August 18th, 2008
12:03 PM ET
14 years ago

Analysis: Is McCain finding his way on faith?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain talks about his military service more than his faith."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - On a rainy evening last December in the upstate South Carolina town of Greer, as his once-languishing campaign was clawing its way back into contention, John McCain hosted a town hall meeting at a diner called Pete's Drive-In.

He talked about the issues that usually stir his passions - a commitment to service, winning the war in Iraq, fighting pork-barrel spending - before taking questions from a small audience of Republican primary voters.

As the event neared its conclusion, a man in the back of the restaurant raised his hand and broached a topic not often heard at the VFW and American Legion halls where McCain preferred to campaign.

"I was wondering if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior?" the voter asked.

McCain, positioned before a large American flag, paused and lowered his head.

"I am a man of faith," he responded. "I have deep religious beliefs and values. I had experiences in my life where I had to rely on God not to get me through another day or another hour, but another minute."

Related: Can McCain win over social conservatives?

The questioner, not satisfied, pressed the candidate again on whether he had let Christ into his life.

"I also believe that talking too much about one's faith and religion, in my view, is something between me and God," McCain said. The crowd clapped.

Eight months later, the GOP nominee-in-waiting sat onstage with mega-pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in California, earning cheers for telling an audience of evangelicals that he was "saved and forgiven."

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Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (209 Responses)
  1. sPoNgEbOb sQuArEpAnTs

    McCain’s REAL names:

    McBush – He vows to continue Bush’s failed policies
    McWar – He wants to keep the Iraq war for 100 years
    McFear – His goal is to make you afraid of Obama, so that you vote for him
    McSurge – He never talks for a minute without talking about the SURGE
    McDrill – He is calling for a surge in Drilling to solve energy crisis
    McOil – So far, the Oil company executives have given him more than $2 million
    McOld – He is very OLD
    McShame – He divorced his first wife - to marry a younger, richer and sexier woman
    McSame – He has voted over 95% for Bush (Bush = McCain)
    McThird – He is running for Bush’s third term in office
    McRich – He is worth over $100 million, and wants big tax cuts for ONLY-THE-RICH
    McLies – He supports the GOP Book about Obama that contains more a thousand lies
    McRove – He plays the dirty Karl Rove politics
    McBomb –his foreign policy song is: bomb !, bomb !, bomb !, bomb !....

    GOP = Grand Old Pharisees (or you can argue it is rather- Great Oil Party)
    FOX = For Obama’s eXecution (is it FOX noise or FIX news?)
    Far Right lunatics = Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Oreilly
    Far Left fools = John Edwards, Kwame Kilpatrick
    Independent fool = Lou Dobbs
    Neoconservatives = Rev. James Dobson, George Bush, John McCain.

    For your own good: don’t be fooled by foxnews or any of the people above.

    August 18, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Richard from DE

    I am a registered Republican and for the first time in 42 years of voting, I will be casting for my vote for a Democrat President. I support Barack Obama and I am ashamed of the dirty tricks of the GOP. My father would be spinning in his grave if he knew where his once great party is heading.

    August 18, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. kay

    Was the crowd listening or waiting to cheer?

    August 18, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Jim

    Over 200 years, our presidents have accumulated 5 trillion in Debt, since clinton left, Bush alone has almost doubled it, within 8 years, it's at 9 and a half trillion, and you want 4 more years of the same Bush policies and tax system, you blind sheep are gonna destroy this country if Mccain were to win.

    The rest of you republicans go ahead and keep filling your heads with BS from Hannity and Limbaugh like the good little ignorant sheep that you are.

    August 18, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Dan

    Leave faith out of politics!
    The people are watching, and they are not fooled by this type of hype.
    The great George Carlin once said, "Thou shall keep thy religion to thyselves."

    August 18, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. bridgette

    McCain cheated on that silly forum Saturday. What does that tell you about his faith. He made the Reverund look silly. Here he is saying McCain's in a closed booth and the man hadn't even left his hotel yet. So he is sitting there listening to the questions. What does that tell you about his character. And he used a scene from a Ben Hur movie describing an experience in a POW camp. He is a low sick and deceitful man.

    August 18, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Catherine

    Just pandering.... During the faith forum, I learned nothing new of McCain's faith and how it intertwines with his politics. I heard the same heart tugging POW stories and stump speech after stump speech.

    August 18, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Joe Kiloz

    CNN: We're more interested in policy issues. We want to know when

    the Congress can be rounded up to vote on the drill here drill now vote.

    We're more interested in multi level multi view analysis of proposed

    economic policies. We want more balanced reporting. We want to have

    a deeper examination of the candidates in terms of foreign policy. Is

    Georgia a sign of things to come ? What's the situation with Iranian

    nuclear ambitions ? Why the silence of the surge success in Iraq ?

    August 18, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Seamus

    Maybe he's finding his way because he's cheating at faith forums by listening to the questions beforehand and because he's stealing stories about "crosses in the sand" from Russian authors. McCain eventually "finds his way" with every group, because he lies, panders, and changes his positions.

    August 18, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Open Your 3rd Eye

    No, he did not find his way, he just got a little better at playing the game of "make believe." The PHONY is always easy to spot in a room. His name is John McCain.

    August 18, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Vanessa, OH

    He's in a tunnel. So he's finding his way any which way. If faith is the way for him to get out of the tunnel, then that's the direction he'll go. I personally, am not buying it.

    He talked so much about his respect for his men, and the guard who put the cross in the sand, etc. But what did he do when he returned home–ditched his wife and kids, for an affair with Cindy Lou.

    Obama is my choice and he will be our next president.


    August 18, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Ralph, Dana Point, CA

    For the Record:

    Obama did NOT have any voters at that Forum. So I think anybody who changed his or her mind to vote for him is icing on the cake. The audience and the format were FIXED. As we know John McCain heard the questions on his way to the church. There was no "cone of silence" as the pastor said. The cone of silence was the fact that the house was stacked with the GOP.

    So all in all, Barack did well. He held his own and I'm proud of him.

    Obama 08

    August 18, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Chris, NJ

    Makes sense to me that he responded the way he did. The position of president IS indeed more about having military service than it is about your religious beliefs. He has said he's Christian which means, yes he has accepted Christ as his lord and saviour so I fail to see why the question was asked in the first place.

    August 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. McCain’s PHONY EXPRESS

    When Rick Warren said that McCain was in a “Cone of silence” why did McCain say jokingly, he “was trying to hear thru the walls” when he wasn’t even in the “Cone of Silence”? He wasn’t even in the building! Why didn’t McCain say the truth that he was in his motorcade? Nice start to a “faith forum”!!!

    By the way, the link between McCain (he was one of the worst students at the academy) and the “Cone of Silence” is funny. That’s how McCain’s Republicans have been running the White House. Just like the top secret organization in the “Get Smart” show!

    August 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. Lesley

    The real McCain was not speaking at the forum but a prompted, scripted version. He had 1/2 an hour to hear the program and listen to the comments. Who out there believes that McCain could actually remember the names of all four liberal-leaning judges on the Supreme Court off the top of his head? Give me a break. What a sham.

    August 18, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. MLH

    Come on. This is the guy that took this forum so seriously that although it had been set weeks beforehand, and he knew part of the program was being sequestered during Senator Obama's questioning, he couldn't be bothered to arrive on time.

    August 18, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. Laidetea

    I honestly don't believe a word of John McCain is saying......that Georgian President was looking for John to send US troop or something to help them and John boy turned the other way because he has no authority to give orders like I describe. He had no intentions on help his so called Georgian President friend it all a lie.

    John McCain can't straight talk his way out of a paper bag.

    August 18, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Sheri

    I'm a Christian and I'm looking forward to voting for


    the candidate for CHANGE

    August 18, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. maurice

    Obama says "Bush is McCain`s president"! Who exactly is his president?

    August 18, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. Irene

    Somebody should have shown Senator McCain how to find his way to Saddleback Church this past Saturday.........SO HE WOULDN'T BE LATE for the Faith Forum.

    "Cone of Silence"...........hmmmmm

    August 18, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. Elizabeth

    The Bible says you will know them by their actions. McCain lied about the debate and not knowing the questions ahead of time. He answered the questions before Pastor Warren asked them. But cheating and finding out the questions would be what a warmonger would do. Sneak up on your enemy and do whatever it takes todefeat them.

    What really happened to Cindy's arm? McCain says that life begins with conception. But discards his first wife for youth and money.

    McCain is a disgrace.

    August 18, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. mary

    I do not respect an adulterer. How can I trust McCain as president of our country

    August 18, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Puck

    Right, McCain is "saved & forgiven" when the bulk of the crowd
    will cheer for him saying so. The cards were stacked in favor
    of such a comment, so, McCain delivered it.

    Take notice, though – McCain won't talk about his faith while
    on the campaign trail. But, when in Orange County, in an
    Evangelical Christian Mega Church, of course he's going to
    play to the crowd.

    Even CNN's John King commented on how McCain added
    extra elements to his stories to play to the Christian crowd.

    McCain is a Pander Bear.

    August 18, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. Richard J H

    I am a federalist republican and in all honesty, I dont care about the religion of the candidates. I am NOT a man of faith so don't let it sway me. I am also enlightened enough to realize that this country, no matter how you argue it, was built upon christianity and populated by christians so you cannot argue that it WILL play a role in decisions made.

    McCain's faith is not thrown around lightly and he doesnt base his campaign on it – that's why he appeals to non-socially conservative republican voters such as myself

    August 18, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. Abby

    More like faking his way on faith.

    August 18, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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