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. Janice Crowley

    Theres no doubt about it that Obama is the better man. Tonight was more like one of Mccains town hall meetings. Tonight was more like a one on one interview with Obama. Obama was more open and Mccain pandered to the crowd. I got to know Obama a little better, I got to know what I already know about Mccain. I thought tonight was going to be person were we would get a sense how they think and make decisions and it was until Mccain told allot of stories we heard before and told allot of jokes without being personal and sharing with his thinking process and what he personally and why he believes what he believes. Obama cleary won tonight and I think he change allot of people mines about him and Mccain encouraged his base.

    August 16, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  2. Laura

    It was Obama who made the comment: "I've given this question some consideration so..." I don't believe they had the questions. Also, Obama supporters cannot stand it that he came across as unsure and uncomfortable.

    He used um, uh and but so many times that it took him 5 minutes to get one questions out.

    I guess town hall meetings would have benefitted Obama. No teleprompter. Hope he prepares better for the debates cause McCain will mop the floor with him.

    August 16, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  3. Realist

    Unfortunately, even tonight McCain continues to demonstrate that he offers another four years of the same... let's defeat evil empires across the globe.

    August 16, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  4. Michele

    Since this forum had much to do with faith...I wonder how Jesus would have answered these questions. And if you apply basic tenets of the bible...turn the other cheek....let he who is without sin cast the first thy neigbor....which candidate more closely embodies that. If you needed empathy and had to stand before one of these guys...which would you choose???

    August 16, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  5. Lourdes

    McCain is narrow-minded and confident - A HORRIBLE COMBINATION (as we have seen over the last 8 years of Bush). I want a thoughtful, humble president for once. I cannot believe ANYONE could think Obama is the elite arrogant candidate after tonight. He's the one who came from nothing to make something mighty impressive out of himself. McCain's military legacy is a carry-over from being in a military family, and he is married to an hieress who he wants to protect from havng to pay taxes on her ridiculous inheritance.


    August 16, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  6. arlene, CA

    McSame caught in the Past. Same old war story, and just more hypocrisy.

    August 16, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  7. ALL the facts please

    This was not a 'Great' debate without being a debate because the moderator was biased, the forum itself was biased, and the media itself was biased for airing it.

    It was a scripted conservative show that – true did ask questions- but led to the same conservative agenda that anyone could've predicted. The answers John McCain gave may've sounded great and were received well by the audience there, but too bad we couldn't have seen the millions that weren't represented there speak their dissention. The poor, those desperately needing healthcare but cannot afford it, the unemployed, homeless, families of those killed in Iraq, our children that will have to answer to China for years to come because we faught a criminally unnecesssary and expensive war that we could in no way afford, those that will retire practically broke because of the poor mismanagement of our country.

    Half a story was told tonight. CNN look beyond the teary-eyed war stories given with a smile that don't answer the nation's most important questions.

    August 16, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  8. MB

    The comments tonight make it clear. If you want a leader who is certain about things without thinking them through, see no complexity in the world, and is always "on message" whether it makes sense or not...choose McCain. If you want a leader who understands that life isn't a multiple choice test, thinks things through, and can answer questions without relying on memorized paragraphs, choose Obama. Personally, I am truely repelled by the unthinking certainity that led our current administration into spending trillions on a ill-considered war. McCain promises more of the same. Turn on your brains and vote for Obama!

    August 16, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  9. CTW

    McCain is a joke. Why doesn't he answer a question? I could care less about his rehearsed stories. He is not my friend ... I wish he would stop saying it. He doesn't have a solution to a problem. More wars won't solve our problems in America.

    August 16, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  10. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    McCain pandered to the GOP base. That is all. Doesn't change my mind at all.............Obama 08

    August 16, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  11. young, gifted and black

    McCain definitely had these questions beforehand, he had rehearsed the answers over and over again, plus i threw up alittle hearing about his POW days, im tired of hearing it, stop dwelling in the past...

    August 16, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  12. g

    jerry I felt that it was mccain who was talking to his base for example on issues of the war, abortion, gay marriage and judges. Further on the issue of judges he didn't like he supporter those judges by voting for them so he misrepresented his record here.

    August 16, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. Jason

    McCain? Strong conservative?

    I can barely type because I'm laughing so hard!!!

    August 16, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  14. Cathy

    If John McCain was against Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter.>.then why did he vote for each of these justices????

    To me McCain was just pandering to his audience. Obama was honest in his answer even though he knew his audience most likely did not agree.

    August 16, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |


    August 16, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  16. Chris (UK)

    it's a shame how if McCain were ever (unfortunately) President, the only policy McCain has is reciting POW stories. I don't think the economy cares all that much about Vietnam...

    August 16, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  17. cal

    what are you kidding me? mccain was reading his stump speech all night, to a pro-republican audience.

    the only way mccain could have messed things up is if he fell off the stage.

    August 16, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  18. Texas Teacher, Houston

    John McCain did his best story telling! I actually thought it sounded very much like he knew the questions. Makes me question the whole cone of silence thing. Did McCain have the same ear bug that Bush used during his debates?

    I think the long winded stories that we have heard from the McCain over and over again where simply boring and a very effective way of avoiding truly answering. I think he will take us straight into war. And he darn sure made it clear he will not raise taxes on his base, BiG Business!

    August 16, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  19. Pat

    "McCain is disciplined and conservative, with an emphasis on his personal appeal." What personal appeal and to whom?

    What discipline?
    The man can't even remember what he said ten minutes ago? He can't even remember he and his Mother initiated a law suit against his former wife even after the fact her lawyer confirmed the same! If he is truly disciplined he should have used some of his discipline to sway his loyal friend's (Bush) nefarious reasoning on initiating an unnecessary, illegimate war! His discipline at that time could have possibly saved thousands' of lives!

    What conservatism? Would that be our present energy crisis? Economic crisis? Military crisis? The off shore drilling conservation? The indifference and lack of aid to fellow veterans? His great discipline hasn't changed any of the aforesaid mentioned one iota!

    Oh or mayb you viewed his Conservatism as his tears whilst relaying his story about the wooden cross and the General while he was a POW. The one of his many stories as a POW, a pilot flying his plane, the agony he and his fellow POWS endured, his sacrifice, his heroism, his service to his country since he was a young adult! His blowing his horn!

    My dad was a Sargeant during WWII and I never once heard a story about his sacrifice, his heroism, his service on the front lines, the agony he and comrades endured or the Veteran's Pension the Government deprived him of! He could have blown his horn many times for much better reasons than John has but he was a true Hero who didn't expect or want praise or gratitude for the sacrifice he made. He felt it was his duty to his Nation and people.

    August 16, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  20. chavez in west texas

    McCain seemed if he knew the questions before hand. C'mon give me a break, "lighting round questions."

    And he dodged the question concerning his greatest moral failure: he cheated on his first wife, just like John Edwards did recently. Based on the moral values of many social conservatives, he should no longer be considered for the highest office in the land. ... or is there hypocrisy afoot? The long and short of it is that McCain is dangerous because of he's got an infantile, hot temper and for a man with his finger on THE BUTTON, he would be the most dangerous man in the world.

    August 16, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  21. Tina Turner

    On Education Obama needs to bring up the ideology of the Republican party which believes that it is not the role of the government to provide public education, therefore destroying public education is the Republican Party's mission!

    Obama – thoughtful, conversational, nuanced, and scholarly.

    McSame – canned, stump speech talking points, Bush like.

    August 16, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  22. The Real Issue

    These are great interviews and I applaud this, however, as much as Senator McCain wants to be disciplined in his thoughts, he has years of Senatorial history, his 95% support of the Bush Administration policies that have caused the following: Corporate and individual bankruptcies, the disruption that has caused huge profits for oil companies, the falling dollar, jobs losts and eliminated, unscrupolus campaign misdirected remarks etc. etc. etc. and most of all, the debt........

    August 16, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  23. ALLAN USA.

    COME on people. McCain was much better than Obama. But for you who love Obama no matter what you will liy to yourself, but say Obama Obama. McCain 7 - Obama 3.

    August 16, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  24. Belinda

    If you tell me that after this exchange with Pastor Warren, you were able to make a decision about who should be the president of the USA, I simply cannot believe that you are a deep thinker. What I find intereating is that those that are stating this are saying that today they are deciding that they will now vote for McCain. Clearly theae are folks that already knew who they would vote for. There is no way I would decide who will be my president based on these questions.

    August 16, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  25. Cathy

    Agree Nathan, McCain wove his POW experiences into many of his answers because he knows it resonates with some people.

    August 16, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
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