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Dems tout Kerry win

October 01, 2004

Josh Kleinbaum

Minutes before the first debate between President George W. Bush and

Sen. John Kerry, about 40 people at the Glendale-Burbank-North

Hollywood Democratic Headquarters milled about, nervously eating

chicken and pizza. Over the next 90 minutes, that anxiety transformed

into confidence.

After the debate, the Democrats declared Kerry the winner with an

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enthusiasm that seemed missing just 90 minutes earlier.

"Up to now, I wasn't quite sure if I could visually see John Kerry

as the leader of the United States," said Frank Loukrezis, a

38-year-old Glendale resident. "He came off very authoritative, very

responsible and very presidential."

The debate focused on foreign policy and homeland security,

perhaps the key issues in the Nov. 2 election. The issue hit home for

Yolanda Montoya, who sat in the middle of the room, nodding with many

of Kerry's statements. Montoya's 20-year-old son, David

Montoya-Harlan, is a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I've never come to anything like this," Montoya said. "I feel I

have to. I voted, but I've never volunteered like this.

"I'm patriotic. My son is patriotic. Bush makes it seem like if

you're patriotic, you'll vote for him."

For much of the debate, Bush attempted to paint Kerry as

inconsistent, especially on the war in Iraq, echoing a central theme

of the Republican's campaign. Kerry responded by saying that his

position has never changed -- he believed Saddam Hussein was a

threat, but there was a right way and a wrong way to deal with that

threat, and Bush's way did not work.

In the Democratic headquarters, Kerry's supporters believe the

candidate provided his best answer to the accusation of

"flip-flopping."

"Nobody can take a stand and never move from it," Nancy Parry

said. "Kerry explained well why he's changed his opinion. It's not

just because he can't make up his mind. I thought he was very clear

in his beliefs, his thought process and what he plans to do."

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