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No clear winner in final Bush-Kerry debate -

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No clear winner in final Bush-Kerry debate

AM - Friday, 15 October , 2004 08:16:00

Reporter: Leigh Sales

TONY EASTLEY: The final US Presidential debate has failed to turn up a clear winner. Neither George
W. Bush nor challenger John Kerry, emerged as leader in the race for the White House after they met
in their third and final head to head clash.

It'll be several days before polls offer an accurate reflection of the debate's impact on the
electorate, although the latest figures show the race for the White House is now a dead heat.

North America Correspondent Leigh Sales reports.

LEIGH SALES: While snap polls taken straight after the debate gave victory to Kerry, commentators
and analysts generally agree it was a narrow one, if not a draw. Kerry has attracted criticism
today, for raising the lesbian daughter of Vice-President Dick Cheney, in response to a question
about whether homosexuality is a choice.

The Vice-President's wife, Lynne Cheney, has reacted indignantly.

LYNNE CHENEY: Now, you know, I did have a chance to assess John Kerry once more and the only thing
I could conclude is this is not a good man. This is not a good man. And of course I am speaking as
a mom and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick.

LEIGH SALES: The Democrats were forced onto the defensive.

Senior Kerry advisor, Howard Wolfsohn.

HOWARD WOLFSOHN: They lost this debate, every single poll shows that, they lost the first two
debates, every single poll showed that and so they need to figure out something to say today other
than the fact that their candidate lost and couldn't defend his record of failure.

The facts are that Dick Cheney himself has spoken about his daughter's sexual orientation on the
campaign trail, this was hardly a secret and there's nothing to hide here.

LEIGH SALES: The final debate was the candidates' last opportunity to address a mass audience
before the election on the second of November. Neither man landed a knock-out blow.

John Kerry lost some people with his verbose answers, drowning in figures and acronyms.

JOHN KERRY: 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 per cent of America got $89 billion last year...

LEIGH SALES: President Bush spoke more plainly, but he avoided dodged difficult questions, like
this one on whether he'd raise the minimum wage.

GEORGE BUSH: 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.

LEIGH SALES: The series of debates has worked well for Kerry, helping him narrow the President's
lead in the polls. With just over two weeks until Americans vote, campaigning resumed energetically
today.

GEORGE BUSH: Those debates, all three debates, clarified the differences in our records, our
approaches and our plans for the future. I'm proud of my record.

(Sound of cheers)

My opponent seems to want to avoid talking about his.

JOHN KERRY: This President just doesn't seem to get it. He could spin until he's dizzy, but at the
end of the day, who does he think the American people are going to believe - George Bush or their
own eyes?

LEIGH SALES: In what's left of this election campaign, the certainty is that both candidates will
continue their focus on national security and the economy.

The uncertainty is what might happen in Iraq during the next few weeks and whether, as many
Americans fear, another terrorist attack could be planned to coincide with the US poll.

Those are the factors the candidates and their spin doctors can't control and the ones which could
have a potentially earth shaking impact on the race for the White House.

This is Leigh Sales in Washington for AM.