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Presidential debate, full transcript, Sept. 30, 2004

Page 32 of 32 -- I also have a plan to win the war on terror, funding homeland security, strengthening our military, cutting our finances, reaching out to the world, again building strong alliances.

I believe America's best days are ahead of us because I believe that the future belongs to freedom, not to fear.

That's the country that I'm going to fight for. And I ask you to give me the opportunity to make you proud. I ask you to give me the opportunity to lead this great nation, so that we can be stronger here at home, respected again in the world, and have responsible leadership that we deserve.

Thank you. And God bless America.

LEHRER: Mr. President, two minutes.

BUSH: Thank you very much tonight, Jim. Senator.

If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. That's not going to happen, so long as I'm your president.

The next four years we will continue to strengthen our homeland defenses. We will strengthen our intelligence-gathering services. We will reform our military. The military will be an all-volunteer army.

We will continue to stay on the offense. We will fight the terrorists around the world so we do not have to face them here at home.

We'll continue to build our alliances. I'll never turn over America's national security needs to leaders of other countries, as we continue to build those alliances. And we'll continue to spread freedom. I believe in the transformational power of liberty. I believe that the free Iraq is in this nation's interests. I believe a free Afghanistan is in this nation's interest.

And I believe both a free Afghanistan and a free Iraq will serve as a powerful example for millions who plead in silence for liberty in the broader Middle East.

We've done a lot of hard work together over the last three and a half years. We've been challenged, and we've risen to those challenges. We've climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace.

By being steadfast and resolute and strong, by keeping our word, by supporting our troops, we can achieve the peace we all want.

I appreciate your listening tonight. I ask for your vote. And may God continue to bless our great land.

LEHRER: And that ends tonight's debate. A reminder, the second presidential debate will be a week from tomorrow, October 8th, from Washington University in St. Louis. Charles Gibson of ABC News will moderate a town hall-type event. Then, on October 13th, from Arizona State University in Tempe, Bob Schieffer of CBS News will moderate an exchange on domestic policy that will be similar in format to tonight's.

Also, this coming Tuesday, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the vice presidential candidates, Vice President Cheney and Senator Edwards, will debate with my PBS colleague, Gwen Ifill, moderating.

For now, thank you, Senator Kerry, President Bush.

From Coral Gables, Florida, I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.

(APPLAUSE) 

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