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. Matt, Watertown, MA

    Makes me proud to be a CHS graduate.
    Class o' 1995

    September 4, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Sam, elkridge MD

    look, both Sen. McCain and the high-school kid have the same rights as the Constitution allows. if the kid feels that Sen McCain is incorrect, let him vote against him for President; that's one of the best parts of this country.

    as far as the draft bit, it was sarcasm. recognize it and move on.

    as far as the leader bit, at least McCain tells you his position. most candidates do not.

    September 4, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. James, Phoenix AZ

    Wow – it saddens me to see many of you applauding this disrespectful teenager who insulted John McCain – war veteran and a man who, appears, to live by his convictions.

    There is NOTHING wrong with asking tough questions. There is MUCH wrong with a punk teenager throwing out an insult "I came here looking to see a good leader, I don't". This kid probably thinks a "good leader" has Xbox Skillz and hangs with Tony Hawk or other X-game celebs.

    Those that applaud this behavior are as much of the problem as this kid.

    September 4, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Joe, St. Louis MO

    Those kids are great! Good for them, they understand democracy better than the knuckle draggers who support a guy like McCain.

    September 4, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. Derrick, Austin, Texax

    Oh Faith, your reaction to this individuals comments sadden me. We actually have a young person here who is taking part in the political process and asking a serious presidential candidate questions that are relevant to millions of Americans. He should be commended, not scolded.

    I seem to be confused as to how the boy can be called "intolerant" or "illiterate".

    September 4, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. AmeriCanadian, Windsor-Detroit

    Whoa...way to go Mr. Sleaster! You're my new hero!!! Thanks for standing up to this buffoon...too bad he'll just laugh it off as a comment from another "little jerk". But we'll all be the ones to laugh last when McCain loses the primary and has no place to go but back under the rock from where he originally crawled.

    September 4, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. David, Orange, CA

    While I understand why the school pulled the kid aside for being a smart aleck (it's hardly a free-speech zone in a public school), I have to applaud the kid for speaking his mind. He didn't swear, he didn't threaten McCain, he just straight out said what he was thinking. In the "conform or else" environment that our public schools have become, seeing that there are still kids who are willing to stick their necks out is a great thing.

    September 4, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. Bull, Ft. Worth, TX

    Yup, sounds like typical whiny "I'm smarter than everyone else" high school kid. The kind that thinks that they have seen so much in their tortured 15 years of life in the NH suburbs. Dollars to donuts, he was planning to say that sound bite from the beginning. Go back to your myspace page young 'un. I'm sure that you'll be considered a martyr because you got one whole hour of detention. Ohh, the misery, the inhumane treatment. Where's Amnesty International when you need them?

    September 4, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  9. Steve in Grosse Pointe, Michigan

    Bravo Senator McCain!

    Very appropriate handling of a young man who has quite a bit of growing up to do. I wonder if the boy's parents or parent have the intellectual capacity, the maturity and the class to know the behavior is inapproriate.

    Impertinent – yes. Unfortunately, the definition of the word is lost on most school children and parents. Too busy watching "American Idol" and defending Micheal Vick's "rights". And too many single parent families absent a real man to model and define behavior.

    Not surprising, but certainly saddening.

    September 4, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Bill, Olathe KS

    That shows how disrespectful these kids are to their elders. McCain for all his faults is still a Senator in the United States senate.
    Plus, wth was the Senator's campaign manager thinking doing a Q&A with high school students. Should have seen this coming.

    September 4, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Mike, Chicago IL

    There is nothing wrong with asking the hard questions and the kids should be encouraged to do so. The second child is a prime example of a child without any respect for a man of McCain's position. I'm not saying that I agree one way or the other w/McCain but I do repsect his accomplishments and aspirations. That child should get another class in humility and respect. Shame on him.

    September 4, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Sue Jones, Savannah, GA

    I had to laugh at the Sleaser kid when I read his question and his response to McCain. Sleaser asked what he (McCain) would do for LGBT rights. To me, it seems like McCain can answer it however he wants, which I did like his answer...apparently Sleaser did not. If that was the case Sleaser should've said, "What would you do for LGBT rights? I will give you my answer, the answer I want to hear and then you have to agree with me." If you don't like other people's opinion on something...DON'T ASK.

    September 4, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. Chris, New York, NY

    It's children like these that make me glad I went to private school.

    September 4, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. jason smith

    I think it is amazing even a high schooler can see through the obvious bigotry of neocons, "i support everybody, but not really"....I am sure he was trying to impress his friends, but McCain's real personality shows, and the fact that he might even be as disconnected as GW, which would be quite an accomplishment....

    September 4, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. Ben MacGowen, Naples, Fl.

    Young people have no wisdom.

    What is it about the questions and insolence of this undisciplined hoard that many of you seem to admire?

    Do you suffer such a lack of self respect that you seek the counsel of children?

    September 4, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Nicholas Blank, Somerville, MA

    This William Sleaster kid gives me hope for our nation's youth. As far as I'm concerned, the school administrator who scolded a student for exercising his right to free speech should be fired – why is it more important that a candidate feel comfortable than a U.S. citizen feel that his voice is being heard? Since when has it become a punishable act to put a presidential candidate on the spot? Have we all forgotten that a campaign is one long job interview and WE are the boss?

    September 4, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. Timothy, Rochester, NY

    I think the question about Gay and Lesbians is what the future holds for republicans who would like to continue hating and discriminating. Our country has made great strides in trying to end discrimination, unfortuanately the old white men running for office would like to continue it. People especially kids are sick of the devisive politics. The only way most kids discriminate now is from learning it from their parents. I wonder how McCain's kids feel about gay people.

    September 4, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Carter, American canyon, CA

    Whatever happen to freedom of speech. He got scolded by a school administer for saying what he believes in. Where is the outrage!

    September 4, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Ian, Portland, OR

    I thought that was great on both sides. As a liberal, for a time McCain was the only Republican I would have ever considered voting for. It wasn't because I agreed with all his views but instead I at least knew where he stood on things. He didn't mince his words. In the early run of his current campaign, he started pandering. It's good to see him shooting his mouth off again if he sees fit.
    As for the kids, there is nothing wrong with standing up to power. McCain deserves respect for what he's done in his life (moreso than most any other Republican in Washington), yes, but I'd much rather see teens who are rebellious and somewhat informed than see many of their parents, who were complacent and stupid enough to elect Bush twice.

    September 4, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Iridius Izzarne, Seattle, WA

    I'm so proud of William Sleaster! It's nice to see that teenagers are concerned about everyone having the same rights. When will the rest of the US understand that everyone deserves the same rights, regardless.

    September 4, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. jacob,concord,nh

    im his brother and our family approves of his freedom of speech.

    September 4, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  22. jason

    I thought it was disrespectful to attempt to disparage John Kerry's exemplary service in Vietnam by some vague conservative-created group "swift-boat veteran for justice" group, as soon as GW stole the election, the fact that there were no facts was irrelevant, just like Iraq, but the mud-slinging republicans didn't mind it ironic now that it is disrespectful when it is a republican running...and about "high schoolers for truth"!!!

    September 4, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Michael Papincak, Pittsburgh, Pa

    This is typical John McCain. I met Sen. McCain while in college and my friends and I got a group picture with him. He called us "jerks" as we were all herding to get into the picture with him. It is just his style; straight talk. Comments like these make him seem like more of a real person, not the plastic, canned comments and gestures that come from other candidates. This man is smart and has experience. He is the right man to run this country. Also, he is joking. I do not believe that he actually was calling my friends and this high schooler a jerk in any derogatory fashion.

    September 4, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. Bill, Norfolk Virginia

    LGBT? What the heck are these kids talking about?

    Anyway, McCain took the questions well, and he's right, those kids are little jerks. just joking...

    September 4, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  25. Thomas, MPLS, MN

    I can't believe that kid got scolded by a school admin for speaking the truth. Why are evilgelicals repubs so threatened with two grown men/women getting married? The divorce rate is so high in the US that marriage isn't so sacred anymore so why even care?

    September 4, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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