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. Ilona Hussein Proud Canadian




    August 17, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  2. TroubledCitizen

    I think tonight we saw a clear differences in not only how they would handle moral and faith based issues, but how the candidates would handle foreign policy issue. Tonight I saw sitting next to Rick Warren A WAR MONGER IN JOHN MCCAIN. I counted a possibilty of war on four different fronts with Senator Mccain. We barely have enough troops to fight one. It seems like a draft is headed with this man, not to mention nuclear war.

    P.S. Did anyone find it funny that John Mccain claimed that he would cut taxes by 7000$! however left the possibility to war on four different fronts. How are you going to pay for his Senator? Because 'm not leaving this debt to my kids

    August 17, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  3. Norma

    I thought the forum was about faith and politics & the candidates world view on this issue. Obama tried to play by the rules and McCain threw out the rules and played by his own.

    He was political all the way and gave political speech after poltical speech. Even when Rick Warren said "no stump speeches".

    I think we Americans are getting tired of the way Obama is being treated by the media and these so-called unbiased forums.

    August 17, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  4. Raymond Chen

    While I agree that at times it would have been informative to follow-up on answers (or evasions), I can see at least two reasons why it wasn't done tonight: 1) time and question management; 2) perceived fairness in how much follow-up questions are asked of each candidate.
    Furthermore, I prefer the fact that Rick Warren chose to act as a facilitator. We are left to see for ourselves how well each candidate answered the questions and their choices on how much detail and nuance to include in their answer.
    Most importantly, the stated goal to have civility in discussing issues was achieved. Like others in this forum, I have learned more about both candidates from what they said, as well as from what they did not say.

    August 17, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  5. Crush Rush

    Iran has its zealots and so does the U.S.A. We are in deep trouble if another Republican gets elected.They want to come in your house and dictate all you do or say.

    August 17, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  6. Mir

    Maybe the reason it looks like McCain had the questions before hand is because he has actually thought through all these questions before. All the people who think McCain forgets stuff because of his age maybe should think about how age gives a person time to actually reflect on life. Oh yeah, and there's that little bit about 20+ years in the senate. Right, I forgot about that difference between Obama and McCain. Experience and actually knowing issues.

    August 17, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  7. CB

    Obama spoke from a personal faith base level and from his heart. John
    McWar did nothing but campaign and speak of war and every answer.

    Obama 08

    August 17, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  8. CB

    Obama spoke from a personal faith base level and from his heart. John McWar did nothing but campaign and speak of war and every answer.

    August 17, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  9. Obama Has Substance

    McCain is a mess, he did not respect that his was an interview and not a debate. He should be addressing the questions directly to Mr. Warren but instead he gave a stomp speech through out all of the interview. We still do not know what this man stands for and if these christtian said they know is because they are bias. If they are voting for Mcaain because he said he is against abortion, they are hypocrites. Abortion is killing of an innocent baby. But how is that different from killing innocent babies, children, people in a war that should not have been waged? War is Ugly. McCain loves war but
    is against Abortion. McCain is no Christain either. He knows nothing about God, the Bible, the Church. He is an hypocrite and the Christians are buying his lies and will vote for him instead of the man who is a real Christain. How narrow minded and selfish can we as Christain be. We must search our hearts and pray to God to reveal which one of these 2 men and the reall deal.

    August 17, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  10. rose

    Ums and ahs are fillers that people use to give themselves time to think before they answer; pretty much what we all need to do, what the president needed to do before getting us into the war that now has my husband away from his family. Obama clearly thought about the questions before he responded which was unlike the "shooting from the hip" which charaterizes Mccain's approach. What is that famous addage, "think before you talk, look before you leap". Um, ah, I think we get the picture, and I stress the word THINK, which we all need to do before leaping to put Mccain in the white house.

    August 17, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  11. Perla

    People who were impressed this evening by McCain's simple and forthright manner, and who were put off by Obama's careful and nuanced responses, want the world to be much simpler than it is. McCain's stories about his captivity may be interesting and moving, but they don't add up to Commander-in-Chief competency for him–Gen. Wesley Clark was right about that. And while McCain's simplistic approach to world affairs might make some people feel all cozy and nostalgic for a simpler time, this ain't it, and we need someone who can think as carefully, subtly, and strategically as Obama. John Wayne and blazing pistols we DON'T need.

    August 17, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. texas DEM

    I wonder if Bill Ayers was in the audience?

    August 17, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  13. Shannon

    Of course it was without the debate, Obama is afraid to debate, without his prompter to tell him what to say, he is lost.

    August 17, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  14. Chris

    For anyone who carefully listened to the two candidates, it was clear that John McCain is obsessed with fighting wars. His painful memories as a POW should have seriously affected him mentally and it is clear that his goals in life are structured based on those experiences. Ironically, he is determined to take revenge from Bin Laden and that seems to be his main reason for running for presidency. Is there any religion that condones taking revenge? Is it Jihad?

    August 17, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  15. todd Bronson

    I thought I stepped back into the 80's when I heard McCain answer questions. McCain answered in conservative slogans which were pandering to a fading generation. He spoke of the past and not of the future. I felt like an old grandfather was telling stories about his glory days and he wasn't obligated to answer the question. Old age has made him stubborn and grumpy.

    August 17, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  16. Christian

    McCain cheated on his wife. He will not get my vote.

    August 17, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  17. GPM

    Mcain knew the questions before the session began...make no mistake about it...his answers came too if someone who had a cheat sheet.

    August 17, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  18. South Florida Independent

    If not elected president, Senator McCain can open a psychic hotline. He appeared to know the answers prior to the several of the questions completion.

    August 17, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  19. Mk

    Having watched McCain answer almost every question with some sort of story about what has happened to him in the past I wonder if he is living his life in the past.
    He also appeared so narrow minded that he reminded of the unyielding Bush. I was not impressed with his "my way or the highway" answers at all.

    August 17, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  20. Carl from MI

    The questions were all lobbed-in softballs! They had them far in advance of the show.

    Obama talked from the heart... and McCain told 'Nam stories and regurgitated GOP talking points. I can't wait to see how they do with fast-pitched hardball questions... ones that McCain can't turn into POW stories or use GOP talking points.

    It's obvious Obama was the smarter person tonight. WAKE UP, AMERICA... VOTE SMART, NOT IGNORANT!!

    August 17, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  21. LJinLA

    if everyone in these threads did their own objective poll, toss out the messages that seem copied and pasted, and took stats on the rest, the overwhelming sentiment is Obama was genuine and McCain is stuck in war mode.

    I don't want a President who at 3am hears the phone ring and lobs a grenade.

    I would rather see the intelligent guy take the call.

    This economy needs a lot of thinking, and collaborative effort to bring change.

    Go Obama.

    August 17, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  22. Reality

    Let's try to remember, not every navy pilot that went to Vietnam got shot down, and not every pilot that got shot down signed a statement renouncing America!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  23. NIKI

    Mccain had the questions before

    August 17, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  24. Jesse

    I thought the forum was good. i would like to see the candidates alternate answering between topics. Obama answer 5 questions then McCain answer 5 and switch. I also think that McCain's answers seemed very rehersed. At one point he asked "I hope we get to talk more about the supreme court justices later on." I just thought how did he get to that topic out of nowhere. I did enjoy it and it really did show their differences. I wouldn't say one was better then the other because each had a different style. Obama gave a more interview style and answered the questions back to Rick Warren but then McCain spoke directly to the audience and seemed like he was at one of his town hall meetings. Both were effective in my view but it wasnt a town hall meeting rather then a interview type forum like it was addressed in the beginning. You really can't say who answered the questions better. McCain was addressing those conservatives who he has trouble appealing to. He seemed to saw what he thought they wanted to hear. I am from Arizona and have seen the many sides of McCain and this is one of many. Obama seemed to say how he felt on the issues. In my opinion Obama did better because i am Pro-choice yet i am not pro-abortion. I feel its the right of the individual and i am not to say someone should or shouldn't have one yet i dont feel abortion should be used as a contraceptive. I think Obama answered they question as to how i feel. Its not about stopping abortion or orphans, its about fixing the problem that caused mothers to give up there children in the first place. It just depends on what your view point is as to who did better and i think both did a great job addressing their beliefs.

    August 17, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  25. nelda

    How many times did McCain use the word "Reagan"? He can't seem to talk about HIS OWN views but constantly seems to be inserting someone else's comments or lines. This man is not a thinker and does not enjoy answering the questions. Again and again, McCain kept getting off the topic.

    August 17, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
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