September 30th, 2012
10:54 AM ET
2 years ago

McCain: Debate will go down in history

(CNN) - Republican Sen. John McCain - who has debated both President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney - weighed in Sunday on the upcoming showdown between the two candidates, saying both candidates will be "excellent in their own way" during this year's first presidential debate on Wednesday.

"I think both candidates are well prepared, and understandably, you'll see their surrogates lowering expectations," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union." "That's part of the whole routine."

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In fact, the two campaigns have been boosting the other team in recent days. Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, described Obama as a "very gifted speaker."

"The man's been on the national stage for many years, he's an experienced debater, he's done these kinds of debates before," Ryan said in an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News. "This is Mitt's first time on this kind of a stage."

Meanwhile, Obama's team points to the more than 20 debates in which Romney took part during the Republican presidential primary this cycle.

"He's prepared more than any candidate I think maybe in history, certainly in recent memory," Obama political adviser David Plouffe said Sunday on ABC's "This Week," adding he believes Romney will "probably have a good night on Wednesday night."

As the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, McCain battled Romney during the GOP primaries, then competed against Obama during the general election debates. The Arizona senator said Sunday that Romney may have a leg up on Obama due to his experience in the primary debates, but argued other factors are at play.

"I think you could argue that Mitt has had a lot more recent experience, obviously, but also, Candy, part of it depends on who is moderating," McCain told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, who will moderate the October 16 debate. "The tenor of the questions are dictated by that."

McCain added he expects Wednesday's debate to be one for the books.

"I think you're going to see more viewers at this first debate than you have in history," he said.

McCain, however, said he doesn't anticipate any major "breakthrough" moments from the debates, saying those have become far and few between in the last couple of decades.

"I can't remember the last time there was one of these comments that grabbed everybody's attention because, frankly, the candidates are too well prepared. They're well scripted," McCain said.

Obama heads to Nevada on Sunday, where he'll hold a rally before digging in for a few days of preparation ahead of Wednesday's debate in Denver. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who's playing the role of Romney in the president's debate practice, will join Obama this week in Nevada.

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign told CNN that Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who's playing the role of Obama in Romney's debate practice, will travel with the former Massachusetts governor on Monday to Colorado. Romney will hold a rally in Colorado that night before final debate preparations.

McCain on Sunday also weighed in on why Romney is trailing the president in polls measuring support in certain swing states, saying voters are starting to feel more confident about their economic prospects.

"I think he is behind because Americans probably feel better than they did before about jobs and the economy, even though it's terrible," he said. "I think Americans see a glimmer of hope."

A CNN/ORC International poll just after the Democratic National Convention earlier this month asked likely voters which candidate is more likely to win the debates. The poll results give Obama a 25-point (59%-34%) advantage over Romney.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Grow up already...

    Oh get off it John... Debates are now only for show. People know what the candidates are about by now....

    September 30, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. mdoweht

    The Republicans are in the curious position of having to convince the country that it is in terrible shape, but it is not their fault. In fact, even though all the economic indicators are improving, Mitt has to argue that he could somehow do better, even though he would adopt the same terrible policies that W. did, which got us into this mess to begin with.

    But the Republicans can suspend belief on Taxes, Terrorism, Global Warming, Evolution, and a lot of other issues. So they are practiced in fairy tales, and some of them will believe it, but not enough to get Mitt elected.

    September 30, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Should have expected McCain would run to the media to get his two cents in. Hasn't been a Sunday yet that McCain isn't tripping all over himself in his quest to become Secretary of Defense and thus start WWIII. I'm going to have to pass on the CNN debate. I've seen how Crowley handles both sides and I'm not interested in Crowley forwarding GOP talking points. I can get that every Sunday.

    September 30, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. GI Joe

    mcCain MUST be retired after this term. he has finally lost his mind.

    September 30, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    "I think Americans see a glimmer of hope." , Thanks Sen. Mc Cain for speaking the truth
    We are in right direction even after GOP killed president jobs bill

    September 30, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. myviewis

    I don't think anyone can beat Obama in a debate, Obama is the best debator this country has ever seen/heard. Obama is like the ultimate marketing machine, he is so quick in coming up with an argument that pleases the audience and leaves the opponent not knowing what hit him. Remember how he was able to debate Hillary???? And Hillary is one of the best debators.

    I think the only person that can go up against President Obama in a debate is President Bill Clinton ( with the difference that President Clinton does deliver in real life).

    The problem is that everything Obama can debate his way out of still doesn't change the fact that in the day to day duties of running our country Obama can't handle the job.

    So yes Obama is a fantastic debator but he cannot deliver in the real world outside of the debate. Obama is still the best used-car salesman that can convince you that you are buying a good car but in reality you are buying a lemon.

    September 30, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Jake Pica

    Winning or losing against Obama in a debate is somewhat irrelevant...

    We all know Obama got elected because he can talk...But the last 4 years shows he cannot deliver on his talk.
    Hence, even if Obama win the debate...it simply would tell us what we already know. He can talk.

    We want someone who can walk the talk, and Obama is not the man.

    September 30, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. once upon a horse

    I wonder if Sen McCain told Mitt Romney that using the "THAT ONE" comment would not be very wise this time around.

    September 30, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Gimmeabreak!

    Nobody cares about Obama's debating skills any longer. That ship has sailed, the gig is up, the empty chair is all that's left.

    September 30, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ Myviews
    “Obama is used car sales person” some what I agreed, he proof to the buyers other used car sales person (Mitt Romney) selling a lemon that is smart

    September 30, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Milton K. Wiah

    The country is not losing jobs, the jobs are coming back so why should they change. Ok Mitt will argue
    that it is not enough, when his republicans in house kill every job bill, how will he make it better.
    He does not have one idea how except his false promise of creating 12 million jobs.

    September 30, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Thomas

    Just like the McCain 2008 debates , they will go down in history.

    John , needs to retire , he did his time.

    September 30, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. Grannie11

    We see why McCain lose in 2008, but Romney is not MCCain. Romney will win in 2012 because he is a true believe in our republic, not an old tired RINO..

    Romney-Ryan for America 2012

    September 30, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    Listen to 47% comment-–you know real man. Obama12.

    September 30, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. Sven

    John continues to amaze. Why didn't he expose Obama's past during the 2008 campaign. Obama's Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayer's and Reverend Wright and other leftist influences. Obama is anti white at his core and will weaken the USA visa a vie redistribution and transfer. Obama counts on your ignorance. Go see 2016!

    September 30, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. One4theHistoryBks

    Agreed. This debate will go down in history: Never has someone aspiring for the ascendancy to presidency gotten so far without saying anything!

    September 30, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. mjschriner

    Who cares what he says!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 30, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. David

    Who cares what John McCain thinks? Remember who he picked for a running mate?

    September 30, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. Jeff

    Why do all the Romney supporters keep using the Fox News talking point that Pre Obama is a "do nothing" president? Thats simply not true. He's done as much as Congress has allowed. Now, if you want to make the argument that things he's done were inadequate...thats fair. Or you didn't agree with policies...thats also fair. But saying he's an empty suit is just stupid. I think one of the reasons Romney is losing is because people keep using the same tired lines.

    September 30, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. Willard Romney

    Mitt has nothing to say, he can go on about how Socialist his own O'Romneycare health plan is and tell other lies.

    September 30, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Klaas Jan

    McCain didn't debate Obama, he got ripped a new b-hole by Barry O in a debate setting. Learn the difference.

    September 30, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. HomeSweetHome

    All this from the man that selected Palin as his VP.

    Need I say more?!

    Obama/Biden Let's move forward

    September 30, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. CitznUnited

    I believe we may see some interesting stuff from one of these debates. Mr. Romeny has flipped and flopped, told so many different versions of the position he would take on all of the important issues – well let's just say he has lied too many times. The problem with that is for anyone who lies knows, after a while you can't keep all the lies straight. Mr Romeny is bound to forget at some point what his puppetmasters want him to say, and he will say what he really believes – heaven forbid that! That will get him in trouble with the base. If he only does what the puppetmasters tell him to do then he has trouble with everyone else. The man has no sense of core principles to stand on and that will be made clear by these debates.

    September 30, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. John McCain, king of the welfare queens.

    John McCain has been on the government dole his entire adult life. Son, and Grandson of Navy 4 star admirals, he slid through Annapolis on taxpayer money. 23 years living on government checks in the Navy, followed by an O-6 Navy retirement with government funded healthcare. Then he was elected to Congress as a Representative then a Senator. So today, McCain makes $178K as a US Senator, $51K as a retired O-6, $700 month social security, with government funded health care.

    September 30, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. really

    National intelligence has been equal to WMD in Iraq or the excuse by the Bush era that cost us in a lot more. We had to believe that to loose so many lives and money over.

    September 30, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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