During Wednesday night's debate, President Bush repeated the false premise that Sen. John F. Kerry would seek global approval before waging a preemptive war, but Mr. Kerry was in good company when he said that "we ought to pass a sort of truth standard" to gain legitimacy in the world. We have only to look at the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, which states that "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to [take action] . . . a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to [that action]."

BERNARD WITT

Potomac

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Sen. John F. Kerry hit a low point when he gratuitously referred to the private life of Vice President Cheney's daughter. His campaign says she is "fair game." But she campaigns for her father as a loving daughter, nothing more. She does not campaign as a member of an interest group. The fact that the senator's running mate also raised the issue leads me to conclude that this was no passing reference.

Mr. Kerry decried how divided the country has become. But he was the one who crossed the line into unprovoked divisiveness by invoking a private family matter.

JEANNE BABIN

Mobile, Ala.

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Given the severely restricted debate formats, the best hope for the audience to come away with some meaningful information was good questioning by the moderator. I think Bob Schieffer let the audience down with his questions on religious faith and strong wives. These unimaginative questions were a waste of time and provoked predictable answers from the candidates. While I'm sure that everyone has questions they would have preferred -- I'd have asked the president why he's held so few news conferences -- it's hard to imagine worse questions.

LARRY GAINOR

Houston

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On Wednesday night President Bush blamed the flu shot mess on "a company out of England."

That fact was 100 percent incorrect. Chiron Corp. has its headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., and was founded 20 years ago by early biotech pioneers from the University of California at San Francisco. The plant where it was producing the flu vaccine is in England.

MARSHA COHEN

San Francisco

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Sen. John F. Kerry impressed me Wednesday with his focuses on raising the minimum wage, especially for women in the workforce, and dealing with illegal immigrants.

President Bush ducked the issue of the minimum wage by trying to turn the focus to his failed "No Child Left Behind" program.

Mr. Kerry recognizes that our society benefits unfairly from the illegal employment of immigrants, who work long hours at less than minimum wage and in some cases even pay taxes on the income, not to mention sales taxes on the food and clothing they buy.

And it is not I, with my Blue Cross plan, who pays full price for my medical care. It is the people without insurance, without Medicare, who pay full price and therefore seek medical care only when they have no other option. Mr. Kerry understands these issues, and the president showed Wednesday that he clearly does not.

PAUL L. MARX

Silver Spring