Debate Reaction

An assessment of the debate, that is the subject of this  evening's "Talking Points" memo.

Let's start with John Kerry.  No question he exceeded expectations.   His campaign was on the ropes, but now he's revived his chances.  Leaving  aside Kerry's policies, he came across as authoritative.  In fact a Gallup  poll this morning showed most debate watchers thought Kerry was stronger  than President Bush on style.  Gallup pollster Frank Newport (search) told us most  of those polled simply thought Kerry expressed himself better.

So we can debate the issues all night and we will, but John Kerry presented himself well.  No question.

President Bush made some good points.  And many Americans thought the  debate was a tie.  In fact, a CBS poll of noncommitted voters put that tie number at a whopping 29 percent.  But Mr. Bush did not do anything dramatic to help his cause.  And he needs to be stronger a week from now in the next  debate.

Both candidates did, however, make one big mistake each.  Let's start  with President Bush.  Instead of being specific about how he thinks the  U.S.A. will win the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush fell back on this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  There's a lot of  really good people working hard to do so. It's hard work. And it's hard  work. The plan says we'll train Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard  work. And we are.

It is hard work.  It is hard work to go from a tyranny to a democracy.   It's hard work to go from a place where people get their  hands cut off.   It's hard work to try to love her as best as I can.  It's hard work.  Everybody knows it's hard work.  We've done a lot of hard work. No doubt  about it it's tough. It's hard work.


O'REILLY:  In fact, Mr. Bush repeated that mantra, hard work, at least  a dozen times in the debate.  Not good.  Voters want a plan, not a work  description.  Senator Kerry also made a major error.  Here it is.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No president through all  of American history has ever ceded and nor would I the right to preempt in  any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you've got to do it in a way that  passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your  people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can  prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

BUSH:  Let me -- I'm not exactly sure what you mean passes the global  test.  You take preemptive action if you pass a global test? My attitude is  you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that  you act in order to make this country secure.


O'REILLY:  As you can see the president pounced on Mr. Kerry's error  and he's right.  Most Americans don't want a global litmus test when our  lives are at stake.

"Talking Points" believes the more global John Kerry goes, the more  votes he will lose.  Summing up, the debate helped Senator Kerry. It did not help President Bush.

And that's "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Our pal Oprah Winfrey (search) is doing a few political programs this campaign season, and a  couple of days ago, actress Cameron Diaz (search) showed up to urge people to vote.   But that's not all.  Ms. Diaz let loose with some political opinions of her  own.


CAMERON DIAZ, ACTRESS:  Women have so much to lose.  I mean, we could  lose the right to our bodies.  If you think that rape should be legal, then  don't vote.  But if you think that you have a right to your body and you  have a right to say what happens to you and fight off that danger of losing  that, then you should vote.


O'REILLY:  I didn't know that legalizing rape was an issue in this  campaign, and I thank Ms. Diaz for bringing it to our attention.   Ridiculous?  Cameron, you're breaking my heart, babe.

—You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel. Send your comments to: