August 17th, 2008
01:16 PM ET
10 years ago

Analysis: Same tough questions, different approaches

John McCain, Rick Warren and Barack Obama take the stage together at the forum on faith.

John McCain, Rick Warren and Barack Obama take the stage together at the forum on faith.

LAKE FOREST, California (CNN) - From their views on abortion to their greatest moral failings, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain used much different styles to tackle the same tough questions at Saturday night's forum on faith.

Obama struck a conversational tone and directed his answers toward moderator Rick Warren.

McCain gave straightforward responses, taking a more personal approach as he directed his answers toward the audience and viewers at home.

David Gergen, a senior political analyst for CNN, said he thought both candidates handled themselves well, but he was particularly impressed with McCain's performance.

"Along comes McCain, who not only has - he doesn't like to talk about his religion very much. And then he talks about it openly. But he has a very powerful story that's emotionally connected to the audience," he said.

"It's the candidate who can connect emotionally to Middle America who will have the big advantage going down the stretch."

The event was held at Saddleback Church, a mega-church in southern California. Warren, pastor at the church and author of the best-selling book "The Purpose-Driven Life," interviewed both candidates.

McCain and Obama appeared briefly onstage together, shaking hands and posing with Warren between their one-hour interviews.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Sandi

    McCain sounded scripted and Obama spoke from his heart. Hmm....... and I hear directly after the forum cnn say McCain won the night. I beg to differ. I'm leaning towards the candidate that appears to have a heart. Obama is more in line with issues that concern me than McCain. I thank McCain for his service to America, but many have served (including me) and that doesn't qualify you to be president. He seemed to be using his time in service to pan to the audience that he deserves the Presidency because he served. McCain did seem to do better than usual but he didn't sway me. Sorry.

    August 17, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Rob

    Let me simplify this article. Obama engaged in an intelligent dialog. McBush told POW stoies and repeated excerpts from previous stump speeches.

    August 17, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Obama supporter:White, 60 year old woman

    Perhaps CNN should fact check McCain's tear jerking story: Daily Kos: "Croos in the Desery" Story Stolen from Solshenitsyn".

    August 17, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Independent

    I didn't watch it, don't care...I know who I'm voting for....NOT changing my mind...

    I was watching history being made at the Olympics....

    August 17, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. I have a secret

    Psst... McBush cheated. Someone gave him the Questions. He started answering questions before thay were even asked. But don't tell Candy Crowley. She was oblivious to the obvious.

    August 17, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Obama supporter:White, 60 year old woman

    Maybe CNN should do some fact checking before repeating a candidate's story: Daily Kos: "Cross in the Desert" Story Stolen from Solzhenitsyn".

    August 17, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. CW4Barack

    McSame was campaigning and trying to solidify his base.....Obama was having a honest conversation. Someone should prove that McSame didn't have the questions before coming on stage and also that Warren didn't just set up this little tryst to help his candidate McSame!

    August 17, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Mike

    Despite CNN being totally biased for McBush. Obama won this hands down. He answered every question with an intelligent honest answer even if it was not what the audience wished to hear. McBush on the other hand answered every question with a hero POW war story or an excerpt from one of his previous speeches.

    August 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Newsdiva

    Impressed wth McCain??? Yeah right, I was impressed that he was able to retain his answers after obviously either hearing them back stage or reading them well in advance beofer his appearance. He's old, crusty, senile and will NOT be the next president and fankly as a Christian, I thank GOD for that everyday.

    Obama 08 & 12

    August 17, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. R

    Obama is not good in debates (altough it wasn't one). He should have learn from debating Hillary. God i hope he gets better when it comes to a face-to-face debate

    August 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    I believe only God in Heaven knows when a soul is formed. I don't think he has whispered that to either candidate.

    I found Obama to be intelligent and thoughtful. Answered each question. McCain seemed to give his stump speech one sound byte at a time, and I didn't like his obsession with wars.

    OK PUMAs – Bush wants to get rid of birth control, McCain wants to remove all choices for you regarding how many babies you have by whom.

    Your choice PUMA – May be the last choice you ever have – you may be too busy in 3 or 4 years tending a "baby a year". Financially and physically, it will keep you from having a real life – unless you're married to one of those people making big bucks.

    August 17, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Senator McCain, what do you think of people getting admitted to flight school ahead of many dozens of better qualified candidates just because their daddy is a 4-star Admiral?

    And could that lack of credentials lead to future disaster, like, say, getting shot down?!

    August 17, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Mc same Straight?

    YAH THINK ??



    August 17, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. RJ, CA

    One thing was clear: Obama just doesn't like to COMMIT on any issue. That works for a college lecturer who wants to "challenge" his students to think for themselves — in a safe academic environment. But it is NOT the sign of a good leader — who must make decisions quickly and decisively — in the not-so-safe REAL world.

    I can see why Obama declined joint townhall meetings with McCain. Without his teleprompter, Obama comes across as terribly unsure of himself.

    August 17, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Gail AL.

    I think when people see them together, it want be hard to make up their mines. MCcain makes Obama look like a first grader. Obama dodged the questions as best he could. MCcain was best on his game last night. Was quick to the point, and answered every question. Let's get on with the debates, it's MCcain time to turn this train around. GO MCCAIN Theirs still hope for america.

    August 17, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. aware


    McCain connected emotionally to Middle America!

    Also, the abortion issue surfaced again with the answers or non-answers of the candidates!

    And, Obama's quote from Matthew about the "least of these" obviously did not include little ones in the womb or survivors of attempted abortions. He just doesn't get it! 😦

    McCain 08! He gets it! 🙂

    August 17, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. Matt

    Nice job last night President McCain.

    August 17, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. lila

    I have an honest question.

    If McCain is so sure that life starts at conception then how can McCain be pro-embryonic stem cell research? Which he is and said so last night.
    In McCain's very clearly stated opinion he said an embryo was human life. Embryonic stem cell research kills a live embryo. Why is the murder of a baby OK in a lab?

    August 17, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Texas Teacher, Houston

    I give up! It is like there was too different debates: the one the world saw and the one the Media is representing! Who are we supposed to believe: the media... or our crazy old eyes and ears!

    I'm going to go with my crazy old eyes and ears! Obama has my vote!

    August 17, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Nathan

    Can we seriously stop mixing god/faith/fantasy and politics, I find it repulsive, I don't want someone who believes in make believe running the country, please stop already.

    August 17, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. lou

    McCain united the Dems in 1 hour .What are you HRC voters going to do now. You heard him last night. A 72 year old man is gonna tell you what to do with your body and your life. It's your body let them hear your voice. Ready to overturn Roe vs wade ? Ready for war with the whole world ? Please ,America. Don't be stupid this time. lets show the right wing that America is still free. Obama 08

    August 17, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Mc same Straight?

    HEY.. Btw...!


    August 17, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. Bill From Florida

    It's the talk of the town, McCain won hands down last night.And now
    the Obama supporters are making excuses, and bashing McCain.
    Let the American voices be heard...WE VOTE McCAIN>

    August 17, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Reality

    McCain was acting

    August 17, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Mac Acts... Bama Talks.

    Story should read...

    "Obama umms... uhs... ehs... ums... and uhs his way into a downward spiral, while McCain shines."

    McCain literally outshined Obama in nearly every aspect of the forum...

    Thought this guy was the talker, well the more he talks, the worse he sounds.

    Looks the like the race is on...

    Mac '08

    August 17, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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