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. Mako, Boston MA

    I think it's ridiculous that someone could call McCain a war addict. It must have been those pleasant years in a P.O.W. camp in Vietnam that must have done it, right? I mean, who wouldn't love being held for years under the control of foreign enemies whose language you can't understand? I know I would have loved that!

    Seriously people, learn a little respect.

    September 4, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. Don, Sarasota, Florida

    Is Republican presidential candidate John McCain demonstrating his putative diplomatic skills today? Perhaps we can best describe Mr. McCain by paraphrasing Thomas Hobbes and say that here is a man "nasty, brutish and short" who, apparently, learned his manners at the Hanoi Hilton, not in the United States of America. Some men are made saints by their adversity; some men simply become swine through exposure to savagery.

    September 4, 2007 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. Mark Varnum, North Smithfield, RI

    Mere children insulting a war hero. They should be embarrassed.

    September 4, 2007 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Mike, N.Y.C.

    Hey James in Phoenix, too bad if you don't like people asking tough questions to our so called "leaders". More should be asked, as often as possible.Orthodoxy is unconsciousness, period. It was anything but what our founding fathers had in mind. They questioned the authority of the Crown rightly so. We as a nation already have garnered a reputation for political complacency and conformist behavior and letting the rights of certain people disappear.
    I'm not for anarchy, but it's healthy to question authority. I've got a brain, I intend on continuing to use it.

    September 4, 2007 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Shahid Ali,Rochester, NY

    McCain has served his country with dignity and courage, calling him a war addict is shameful at best. I am a Muslim immigrant from a third world country. Please remember that your right to call a patriot of this country a war addict would get you killed in many other countries. This war addict fought for your right to have free speech and spent an eternity as a POW while trying to defend this right for you. Disagree with him if you must, that is your right, but by maligning him you only disgrace yourself.

    Shahid Ali Rochester NY

    September 4, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. Dan, Tx

    yes, the child was being very immature to disrespect Sen McCain. McCain already has proved himself with his service to this country. I think it very unlikely that that kid will ever achieve as much with his life for the good of others as McCain has. That kid will grow up, and hopefully realize that showing this type of disrespect to others views is at the heart of it, the reason we have wars. I am socially liberal, but not close to being as arrogant as that little boy.

    September 4, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  7. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Joe in Fla,

    You wrote, "“You want to take away someone’s rights because you believe it’s wrong,” Sleaster followed up.

    “I don’t put that interpretation on my position, but I understand yours,” McCain responded, seeming to enjoy the back and forth.

    What kind of disrespectful answer is that? "

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    If you read the entire article you would see the part where this same student before walking away from the microphone said, "I came here looking to see a good leader, I don't".

    Or do you, like many other out-of-control parents, encourage your kids to speak disrespectful to adults?

    Did the kid have a legal right to speak his mind? Sure. Just as other people have legal rights to be bigoted and prejudiced – but I would certainly hope our society wouldn't APPLAUD this behavior.

    September 4, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. David New BErn NC

    He was caught off guard ! A person who can be caught off guard should not be President !

    September 4, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. darkcyde, paris, california

    @ G Jones, Vista California.

    Your position is flawed. Marriage laws grant basic rights to couples, in regards to tax benefits, medical benefits, visitation, child care, adoption, all of which is defined under federal law. I suggest you rethink your position on how "personal choice" factors into federal law.

    September 4, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. Elle, Worcester, MA

    I see nothing wrong with Sleaster saying what he did and I admire the young fellow for speaking up.

    September 4, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. Patrick Bogan, Dallas, TX

    I think it's great that the kid got up and asked for what he wanted, unfiltered.

    I don't think it's right to say disrespectful things to people however. It represents a lack of grace, something that our country has pretty much forgotten.

    I commend McCain for trying to be as graceful as he knew how to under the circumstances, however I'm concerned that someone running for president hasn't at least heard the term GLBT, which represents 10% of our general population.

    September 4, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. Dave Seattle, WA

    McCain is not afraid to face a tough audience, fast on his feet, and funny. The kid is somewhere south of 18 years and shows his immaturity, but you can bet that McCain values the kid's freedom of speech as much as anyone. It's interesting to see the rabid left unable to see the humor in McCain's response, any thereby confirm their small, closed minds.

    September 4, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  13. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    There is a wide disparity among the posters on this thread. Some think McCain was wrong, others think the kid was wrong.

    I think they were both wrong...McCain may have been trying to joke with the crowd (but it obviously was not received as such) but it certainly backfired on him.

    There's a 55 year difference in their ages and I don't expect they could relate very well to each other in any kind of a setting. Plus, McCain is somewhat of a curmudgeon, anyway. But that doesn't excuse the rudeness or impudence of the student. Obviously he is representative of many kids today who have not been taught by their parents to respect anyone or anything. If that were my kid, I would be ashamed of him for speaking to ANYONE like that.

    September 4, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  14. Pete

    Nothing wrong with the kid saying what he did about expecting to see a good leader. Why is that wrong? It was his opinion, and he should be allowed his opinion. This is America.

    September 4, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. Chris D., Minneapolis, MN

    The student was disrespectful, but if McCain can't take a little heat from a 16 yr. old with a little more grace he needs to get out of the political kitchen.

    September 4, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  16. Jenny- Portland, OR

    How dare a school administrator scold a person for expressing his opinion. When did we lose our right to do that just because of our age?

    September 4, 2007 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  17. Des Moines, Iowas

    "Mr. McCain deserves an apology from the impertinent schoolboy. His intolerant attitude reflects poorly on a budget-bloated educational system that has produced a new generation of functionally illiterate, left-winged sheep."
    Minds of young people are full of 'feel-good' liberal garbage these days. And yet they can't show respect for a man like McCain who was a WWII vet, a senator for many years and a presential candidate .

    September 4, 2007 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. Norm Pleau, California

    Frankly I'm shocked! That a presidential candidate would call anyone a jerk is not funny, I always thought Mc Cain was more respectful than that. Now I hear it's not the first time.

    I mean, hell, you're running for the presidency of the country that all other countries look up to.
    You then cannot allow others get to you no matter what.
    And John, my response now after years of admiration is: It takes one to know one.

    September 4, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. Michael Tellier, Ballston Spa, NY

    I am not surprised by Sleaster's barb at McCain. Our children are not taught to respect authority or adults. So, of course, he felt justified in attacking someone who has accomplished more in his life than Sleaster can hope to achieve. The other partis the completely misguided trend in our society. If you don't agree with me, your wrong. And not only are you wrong your a jerk for it. If you don't believe in gay rights/bilingual education/socialized medicine you are angry and/or evil. It is typical for liberal people. Attack any position as evil if it's contrary to yours

    September 4, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  20. Ryan

    I don't consider that students comments "insulting". He gave McCain his opinion on him as a candidate. Did he HAVE to? Perhaps not, but I don't think he crossed any line. He was clearly displeased with McCain's stance on gay rights and McCain himself wasn't even rubbed wrong by the comment.

    September 4, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  21. Chris, Detroit, MI

    Thank you faith...I love the "bloated educational system" and "functionally illiterate, left-winged sheep" comments. Nice values system, but then what else can we expect from a judgemental right-wing nut job such as yourself?

    September 4, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  22. Ryan

    Another thing...I'm NOT a Republican, nor a Democrat....and I didn't take any offense to McCain's "little jerk" comment. It was obviously made in jest, teasing the kid for asking him about his age. Maybe I more of sense of humor than most people, but I really think people need to lighten up.

    September 4, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. Gary, El Paso Texas

    Whenever a candidate or president does not have a legitimate answer to a question or comment, they always say: "thats what america is about..expressing your views". Whats the point of expressing our views if the politicians don't, most Americans now oppose the war in Iraq and want our troops to come home...but he ain't listening. Is this Democracy? Bush keeps saying we have to win this war, no, HE has to win this war...otherwise is presidency is a complete failure. I know i got off the subject, but it just urks me.

    September 4, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. d jones greensboro nc

    Wow! This Sleaster gave me a real warm fuzzy on the future of our Nation. We are complety screwed. I hope his parents whether they are gay, lesbian, or straight are really proud of him.

    September 4, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  25. Mark, Houston, TX

    You go Sleaster! Shame on the school official for scolding Sleaster for expressing his opinion – a free country?

    September 4, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
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