August 17th, 2008
07:18 PM ET
12 years ago

Warren: McCain did not violate 'cone of silence'

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[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Warren and McCain camp insist the presumptive Republican nominee had no edge over Obama by going second."](CNN) – Sometimes you just have to take it on faith.

Pastor Rick Warren said John McCain didn’t hear any of the questions in advance at Saturday night’s Civil Forum, even if the candidate was a little late arriving to the pre-arranged quiet room or “cone of silence.”

At the beginning of the forum at California megachurch, Warren told the crowd and TV audience, “I'm going to ask identical questions to each of these candidates, so you can compare apples to apples. Now, Senator Obama is going to go first. We flipped a coin, and we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence.”

But at 8 p.m. ET, as Warren said that, McCain was actually not in the building. He was just leaving his hotel, with his motorcade arriving at the church nearly a half hour into the event. A. Larry Ross, a spokesman for Warren, says McCain then went directly into the holding room they dubbed the “cone of silence” (in reality, a room with no TV or audio).

Some questioned whether that late arrival might have allowed McCain to hear some of the questions being first posed to Obama.

Warren told CNN Sunday evening, “we flat out asked him” if he heard any of the questions. The McCain campaign “confirmed that McCain did not hear or see any of the broadcast” in the motorcade or after he arrived, Ross said.

When asked if McCain overheard anything, Charlie Black, a McCain adviser who was with him at the time, told CNN: "We were in motorcade until 5:30 p.m. ET; then a holding room in another building with no TV."

Warren said, “I trust the integrity of both” candidates, and said he “knew they would abide by the rules.” He joked McCain may not have been in the cone of silence, but “he was in the cone of a Secret Service motorcade”.

Ross says the whole event only came about because of the relationship Warren has with both men. He said they all agreed to assure a “level field, “McCain would not hear the questions or Senator Obama’s answers.” The pastor spoke to each candidate this week, giving the general themes. Warren decided to tell them each the first two questions in advance, about the three wisest people you know, and the biggest moral failings.

For their part, an Obama spokesperson told CNN’s Mike Roselli they are not pursuing whether McCain heard any of the other questions. They say they assuming McCain had the same information they did.

Filed under: Extra • John McCain
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Barbara

    Someone else could have been watching and relaying the questions to McWarmonger via phone or a lot of other ways.

    McWarmonger jumped ahead on questions, and had prepared "stump" answers and his boring stories for the others.

    He wants to lead us into more wars.

    No to Crooked Republicans. No to McWarmonger. He lies

    August 17, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. Dan

    It doesn't really matter to me whether Mccain heard some questions or not... this is a long process, the truth will come out in the end anyways. I am increasingly more confident that the citizens of the US will realize that Obama is the leader fit to take our country into a new and positive direction. Mccsame is simply another obstacle along the way.

    August 17, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. Sooo

    Mccain has lied constantly about Obama's policies through his fear based lying attack ads... I'm sure he's not going to care about lying if he saw some questions or not...

    August 17, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. linda., bella vista, ar

    Paster Slick Rick...had a Purpose Driven show...that started with all the tickets being sold to his selected sheeple to build a new steeple...

    CNN with its total bias helped with the whole charade...

    NO CREDIBILITY LEFT....CNN, Paster Rick, McShame...

    August 17, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  5. jay in CA

    so i guess its natural for mccain to know he was going to ask about justices of the supreme court or straight out answer before the question was asked?

    if thats true, then we should not elect a president who is not going to listen. Or in some cases with mccain, just claim he didnt hear the question.

    August 17, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  6. Milwaukee

    There is a such thing as text...hello we are in a new era??? Plus all hotels carry CNN because it's the best News station in the U.S.

    August 17, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  7. GPM

    McCain knew the answers before they were asked, he did have some prior knowledge to the questions as shown by his rapid responses.

    August 17, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  8. Independent Voter

    Who cares?

    Why should McCain sit in a back room, silent or otherwise, while Barry holds forth.

    He got there in plenty of time, and both he and the Secret Service are honorable to a fault.

    Don't you have anything important to speculate about on this Sunday evening? How about whacking away at guesses about the VP slot, or have you beaten that to death finally?

    August 17, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. James

    Oh come on, how dumb do they think we are? Of COURSE he knew the questions. He was spitting out his answers before the questions were finished. The Rove group will do anything.

    August 17, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  10. tj bettencourt


    August 17, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. Paula in WI

    Don't they have tv in those vehicles???I knew his answers were too snappy.We viewers picked up on it right away.

    August 17, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. J

    The McCain campaign is lying. He without a doubt knew these questions, his answers were so pre-mediated you would think he had a teleprompter.

    August 17, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Just as I thought.
    It was very suspicious that McCain – the 71 year old – answered questions rather quickly!!! It seemed as if he actually KNEW the questions and had rehearsed his responses – even before he even heard the questions! And the Pastor even said –
    you (McCain) is answering the questions before he even asked them!

    CNN had an interview with the Pastor on Sunday August 17th at around 6 PM EST. The Pastor had stated last night that Barack Obama "won" and was going to be asked the questions first – while – McCain – was in a "cone of silence." He was in a nearby room and could not hear the questions or answers.

    Well... tonight on CNN- the Pastor "honestly" answered the question – and stated that McCain was actually not in a nearby room – but was on his ride over to the Church. He was with secret service and McCain said that he did not hear the ?s or answers beforehand.

    And interestingly, Cindy McCain – the wife who knows technology very very well.. who more than likely had her blackberry with her. Could she have had her Blackberry on – and COULD John McCain have been listening to the conversation Obama was having with the Pastor – while he was supposedly on his way to the Church????


    McCain is a liar who will do ANYTHING to win this election.
    I think that if this war hero is a liar – it needs to be made public information.

    Kay Mazzetta
    Asbury NJ

    August 17, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  14. J

    It doesn't matter if they "didn't have TV" the the motorcade. Several satellite radio services broadcasted the forum

    August 17, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. Sharon in Vermont

    Bad when your character witness has to be Charlie Black.

    August 17, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  16. fed up with america

    of course you have to take mcsames word for it. A republican would never lie...joke.

    August 17, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. Carol MI

    Now we hear, some 18 hours later (out of the mouth of Rick Warren himself) that McCain was NOT in the sound proof room before he come on stage but in his limo. Most likely listening to the questions on his laptop preferring for HIS answers.

    Once again, the nitty-gritty kept from the general population.

    August 17, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. Jimmy in RI

    Personally, I didn't buy a word John McCain's "faith" discussion last night. I think he should have the courage to come out and admit that he is in fact an atheist (or agnostic). I'd be much more likely to vote for him if he did. After all, his one good "moment" was when he told the story about sharing a moment with a prison guard in Vietnam who had drawn a cross in the dirt–which is great, except that he clearly stole that story from The Gulag Archipelago, where Alexander Solzhenitsyn tells about the same thing happening to 1973.
    So go for it, Johnny. Admit your real beliefs (or lack thereof) about God. You'll win my vote if you do!

    August 17, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  19. PUertorrican in the States

    Sorry, but I dont buy it!

    August 17, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. colorwindows

    literalesque bs - no; he didn't hear the broadcast directly his operatives relayed the info.

    August 17, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  21. Max

    What do you expect from a system named after the notoriously unreliable device from the Get Smart series?

    August 17, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  22. ODD

    McCains actions and body language was just weird. It was as if he was cramming for a test and wanted to hurry with questions. His jitterness and lashing out answers was a liitle odd. The yes yes yes really shocked me. It appeared he was not sincere with some of the answers and was rude by not answering them when asked.

    It kind got away from pastor Warren but overall I did enjoy his style of questioning. McCain is just a wild cannon! No Control! I hope and pray he does slow down and not be so quick to jump into war or any other issues importantant to our country bbut use some intelligence and think of the entire situation not just zero in on WAR He says country 1st but he was all politics and pandering which he admitted to.

    I still feel he did not answer some major questions but skipped by them with other war stories that did not pertain to what was asked???

    August 17, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  23. Francine

    I'm sorry... but McCain was supposed to be at the even and in this "cone of silence" WHEN Obama was on stage..Half an hour late? Where was he? I am a bit of a "Doubting Thomas" and think that there may have been a TV in the car...McCain has never been so at ease in public speaking...almost like he knew the questions. Another thing. He should be admired and respected for his Vietnam ordeal, but he keeps bringing it up...It's his claim to fame. However this will not necessarily make him a better president.

    August 17, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  24. Michigan Independent

    ...there are so many other ways for him to hear the questions...and answers...they were not lying when they said there was no audio or tv but you can certainly hear it from a cell phone...certainly we are not naive to think they are most certainly telling the truth when the campaign is so willingly to put much less than truthful advertising on tv!

    Obama portrayed a thoughtful thinking presidential candidate willing to negotiate and meet in the middle ground for win/wins. McCain glared of wanting his own way with little room for negotiation...he's right ...end of discussion.... thoughts...

    August 17, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  25. Leron Gabriel

    Mr. McCain answered so many questions prior to the Rick Warren completing the question. You can fool some people, sometime, but you can't fool all the people all the time!

    Oh CNN, the most trusted name in News, when will we have another minority providing analysis other that all those caucasians. We need different perspectives and I am sorry, your panel is not diverse enough to provide that needed perspective. M

    August 17, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
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