August 17th, 2008
07:18 PM ET
4 years ago

Warren: McCain did not violate 'cone of silence'

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Warren and McCain camp insist the presumptive Republican nominee had no edge over Obama by going second.
Warren and McCain camp insist the presumptive Republican nominee had no edge over Obama by going second.

(CNN) – Sometimes you just have to take it on faith.

Pastor Rick Warren said John McCain didn’t hear any of the questions in advance at Saturday night’s Civil Forum, even if the candidate was a little late arriving to the pre-arranged quiet room or “cone of silence.”

At the beginning of the forum at California megachurch, Warren told the crowd and TV audience, “I'm going to ask identical questions to each of these candidates, so you can compare apples to apples. Now, Senator Obama is going to go first. We flipped a coin, and we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence.”

But at 8 p.m. ET, as Warren said that, McCain was actually not in the building. He was just leaving his hotel, with his motorcade arriving at the church nearly a half hour into the event. A. Larry Ross, a spokesman for Warren, says McCain then went directly into the holding room they dubbed the “cone of silence” (in reality, a room with no TV or audio).

Some questioned whether that late arrival might have allowed McCain to hear some of the questions being first posed to Obama.

Warren told CNN Sunday evening, “we flat out asked him” if he heard any of the questions. The McCain campaign “confirmed that McCain did not hear or see any of the broadcast” in the motorcade or after he arrived, Ross said.

When asked if McCain overheard anything, Charlie Black, a McCain adviser who was with him at the time, told CNN: "We were in motorcade until 5:30 p.m. ET; then a holding room in another building with no TV."

Warren said, “I trust the integrity of both” candidates, and said he “knew they would abide by the rules.” He joked McCain may not have been in the cone of silence, but “he was in the cone of a Secret Service motorcade”.

Ross says the whole event only came about because of the relationship Warren has with both men. He said they all agreed to assure a “level field, “McCain would not hear the questions or Senator Obama’s answers.” The pastor spoke to each candidate this week, giving the general themes. Warren decided to tell them each the first two questions in advance, about the three wisest people you know, and the biggest moral failings.

For their part, an Obama spokesperson told CNN’s Mike Roselli they are not pursuing whether McCain heard any of the other questions. They say they assuming McCain had the same information they did.


Filed under: Extra • John McCain
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. John in WV

    I listened to it on xm-radio. No person is going to tell me that McCain had no way of listening to it prior to his appearance. McCain claims he wants more debates than proposed but can't even show up for the first one on time.

    August 17, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Sabreen60

    Yeah, right !!!

    August 17, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Fitz

    I knew very early in the McCain portion that he had prior knowledge, couldn't put my finger on it but I know he did. Pastor Rick should be ashamed of himself. He lied to everyone and this was just an opportunity for John McCain to cozy up to the evangelicals while getting national press coverage. There was nothing genuine about the entire program. Faith based huh? Rick Warren preaches it but in the end he misled everyone. Great lesson on faith, thanks Rick.

    And you are a fool if you think McCain didn't listen in on the way. They covered for him

    August 17, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. Eric

    So Warren actually trusts the integrity of a man who had an affair when his wife was disabled. Why was the event even started without both of them being present. This will detract from a very good 'performance' by McCain. I guess the media won't make a big deal out of it though. Besides.....Republicans never lie.

    August 17, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. Obama - The Game Changer

    This is the only way he can win -- by cheating! Sounds like George W Bush all over again!

    Go Obama!

    August 17, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Lou R

    Rick Warren is the one who broke the rules. The pre event promotions indicated the questions would not include the social wedge issues such as abortion and gay marriages. Both topics were asked. The forum was to discuss issues where unity was possible. Rick Warren also favored John McCain by allowing him to pander the TV audience with his bombastic campaign stump language. Barack Obama respected Rick Warren's instruction to avoid stump speech comments. I feel Rick Warren owes Barack Obama an apology for the dual standard applied to Parts I and II of Saturday evening's forum.

    August 17, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. Jason X

    What a liar this Pastor Warren is. And spreading his lies in a church no less. Here's the title of his next book: The Purpose Driven Lie.

    August 17, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  8. Mary

    Heard or not heard the questions. I think Senator Obama did very well.
    he was honest in awseriing questions.If you are going to talk about
    morals in realation to abotions, please talk about killing babies durning this war and also about taking MARRIAGE VOWS serious.

    I am are not his fellow americans(WARMONGER)

    August 17, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  9. Michael Tessman

    I bet McCain DID hear the questions before hand. I wondered about that myself when I watched it. McCain was even answering without having heard the questions. It was strange and he's never been that sharp.

    He repeatedly lies....just yesterday he said he "didn't hear" a question about the swift boat book against Obama, even though he answered it.

    I like Rick Warren, but he needs to understand who McCain has now surrounded himself with–nasty Karl Rove cronies. They['ll do ANYTHING TO WIN! GET REAL!

    August 17, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. JinNC

    So...did 'Pastor" Rick lie to us or did John McCain lie to him? Somebody lied to somebody. McCain has not exactly proven himself to be trustworthy during this campaign. There were several bloggers during McCain's session with Warren who suspected that McCain knew the questions...I guess they were right.

    August 17, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. jonny

    it was so obvious Rick Warren telling Obama over and over no stump speech but all we heard from McCain was his daily dose of war war and more war foreign policy stump speech

    August 17, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  12. Elaine

    Ya, right!! Sure explains why McCain seemed so comfortable. Pastor Rick Warren should be ashamed of himself saying that he was already there. Apples to Apples, give me a break.

    August 17, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. LA

    Leave it to CNN to try to spin this. Did McCain listen, who knows, but do you expect us to honestly believe his people didn't? Point is, he was supposed to be in a "Cone of Silence" from the beginning of the entire program. Fact is...HE WAS NOT! McCain was very rehearsed in his answers.

    I sure hope the American people can still add, 1 (McCain was not in the "Cone of Silence" from beginning to end) + 1(McCain seemed to rehearsed and to concise in his answers, something he is not EVER BEEN KNOW FOR) = 2 (McCain and his camp had the opportunity to hear 30 minutes or more of this interview!!!!)

    August 17, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. Independent Voter

    I really wonder if McCain had access to at least 40 minutes worth of Obama's portion. I think we all know that they have satellite radios and cell phone a hand and ear away. After hearing him last night I thought he did better than I expected but I also thought it was somewhat rehearsed. Now I truly believe he had some insight on the questions. I'm a Christian and I truly believe Obama has a sincere heart to want to change what's happening in the U.S. I repsect Senator McCain's service but I think its time to go on a different path then what we're currently on.

    August 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  15. PUertorrican in the States

    its so evident that Warren lied about McCain being in a room when he was not; no wonder you could tell the difference between McCain responses to the first few questions and his answers toward the end. I saw it, I loved it and I'm still voting for Obama!

    August 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. Joseph Davis, TX

    Riiiight. I'm supposed to believe a POLITICIAN who is competing hard to be the next President of the most powerful country in the world that he resisted the urge to get a heads up on what questions to expect.

    That's like asking a someone not to look at the answers to the SAT even though they're sitting face up on the table with no teacher in the room.

    August 17, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. Stephen

    Wait a minute... I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I sure do remember McCain's expressions of "surprise" while hearing the first two questions. He "acted" very surprised at the question and even said, "boy, I hope the questions get easier" and then after receiving the second question, made the comment, "boy, they don't get any easier, do they?"

    Knowing that he did know the first two questions in advance really makes me suspicious about the whole thing. Why would he act surprised if he didn't knew the first two questions? Am I suppose to believe that he was "acting" surprised on those first two questions? smells fishy to me... geez.

    August 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  18. John Wilson

    I knew that was suspicious when John Mccain answered questions before they were completely asked.
    This is a sad day in the faith forum with Rick Warren

    August 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  19. e.

    I do not understand why being in a motorcade would preclude you from being attentive to or informed of what is happening somewhere else or in a place of interest.

    August 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. John McCain

    Even I don't believe this is true.

    August 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. Raymond Duke

    Of course not. Who in their right mind would want to use that idiots answer. In the first place the way he waffles and gives you two seperate answers on the same question you would not know which one to use.Flip flop flip flop.Now Hillary that would have been some good information to know with her intelligience. As you have probably noticed Obama has went to h@ll in a handbasket since she is out and the press cannot force her to give the answer first so that he can mimick her answer and add a one liner sentenceand then the press could always say(THEIR PLANS ARE JUST ALIKE). Got to love a press trying to pick your canidate for you. I guess they suffer from (WHITE GUILT) go figure.

    August 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. R M Gopal

    "The pastor spoke to each candidate this week, giving the general themes. Warren decided to tell them each the first two questions in advance, about the three wisest people you know, and the biggest moral failings."

    Guess which candidate this "equal treatment" helps. At least one thing is clear: we now know how the name of John Lewis spontaneously came out of McCain's mouth as one of his guiding lights.

    August 17, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Scott Alexander

    The whole event was a pillow fight, but McCain is the representative of the "Christians only" party and he should've been grilled when he failed to answer most of Warren's questions. All we did find out is that even though the United States was founded by liberals, John McCain would rather have it where liberals (open-minded people) didn't exist. What a great humanitarian he is....so morally sound.

    August 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  24. Barbara

    I will never vote for McCain. He's a nasty little liar. I don't trust him two feet. He's a very devious despicable person.

    August 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
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