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. Ashley, KC KS

    Those kids have more courage than a lot of adults, they asked the questions, although I think the first kid asked just to be funny. I'm not a McCain fan... at all... but he was joking. It was a joke, lighten up.
    The second kid probably was just angered by the response he got from McCain. His answer didn't make sense, it was hypocritical and the kid called him out. Right or wrong, it took a lot of guts to do what he did so props to all of them.

    September 4, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  2. Rudy Bogamil , Cayman Islands

    I'm not Americian and I don't live in the US, but I'm ashamed that a leading presidential candidate took a turn in a youngster for asking a perfectly legitimate question. This is something I would not have expected from Senator McCain and he should apologise to the youngster. That was not funny!!!

    September 4, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  3. SC, Tyler, TX

    Well – Once again the strain shows on the Senator – Does he not take any medication regularly? Maybe he should talk to Tom Cruise? I love the way some jump on these kids but just sat there when W’s Ari Fleischer implied that anyone who disagreed was a traitor. Maybe these kids would have stopped this mess before it cost us all those lives and the financial health of thiscountry

    September 4, 2007 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  4. Erin, San Francisco

    I thought McCain's "you're drafted" comment was in reference to drafting the kid for his campaign, not the military.

    But YMMV.

    September 4, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Brian, Norton MA.

    Thank god for kids like Sleaster....speaking truth to power!!!!.....all of you that say he was insulting are completely ridiculous. he did not call him a name or swear at him, he made his opinion known!!!....just because it does not fit your ideology does not make it disrespectful.....Keep it up kid!!!. remember it was this country that was founded on a group of "rebels" who had the audacity to buck authority and speak their truth!!!

    September 4, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Rafael Richmond Virginia

    This kid had evry right to say what he said but, he needs to look better because no matter if you are a Democrat or Republican Senator McCain is a great leader if you don't think so then look at his record and his service to our country. I do agree with the Senator this kid was a little ignorant jerk to say the least!!!

    September 4, 2007 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. Steve, Bakersfiled, CA

    I teach high school. The kid did as high schoolers do, asked a rude question to show off for his friends. Mr. McCain answered the kids rude question and then gave the kid a jab back. Sometimes a child needs to be put in his place and Mr. McCain did it with humor. I find Mr. McCain's respone funny and feel sorry for those who are so thghtly strung that they don't see it for a quick-witted response to an inpertinent teen.

    September 4, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  8. The Rev'd Raymond H. Clark

    The United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and a substantial minority in the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran Churches, and Reform Jews *believe* in same-sex marriage. So, according to Senator McCain, we should take a head-count, and discriminate against *those* folks' beliefs because there are more Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, and Mormons who *don't* believe in same-sex marriage? The Founders were students of history; they knew EXACTLY what "the tyranny of the majority" was, and inserted the Bill of Rights to protect minorities from it. Defining a Christian Sacrament is *not* the business of the State.

    September 4, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. Gary Denson Bloomington Indiana

    someone should have asked McCain why he is for giving away American jobs to illegal immigrants. After all thats what tanked his numbers in the polls.

    September 4, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  10. Blake, Los Angeles CA

    Sleaster wanted attention, not answers. Following up an honest answer with a cheap strawman attack tells me that he planned to say it even before hearing McCain speak, particularly considering that his question didn't ask anything of McCain's position that hasn't already been stated. I don't care about Sleaster's personal opinions on McCain, I can form my own, and if I were in his position I'd have spent less of my breath on trying to look cool by insulting a Republican, and more on asking valuable, unanswered questions that the rest of us can gauge McCain's qualifications by.

    September 4, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  11. Pix, the boro, TN

    It's probably not a good idea to use that kid's full name (unless it's mentioned somewhere in the report and I missed it) Some wacko might try and hurt the poor thing.

    September 4, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  12. Mrs. America

    I have to admit I found the "little jerk" thing amusing. Only thumbs up I've been able to give McCain in a long, long time. Can't wait for Jeanne Moos to fit it into a story.

    September 4, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  13. LJ, Portland Oregon

    What is good for the goose is also good for the gander as the old saying goes. If McCain can call a student a 'jerk' and not be reprimanded by the school administrator why is it ok for the another student to be reprimanded because he said he didn't see a good leader from someone that answered the question with the following: I am opposed of discrimination but he supports Don't ask Don't tell and opposes gay marriage...shouldn't he have just said I don't discriminate except for 'them kind of folks'....(GLBT folks)..can you say contradictory statements and if you showed respect you may getrespect Mr McCain.
    Kudos to all the students that asked questions even the hard questions.
    Remember the statement from years gone by:
    Question Authority........

    September 4, 2007 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  14. s. helms; san francisco, ca

    Ouch! Snappy comeback, Mr. McCain.

    September 4, 2007 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  15. Rip Van Winkle


    September 4, 2007 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  16. letmefree

    That "kid" is going to be more affected by the policies that whomever becomes president enacts than probably more than half the people complaining about him.

    Here's to asking real questions and recognizing the most important part of politics- that it isn't just talking, but that it really, truly affects people's lives. When apathy is the most crippling disease in our schools something like this makes me proud.

    September 4, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  17. Billy Dallas Texas

    It doesn't matter how old someone is. it is the way they handle themselves. A politician's only objective is to get re-elected.

    September 5, 2007 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  18. bukky, baltimore MD

    "That little snotty kid owes the senator an apology. The federal government has not taken rights away from any LGBT. States may not grant marriage licenses and health care programs may not pay for the cost of a gender switch, but that has nothing to do with the federal government."

    Posted By G Jones Vista CA

    Clearly you are not smarter than a highschooler, maybe not even a 5th grader.

    What the federal goverment does greatly affects the states b/c the federal government trumps the state. The reason the STATES don't have to recognized gay marriage is because of DOMA.

    The FEDERAL defense of marriage act is a FEFERAL law from the clinton era. with out this FEDERAL law all 50 state would have to recognize all marriages conducted in Massachusetts not just the straight ones.

    In general one state by FEDERAL law MUST "respect" (meaning give it weight and not dismiss) the laws of another state. That is why you can marry in CA and move to TX, CO, ND or any other state without issue. The state you move to MUST respect your marriage.


    Whether you like it or not the Kid had point and you are looking not that bright

    September 5, 2007 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  19. Murray, Wonju, Korea

    Kid was a snob. He and everyone not already in service that are physically capable SHOULD be drafted. If he's so concerened about the rights of everyone, he should go and fight for those rights, then maybe I would entertain his position and opinions a little more. I mean really, what does an 18 year old know about the world? Nothing. Kid probabley just had his first girlfriend within the last year or two.

    I know something about McCain though. He was beaten and tortured for 7 years in Hanoi for that little "Parent-less" child who thought it wise to look suave in front of a school that probabley rejects him anyway. Queers aren't as accepted as alot of you left wingers may think.

    Liberals. What a bunch of wimps. For those of you who don't know what "wimp" means, here's a little riddle for you: Weak In Mountain Phase. If you know what I'm talking about, you'll agree with me. Rangers Lead the Way – Followed closely by leg infantry and the M-1's!

    September 5, 2007 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  20. EPS, Atlanta GA

    "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

    Theodore Roosevelt

    September 5, 2007 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  21. Matthew W. Combest

    Who knew – High Schoolers had the gull to ask questions grown ups don't have the guts to?

    Way to go kids – give em hell!

    September 5, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  22. Rex, Toledo, Ohio

    Good show Sleaser, but be careful. Bush's cronies probably have you on some "special list" now....

    September 5, 2007 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  23. fedupwithourgov't

    Bravo,to the students who asked these questions. Thank goodness someone is!

    McCain has joked about the war before and I find this man to be mentally unstable in how he reacts to certain situations.

    In addition, he's a Bush clone and there's no way I want him leading this country!

    September 5, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. Dan, Columbia MD

    The kid has a right to have an opinion but he also has a responsibility to be respectful. While I think it was a valid question he should have worded it better.

    Also, to all of you questioning McCain's leadership, what leadership background do any of YOU have? This man was a former Naval Officer from one of the world's best military institutions. He has more experience as a military leader and as a leader in Congress than any of us will ever have. To disagree with his politics is one thing but to make such remarks about his leadership is ignorant.

    September 5, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  25. Isaac, Louisville, KY

    I am not registered in either of the two major parties, and I'm not campaigning for McCain.

    I do like how he handled himself at this event, though. All Americans need to learn a little about how to disagree with someone without being disagreeable. We really need to learn respect others whether or not we agree with their ideas.

    Instead most Americans (evidenced by how many people cheered on this kid for insulting a politician they don't approve of) labor to validate their positions by merely insulting, ridiculing, and slinging mud at anyone with different ideas.

    And to the person who mentioned that they would prefer this outspoken, but rude, young man to his quieter counterparts... I would say to you that the more you talk, the less you think.

    While it is possible this young man is brilliant, diplomatic, and eloquent with a bright future ahead of him, I am confident that among the quieter students you will find kids with more wisdom and more potential.

    Also, with MTV, Hollywood, and other media outlets insuring that BGLT issues are 'in', I don't find it the slightest bit impressive that a high school kid comes up with something like this to talk about.

    Show me a high school kid with informed opinions on international issues beyond just "War is bad", show me a kid who has some understanding of the social security predicament, show me a kid who has thought about the problems plaguing our nation and the world in general, a kid who cares about solving these problems and bringing people together more than just being the center of attention and demonstrating his or her 'coolness' and 'strength' by disrespecting those in authority... And I'll show you our future.

    I love Democracy. It's a beautiful thing with unlimited potential... in either direction. When voters are uneducated and unaware of ALL the major issues (awareness of one issue is not enough), it spells doom for a democracy.

    I hate to tell you this, but just like our politicians, just like us, this generation of kids is just more of the same. It is going to take a leader who comes from outside of the system to help wake us all up... And honestly I hope we don't have to wait 20 years for the high school students of today to get old enough to run.

    We need change now. We need large-scale reconciliation now.

    September 5, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14