August 17th, 2008
01:16 PM ET
12 years ago

Analysis: Same tough questions, different approaches

John McCain, Rick Warren and Barack Obama take the stage together at the forum on faith.

John McCain, Rick Warren and Barack Obama take the stage together at the forum on faith.

LAKE FOREST, California (CNN) - From their views on abortion to their greatest moral failings, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain used much different styles to tackle the same tough questions at Saturday night's forum on faith.

Obama struck a conversational tone and directed his answers toward moderator Rick Warren.

McCain gave straightforward responses, taking a more personal approach as he directed his answers toward the audience and viewers at home.

David Gergen, a senior political analyst for CNN, said he thought both candidates handled themselves well, but he was particularly impressed with McCain's performance.

"Along comes McCain, who not only has - he doesn't like to talk about his religion very much. And then he talks about it openly. But he has a very powerful story that's emotionally connected to the audience," he said.

"It's the candidate who can connect emotionally to Middle America who will have the big advantage going down the stretch."

The event was held at Saddleback Church, a mega-church in southern California. Warren, pastor at the church and author of the best-selling book "The Purpose-Driven Life," interviewed both candidates.

McCain and Obama appeared briefly onstage together, shaking hands and posing with Warren between their one-hour interviews.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Escaped Lab Monkey

    So much for fair and balanced. When it it difficult to see the strengths in both candidates positions, you probably need to go ask other more senior producers to help you out or didn't they do that on the University of North Carolina Weekly two years ago?

    August 17, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. gail

    mr gergen

    mccain did not talk about his religion – he kept changing the subject away from religion to give his talking points.
    you are doing political analysis so you are missing the fact that mccain is empty when it comes to discussing religion – cnn should have had someone with a real background in religion analyzing this forum.
    sen. obama is much further along on his faith journey – mccain did not show that he truly understands or thinks seriously about his faith. he actually brushed aside warren's question about what christianity meant to him – he did not speak at all to how he lives his faith in his daily life.

    August 17, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  3. Doris,Memphis,TN

    Warren is a phony! Gergen a flip flopper!
    Barack is the real deal. Sorry, all of the tricks
    won't work this time. The American people saw through
    this farce. Pastor Warren loss a lot of crediblility! John
    McCain needs to lighten up on the botox and Vietnam
    war stories.

    August 17, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  4. US Citizen

    I agree, both men handled themselves very well. I probably expected a lot less because everyone on this site likes to talk crap about these guys. Obama was at a disadvantage, since his beliefs didn't align with the audience. Obama tried to play both sides of the abortion issue and the same-sex marriage issue. He did show he was open to finding some kind of middle ground, but who knows if that worked with the listeners. McCain addressed the questions and added some pertinent stories. Smart play by McCain since this type of audience uses emotion as a significant factor in making decisions. Overall, both candidates did as well as they could have. LOL at McCain knowing the questions beforehand. If some of you people prepared for job interview questions the same way, you wouldn't be unemployed bloggers blaming all of your problems on Bush.

    August 17, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. Annette, Washington, DC

    I do agree with Crowley on one point, McCain was playing a game. I listen to McCain very closely, he really came across so militaristic. He's views and conversatiion always seems to stem back to foreign policy or some war experience. He didn't seem to have a wide range conversation at all. The only thing I learn from him was that he is still dealing with residues of captivity. What was made clear to me now more then ever, is that the pro-choice issue has become a vehicle by which the repubs seems to judge their candidates, pro-choice, is everything we do in this life, is a choice and sin and is sin, no matter what degree. One sin is not worse then the other? If pro-choice is a reason to choose a president, then what is the cause. Because the reality is that, each day some person is aborting their child. What we need is prevention, which I still have not heard any repub, speak on, PREVENTION. It's not enough to say I am pro-choice, while your neighbor is dealing with the decision to abort or not??? What are we saying here?

    August 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. bridgette

    Don't we have seperation of church and state there was a reason for that. Will we have the head priest do one next. Will there be a Jewish forum next. How about an Islam foreigh next. We are goind down a dangerous road here. These Evangelicals are not God. They are mere human beings like everyone else. Yet they use that Bible as a weapon. I am Christian and the way some of these people act I would think the only thing they know about God is his name.

    August 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. Craig H Easton, PA

    Having watched the interviews Saturday night, two things occur to me about John McCain. First, he appeared to be absolutely sure of everything he said without much room for compromise. Principals are important and there are obviously some issues on which I would expect him to stand firm. But here's the thing. We've been trying that approach for 16 years and it doesn't work. None of the host of critical issues facing this country are being addressed because both parties are more interested in getting nothing doen and blaming their opponents. And with the country divided almost 50-50, the ONLY way we are going to make progress is if we are willing to address the opposition's concerns. John McCain doesn't work across the aisles as he's claimed, he jumps back and forth depending on the issue. In either case, he hasn't constructed a consensus, but fought ferociously for hi point of view against whoever opposed him. My way or the highway. That ain't gonna get her done.

    August 17, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. Larry/TX

    I don't understand what David Gergen, Candy Crowley, et al...what forum they were watching, but I did not think that Mccain did wel at all...given the format, and the intention of this thing. Perhaps I...and others misunderstood. i thought it was supposed to allow the candidates to be interviewed by Pastor allow them to define their faith, and how it how it helped shaped them into the person they are. I also don't understand how the "religious" audience could have been satisfied with McCain's reply when asked to tell about his faith. he uttered exactly one sentence to the effect that he found redemtion..then immediately asked the pastor if he could talk about something else...his experience as a POW. Barrack on the other hand provided a detailed coherent accounting of his faith..what it has meant to him as source of wisdon and strength,etc. He provided roughy 10 times the amount of info about his faith than Mccain. Yet these evangelicals cheered more for Mccain that Barrack. I think this proves only one thing. The democrats might as well just give up in their hopes of capturing more of these crazed zealots. They care about one thing...and one thing only...the abortion issue. they are phony to the core.

    August 17, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
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