President Bush and his opponent, Democratic Senator John Kerry, of Massachusetts, faced off Wednesday night on economic and social issues in their final presidential debate before the November election.

Mr. Kerry accused President Bush of presiding over a misguided war in Iraq, thousands of lost jobs at home, and millions of Americans losing their health insurance.

The Republican incumbent, President Bush, portrayed Mr. Kerry as "out of the mainstream" of American politics on a variety of issues. He said Mr. Kerry's rhetoric does not match his record, saying he has voted for tax hikes again and again during his 20 years in the Senate.

On jobs and the economy, Mr. Kerry accused President Bush of providing big tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and minimum wage earners. He said if he is elected, he will raise the minimum wage over several years, and that this would have a positive impact on 15 million Americans.

When challenged on jobs and the minimum wage, Mr. Bush stressed the importance of education, and said he had worked to decrease the achievement gap for minorities in American schools.

Mr. Bush again accused his opponent of saying that America should pass a "global test" to use its troops to defend itself. Mr. Kerry again said he would never let another country have a veto over U.S. security.