August 17th, 2008
08:00 AM ET
10 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. tedious898

    McCain Supporters / Puma....while Barack is being attached by both groups....its obvious he's going to retain his advantage with evangelicals. Because John McCain just had to be "John" and people simply love the person he is and what he stands for.

    The feeling from the crowd towards Barack – kind and tolerant. Did they love Barack the way they loved McCain – not so much. But I live here in Orange County and African Americans are not exactly the best received here. So no surprise! The white people would never support a black man / African American above a genuine hero – no chance!

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

    A debate with real answers and then there were story telling????

    August 16, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  3. South Texan

    The debate tonight was perfect.

    It was a completely scientific test. The controls were entirely the same. Same commentator, same crowd, same questions.

    The best man for president should be apparant.

    America should now know who to vote for and it's John McCain.

    August 16, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  4. deidre

    This was a fantastic question and answer session!

    August 16, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  5. Ratgurl

    Actually, I'm waiting for the publicly televised (not on cable) debate. Let's see how Jon does there.

    August 16, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. Maxie

    This forum presents a sharp contrast between both candidates. One is thoughtful, listens and gathers information carefully before responding to the carefully worded questions. The other, seems to have great difficulty listening to the entire question, and seems more eager and interested in spitting out his pre-thought out, well rehearsed responses. He essentially was shooting from the hip the entire time he was on stage. At times, he even tried to control the questions asked.

    August 16, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Obama was only "thoughtful, subtle, and nimble" in that he could talk after the question was asked as if he was definitively answering it, but not saying anything definitive. McCain, like it or not, has a position on the issues, and you can tell what it is.

    August 16, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  8. Katherine Cooper/ Belvidere, Il

    I watched the entire forum. I did not feel that Sen. McCain really answered the questions that were asked of him. I did not care for all his relating of stories from his past. I felt he was more in stump speech mode than Sen. Obama was. I also noticed that Sen. McCain had six references to terrorism or national security. Once again the Republicans playing the terror card. Also, he made mention of Ronald Reagan at least three or four times. If you want to get conservatives on your side just reference Reagan. I will admit to being an Obama supporter and I tried to listen to McCain, but as soon as the stories started and the references to terror I was turned off. I also felt that Pastor Warren gave McCain a lot of opportunity to relate his stories rather than answer the questions.
    Katherine Cooper
    Belvidere, IL

    August 16, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  9. Heartlight 3, Maui, HI

    The thing that I noticed in this forum was a big difference in perspective.

    Obama views things from a more comprehensive, expansive, big picture sort of way. All of his answers took into consideration that not everyone sees things the same and that any policies need to include different points of view because we are a very diverse country. His focus was more on co-operative solutions. I like that aspect of his philosophy.

    McCain takes a more narrow view. I don't really listen to his stump speech very often, but much of what he had to say I have heard him say before. Being decisive and single focused is fine, but how do you account for the people who think differently or are in different circumstances than you? I didn't hear that addressed. Being dogmatic and certain can be attractive to some, but I have seen it used to the detriment of the country by the current administration. His answers were generally rather shallow and he seemed to repeat the same talking points and stories that he uses all the time.

    August 16, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  10. Lucious

    I have to agree that it was a good debate and much better than townhall meetings were the two use loads of rhetoric to slam the other candidate. Here is where I have the problem. I think anyone that really listened to Sen. McCain's answers must admire how well he can drag a red herring. It is my opinion that Sen McCain was very direct on some issues, but on many others, he cut off Pastor Rick Warren and went off on a tangent as if the audience didn't already here the question once, or if the viewers at home couldn't read it on the screen. Several questions could have been answered directly had he listened or just simply answered the question. Also McCain treated this like it was a political campaign speech especially with that mumbo jumbo about "drilling off shore and drill here now!" crap. It was more of John McCain. Not more insight of who he really is and what kind of person he is on the inside.

    August 16, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  11. Norma

    Most of John McCain's answer revolved around war. Almost to every question in the beginning and at the end he talked about war and his experiences in the war.

    It came across to me this is the only thing on his mind and the only thing he can relate to and his only frame of reference.

    August 16, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  12. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    I can go down to the local diner and listen to plenty of old men tell me about the is very tiring listening to McCain ramble about his past, which he is lost in.................answer the questions old man...........

    August 16, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  13. Jim

    I did not hear anything knew from McCain. He has told the same stories over and over.

    Many of Obama's answers have been heard before, but there was considerably more new information.

    August 16, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  14. Nathan Jackson

    I did not like seeing John McCain use his stump speeches and canned jokes over and over again. He also was just bringing out the POW stuff over and over again. He wasn't talking about the questions. He was finding a way to insert his pre fabricated stories into the different questions.

    August 16, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  15. Jerry R Lucas

    John McCain was right on tonight and helped me to make the choice. Obama was not up front with his asnwers and I felt he was talking to the polls not to the subject. I thought at first Obama would be for change but, he was looking for his answers.
    I still have some time left to think this over but, I know the press will say just how great Obama was tonight although I can not say the same and to this point I had not made my choice.

    August 16, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  16. JDS

    It seems to me if McCain had not known what he was going to be asked, he could not have answered many of the questions without thinking– as he did.
    I expected it to be a really fair way of seeing their responses in such a situation. However, when Obama really was thoughtful about his 3 people on the first question and McCain rattled them off rapidly with his reasons as well. I can hardly believe in an unscripted response John Lewis would have come to McCain's mind.
    A general ok, but a woman and a civil rights hero. John McCain?? He knew what he was going to be asked and Obama did not.
    It could be argued this was an event scripted to get the unenthused religious right enthused about the Republican.

    August 16, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  17. Larry Stout

    Excellent format to gain an insight into each candidate. McCain definitely showed that he was the candidate with substance.

    I had some reservations with John McCain that were eliminated tonight.

    August 16, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  18. Alex Armen

    Excellent Forum/Debate.

    The candidates were given tough questions and were forced to give more indepth answers than the usual sound-bite type of an answer.

    My only concern is, and I am being cynical about this, is the American voter, able to absorb more than a sound-bite. You don't really learn anything with one sentence answers.

    The way this forum was laid out, you had to listen in order to understand the candidates positions and feelings.

    I must say though, that I was a little disappointed in McCain's answers because I felt he was constantly going back to his stump speech type one line answers. He was consistantly refering back to his military experiences, which creates empathy, but doesn't really have anything to do with what I wanted to learn about the man and his qualifications for President.

    Obama, gave much more indepth answers. I was impressed with the thought that was put into the answers. They didn't sound like "canned answers", But, you had to listen and that refers back to my original point about our being tuned to sound-bites.

    I hope I'm wrong.

    August 16, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  19. suv2001

    Just as I excepted, McCain could not expound with get detail with some of the questions. He wanted to tell stories of the past. Just as I expected, Cnn analysis chose not to notice that expect Martin. Over all McCain give me the opinion that he will take this country to war at moment notice.

    August 16, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  20. DR. YES

    i agree completely,mr. schneider.this was better than watching two grown men make fools of each other.this has not swayed my support for obama.mccain did better than i expected,but appeared a little blunt and nervous at times.i understand the nerves,but the answers he gave were almost like true or false questions on tests we did in grade school.

    August 16, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  21. Terry Grant got insight into the way a man doesn't think. Like McCain answering questions before Warren could get them out of his mouth. We need a President who listens before speaking.

    August 16, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  22. jimmy

    were you watching the same debate bill?

    Obama "thoughtful, subtle and nimble"

    I thought his answers were very slow and long winded

    If you respond Yes No or with short answers that are direct that is usually your honest opinion whether the questioner likes your answer is a different thing....

    but if you have these long winded of course answers it really means you are pulling on your reserve of canned answers that you know you can use and not offend anyone.....

    I think our next president needs to be direct and honest
    because if we dont like his views we can at least explain our side
    and a honest person will take that to heart
    and maybe change their views when appropirate

    a long winded person that trys not to offend anyone but still votes however they want wont listen to you when you differ with their views.

    August 16, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  23. Diamond

    This was NOT a faith forum. One candidate came to speak candidly about faith issues. The other candidate came to recite campaign talking points.

    August 16, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  24. Anna Bechtel

    We have spent the last eight years being governed by a man who believed the world functions in black and white. We've seen where that takes us. If the evangelicals vote in another person who is incapable of seeing all the nuances in every issue, I believe we will see the virtual destruction of this country. It is one thing to proclaim you "vote values", but if your vote destroys all we hold dear in this country, what have you accomplished?

    August 16, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  25. nate

    Its quite that those from each side wee what they want to see. What we did learn is that McCain will not pick Ridge or Lieberman etc.

    August 16, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
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