Campaigns coming down to the wire

The race heats up after second debate. Kerry, Bush brace for final round at Arizona State. Erin Schlesing and Leah Zerbe Leah Blewett Just when the presidential race looked like it couldn’t get any closer,

The race heats up after second debate.

Kerry, Bush brace for final round at Arizona State.
Erin Schlesing and Leah Zerbe

Leah Blewett

Just when the presidential race looked like it couldn’t get any closer, it did.
President George Bush and Senator John Kerry entered last Friday’s presidential debate tied at 47 percent among registered voters, according to a recent Associated Press poll.
Most polls indicated that the results of the second debate were just as close as the race itself. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed Kerry held a “statistically insignificant” lead over Bush immediately following the debate, but most networks called it a tie.
It’s still unclear how much of an impact last Friday’s town-hall style debate held in St. Louis, Mo. will have on the election.
Dan Kurfirst, an undecided Temple voter, said many younger voters probably missed the debate because it was broadcast on a Friday night of a holiday weekend.
“The target audience is young people, but a lot of college kids have priorities other than watching the presidential debate on a Friday night,” Kurfirst said.
The sophomore planned to watch the debate because he is still not certain if he’ll vote for Kerry or Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik Like many Temple students, he opted to drive home for the weekend instead of sticking around campus to watch the debate.
Viewers that did tune in to the debate heard a lot of arguments that were brought up in the first debate in Florida. The main issues revolved around foreign and domestic policies, specifically Iraq, the economy, Medicare and alternative fuel resources.
Both candidates provided statistics to back up their ideas and policies, but Kerry also spent a lot of time explaining that the President has been inaccurately portraying his positions. Kerry also attacked Bush’s plan for Iraq and pointed out that jobs are continually going overseas; Bush maintained his position on Iraq and said more jobs have been created for Americans.
Polls indicated that Bush performed much better than he did in the first debate, but Kurfirst said that he has definitely eliminated the president as his choice on Nov. 2.
The sophomore remains skeptical of Kerry, though. “I’m not going to hear much more from Badnarik, but I think if Kerry is a little more honest with the public, it might change my views. I think he’s trying to avoid answering the hard questions until he gets into office,” he added. “That’s why a lot of people call him a flip-flopper, even though most politicians do that.”
But all of the polls, debates and press coverage may not shape the opinion of some undecided voters in this close election. Some voters are so torn between candidates that they not know who they will choose until Election Day.
“I’m going to have to pick somebody,” Kurfirst said. “So I guess it’ll depend on how I feel when I wake up that morning.”
Erin Schlesing can be reached at Leah Zerbe can be reached at

Arizona State University will host the final Presidential debate this Wednesday night at 9 p.m., and the candidates are sharpening their wits and tongues.
Coming off a closely-matched town hall meeting last Friday in St. Louis, President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry spent the interim week campaigning fiercely, sometimes even in the same state as in New Mexico on Monday. In contrast to last week’s periods of relative inactivity and quiet preparation for the clash, this week was marked by verbal assaults and policy-related stump speeches across the country.
While Bush’s media strategists asserted that the President’s performance last week in St. Louis “stopped any momentum for Kerry,” Kerry aides placed emphasis on the Senator’s calm demeanor and command of information in the second debate.
Although general consensus had Kerry as the winner of the first debate, the second was statistically even in national polls and set the stage for Wednesday’s final match-up as a potential tie-breaking round. A national tracking poll by Reuters/Zogby showed Kerry’s lead over Bush increasing by 3 points since Friday night, but an ABC News/Washington Post poll cited Bush on top by nearly 6 percentage points.
With the debate falling just 19 days before Election Day, the race is a virtual dead heat and tensions are running high. Wednesday night’s debate could provide clarity – or intensify the rivalry that has flourished between the two major-party candidates since this time last year.
The ASU debate will be televised nationally on all major networks starting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, and will also be available as a live webcast on most news sites for those without access to a television.
Leah Blewett can be reached at

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