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Agility and Force: 2004

By the time President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry met for the first of their three scheduled debates, each of them had staked out a reputation as a formidable debater. The president by virtue of his victory over Al Gore four years earlier; and the senator, a champion debater since his student days at St. Paul's prep school and Yale University, had honed his skills on floor of the U.S. Senate for 20 years. The two men were, by most rhetorical standards, considered equals.

Moreover, the grueling political campaign of that summer…one of the most polarized in the history of presidential elections…had etched their diametrically divergent platforms indelibly. Both of them had sharpened their positions on key issues and had delivered them many times over. Both of them were also highly skilled at Topspin: repeatedly making calls to action by asking for the vote, their Point B, and repeatedly pointing out how that vote would bring security, tax relief, health care, and the like, to the electorate, their WIIFYs. However, there were several other factors in play in their debates, having to do with agility and force.


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