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. Denise

    It was a set up. Warren sould be ashamed of himself

    August 16, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  2. AIB

    John McCain used he forun as a political Ad, instead of define himself as a person of faith. He talked only national security and war. I am really troubled about the intellectual capacities of John McCain. This guy would be a dangerous president.

    August 16, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  3. Marie in California

    This was good. It gave me a look at the two candidates I have not had up to this point. My opinions and priorities did not change, but I certainly was able to better encapsulate why I had them vis a vis the responses, behaviors and styles candidates.

    August 16, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  4. Nicolette

    Tonight was a staged set-up for McCain. He said everything the conservatives wanted to hear. That crowd was for McCain. McCain is completely one sided and unreasonable. Obama is what this country needs, because these issues, they are gray areas. The whole country is not a country of just evangelicals, and McCain, as well as the evangelicals, NEED TO GET THAT THROUGH THEIR THICK SKULLS!

    August 16, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. Carolyn

    Is not Orange County, where this as held, one of the most wealthiest and evangelical places in the country? It should have been McCain's base. I also think he knew the questions beforehand.

    August 16, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  6. Lisa

    Even though I want Hillary to win, I think John Mccain won the debate tonight.

    August 16, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  7. Vgirl1

    McCain's answers sounded canned and rehersed. I felt he was most disengenuous with his constant use of the term "my friends". He talked about war at every turn regardless of the question as if war is his only expertise and his only answer for America.

    McCain is clearly a bellicose candidate who uses political buzz words and phrases which he thinks people want to hear in an attempt to win over support. I feel certain he cannot be trusted. "My friends:", he tells you what he thinks you want to hear.

    I so was offended by his so called "humor".

    August 16, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  8. Larry Buchas

    Obama gave intelligent, thoughtful responses to each question. McCain repreated his talking points and came across as another warmonger.

    So who is more like Bush? Case closed.

    August 16, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  9. shannon

    What was McCain referring to when he said he wanted to talk about Rwanda later? I couldn't get the reference. If he was confusing Rwanda with Darfur, then the media needs to get on top of it. Did he do something noteworthy during the Rwandan crisis in the 1990s?

    August 16, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  10. Inutah

    I don't know what forum to post this on, so this is the lucky one...Who cares what Rick Warren thinks. I saw the picture posted on the Internet of him between McCain and Obama and thought...."Oh, now I get's all about power and images." I think Rick Warren is the one who will benefit most (including the American people) and make even more money off this forum. We sure could have used all the money funding this forum at our inner city school.

    August 16, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  11. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This whole thing had nothing to do with faith or religion. McCain answered questions before he was asked. This pastor should be ashame of himself.

    August 16, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  12. tedious898

    Obama supporter here (I sure regular bloggers know that already). But did it seem to anyone that McCain might have known the questions going in? Also, the majority of his answers sound exactly like his campaign stump speeches i.e. I want to lead america to look beyond themselves...blah blah.

    Its hard to believe John McCain was that sharp without some "inside trading" info. The guy couldn't even hear the question about "the book" yesterday. And today he answers questions before they're even asked. Does anybody feel the fix was in?

    August 16, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  13. Not a man of faith

    Very disappointed the McCain dodged some questions with distracting stories and answered a few questions before they were fully asked. And for a faith forum, he gave more 'stump' than letting us know what he actually believed in. Does he believe in God?

    McCain was very fake, telling people what they wanted to hear.

    Obama openly embraces his beliefs and religion- I am wary of those who hide it.

    August 16, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  14. Mimi

    The debate highlighted the contrasts between to very different politicians. I did like the format. I feel confident that I know what McCain stands for, even if I don't agree with everything. I am still not sure I know Obama that well. It seemed at times that he was too concerned about making everyone happy but how is he going to make tough decisions in the White House. He sounded like a thoughtful but out of touch Ivy League professor, not a decisive leader. It really makes me wonder.

    August 16, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. Kate/MA

    I think the show was okay, however, I feel that it is time McCain hung up his POW status. It is old history and he only tells the part he thinks will bring out pity for him. What about the confession he signed? He doesn't mention this. His answers were so orchestrated. No careful consideration and thought before answering.

    In contrast, Obama tells his life like it was and is. He came across much more forthright and honest. He showed thoughtfulness in his answers. He didn't just give flip answers.

    August 16, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  16. ricardo williams

    It is impossible for McCain to answer these questions the way he did if it was not rehearsed. McCain doesnot even know how to cheat and pretend. We now know that the questions were given before. The truth is that McCain is a warmonger just like George Bush. That's why he won't be able to handle the economy. That's why America is in the Red with the Republicans

    August 16, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  17. Ohio3

    McCain was very funny and personable and quick to respond.. It was certainly his crowd moreso than Obama's. But McCain sees the world through the prism of War. That is mostly what he talked about;, obviously the POW experience has shaped his life, but is that healthy as the driving force of a commander in chief. His anger was palpable when he talked about evil and immediately equated it solely to Bin Laden. Obama had a much broader view of the world and issues; much more intellectual horsepower. We need that in a president; this is not 1965, and we cannot behave as it is. Obama is the future, McCain is the past.

    August 16, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  18. c-note

    MY FRIENDS, what we saw tonight was a huge contrast between two men. One has been around a very long time but can only relate to war experiences almost 40 years ago. MY FRIENDS, the person he would listen to most is in the midst of a war. MY FRIENDS, this guy has friends on the supreme court who are ultra conservative. MY FRIENDS, if they are not ultra conservative, well...the they are not his friends. MY FRIENDS, this guy sounded very much like George Bush. MY FRIENDS, he did not sound very presidential, my friends. MY FRIENDS, the contrast is clear.

    August 16, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  19. Republican for Obama

    All McCain has is his past when he was 17. He doesn't have the experience to be President. Why didn't he answer any questions. All he did was tell stories. I've heard all of his stories I can stomach for this campaign. He lives his past over and over. We have to look to the future. He will never get there.

    August 16, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  20. Karen-phoenix

    Obama came accross as a true humanitarian who wants to help the American people out of this mess we are in. McCain just told old war stories and beat around the bush on the really meaningful questions. McCain just said NO to abortion. Fine, the we can go back to when women were butchered in back alleys. Obama gave ways of helping the women with proper medical care, counceling and adoption alternatives. I'm a true Christian a really felt Obama had the better answers for our country how to help us out of this mess we are in without more wars! Obama even quoted Mathew and had a great answer to the question about religious persecution. We lead by example and discussion. McCain never answered the question. McCain on evil was all about the Talibon where Obama even went into the evil of child abuse and the problems we have on our own streets. Evil is NOT help our fellow man. I understood what he said. McCain is narcisstic.

    August 16, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. Vera Saeli

    I have heard both candidates speeches and tonight was nothing but a stumping stop for John McCain. He recycled the same war stories and campaign rhetoric that he uses daily (weekdays). I THOUGHT tonight was supposed to be a night to learn more personal perspectives of the candidates. I received no such enlightenment from John McCain. He was pandering to the Evangelicals instead of being personal. My husband and I also noticed how he 'wanted to get back' to the Supreme Court questioning before it was asked. If he was in a silent room, how did he know this? My husband, a Republican, found himself in quite a bit of agreement with Senator Obama. He hasn't spent much time getting to know Senator Obama but tonight has opened his eyes.

    August 16, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  22. Gayle

    I'm writing because I feel several of the pundits on CNN missed what we at home saw in this forum tonight.

    Barack Obama was having a conversation as was the focus of the forum. He truly answered the questions sharing himself and his faith. As a progressive Christian I appreciated his answers -Obama rocked!

    John McCain was giving a stump speech definitely PANDERING to the mostly conservative crowd!

    In effort not to repeat I fully agree with the thoughts above from Maxie, Katherine Cooper and Heartlight 3, and Lucious.

    August 16, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  23. aware

    Poor Obama didn't have much to contribute in terms of working across the aisle, or abortion...! He did equivocate, stall and become evasive at times. Obama is not the guy you want answering the phone at 3 AM. 😦

    McCain gave us a picture of authentic faith lived out in his experience. He is very straight forward and decisive! He doesn't have to parse his words or eat up the clock with trivia!

    McCain 08! 🙂

    August 16, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  24. Grandpa & his stories

    Telling bed time scarry stories. Educate the public regarding the real evil in the world. Candy Crowly- very very disappointed in your article.
    Rev.Warren- you couldn't control McCain when he is stumping, calling audiences my friends. i didn't want to hear another McCain speech.
    I was inspired by Obama's speech. This type of speech the world wants to hear.

    August 16, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  25. tigerakabj

    McCain actually admitted to pandering. I think I had just had it with him. I was actually questioning when Rick Warren would stop McCain from campaigning to the audience and actually answer the questions. All I heard was POW stories, war, Reagan, and tidbits about Al Qaeda and other fear soundbites.

    I had a feeling in my gut that McCain would get the questions beforehand and, based on his very quick responses, I believe that he did indeed. Oh well.

    August 16, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
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