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. Pete, Minnesota

    John McCain is the funniest candidate we've had since Bob Dole. Come on, America, back a candidate with guts and honesty.

    September 4, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Bob, Monterey, CA

    "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." -Abraham Lincoln.

    The same argument can be used regarding gay marriage.

    To the scolded teen: He was brave, that one.

    "I may not agree with what you say, but to your death I will defend your right to say it." -Voltaire

    September 4, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Steven Downs, Chicago IL

    So McCain can call one student a "little jerk" (?!?!?!?), but another student can't stand up and give his honest opinion? Damn. And I thought this was America. Shame on the school admin who scolded that kid.

    September 4, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. trent porter, tx

    the really disturbing part about this is the fact that McCain is probably right about that kid getting drafted. Cheney is beating the Iran war drums... it's only a matter of time.

    God have mercy on us all. Bush supports – i hope you're happy.

    September 4, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. Nick, Boston, MA

    Some of you people crack me up. The way you pick apart comments to fit your own views is amazing. Are you sure you folks aren't politicians? I for one appreciate the "straight-talk" that the Senator seeks out on the campaign trail. I don't like when people say he's not a leader. The man is a powerful US senator and a decorated Navy POW. He deserves respect for the position he is in whether or not you like the person filling it.

    September 4, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Kim, Virginia Beach, VA

    Oh joy! Another "enlightened" candidate for president. More power to the high school student who was just practicing free speech and had the guts to pose a tough question to a candidate. If a presidential candidate isn't familiar with the LBGT community...shame on him!!!!

    September 4, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Kevin Hickey,New York,NY

    Sen. McCain's record in office and the military outshines all his rivals. If this little heckler is the future of our great country, we are screwed.

    September 4, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Ron Dionne, Crystal Springs, MS.

    Now I know for certain where the senator stands on the possibility of another draft!

    September 4, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Dennis, Kalamazoo, Michigan

    McCain is against any form of discrimination, but tells same sex couples they can't marry. huh?

    September 4, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Doug, Portland OR

    I think the student was absolutely right. The question posed was what would McCain do for LGBT rights. Instead of clarifying which rights the student was talkinga bout he went straight to the heavy hitting issues. He opposes discrimination, supports the military, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and opposes gay marraige. He even clarifies the sanctity of marraige between man and woman.

    But the truth is that while McCain says he opposes all forms of discriminating he himself is discriminating in these matters. He has turned the issues of Gay Marraige into a moral and ethical debate as opposed to the legality of how that union is recognized by the government.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of the LGBT lifestyles but that doesn't mean that people shouldn't still have the right to benefit from a similar union with the person that they love and have devoted their life too. People are going way out of there way to make this an issue of re-defining marraige when the truth is we are talking about LGBT couples having the same rights as heterosexual people. Government benefits should not be based off of sexuality. THAT is discrimination and William Sleaster was right for pointing it out. I normally vote republican but my vote is definitely not swinging towards McCain.

    September 4, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. Willis

    Pixie, You Talk about gay mairrage with the republicans but you can't tell me the ONE democrat who supports it.

    September 4, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Michael, Oakland CA

    I don't think Sleasters comment was disrespectful in any way> This is what is wrong with our country, the kid spoke up and voiced his opinion and now people want to treat him like he did something wrong.

    The school was wrong to "scold him", he had every right to his opinion. Oh and to the person who responded that McCain has been a good leader... That too is an opinion and you are entitled to it, so don't you dare challenge Sleaster on his opinion.

    September 4, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Patrick

    If I was McCain, I would drop-kick that little brat. Good thing McCain responded in a classy way. Just because you disagree with someone politically does not make it correct to insult them, as that punk did.

    September 4, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Lee Paul Columbus Ohio

    Scolding by a school administrator?,
    That administrator should get e-mails from us, This go right to the heart of why John Mccain is down in the polls

    September 4, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Tom, Richmond, VA

    It's nice they were able to have some back and forth – too bad some bad apple kid had to throw grenades to make himself feel better.

    As far as discrimination goes, we all do it. Have you ever hired someone based on their qualifications? I discriminate against ignorant people!

    September 4, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Scott, Newport, KY

    These children need to learn respect for others and impulse control. They both deserve to be put in their places. See what our "anything goes" culture hath brought? I fear for the future.

    September 4, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    The IDEA behind this event is great – give our younger generation of future decision makers a chance to interact with today's top political leaders. Unfortunately, the event comes away with a negative light because a vast majority of teenagers in this country are not raised with any morals or resepct. The questions asked by the kids mentioned in the article were clearly meant to insult McCain rather than express an opinion or concern. The LGBT student might have asked an appropriate question, but his reaction to McCain's response showed he is only an immature, close minded teenager. You can ask a question without insulting someone, just like you can respect someone even if you don't agree with their opinions.

    September 4, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. fedupwithourgov't

    I think McCain has something going on besides anger issues by the way he answered! He's made other jokes about the war that make me wonder.

    Thank goodness someone is asking those questions!

    I could never see McCain on the world stage.

    September 4, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Alison Norman, Baltimore, MD

    Yay William Sleaster! He was 1000% correct and had every right to say what hes aid. School administrators should be ASHAMED to "scold" a citizen for doing what is EVERY American's job... speaking the truth.

    September 4, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. Craig, Saginaw, MI

    The risk of insult is the price of clarity. William Sleaster risked insult to gain a clear answer. Good for him. He should not be scolded or admonished, but commended for his boldness.

    September 4, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. Brandon C Chicago IL

    I side with the teen..

    He asked a simple and logical question about the senator.. his age and future.

    In return.. he got called a "little jerk" and told he would get drafted.

    Thats not a leader.. thats a poser. A leader dosen't respond to questions with insults.

    Guess what.. we don't need another senior citizen as president.
    Does anyone under the age of 35 care that he was in vietnam and was in a prison camp? No.. not at all.. that just means he can take a beating.. not that he can lead a country.

    Stop electing these old geezers.. we need new blood and a new respect.. Seniors that are stuck in the past such as McCain are on the outs.. why cripple our nation with old ideas.. time for a fresh outlook.

    September 4, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |


    September 4, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. johnM mvCA

    I actually once sent $$$ to this man, I'm now ashamed to admit. It's terrific he's now hopelessly behind in the polls. Intransigent, mis-guided and it would seem intolerant and impatient. Bye Mr. McCain, and this was a shameful presentation before our nation's youth.

    September 4, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Patrick, Denver Colorado

    He was JOKING when he said the draft and little jerk commment. Get a sense of humor. As soon as any article is posted that is either from a democrat or republican I always wait for the other side of the aisle to pounce on it and act shocked and outraged by it. It's called a sense of humor go develop one.

    September 4, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    If this happened to Billary you Clintonista's would be screaming that the kid was a plant from the "vast right-wing conpiracy" or that the kid was "afraid of a strong woman".

    McCain handled it well and also showed a sense of humor, no big freakin' deal.

    September 4, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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