Bush seemed very much on the defensive. OTOH, he came in in a position where he didn't have to score any points, just avoid a knockout blow. Talking in circles, evading questions, and spinning BS was an effective strategy for him insofar as it let him continue to look superficially presidential.
On the gripping hand, Kerry kept calling him on it when he did so... and Jim Lehrer seemed to help out with the way that he chained questions together in a way that kept the heat on Bush or let Kerry continue to tee off on points he was making.
I'm not surprised that neither candidate took the proffered opportunity to go negative. Kerry has Michael Moore for that, and Shrub has those slimy astroturf organizations.