August 17th, 2008
08:00 AM ET
12 years ago

Schneider: A great debate - without the debate

(CNN) - For the most part, John McCain has been coming across as a strong conservative. He's talked unity - but not like Barack Obama, who has made it a central theme of his campaign. Earlier, McCain talked about issues like global warming where he disagreed with his party - but the main message here is that he's a strong conservative, who can be counted on to take socially conservative positions.

Both candidates are doing very well, but you're seeing a very clear difference. Obama has come across as thoughtful, subtle and nimble. McCain is disciplined and conservative, with an emphasis on his personal appeal.

Both are coming across very well in this forum - it's a good format. Strong questions and strong answers, and we see the differences between them clearly - but no squabbling. I'm not sure it would have been better if they were on stage together. This is better than a debate: you get actual answers to the questions, instead of them trying to score points off each other. You get real insight into the way each man thinks.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. SB for BO

    I watched the entire debate/coversation/storytelling but also watched Rick Warren interviews before last night. If my mind serves correctly, Rick said they would be asked the same questions and they didn't know beforehand. I saw McCain "rehearsing" his answers (with a little emotion to boot). Obama THOUGHT about his responses, leaning on his faith as a measure of his answer. We can all tell stories that relate to the question, but dang it answer the question!! As a Christian Democrat, I am pro choice but against abortion for me! When I stand in front of the Lord, He's going to ask me about MY sins not the sins of others. If I choose to abort, "I" have to answer for that. Not John McCan't or Obama or the government who legalizes it.

    Obama, you have supporters who saw this an opportunity for you talk about your faith as it relates to your policies or views. You did great!

    McCain, we all now know where you stand as far as your faith is concerned. Oh yeah, you didn't anwer the question!!! If the last time you had an experience with God was in Vietnam, apparently you haven't checked in with Him enough.

    Voting for Barack in November!

    August 17, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. James From Chicago


    August 17, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Jeremy

    You can tell a lot about the two Senators by where their eyes were. Obama's eyes were on Warren, he was having a spiritual conversation. McCain's eyes were on the audience, he was trying his best to say what people wanted to hear.

    August 17, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Marie-Lynn

    McCain tought that this debate was based on WAR, He still doesn't get it.

    August 17, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. Scott Cole

    From reading the comments most people watch with a closed mind. This as an excellant forum to get to know what the canidates really think about issues that are important to all americans.

    What I learned from Obama is that while he cliams to be a Christian he doesn't follow the teachings and commands that Jesus gave all Christians. God says life begins at conception (I knew you before you were even born). So if you are a Christian and obey our Lord Jesus you have to be pro-life. Killing a fetus (unborn baby) regardless how it's done (abortion, knife through stomach, drunk driver, etc.) is murder.

    If you are a true deciple of Jesus there is no way you can vote for a pro-choice canidate.

    What I do agree with Obama and I've said this for years, we need to work together to eliminate the need for an abortion.

    August 17, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Shirley

    While Obama tried to give thoughtful and responsive answers to the questions being asked by Rev. Warren, McCain was pandering to the religious group who hosted this forum. His answers were so quick that one could almost beleive he had been given the questions beforehand. He certainly seemed ready with quips and comments before the questions were completely spoken.

    August 17, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Veterans Hospital

    John McCain exhibits signs of PTSD. I am sorry but he seem like he has alot of hate for others in his heart, Jesus said love God first and neighbor as yourself.

    August 17, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. Again...courage.

    To Bill Schneider: You've written a very good summary report here.

    To Sue Marie, MI August 16th, 2008 10:00 pm ET : I agree with your evry good overall observations.

    August 17, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. Ron Democrat turned independent

    anybody with any intelligence could clearly see who was on top of their game.though both took advantage to press a few of their favorite points, McCain clearly came off as ready with precise answers, where obama eh-ed and ah-ed and went on and on about diddly not willing to commit to any direct questions, which is what he always does .then when he sees the public endorsing his opponents point of view, he come back with a press conference and gives you his it as been my position from the beginning rhetoric. CNN will of course spend the day showing us all the obama highlights and if you are at all lucky and a McCain supporter you might get a couple of not to complimentary minutes of McCain

    August 17, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. MM

    Amazing the different perspectives on the posts! I'd say that the forum did nothing in changing anyone's minds -- those who said McCain was great, already are voting for McCain. those who said Obama was great, already are voting for Obama. I would like to hear the views of true non-committed voters.

    August 17, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Yep old obama is nimble alright. He can jump from one side of the issue to get on the other side quick quick quick....after all folks this is a guy of change...changing what mind he has to gain votes.

    August 17, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Neutralizer

    Obambi was not sure of his self, he was not even convince what he was saying – his inexperience was quite obvious.

    August 17, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. MM

    Reading the other "articles" on the CNN ticker - I am amazed at CNN's love for McCain. Although they were once accused of being "in love" with Obama, they always found something to say negative about him. However, on their analysis of the forum, they can only gush about McCain and never address the elephant in the room - why does McCain's consistently talking about his POW experience make him a good candidate for President? And while he's talking about the experience, people are moved, and failing to realize that McCain never answered the question.

    August 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. John

    McCain was clear and to the point, Obama rambled and avoided the questions,McCain's answers revealed his depth and experience, but Obama was very misleading. On campaign finance, Obama barely helped McCain at all, in fact he just went back to his party position and McCain had to send him an angry letter in response. On the Iraq war, Obama wasnt even in the US senate then, remember he isnt even done his first term in office. His opposition to the war didnt take courage, he was representing a liberal democratic city at the time in a blue takes a lot of courage to oppose Bush policies in

    August 17, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Ron Democrat turned independent

    you could really tell obama had no teleprompter ah eh er blaming his failings as a teenager on the fact that is father left home when he was very young and implying he had no father image to give him guiddance. like he lived with his now important in his life but was barely mentioned before war heroes and veterans a la McCain came in the picture grandfather, from the time he was two, till he was six. then lived with his stepfather till he was ten and then back to his grandfather. again his short comings are someone else's fault .

    August 17, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. ThePhoenix

    That was no DEBATE...It was a Church Social! When are we going to see LOU DOBBS host a Debate??????

    August 17, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Roy

    To me the most interesting aspect to this forum was how much BETTER it was than the typical "debate." It's too bad that, once the two candidates are on the same stage, we'll probably be subjected to the usual network news pablum and inane questions - with a healthy side helping of distortions and attacks from the candidates.

    August 17, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Ted:Canada

    Now we know what this is really about America!!!!

    This is a battle of "generations" of century proportion.

    The 20th Century vs the 21st Century

    Visually and both in content and tone – you have a clash of generations.

    The NEW vs OLD

    Let's have another debate

    August 17, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Joe in NJ

    For about half of Obama's questions, by the time he finished answering them I had no idea what he was talking about.

    August 17, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. The Truth



    August 17, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. 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 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. Tennisguypitt

    It wasn't a debate, that's for sure.

    August 17, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Raymond Duke

    That sounds about right for Schnider who is an avid Obama supporter. Obama had to answer the questions without waiting for someone else to answer them like hillary did during the primaries and then Obama agreeing and adding a one line sentence. Obama was on his own and without his telepropter was lost and as usual showed his great speech abilities that the liberal press wants to compare with John Kennedy. Like uh, uh, ah, uh, uh, uh.

    August 17, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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