From a Time magazine article on the debates:
One perception that has taken root is that Kerry is a flip-flopper. Only 37% of voters say they believe he sticks to his positions; 84% say that about Bush. So it could be all but fatal for Kerry to do or say anything in the debates that might reinforce that image.This first debate will focus on foreign policy, which means it will focus on Iraq. Therefore, if you take that Time prediction at face value, Kerry is toast. Nobody can understand his position on Iraq after making more flips than a Chinese acrobat. And you can bet your life that Bush will remind America of Kerry’s “I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it” gaffe. If Kerry is forced to explain that remark – no matter that he says – he’ll be correctly characterized as a human weather-vane.
President Bush is not going to “sit on the ball” in this debate. It’s jugular time.