August 17th, 2008
08:00 AM ET
6 years ago

Schneider: A great debate - without the debate

(CNN) - For the most part, John McCain has been coming across as a strong conservative. He's talked unity - but not like Barack Obama, who has made it a central theme of his campaign. Earlier, McCain talked about issues like global warming where he disagreed with his party - but the main message here is that he's a strong conservative, who can be counted on to take socially conservative positions.

Both candidates are doing very well, but you're seeing a very clear difference. Obama has come across as thoughtful, subtle and nimble. McCain is disciplined and conservative, with an emphasis on his personal appeal.

Both are coming across very well in this forum - it's a good format. Strong questions and strong answers, and we see the differences between them clearly - but no squabbling. I'm not sure it would have been better if they were on stage together. This is better than a debate: you get actual answers to the questions, instead of them trying to score points off each other. You get real insight into the way each man thinks.


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. Ken Hacker

    Why does McCain say that African nations have to provide their own military forces when we given them materials for support, yet want to send troops in other areas of conflict? McCain has not made one single connection tonight to Christianity.

    August 16, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  2. Cathy

    True this is a great format but by your count how many times has John McCain addressed the audience as "my friends". It just starts to sound disingenuous after awhile.

    August 16, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. Kjetil

    Are you joking? Its not hard questins at all, and the one that ask the question dont follow up. Like what about public schools if everyone get tax cut, or what about what Georgia did in first place. Or what about the lies to go to war etc. He just let the candidates talk and talk.

    I agree its a good forum. But it should be a journalist that ask questions that can have a seccond question that are critical to the first answer. The sympatic pastor is not a good journalist, and dont get them under "heat". They can therfore be popular with crowd because they can anwer just as they like and awoid answers that the crowd would not like.

    August 16, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  4. TN for Obama

    As an educator, it troubles me to hear McCain say vouchers are working in D.C. This is flat out WRONG. This is from JUNE 2008:
    "Students using vouchers score no better
    Nearly 2000 D.C. students who attended private school with the aid of vouchers generally performed no differently after two years time than their public school counterparts, echoing other similar research. Students also reported no higher satisfaction with private schools, although their parents did.
    U. S. Dept. of Education. (2008). Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Second Year Report on Participation. Washington, DC: Author."

    Private schools, according to a CURRENT administration's study, do no better than public schools. Here is their report:

    http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006461

    August 16, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  5. McCain:SmallWeakCowardlyMan OffersMoreOfTheSame TearsOthersDownToBuildHimselfUp

    John McCain isn't thinking, he's telling bedtime stories and avoiding the answers to tough questions. He's giving all the typical , warmed over canned conservative responses to this crowd while invoking Ronald Reagan's name. How much more pandering can he do? As much as Rick Warren allows him to, while intially stating he wouldn't let the candidates deliver their stump speeches. Yah, right.

    August 16, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  6. Sue Marie, MI

    I would not say that Obama came across as thoughtful, subtle and nimble. Reminiscent of the debates Obama had with Clinton, it was not his finest hour. He looked nervous, stressed and shifty eyed. He was not eloquent tonight; I have never heard a potential candidate for president stutter as much as he does. Obama does well as long as he doesn't need to be spontaneous. He can't handle questions. He does inspire confidence.
    D-

    August 16, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  7. Upon Further Review

    McCain is lying just like Bush did to get elected.

    August 16, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  8. jeremy smith

    I am tired if John McCain talking about his experinces while being captured yet telling the media they can talk or make this an issue.

    August 16, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  9. TheTruthHurts

    Now let's thank Rick Warren. Good job to both candidates. Certainly covered more ground than any of the previous debates with Obama and Clinton. Maybe we'll see this format, but let someone other than the media choose questions from doctors, teachers, homemakers, steel workers, CEOs, retirees, etc.

    August 16, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  10. Sue

    Serious question for Sen. McCain:

    You say you are about country first.......if this is true put you wallet where your mouth is. This country is in serious financial trouble and you the Republican candidate will not raise taxes. I make $46.000 and I would be willing to incur a tax increase if it meant our country would be on more fiscally sound ground. We are in a global economy now!! Forget the wars McFool; we are in danger of becoming a third world country.

    Raise taxes and let's pay our bills and develop our own form of energy and quit trying to act like the rich bully who tries to buy his way through life.

    Time for America to stand up and do what's right for ALL of us not just the privileged few. We sacrifice our lives; McCain can sacrifice some of his benjamins.

    August 16, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  11. Sam

    So who cares? This was NOT a debate. Just a conversation between two people running for president and a preacher-oh, yeah, individually, and not against each other. I wanted to see what each candidate would say in a real "debate forum". LOL

    August 16, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  12. Cheri

    I think John McCain was given these questions before the forum started..his answers seem to be very rehearsed like he knew them before it even started.If he was... this is disgraceful.

    August 16, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  13. Comment...

    Make me understand, What was personal about McCain?

    August 16, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  14. caleb

    While I agree the format led to some better answers than a traditional debate with both on-stage, I'm struck by how many answers did not really address the questions asked, and Warren's lack of follow-up to really pin the candidates down.

    McCain's response to the privacy vs. national security dilemma was a perfect example of a politician waxing poetically without really saying anything of substance. Technological changes have brought about more tension between privacy and security? That is hardly surprising. Warren asked how a leader should balance the two, and McCain totally dodged it.

    It's a disservice to American voters to have such answers accepted without any scrutiny.

    August 16, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  15. Lou R

    I felt Rich Warren let McCain control the discussion with his anecdotal stories, thereby consuming time to avoid answering more questions. McCain easily slipped into his stump speech points; one time Warren made a comment about the stump comments, but did not take back control of the questioning. With Obama the emphasis was on question, answer; with McCain it was question, story telling, sometimes an answer, then the next question. The second half of the supposed Q&A was a sham!

    August 16, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  16. KENT in NC

    I enjoyed and learned much more about both candidates from this event than I have learned during the entire campaign. Most of my time earlier has been spent listening to one beat up on the other and hearing lies about one to the other. This is an ideal forum for the American public to hear from the candidates. This is the event I would like to see one or two more times. I am so tired of hearing them both talk about how the other wants to do this. I like hearing the response of the candidate on what he wants to do.

    August 16, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  17. Sue Marie, MI

    I would not say that Obama came across as thoughtful, subtle and nimble. Reminiscent of the debates Obama had with Clinton, it was not his finest hour. He looked nervous, stressed and shifty eyed. He was not eloquent tonight; I have never heard a potential candidate for president stutter as much as he does. Obama does well as long as he doesn't need to be spontaneous. He can't handle questions. He does not inspire confidence.
    D-

    August 16, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. Democrat for McCain

    McCain just kicked the CRAP out of Obama!!!! No competition here-McCain is a president already and Obama is just a wannabe.
    Jennifer ,Springfield MA

    August 16, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  19. Ann

    Perhaps the press would want to look more closely into the fact that we learned nothing new from Senator McCain. There is nothing he said that expands the thought process in America. He seems to be following notes he memorized from a textbook. There is no true thoughtfulness to his dialogue. His swift and "direct" responses come across to this listener as pandering to the audience. So far, pandering seems to be working in his favor. I see no real sign of the Maverick. He is pushing his image as the war hero which works for most people who do not require intellectuality as a criteria for the highest office.

    August 16, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. Jeff

    Please mention in your analysis the strangeness of McCain saying that countries don't invade other countries in the 21st century when he supported the US invasion of Iraq.

    August 16, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  21. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    I like direct answers to questions. Obama answered more directly. mccain, told stories and there fore confused the answers if he answered at all.

    August 16, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  22. Stephen Bates

    You thought McCain was coming off well?
    All I saw was Warren lobbing softballs which McCain hit with rehearsed stump soundbytes, POW war stories, and blatant pandering comments. The second hour of this was an hour of my life i'll never get back. I like John McCain even less now.

    August 16, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  23. Stephen Bates

    Just goes to show the mainstream media is in the tank for McCain.

    August 16, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  24. Dayahka

    Why don't we eliminate the "debates" and get real forums like this one?

    August 16, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  25. roslyn

    i think obama is great....he just need to pick hillary for vp

    August 16, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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