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Presidential debate, full transcript, Sept. 30, 2004

Page 2 of 32 -- I believe America is safest and strongest when we are leading the world and we are leading strong alliances.

I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But I also know how to lead those alliances.

This president has left them in shatters across the globe, and we're now 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq and 90 percent of the costs.

I think that's wrong, and I think we can do better.

I have a better plan for homeland security. I have a better plan to be able to fight the war on terror by strengthening our military, strengthening our intelligence, by going after the financing more authoritatively, by doing what we need to do to rebuild the alliances, by reaching out to the Muslim world, which the president has almost not done, and beginning to isolate the radical Islamic Muslims, not have them isolate the United States of America.

I know I can do a better job in Iraq. I have a plan to have a summit with all of the allies, something this president has not yet achieved, not yet been able to do to bring people to the table.

We can do a better job of training the Iraqi forces to defend themselves, and I know that we can do a better job of preparing for elections.

All of these, and especially homeland security, which we'll talk about a little bit later.

LEHRER: Mr. President, you have a 90-second rebuttal.

BUSH: I, too, thank the University of Miami, and say our prayers are with the good people of this state, who've suffered a lot.

September the 11th changed how America must look at the world. And since that day, our nation has been on a multi-pronged strategy to keep our country safer.

We pursued Al Qaida wherever Al Qaida tries to hide. Seventy-five percent of known Al Qaida leaders have been brought to justice. The rest of them know we're after them.

We've upheld the doctrine that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist.

And the Taliban are no longer in power. Ten million people have registered to vote in Afghanistan in the upcoming presidential election.

In Iraq, we saw a threat, and we realized that after September the 11th, we must take threats seriously, before they fully materialize. Saddam Hussein now sits in a prison cell. America and the world are safer for it. We continue to pursue our policy of disrupting those who proliferate weapons of mass destruction.

Libya has disarmed. The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice.

And, as well, we're pursuing a strategy of freedom around the world, because I understand free nations will reject terror. Free nations will answer the hopes and aspirations of their people. Free nations will help us achieve the peace we all want.   Continued...

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