September 4th, 2007
08:26 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain faces hard-hitting high schoolers

Watch Sen. John Mccain answer a high school student's question about his age in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) – Sen. John McCain’s visit to Concord High School proved to be more than your average guest speaker appearance Tuesday with the Republican presidential candidate giving and getting a dose of the campaign’s trademark “straight talk.”

During the question and answer session one student rose and asked a pointed question about McCain’s age: “If elected, you’d be older than Ronald Reagan, making you the oldest president. Do you ever worry that like you might die in office or get Alzheimer’s or some other disease that might affect your judgment?”

The Arizona senator chuckled slightly as the “oh my gods” filled the room. In a self-deprecating reference to his memory, McCain said his children have joked about their father “hiding his own Easter eggs,” but quickly added, that he was a “24-7” worker and would out campaign any of his rivals.

McCain then ended the exchange in his quintessential style: “Thanks for the question, you little jerk … you’re drafted.”

Full story: High schoolers pitch hardballs at McCain

- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson

Filed under: Iraq • John McCain • New Hampshire • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Mollie, Indiana

    Shame on the administrator for scolding that boy! He had every right to make the comment he made, especially considering the sarcastic tone set by the senator himself ("you little're drafted"). He should be praised for taking an interest and asking a question, and also for expressing his feelings in reaction to MeCain's answer.

    September 4, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. You(Dont need to know)

    I think that kid that said that is in the right. This man is asking for votes from the people and as a citizen he has the right and duty to point out flaws. And anybody that brings there own personall religion choices into the debate about the right to love someone is not someone that deserves to be in office. I say good for you kid, and the school official that scolded him should be fired. That sounds like him/her trying to stop someones right to free speech.

    September 4, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Chad

    McCain is not a leader, he only acts like he really cares of public opinion. He is a very watered down version of Dick Cheney. Same mentality

    September 4, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  4. John Gardippe, Calgary, Canada

    Lets try to be objective here. I actually disagree with John McCain on many of his positions, but I don't see that he did anything wrong, here. Clearly, the kid has a right to his opinions but he became rude, resorting to insults when he didn't get the answer that he was looking for. His scolding should be based upon his poor manners rather than his point of view.
    Moreover, Mr. McCain's joke about the drafting the other kid was indeed funny; the day jokes are frowned upon because they don't align with someone's political stripes, is the day I move to Canada.

    September 4, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. Kristy, Cary, NC

    These kids are great. Why is it that *children* are more awake when it comes to politics than the adults?? No-one ever asks these *very important* questions AND McCain didn't even know what LGBT is! Go, kids, go!!

    September 4, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  6. Bonnie Akridge Haddon Heights, NJ

    OMG John you can pack it in now for sure. How dare you talk to future voters of America this way ? Have you forgotten that New Hampshire is the first primary ? The "little jerk" had a most legitimate question and your reply was very schoolyard. You could not have done any better than that and you're running for President ?

    Also, could anyone else give a more sitting on the fence point of view concerning the LGBT issue ? And since when is the marriage between a man and a woman "unique" ? LMBO !!! We are the rule, not the exception.

    September 4, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  7. James, Phoenix AZ

    Michelle in Minneapolis,
    You wrote, "That "little darling" is what America needs more people put out there fighting for the same rights as you "little straight people".
    Gay people have the SAME right to marriage as straight people currently. Being a straight male can I marry another man? No?
    So gay or straight people can't marry the same sex.
    Can a gay man marry a woman? Yes??
    Hmmm… sounds like we all have the SAME rights to me.

    September 4, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  8. Brian, Raleigh, NC

    Way to go Mr McCain ! I'd respond with the same comment...I've got a 16 year old son !!
    ...sick twisted freaks...

    September 4, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  9. Chuck Temple, GA

    GREAT GOD! I love this kid!! What a zinger. He said what most Americans are thinking. I cant believe that it actually got reported. Fredom of speech at its finest. Politicians are not above the people that they represent. In todays world, a politician (regardless of affiliation) in nothing more than a self serving figure head pushing their own agendas and hiding behind political ideas and sound bites that make them appear intelligent.

    William Sleaster I applaude your effort!!!

    September 4, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  10. Andrew Rugzie, Bentonville, Arkansas

    I think McCain was right in what he said. He said it in a joking manner and the way the world is, someone has to make a fuss about something that is usless. I feel we as a country can never be happy, there is always to sides to the story, if one is liberal, one is conservitive, if someone supports the war, someone will be against it. It was joke between him and the student asking the question, no one elses problem.

    September 4, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. jerry, Denver,CO

    McCain rocks....hahaha you're drafted. That's what those little rich kids need, a taste of some disipline.

    September 4, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. Robin, Fresno, CA

    Kudos to the young man. Honesty is a refreshing quality in politics. He had questions and was displeased with the answer and stated so. Those that admonished him need to be reacquainted with the First Amendment. There was no profanity, nor personal slur, rather it was merely a statement of opinion and even minors are still entitled to that.

    September 4, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. James - Casa Grande, Arizona

    McCain is our Senator and has been a wonderful public servant.

    BUT, I believe it is time for him to retire. His policy is sloppy, his stamina is weakening, he's over exposed in the press and he's not showing himself in a very good light.

    One should always leave people wanting more.

    September 4, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. Brandon Brackett, Pullman Wa

    No one seems to realize that it’s good that young people feel empowered to be critical and stare down major political leaders like McCain but there are appropriate and inappropriate ways of going about it. The manor in which the student expressed his distaste for McCain did nothing but make his stance look young and immature.

    Are we really going to look down at McCain because he can tell a few jokes? Honestly I want a candidate who not only respects the opposite opinion than him but he’ll joke about it and when it comes down to it, work with those he doesn’t agree with. He’s been compromising and working with Democrats and Republicans for years. He’s gotten more done than Hillary and Obama have ever dreamed of in their first terms and it’s in large part due to his sense of humor and willingness to listen.

    And what’s this about McCain being a war hawk? He’s the only candidate who wants to close down Gitmo, ensure proper rights and manage Iraq in a proper and non-delusions fashion. It sucks that we're in IRAQ, we should never have gone there. Very few argue that but if we pull out now...we will have even more blood on our hands because we took away that countries stability and replaced it with violence and death for Iraq and the Middle East as a whole. McCain sees this and people who are unwilling to face reality and simply want to pull out...don't.

    September 4, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  15. Anne E., SLC

    Bravo to the students for speaking their minds, and for showing interest in and passion over the political process. I would expect them to challengs ALL the candidates in the same way. Seems to me they were the straight talkers. This kind of talk comes with the territory. If McCain can't handle it, if the best he can do is a reply which includes words like "jerks," he shouldn't be running in the first place.

    September 4, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  16. Dan

    Funny how most people here do not get the "you little jerk" comment. It was meant to be FUNNY. Actually, they do get it, but they hate McCain so much, they use it. McCain will not get my vote, but I have the common sense to see it was a JOKE.

    And out of ALL the problems we have in this country, "LGBT" is the most important?

    September 4, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  17. Becca, St. Louis MO

    To Ryan in Milwauke:
    The fact that he sees war and drafting as an amusing joke doesn't say that he can handle how others percieve him. It says he can't think on his feet, and needs a script writer to come up with his one-liners for him. We don't need another president like that.
    To James in Phoenix:
    I don't know what village raised him, but I think I'd like to move there. The one that raised YOU on the other hand... I wonder... Are your parents proud of YOU?
    To William Sleaster:
    I admire your guts for going up and saying what you did. It takes a strong, brave person to do that. And you're right. John McCain is no leader. He is no more than the quitessential, adult, white male. I sometimes think that us highschool kids have more sense than all those pompous and self-important "adults" combined.

    September 4, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. Sarah, Orange Park, Fl.

    I thought McCain responded in-kind to the banter he exchanged with the student. I'm all for honest, tough questions, but rudeness and lack of respect tarnishes the validity of the question. I like McCain. I hope he's able to regain his campaign strength.

    September 4, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  19. Laura, Akron, Ohio

    I like McCain. But then I have a sense of humor. Those of you who have none are just, well, kind of pathetic. My experience suggests that you will not gain a sense of humor or learn it, either. You're like doomed, man. Have a nice serious life. And after you're dead, we'll all seriously not miss you.

    September 4, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. Kirk, Ashburn VA

    I think the young man is a little confused between hard questions and bad behavior. I suspect his parents are confused too if they think this is appropriate behavior.

    September 4, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  21. Adam, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    My disappointment and disgust at the commentary on here by supposedly "informed" CNN readers is indescribable. As a Democrat, I disagree heartily with many of McCain's positions, but for any of you to be so unflinchingly partisan as to support a highschool CHILD telling a honorable war veteran and Senator that he "came to see a leader and didn't find one" is just inexcusable. What about values such as respect for authority or elders? This kid hasn't even paid his own bills yet and you think he has the right to tell a man of McCain's background what "leadership" looks like? There is a right and wrong way to present your views and opinions, and this must be constantly reminded if a free society is to succeed. Freedom of speech should not eliminate individual responsibility for statements-it should INCREASE it. It sickens me to see my fellow Americans declaring otherwise.

    September 4, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  22. Jeff, St. Louis MO

    William Sleaster for Class President!! If only more of these kids would put down their X-Box and I-Pods and get involved with what is going on in this so called equal and free country.

    September 4, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  23. Roxane MN

    This guy will never get elected president. He doesn't know how to treat people respectfully. Sure, the kid wasn't nice to him either, but tomorrow nobody will remember the kid's name, but people will remember that he called some teenager a jerk.

    September 4, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. Dave, Jacksonville FL

    I have no problem with these kids given the opportunity to question candidates. I think it's a great way to teach these kids about our system and get them involved in future voting. Makes them feel like they can truly make an impact.

    Given that though, it's sad to see that some high school students have the maturity level of middle school kids. McCain is a former POW, I'd like to see that kid endure that treatment for 10 minutes, let alone the years that McCain did.

    You don't have to agree with people, or even like them, but respect for elders and leaders should be a given. I hope he felt like a real tough guy for running his lip like that, because I'm disgusted with the way much of our youth has turned to this sort of behavior.

    September 4, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  25. Jon Dalton Hiles, Bridgeville, PA

    “I came here looking to see a good leader, I don’t,” Sleaster said before leaving the microphone to some boos and gasps from the audience and an eventual scolding by a school administrator.

    Nice comment kid...really full of respect for a man who fought for his country in Vietnam so you can have the RIGHT to insult him as you just did. Although not the one who McCain called a "little jerk", that comment would be lame to what the "Slease" should have had coming.

    This kid was born at the wrong time...would have been nice to see his mouthy little butt under McCain's command in Vietnam and then, maybe then, he would have seen what a leader is.

    After reading this entire blog, I am pumped up to vote for McCain now more than ever. Thanks all of you omniscient high schoolers in New Hampshire for pointing this out.

    And as for the rest of you distorted left-wingers on this blog talking about how smart these high schoolers are.....please, pleeeese don't support the insolence here.....this country has needed the draft reinstalled for some time now...not for fighting a "war" in Iraq but for teaching the present and future male population of the US what discipline and respect truly is....that's a gift one can truly receive from being in the military.

    September 4, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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