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. John from Canada

    Since no comments are being taken on

    McCain did not violate 'cone of silence'

    I would like to say that I watched both of them speak, my question is if Senator McCain did not hear any of the questions WHY did he a number of times say when are we going to get to the question about the judges, etc. that does not sound like someone did not know what to expect. Listen to his hour and then answer get the answr for your self.
    Also why would he be 1/2 hr late to arrive when he was suppose to be in the cone of silence? Sorry preacher you lost me faith in your annoucement at the start when you said that Senator McCain was in the cone of silence when he was not. That is a lie.

    August 18, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Thomas

    I am more concerned whether a canidate can be President to the entire population of the United States, not just the christian portion.

    August 18, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. kay

    McCain to chase down Osama bin Ladin to the gates of Hell? Political statement or faith statement? You christain ask yourself. What know stuff did you get to know about McCain, or he just came to pander to you...

    August 18, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Barbara

    McCaint couldn't even say Jesus.

    He's a hypocrit that had to pander to a crowd of Jesus-loving Christians.

    Obama '08

    August 18, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Sofia

    I'm sorry but CNN is way too in love with McCain. It's really sickening. Last night the ticker was 90% about McCain and how wonderful he was and is. PLEASE BE UNBIASED. All I see here is negativity toward Obama and nothing negative about McCain. I'm so over this campaign, I want November to come and go. If McCain wins people will realize that it was a mistake, the PUMAs and repubs alike. This will because people are sore losers, racists and just generally hate Obama and actually care about his positions. People are so backwards this election year, it's crazy.

    August 18, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Charles, CT

    Rick Warren is still trying to make himself relevant, which he is not. He can not tell me who to vote for. Rick’s whole body language changed when he was “interviewing Barack”. This was not fair and balanced. But I don’t blame Rick; I blame Barack for showing up in such a lopsided venue.

    The picture speaks for itself. Instead of highlighting the candidates, Rick's highlighting himself, by putting himself in the middle of things.

    I'm not voting for John McCain because he's Rick Warren's boy.


    August 18, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Mary - Dallas

    You can't talk about someone you don't know.

    August 18, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Zeb

    Way to press a candidate on the issues, South Carolina! That question should have led McCain into a promise to make sure everyone in America, even the South, gets at least a 4th grade education.

    That's a personal issue, not to mention a violation of the separation of church and state. Pull your heads out and think a little, will you? Why must you always use Jesus as the poster child for ignorance?

    August 18, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Chips

    I watch the faith forum. I thought Obama answered the question well and display his faith well. He even quoted scripture.

    On McCain’s part, He seem to repeat, Obama’s answer with a twist and throw in a joke. Every question he answers always ended in a war story.

    I was disappointed in Rick Warren for telling Obama no stump speech, but allowed McCain to campaign through his whole hour.

    I felt like McCain war story with the soldier, was reminisce too the snipers story. Can we get a verification on this story?

    How can McCain claim to have faith and be saved and it’s reported by media he has not been baptize yet?

    McCain statement on following OBL to hell. I’m a Christian and am not following anybody too the gates of hell !

    August 18, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. MemeForObama

    Rick Warren clearly LIED about McCanins whereabout during the forum with Obama and he Clearly heared the questions before hand and the Old man got ready and rehearsed his answers. We all knew it-McCain gave it away even before Warren admitted it.

    August 18, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. patty

    Re: Rick Warren's questioning of Obama and McCain: I thought the whole idea of holding this "evangelical inquisition" was bizarre. When Warren asked each about their relationship with Jesus...are you kidding me! What does that have to do with being the President of this country?

    August 18, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. Doug Smith

    Congrats to McCain for shoreing up the evangelical vote.... as if it was ever in doubt.

    Instead, as an independant voter I find myself less inclined to vote for McCain – he simply reminds me of how Bush would have answered those very questions.

    It was a very pro-evangelical-Bush-Like moment.

    August 18, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. Kevin for Obama in MD

    Ahhhhh....who coached him before he walked out. Bless this old mans heart, he tried to play on faith but we all know that John McCain is not a religious nut like he wants people to think he is.....thanks to Mitt Romney for telling the world that. Well he looked tired and old, I mean when you look at John McCain up close he really looks like an old man in a retirement home.He offers nothing new, he still plans to spend 10 billion plus in Iraq. So my question to all these faith nuts and blue collar white people who do not possess degrees/ If we continue to spend 10 billion a month in Iraq, then how to we better the economy and improve roads,

    Off shore drilling will not bring down the prices of gas no time soon, Its pandering, I'm people think, do you know how long it takes to develop it into gas usage. It will take years to do and if you start drilling it will not happen next year anyway. Come one people are we that dumb............well then again, this country elected George Bush...........

    August 18, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Now who is not going to admit to having a religion when running for President ??? I thought he answered questions on Saturday evening as if he had a preview or coached. I have had the opportunity to listen to McCain quite a few times in the last several monts...and...Never has he been so fluid and prepared as on Saturday evening. Almost a NEW john McCain..very odd.

    August 18, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. "Texas Trail Dog"

    A man's beliefs are between him and God. No one should question this unless it is know that one sits in a congregation where his pastor called Uncle stands up in front of the podium and blasphemes God and America to the world. THEN I QUESTION THAT WHOLLY>

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



    August 18, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Rich in Seattle

    Weird how he did so well, as if he may have heard some of the questions before hand.

    He's now a cheat and a liar!

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

    What happened to the concept of separation of church and state that our Founding Fathers based our political system on? John McCain's faith (or lack of it) should not be a topic for discussion in his run for President.

    The Republicans have lost themselves as they've pandered to the religious right. By doing that, they have lost the votes of large swaths of Americans who have strong faith, but do not believe it has a place in government. To win in November, the Republicans MUST become more centrist. There are far more moderate people in this country than knee-jerk religious zealots.

    August 18, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. fella from Chicago

    Too much emphasis on religion of late. We're still a Christian nation and as long as both candidates are Christian that's all that should matter. One's committment to Jesus Christ ia a personal one and shouldn't be open for comment. debate, or examination. Let's get on with the issues of man's creation; politics and the governing of a nation.

    August 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. PG

    Oh no, he is only pandering. Look at his past marriage fiasco. I did not see him as remorseful for his "moral failing." Panamanian McCain is like all the other Repubilicans: deceitful.

    August 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. SIMP

    I for one have no idea why this warren fellow did this. Who is he to think he can step in and ask these questions of the canadate's. He is a pastor of a large church, that's it. what a joke he is.

    I thought Mccain covered up his answers with all those stories about his military deal. I'am so tired of hearing about his vietnam expierence, until it's ashame. How in the world could Candy of CNN say mc old timer did such a great job, is she tripping? Look at the whole picture woman. i get so tired of people like you and david gergen making your little negative remarks, mccain was not all that. It's obvious you idiots fell for all those vietnam stories, patheic.

    This was suppose to be a forum to find out about our canadates personally not to keep reliving mccains captivity, give me a break.

    Obama has a good heart and you can see that from his answers, that old gray haired dude is just like bush and you could see that from his demeanor on this forum.

    August 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. ANGIE

    John mccain cant find his way to the iraq afghanistan border!!!!!!!!!!! Any way he lied and cheated on the forum not everyone is idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Chris, NJ

    Jimmy Carter?

    Or perhaps Obama's president is FDR.. FDR had those socialist tendencies so I could see Obama having supported everything FDR did

    August 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Tony

    McCain is saying what he thinks his base wants him to say. The guy is no more religious or remorseful than anyone else.

    Remember, McCain committed adultery during his first marriage, which the biased press often forgets. He has been caught in numerous lies and shady dealings, but you can bet he has the spin doctors working overtime to make sure they can hide as much as possible from the public.


    August 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Joyce Becker

    McCain was playing up to the crowd with his answers. Anyone who cheats on his wife does not have Christian values in the true sense of the word, no matter how many times they have been saved. If he is so for life as he claims why is he so anxious to get into wars, his patriotism is over done, if he loves his country and wants to honor it so much why sacrifice the lives of the young men and women who he saved when in the womb, doesn;t make sense to me. He should be more concerned on preventing wars that going to wars.

    August 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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