush. The 90-minute exchange -- dedicated to subjects of foreign policy and homeland security -- was serious, substantive and offered voters a very clear choice between candidates, particularly on the issue of Iraq. Our panel members examine some of these distinctions and offer thoughts on what it might mean for the Kerry campaign.
"John Kerry hit again and again that the Iraq war was a mistake, a colossal mistake. Do you think he was convincing on that count and that he persuaded people that he has a plan for victory?"
"Kerry says that he is going to be prudent and cautious about pulling out troops. He still hasn't developed the second leg of his argument. He has got to be able to say, 'But would it have been safer if we had Osama bin Laden in jail?'"
"Kerry has no intention of staying in Iraq. He's not going to cut and run, but he will unwind our involvement. The President is committed, not only to Iraq and the Middle East, but to transforming the systems of government. "
"Kerry didn't pursue Iraq with specifics. We're all waiting for a specific from him, like Eisenhower's 'I will go to Korea.' I think it's an improvement in John Kerry's chances, slightly."