August 17th, 2008
11:18 AM ET
12 years ago

Crowley: McCain was on his game

McCain won over the Saddleback crowd.

McCain won over the Saddleback crowd.

LAKE FOREST, California (CNN) - During a break, someone yelled: "We love you John." In fact, McCain was on his game, doing better than I thought he would, given that faith is not his most favorite subject to discuss in public. And in fact, it does seem that the crowd is greeting him every bit as warmly as they did Obama. (Although: as far as I can see, the two Obama supporters who told me they were forced to turn their t-shirts inside out left a while ago.)

Act Two is over - and McCain gets huge applause, and a standing ovation.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (788 Responses)
  1. kelly WI

    Obama is empty.
    McCain has depth.
    Obama is no different than any other person on the street.
    McCain has experience and wisdom.

    August 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. Vito

    I don't usually partake in political team sports, but I thought that what you saw was 2 skilled politicians with only one following the format. Obama actually tried to think about the questions and didn' t provide simple answers when those questions were complex. His intellectual disposition, however, makes him seem more distant. He was in a tough position because he had to win over the audience. He treated it like it was a conversation(which is what he was supposed to do) instead of stump. That was his mistake.

    McCain gave simplistic talking points and pandered to Warren and his audience. However, this is what he SHOULD have done as a smart politician. He had the advantage because of the forum and he kept it. I did think it was funny how he tried to bring race into it when he talked about the African American women from AL. Americans like it simple (Yes, I'm saying we're dumb). McCain is simple minded. Victory McCain.

    August 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. Willy

    McCain answered the questions. Obama tried but gives his empty change speech answers but no go. McCain won!

    August 17, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Ben Emos

    Mccain claimed he found religon in the vietnam prison, just wait for another day when he will shift position. In a local television interview the other day, McCain recalled his love of the Steelers, saying he slyly gave the names of Steeler defensive linemen to Vietnamese interrogators while a prisoner of war in 1967.

    There are couple huge problems with that statement: Mr. McCain wrote in his 1999 best-seller "Faith of My Fathers" that he actually gave interrogators names of Green Bay Packers offensive linemen. This guy is confused,

    August 17, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Tim

    CNN You keep deleting my comments. But it won't change that fact that McCain is an adulterer and will not get the Christian vote. Even Pastor Warren has an issue with that and I agree.

    August 17, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. carolyn nicholas

    It's easy to be on your game when you know the questions and have memorized all you two word answers, this was a bogus set-up. Stop trying to spin it any other way!!!!!

    August 17, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. Arizona Senior

    I say he was on his game! However did he come up with the name of the founder of E-bay, as a "person-most-admired"!!!!???? And here I thought he was not into computers.

    August 17, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Doug in Seattle

    We now know that McCain's prison guard was a Christian, but we don't know that McCain himself actually embraces Christian values. We also know that he is a politician. "(Life begins) at conception" gives him millions more votes from the base, and he doesn't have to explain why he feels that way.

    August 17, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Rod

    To borrow a term from Candy Crowley, John McCain was nothing more than a 'Pander Bear' at this Saddleback forum. John McCain's answers were so direct because he was playing to his base. The Evangelical talking points are the same as those of the Republican party. He turned the event into a political campaign stop. I thought that Obama's segment was more intimate, thoughtful, and honest. I may not agree with everything either one of them had to say, but I want the kind of president who is an intellectual and is willing to take time to think. I think McCain may have overplayed his hand on this one by being too smooth and fast in his responses. He often would give an answer and then drift off topic a bit without addressing the question more in-depth. The question about the existence of evil in the world cinch it for me. McCain went to his old standbys – Islamic extremists, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, etc. ( I was particularly impressed with the "Gates of Hell" remark – NOT). But Obama reminds us that evil is not just THEM and does not just exist OVER THERE, but evil exists on our city street and in our neighborhoods, in Darfur, Sudan and in places where genocide is occurring. McCain continues to play the fear card – making the claim that he is the one who can protect us. On the other hand, Obama says we ALL have to be footsoldiers in confronting and defeating evil.

    August 17, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. Troy

    ok, it is always sad to hear sad stories like the ones McCain was talking about, He said there was two Christians praying outsde of his prison in Vietnam...DID YOU BUY THAT? cause he said it with a straight face, like it was true.

    August 17, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. H-ROD


    August 17, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Franky

    Well........welll. What do we have here. Senator McCain on his game, huh? I know, I heard, I heard. So, let me guess. He likes to used "anecdotal" in talking about faith but my boy uses "empty suit" in talking about politics?? It sounded to me that the forum was an entertainment show in God's church...

    Go ahead, God is never serious...I'm sure you know.

    August 17, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. Dee in Charlotte

    McCain made the comment that he had worked successfully "across the aisle," however, his too quick, dogmatic, seemingly rehearsed answers to Pastor Warren's questions emphasized that if elected, he would NOT work towards bringing this country together. He would NOT work towards fair and doable compromises in Washington to find the best solutions for our great nation. Instead a McCain administration would keep the sad and destructive Bush mentality of "my way or the highway" alive. This is something we do NOT need. Eight years was enough.

    August 17, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. TK, Dallas, TX

    I liked the idea of the forum much better than what you get on the other networks but I still found this to be limiting in that neither candidate issues/ideas had any type of critical analysis. I found Senator Obama to be much more personal and forthcoming as opposed to mccain being very political and shady with his answers. Elect mccain and continue with the wars his shoot from the hip style without any sound reasoning/judgement as opposed to Obama is more than scary. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OBAMA

    August 17, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. well well now

    anyone catch the "after 911 people should not have been told to teravel and shop" thing, instead they should have been told to join the armed forces...smells like a draft to me

    August 17, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Jon

    Ok, seriously, how many times did John McCain say "My friends" last night? Twenty? More?

    At the beginning of the night it was endearing, by the end, I wasn't sure if he knew how to say anything else.

    August 17, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Not only was it religious audience, it was also in Orange County, the heartland of Republicans in California.

    I think McCain did a much better job than I expected as well but I also felt it was too much of his stump speech–same jokes I've heard over and over again.

    I also appreciated the honest, thoughtful responses and conversational tone of Obama's response rather than McCain trying to campaign on each question. Warren missed a couple of opportunities with McCain. For instance, McCain avoided the question of how his faith affects him every day instead relying on a story from 40 years ago.

    August 17, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Ron L

    What we saw last night was a very REAL contrast between two individuals running for President...
    One of them was having a REAL discussion on extremely complex issues. Trying to avoid sounding like a politician running for office. Realizing FULL well that the (many open minded) American people want to get a feel for the depth of a man, not a series of sound bite statements that can later be used in political ads.
    The other was trying to say all the right catch phrases for his political base. COME ON..could some one please tell me how in the world Osoma Bin Laden should have come up in this discussion?? It was PURE POLITICAL staging and unfortunately a lot of Americans will view it as strength instead of what it really was ..HYPE.
    The NEW JOHN McCann has be come a POLITICAL MACHINE the very thing he use to claim he wasn't. How many times are we going to hear COUNTRY FIRST??? Give me a break , MOST of us would die for our country...THIS IS NOT THE MAIN CRITERIA TO BEING THE PRESIDENT,,,,

    YOU WANT TO KNOW THE REAL TRAVESTY....YOU CAN ACTUALLY NOT BECOME PRESIDENT BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO SMART and NUANCED. For some reason this has become a negative ?? It is truly one of the most confusing dynamics of this election.

    One other thing that is REALLY interesting EXPERIENCE is SO-O-O-O much important than judgement. And yet the Bush administration had some of the most experienced members EVER in cabinet positions AND WE HAVE A MESS on OUR HANDS....Once again I DON"T GET IT!!!!

    August 17, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Ken

    Compared to Obama, McCain stuck to his words. He was not like Obama and taking both sides of the issues.

    This is why if Hillary Clinton is not on the ticket with or our nominee for president, Obama will NOT get my vote. Hillary needs to be our nominee and our next president. If Obama expects to beat McCain in November, he either has to put Hillary Clinton on the same ticket as his VP or give the nomination to Hillary Clinton and become her VP instead.

    That is the only way that McCain can be beaten!

    Hillary CLinton/Obama 2008

    August 17, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. arlene, CA

    Standing ovation was because the Pastor told them to stand, and also with Obama, McCain did a good job of pandering to the selected audience. You know McShame would not even considered this interview if he did not know the line of questions and had a prepared script to study before he went on. Why did they have a Pastor questions & answers anyway? Obama is a man of faith, always has been. McShame never had said anything much on faith, or attending church, or talking about religion. Obama did SUPER . McShame PANDERED good.

    August 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Bob L

    If McCain on his game is the interrupting, not listening, black and white world McCain, then I really don't like him. I prefer the shades of grey outlook candidate, the world is too complicated for McCain.

    August 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Independent for Obama, TX

    While it was very clear to me who did better in answering the questions (it was OBAMA) last night, it was very disturbing to me how the pundits kept saying how well John McCain did. I was especially disappointed listening to David Gergen, who I have the utmost respect and conffidence, saying that Obama needs to do better in the debates based on how well McCain did last night. This whole notion of McCain connecting with the people and giving 'direct' answers vs 'nuanced' answers of Obama, really bothers me. It is almost saying America CANNOT vote for the smarter of the 2 candidates, and hence, if you want to win, you have to 'dumb' down. To me the sign of a smart and thoughtful person is how well they process in their mind a reply that they are going to give. Obama contemplated well and gave his response. I guess the country is telling that they want the dumber of the 2, because they connect well. If we took that approach in grading in academia and even (lesser extent) in workplace, we will pull back the progress our country can make. I am astonished why we take the opposite side in electing our leader.

    Coming back to the Forum – I watch almost all of McCain's Townhalls. He used about 75% of the same talking points last night. In fact lot of his replies were even verbatim. He absolutely shamelessly talked about his POW status. His remark about the failure of his marriage was interesting because from all accounts, there was nothing that failed other than the fact that he wanted to be with a different woman.

    I hope our country puts higher standards on electing our leader

    August 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Tainopower

    Obama dint got close to McCain. obama all it did was dogging questions. For example on abortion. its over my paid grade. What kind of answer was that? all he was doing was pandering to the pro- choice and the pro- life groups. Obama do not have a solid stand on any issue. The only issue he stand solid is on its about self.

    August 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Bart

    As the pundits kept repeating, expectations for McCain were very low, whereas Obama has set a very high standard for himself. I don't believe the CNN pundits suddenly became anti-Obama, it is just that the surprise of the evening was not Obama meeting the high expectations (and showing he can do so in an unscripted setting in front of a right-leaning audience) but that McCain managed to woo a friendly crowd by telling them what he knew they wanted to hear.

    But at the end of the day this is still a job hunt for the best man for the presidency and in job searches you don't hire the person that did better in the interview then you had expected based on a weak resume. You go for the best person period, and you stay away from applicants that are obviously just trying to please you.

    August 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Ron

    We made up our my mind tonight.
    John McCain was forthright, honest, and showed the moral standard that we like and should care about as a human being. His respect for unborn "human beings" touched our heart.
    Obama appeared humble, however is clever and a smooth talker who diverts from the facts. He needs another ten years to mature and we can find out "who" he really is.
    Janice J
    Denver, CO


    Sure you just now made up your mind gave yourself away when you threw in the code phrase of "unborn human beings" for your reason. Do you really think you fooled anyone on here that you were ever going to vote for Obama in the first place? Nice try. Gosh, you're so clever.

    August 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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