PORTLAND (AP) – Maine’s congressional delegation reacted along party lines to Thursday’s debate between President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said President Bush was clear and decisive, while Sen. Olympia Snowe, also a Republican, said the president “gave a commanding performance.”

But Democratic U.S. Rep Tom Allen said he thought that Kerry exhibited greater command of the issues.

Kerry said Bush made a “colossal” judgment error in invading Iraq, and has failed in making peace following the invasion. Bush maintained that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power and said Kerry has changed his position repeatedly, Allen said.

Collins said in a prepared statement that the president clearly and decisively “set forth his vision for America.”

“He left no doubt about where he stands and showed why he is the right person to lead America for the next four years,” Collins said.

Snowe, in a prepared statement, said Bush “gave a commanding performance, articulating a clarity of purpose and presenting a compelling case to confronting the tremendous security challenges that are before our nation.”

Allen said Kerry’s messages were clearer than those of the president. He said Bush simply repeated “the same rhetoric over and over” about Kerry changing positions and giving mixed messages.

“I just thought he showed a much greater depth of knowledge on all those topics of foreign policy than the president did,” Allen said in an interview from Washington. “He clearly knows what he wants to do with Iraq and Iran and North Korea and the war on terror and homeland security.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, a Democrat, was on a plane from Washington to Maine and could not be reached for comment.

Other debates are scheduled for Oct. 8 in St. Louis and again on Oct. 13 in Tempe, Ariz.


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