Mr. Bush furiously stepped up his own attacks. At his first campaign stop of the day, an outdoor rally in Allentown, Pa., he devoted the first seven minutes of his speech to strong new criticism of Mr. Kerry as the candidate who could not be trusted to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.

Campaigning in two swing states, the president also made fun of Mr. Kerry for saying in the debate that one solution to Iraq would be an international summit. “I’ve been to a lot of summits,” Mr. Bush said. “I’ve never seen a meeting that would depose a tyrant, or bring a terrorist to justice.”

So, it would seem that as long as Mr. Bush doesn’t have to actually, y’know, face his opponent, he can present himself as being a strong leader.

Oh, if you missed the debate (like me!), here’s a transcript.