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. Otogenarian

    It was clear that McCain was rehearsed and asked questions before they were asked. I feel that this Forum was a joke and another Republican dirty tricks. It not only insulted the American people's intelligence, but shows to what extent the Republicans will go in order to win. Again, McCain was fed the answers !

    August 17, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  2. Electress

    I think McCain did so much better than Obama in his response to questions...he was easy to understand, to the point, and he turned his attention to our current crisis in Georgia, & Iraq, and his answer to evil:
    DEFEAT.....DEFEAT. He brought it home: Radical Islamic Extremism.

    He was honest about his life, his career, and where he stands on the issues. I liked that he brought up Katrina (Obama did not), and off shore drilling.........big applause for him talking more about women too.

    Our BEST Days are Ahead of Us

    August 17, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  3. JOHN

    I don't know why CNN would think this was a great debate without the debate this was purely conservative issues and territory. Incase CNN didn't notice were not all republicans and no I didn't think it was great because it didn't answer any questions I'm concerned about.

    August 17, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  4. Otogenarian

    If all you brilliant strategist couldn't see that this forum was rehearsed to benefit McCain, then I have lost confidence in your analytical abilities.

    August 17, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  5. Ed

    The forum displayed the stark contrast in candidates! From Sen. McCain we got straight answers with reflections from experience. With Sen. Obama we got philosophical political pandering. I was truly surprised with Sen.Obama's shallowness, in response to direct questioning and noted an uncomfortable presence in his delivery.

    August 17, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  6. CNN Could be more balanced

    If you are going to keep Roland Martin then you should hire Rush Limbaugh. Roland is way too bias and needs to go. Also, try using some white folks to support Obama...I know he has some. CNN is not helping us keep race out of this election.

    August 17, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  7. Rick K

    How do you get points for having a two word answer on your philosophy as to how to handle "evil" in the world?

    Don't you people realize that when John McCain says he's going to "defeat it [evil]" that that is the depth of thought he REALLY DOES APPLY to spending this countries money and soldiers lives, and allies good will?

    He's demonstrated this over and over and he proved it again this week shooting off his mouth on topics that inched us closer to World War III.

    How in blazes does he get points for brevity on that?

    August 17, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  8. mike

    WHAT DO YOU EXPECT JOHN MCCAIN TO DO ON HIS STUMP SPEACHES?? He talks about the issues! Warren's questions were issues. UNLIKE OBAMA, HIS ANSWERS ARE THE SAME NO MATTER WHAT AUDIENCE HE IS IN FROM. Boy, the Obama kool-aid is strong tonight!

    August 17, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  9. Bill Tampa

    I feel sorry for John McCain. He reminds me of my grandfather who always reminesed about the past. The great old days. His story telling disarmed the crowd and allowed him to dodge the questions that were directed to him. Yes, it's sad what he went through as a POW. We feel sad for all of our brave men and women who have been POWS. It's also sad that he continues to dwell on this and our sympathies about being a POW. We do need a President who looks into the future and does not speak of war in every sentence.

    August 17, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  10. bj johnson

    I fail to understand the Cnn pundits after the debate...claiming that obama was wordy and not succinct while mccain was decisive with quick answers....i must have witnessed a different debate...either that or my job is not at stake.

    We just had a fake cowboy president with one word decisive slogan answers...and we saw where that got us...a trillion dollar war, a faltering economy, and poor moral here and abroad...

    This world is simple only to children and simpletons...these are tough problems and will take complex solutions. A nuanced multi- faceted answer by Obama is far closer to a solution then the folksy, good ole boy, dumbed down responses of Mccain.

    August 17, 2008 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  11. lila

    Obama answered like a true Christian. McCain told them what they wanted to hear and then told POW stories we have all heard 100 times already. None of them gave us insights into McCain's personal philosophy about faith. He told jokes and got all blood thirsty. I thought McCain's and Obama's answer on Evil was the most telling of the night. McCain gave a 100% Bush answer. Blind to the sneaky evil and corruption that can worm its way into righteous vengeance.
    You could tell Rev. Warren took note of that too.

    Also McCain spoke of the 'Tear down this Wall' speech. Well that speech was one of hope. It spoke of hope through out it. It spoke of being open and working for peace. It did not call Russia names. It reached out to them in a way Mccain never would.
    McCain is no Ronald Reagan.

    August 17, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  12. undecided until tonite

    I watched both candidates with an open mind. Obama answered the questions, did not try and sell himself like an old shoe. I was very disappointed that McCain, like his GOP Predecessors before him, tried to scare the American people with 9/11 references AlQueda etc. but the sad thing is that many people will still fall for this rhetoric, so I guess let the brainwashing continue.... but not to this one time republican. never again..... I made my mind up tonight.

    August 17, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  13. Paula in WI

    McCain only spoke war.He sucked.Obviously memorized.Anybody could see that.I agree now with the guy on CNN that called him a warmonger and it was proven tonight.

    August 17, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  14. LinnieFB

    McCain is more or the same.....the SAME policies that have us barely making ends meets.....the SAME policies that rushed into an unnecessary war.....the SAME policies that have failed us during his over 25+ years in government.

    We don't need sound bites...we need solutions.

    August 17, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  15. Concerned Voter

    John McCain was so scripted.
    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...Did he already know the questions?

    August 17, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  16. ML - California

    Good debate and this is the way to do it! Question candidates separately and get answers! Both did a good job and too bad we cannot have more of these before the election.

    August 17, 2008 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  17. Kathy Rovel

    I thought this was supposed to give us a look into the way a candidate thinks. It started off great. Obama answered every question thoughtfully, personally and gave you a good idea how he thinks. Rick Warrens controlled the conversation and told him not to answer with his stump speech, and cut him short a few times. Anxious to get to the next question.

    Then McCain came on stage and he didn`t answer half the questions or answered with a short answer and went off on a tangent and told stories. His answers sounded rehersed and definitely like his stump speech. He even told the same tired old jokes. Pastor Warrens just let him say and do whatever he wanted and never even called him on not answering something or giving his stump speech. So much for fair and unbiased. He also Asked McCain 2 questions on Security that he didi not ask Obama. McCain was pandering to the audience and it was definitely a conservative audience.

    The difference in style and thinking were striking. Obama has a more global, intelligent way of thinking and McCain was all about war and every thought referenced this .

    I felt I learned more about Obama and nothing new about Mcain.

    August 17, 2008 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  18. Mary, TN

    And he quickly change the subject. The reason it failed is because he cheated on his wife with Cindy.

    His every word was about "WAR"—
    I promise you McCain will keep us in War(s)

    August 17, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. Michelle

    McCain came across as a leader with depth and experience.
    McCain is the REAL DEAL.

    By the way, Obama did NOT vote against the Iraq war and he is fibbing about his "most gut-wrenching decision." It was not a decision Obama had to make. He had no vote and made no decision.

    In fact, Obama, when asked how he would have voted, said he DID NOT KNOW. This is proven in news clips.

    Obama: poseur

    August 17, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Kristina, Seattle

    The forum was great... the theme was dead wrong. Tying religion to politics like this is a recipe for disaster (as our founding fathers were well-aware) and I can't believe more people aren't grasping that.

    August 17, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. Paula Diane

    John McCain is still in Viet Nam.. ALL he refers to and talks about is war.It is so boring it is as though his whole fiber is made up from agreession."No one has the right to take thousands of American lives" in reference to Osama Bin Laden..true but what about all the thousands upon thousands if innocent Iraqi's lives taken on this foolish Iraq war??? What about the 4, 148 American troops lost that Okay John??
    His time has come and gone.. and this "my friends stuff" made me turn off the program.."my friends Lord give me strength." I didn't see or feel one thing that would make me believe he is a man of strong faith.
    Obama was fabulous engaging and honest.

    August 17, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  22. Jeffrey Urieto

    That is why I hate politics and the media. Let me start off by saying I have been a HRC supporter and I am independent. Now to this forum, everyone is saying oh McCain was on his game, Obama should have been more straight forward. That is so much crock. Even CNN analysts said that and it disappointed me. Do you guys and gals know how easy it is to say No to abortion and difficult to say Yes to abortion. Come on, open your eyes, what else does someone have to expantiate on if he says he does not agree with abortion. On the other hand, I am sorry, too many layers to saying u are pro choice, those on this side of the line know that it takes thought, like when is it right and when it is not. Geez, we are not sheep. It is easier to say No, to every moral question and not have to explain than to have a thoughtful yes and why. I do not care for McCain or Obama and can we vote already.

    August 17, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Wanda in Montana

    The analysis afterward was even more sickening (if you can believe it) than the actual forum. They all agreed that McCain is going to be a tougher opponent than anyone thought and that Obama was too "nuanced."

    Translation: McCain was simplistic. He is even better at bamboozling the boobs than anyone anticipated. Obama was intelligent. His answers were thoughtful and in-depth. Stupid people won't understand him. They'll vote for McBush. Again. They are incapable of learning from past mistakes as they proved in 2004.

    The format would be good if the questions weren't insipid. Does evil exist? When do human rights begin? How about real questions about real concerns facing America that can't be answered in a formulaic soundbite? (Are the people we bomb human and therefore deserving of life? Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran.)

    Maybe next time the Brights or the ACLU could hold a forum for the people in the USA with a brain.

    “When fascism comes to America, it’ll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross” — Sinclair Lewis

    August 17, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. mary

    When McCain uses the term "my friends" it makes me cringe. It sounds so tacky.

    August 17, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. Sam

    You know, I had the feeling that McCain knew the questions and had the answers all ready. I also believe that he was allowed to stump right through the hour, whereas I remember the Pastor asking Obama not to.

    August 17, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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