September 4th, 2007
08:26 PM ET
7 years ago

McCain faces hard-hitting high schoolers

Watch Sen. John Mccain answer a high school student's question about his age in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) – Sen. John McCain’s visit to Concord High School proved to be more than your average guest speaker appearance Tuesday with the Republican presidential candidate giving and getting a dose of the campaign’s trademark “straight talk.”

During the question and answer session one student rose and asked a pointed question about McCain’s age: “If elected, you’d be older than Ronald Reagan, making you the oldest president. Do you ever worry that like you might die in office or get Alzheimer’s or some other disease that might affect your judgment?”

The Arizona senator chuckled slightly as the “oh my gods” filled the room. In a self-deprecating reference to his memory, McCain said his children have joked about their father “hiding his own Easter eggs,” but quickly added, that he was a “24-7” worker and would out campaign any of his rivals.

McCain then ended the exchange in his quintessential style: “Thanks for the question, you little jerk … you’re drafted.”

Full story: High schoolers pitch hardballs at McCain

– CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson


Filed under: Iraq • John McCain • New Hampshire • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Isaac, Louisville, KY

    Not at all impressed by that statement.

    States have to respect the laws of other states, sure, but it works both ways, bud. One state's laws do not trump other state's laws. If the age of consent in your state is 12, and you (pretend you're 30+) decide to bring your 13 year old girlfriend to my state and have sex somewhere... You're breaking the law in my state. If you want to be governed by the laws of your state, STAY in your state.

    Why can't people see that having more powerful states would be a great thing for this country? In fact, this was the way things were intended to be. With 40% of the country passionately hating another 40% of the country, and vice versa... with opinions on many issues being diametrically opposed and unresolvable, it would be in the best interests of everyone if states made policy on these divisive issues.

    All one would have to do is move to a state that has the right laws for their pet issues. Case closed.

    There would be so much less hatred and infighting when people finally stopped feeling that their rights were being threatened by others.

    Oh, and another thing that we have conveniently forgot about the Constitution and our original system... In the general election the first place winner was named President, and the second place finisher was named Vice President. Just think of how much less divisive national elections would be under that system. Currently, HALF of the American people feel unrepresented in the White House EVERY election, but under the original system people would no longer cease to feel represented.

    This would do a great deal to ease tensions in our country, and begin to bring us all back together.

    September 5, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    If someone did this to Shrillary we would be hearing from the sheep that he was a "right-wing plant" or some snotty kid "that can't handle a strong woman".

    McCain was kidding with the kid who got to say his disrespectful piece probably prodded by his parents.

    No big deal, he was kidding with the kid, non-story.

    September 5, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Ryan, New York, NY

    I'm far from a McCain supporter, but I don't see anything wrong with the way that he interacted with these students. I disagree with his views on the LGBT community and find it difficult to believe that he needed the acronym to be clarified, but it's not shocking given the views that most Republicans have on LGBTs. If your core voters are opposed and you agree with them, why explore the community any more than you have to, right? Not in favor, but I understand.

    As for the "little jerk...you're drafted" comment, are you people kidding? Who cares? It was funny and even if you didn't find humor, that was the intent. McCain is one of the few Republicans that I've seen on Jon Stewart and he's been on there numerous times. His banter with Stewart is always good for entertainment since their views usually don't mesh. On the Daily Show, he uses much of the same types of tongue-in-cheek comments to reach an audience that includes many individuals from high school.

    Lastly, as for the Sleaster comments, I applaud the student & McCain for his back and forth. The last comment might have been over the line, but I don't think it was entirely inappropriate. I think that McCain's attempts to claim that he doesn't discriminate, but then endorses policies of discrimination such as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and banning gay marriage is hypocritical and Sleaster called him on it. It's good that leaders realize why people disagree with them and is something that Bush could take a few notes on, seeing how he bans anyone with differing opinions from even being in his sight when speaking. The fact that the student was scolded by an adminstrator is pathetic, too. I could understand if Sleaster cursed or did something that violated school policy, but stating that you're not impressed with someone's leadership abilities should be encouraged if you're not impressed. Part of the problem with our political system is that we're allowing politicians to isolate themselves from the dissent that exists to the point that many politicians don't seem to understand how many disagree with them and for what reasons.

    September 5, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. BCNU purple state, usa

    How many here that are defending this kid's first amendment rights support 'hate speech' legislation which denies those rights to others with differing views than your own?

    I personally consider the incorrect usage of there, when it should be their or they're offensive. Improper use of to, too and two offends me as well.

    The folks that fail to see McCain's use of 'little jerk' as a humorous attempt need to take a week off, pop a top, put on some good tunes and chill for a while.

    The kid's remark was in poor taste, but he's a kid. If it were my kid, he'd get a quick tune-up when he got home and hopefully learm a lesson about showing respect. But again, he's just a kid. Maybe he got a date for Friday's football game because he made such a 'kewl' comment.

    Lighten up and enjoy life,

    September 5, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Bill, Des Moines, IA

    The student did nothing wrong. He should be commended, not punished. He asked tough questions. If McCain can't take the heat, he should get out of the kitchen. It is McCain who should be punished for name calling, which is completely inappropriate, as is "joking" about the draft. But then Republicans are accustomed to making up their own rules.

    Young people like these New Hampshire students who question authority give me hope for the future. Their families and school system should be proud.

    September 5, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Ryan, New York, NY

    I often wonder, do Gay and Lesbian parents expect their children to grow up to be gay or lesbian too? Or do they support their hetero children with the same vigor as their gay children? (An honest question, because I don't know much about the GL community.)

    Curious, California : September 4, 2007 5:17 pm
    From all interactions that I've had with LGBTs, they encourage people to "be yourself" and just want the same respect in return. I can't think of one anecdote about gay couples who adopt or have children by other means where the child has been encouraged to be anything other than his/herself. Gays believe that you are born a homosexual, so no amount of encouragement could turn their straight child gay even if they wanted.

    September 5, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Ryan, New York, NY

    Tamara from Concord High School's English shows how the dumbing down of American has hurt our education system. Like so many others (school kids and most adults as well), she doesn't have the best spelling and grammar. And we just can't teach our kids the difference between "there," "their," and "they're." Sheesh–it's elementary school stuff that high school graduates can't even learn. Such a shame, the education system in our country. Tamara, you should have used "their."

    Posted By Mark, Sacramento, CA : September 4, 2007 5:54 pm
    If you're going to comment about grammar and how the educational system is so lacking, you might want to re-read your own post. Sentences almost never are correctly started with "And" (as yours shows) and for the other bolded part, all proper sentences require a verb.

    I occasionally find myself making the "their" mistake in email and blogs. It's never a sign of lack of grammatical knowledge on my part, just a lack of proofreading and becoming so accustomed to typing too quickly.

    September 5, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. Faith, Las Vegas, NV

    Oh, Derrick, of Austin, TX (@3:46), can you not read? Is he not of the current generation matriculating? That is the collective to whom I refer: those who are dummying-down our culture with their 'clever' texting and other media-influenced intellect corrosives. Wipe the froth from your lips, take a deep breath, and please, man, think beyond your indoctrination.

    September 5, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    Let's assume for a moment that the "little kid" was a "jerk". Wasn't it encouraging that the Senator chose the high road? Just another revelation that McKain is a big "jerk" if he expects to have any voter take him seriously!

    September 5, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Charlottesville

    This is not about the right to free speech, its about showing some respect for someone who deserves it.

    Hey I'm 25 and don't particularly agree with McCain's views, but I would have shown him a lot more respect than that sleazeball kid. There was a more respectful way of stating his opinion of McCain's views.

    September 5, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. JKap

    Hasn't Baghdad John drifted off into oblivion yet?

    September 5, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. James, Phoenix AZ

    Rick – Chicago,

    You said, "So much for free speech then eh? "

    No one would expect a blind partisan hack from Chicago to understand many of us don't approve of teenage punks insulting our country leaders. But IMAGINE, Rick, for just a minute... that we ALL live in a free country to express our beliefs. Sleazer can be disrespectful...and those of us who are appauled can write in comments on a blog.

    WHERE exactly did anyone lose their free speech rights, Ricky?

    September 5, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. James, Phoenix AZ

    Mike – NYC

    You wrote, "I'm not for anarchy, but it's healthy to question authority. I've got a brain, I intend on continuing to use it."

    Mike – it wasn't Sleazer's question that was rude. It was his parting comment "I came looking to see a leader. I don't" – which is uncalled for.

    What's absolutely amazing is the clouded judgement most of you seem to have – applauding this insulant behavior. Again – it's ok to have a DIALOGUE that is respectful...but demeaning personal insults (especially coming from a kid to one of the few POW/Veteran and seemingly honest political leaders) – crosses the line of decency.

    But – we'll just count you in the "Kewl Dude" column.

    September 5, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. James, Phoenix AZ

    Bukky wrote,

    "IT WAS FEDERAL LAW THAT TOOK THAT AWAY FROM GAY PEOPLE."

    Bukky, I'm a single straight guy. I can't marry another man either. I CAN marry a woman.

    Bukky – are YOU allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex just like me?

    Again – WHERE have gays lost any rights? Cause it looks like the same rules apply to me (straight) that applies to you (gay).

    September 5, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Brent

    What are the real chances of any of these little brats actually voting anyway - the ones who will be of age to, that is?

    September 5, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Carl, Dallas, Texas

    A few things to say...

    #1 This kid should have already known Senator McCain's stance on this subject. It's been known for years. The fact that the Senator hasn't changed his opinion in a decade shouldn't shock the kid.

    #2 Why are people saying that Senator McCain is so full of it? I feel that he is, but so is every other candidate. So spare me that argument.

    #3 The kid disrespected the Senator, and the Senator fired back with his own version of sarcasm. So guess what, they are even. This is blown way out of proportion.

    #4 Personal opinion should be left out of politics. Sure McCain disagrees with gay marriage, but there should be something in law that states that the economic benefits obtained from marriage should be allowed for same-sex couples who wish to do so...

    September 5, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Ryan, New York, NY

    Brent,
    I voted in the midterm the fall after I turned 18 and have voted in all elections since.

    Most years, the older folks vote because they feel it's a duty that comes with citizenship. In 2008, from the comments I'm hearing from the under 30 crowd, they'll be out voting, not out of duty, but because they're so irate about how the US is being run. They see the future problems that our government's actions are causing (global warming, lack of international support, the choice between insurance or planning for retirement )and see how they will be directly affecting them in the next 20-40 years when all the people who are making these decisions will be dead and unaffected by the consequences.

    September 5, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Amilia, Concord, New Hampshire

    I'm a high schooler at Concord High School and actually shown in this clip behind John McCain. The comment "little jerk" was actually quite funny. I'm a peer of the student who asked the question and thought it was funny as well as the eniter aduience.

    September 5, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. fedupwithourgov't

    BRAVO TO THE STUDENTS!!

    BOO TO MCCAIN!!

    September 5, 2007 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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