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

Analysis: Is McCain finding his way on faith?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/16/art.mccain1.ap.jpg 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. kay

    Same old guy running dirty ads and clearly lying about his opponent, can not keep his words on to run an honorable campaing getting cheers because he said will be a pro- life canadidate..

    I suppose christainity has boiled down to abortion and gay marriages? While war after war, killing innocent victims of war does not matter to christains.. or is it envagelicals...

    August 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Debby

    I think McCain always had faith, but the forum really brought out what his thoughts are. McCain did an excellent job Sat. night and really related his experiences with the crowd. Obama stuttered through the whole thing and looked like he would rather have been back on vacation.

    August 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. tr

    McCain has LIED over and over and lied about no hearing Obama's qustions, LIED about the cross story he took from a book....He lied about Abba, lied about The Pittsurgh story and plagerized his Georgia policy.....the man is a LIAR, if he is not then he has the beginning of dementia or Altz diseasae

    August 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. Tom in CA

    ...I hear the sounds of a Pander bear. Now where can that Pander bear be?

    August 18, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. Billion

    John Mccain : Its time to retire, live a good life with your million dollar princess (who id marry in a heartbeat and im only 23). You have a good life, dont screw up other peoples life by bad judgements you could possibly make and not remember a day after making them.

    This message has been approved by Billion

    August 18, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. tr

    He also chealted on his first wife and dumped her and kids....he goot a narraige lisence before he was even divorced – THOSE ARE FACTS

    August 18, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. McCain Democrat

    He certainly is. McCain – Yes He Can!

    August 18, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Mark VA

    Faith is great and shows a sound moral foundation. I heard substance in McCain's conversation. I only heard uhms and uuh from Obama.

    August 18, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Andrew (Toronto, Ontario)

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

    Does the "religious right" even know what it means to be a Evangelical Christian? If they did they would not applaud this response. We're suppose to spread (evangelize) the good news, not keep it to ourselves, that's why Jesus was sent to Earth in the first place! If you don't want to answer such questions, do not participate in that kind of event!

    Andrew

    August 18, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. Paul from Minneapolis

    CNN, let's take a look at some honesty. Rick Warren told us that Senator McCain was in a cone of silence as Senator Obama's portion began. This was not an accurate depiction–Senator McCain was in a car on his way to the church. When asked about the cone of silence, Senator McCain made a joke instead of telling us he was in a car. This whole story is falling apart. This was the first and last time I listen to Mr. Warren, as he has a problem speaking the truth. Can CNN do a little journalism and get to the bottom of this? And I don't mean you should give Senator McCain the benefit of the doubt–actually investigate.

    August 18, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. Military Man

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

    Bravo McCain ... I respect that answer. Obama got owned Saturday night. It's been a long time since I've been that uncomfortable listening to a Q and A ... not because I didn't like what was being said but because it was so uncomfortable to watch a candidate stumble and bumble as much as he did. I look forward to the debates. It's obvious why Obama refused to debate McCain more than the 3 standard times.

    Obama? No thank you.

    August 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. Richard J H

    once again the crazies can't accept that obama was JUST. NOT. AS. GOOD.

    jsut keep lying to yourself that McCain cheated but don't be too shocked in November when obama loses. Maybe he can run for leader of UN. . .seems more his speed

    August 18, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Justme WV

    I am a born again Christian...and guess what I am voting for OBAMA

    August 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. ATLian

    I thought Obama stuck to the rules and the format. Very faith and religous based answers as was the goal. McCain had his finger on the trigger and ready to go with each question. No thoughtfulness at all. And if I head one POW story I heard one to many!! Give it a rest!

    August 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    John McCain talks more about his military faith than his religious faith. Which God does he serve, you can never talk too much about your faith in God. If you deny him once he'll deny him twice.

    August 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Here we go again with the vast right wing conspiracy claims. McCain didn't hear the questions ahead of time. We had a chance to see Obama and Mccain get asked the same questions. McCain gave direct answers, and Obama waffled all over the place. Obama struck out, and McCain hit a home run. McCain will crush Obama in the debates. Why do you never see Obama answering questions from average voters? Because without a telepromptor, he's a deer in the headlights.

    August 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. Char for Obama 08 & 12

    MCCAIN IS A LIAR. HE CHEATED ON HIS 1ST WIFE MULTIPLE TIMES THERE WAS NO "BREAKDOWN IN THE MARRIAGE" HE CHEATED NUMBEROUS TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    CHEATER CHEATER WAR LOVING CHEATER CHEATER

    August 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. No Messiah comples- unlike Obama

    Those who wear their faith on their sleeves are generally those who think they are better than others.

    So give me the quiet, subtle, private worshipper ANY day to the loud mouths who proclaim themselves gifts from God.

    August 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. dittohead with forty names

    I believe only what Rush Limbaugh tells me to believe because I cant think for myself.Rush told me to believe everything John says.

    August 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. R.I.F.

    I think Mccain found his way to listening to the questions before he got to the "cone of silence" 1/2 hour after the event began.

    August 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Joe Regis

    The candidate of faith and change is Obama and Obama.

    McCain is a fake. He is the failed republican failed policies for 8 precious years being wasted.

    Time for a chnage in a new direction.

    Our faith is on Obama.

    Obama 08/12.

    August 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. Rob

    who cares

    August 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  23. Michelle, PA

    What about McCain's admitted ability to hear the questions, and Obama's answers, in advance? How about the way he answered some of the questions before they were even asked? Sure, Mccain's campaign said he wasn't listening. Yeah, right. If you believe that, read the transcript. Is it part of "faith" to cheat, then lie about it?

    I am Christian but not an evangelical, and will not base my vote on abortion or gay marriage. I'm basing my vote on the actual values and moral judgment of the candidates as it relates to the Presidency. I don't agree 100% with Obama, but I see a habitual liar and cheater in McCain I never expected to see. Sad, very sad.

    August 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. leonard martell

    Well i have been around for 70 years and know good from bad and the democrat's get the bad badge for there stand on abortion. i would not want to be a child of there's and have to live with there ahame.

    August 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. 18,000,000 plus the disenfranchised

    THE 18,000,000 +All of the disenfranchised,desert wanderers,and castaways will lead McCain out of the desert ,and unto "Mt Sinai", where he will find his strength! Have no fear of that! And like Clinton, McCain will be able to accomplish much more,with much less,because the "Lord" will multiply his "fishes",of the sea.....and the DNC will tremble under-foot. .....McCain will look around and ask,where did these,my children,come from................and the reply will be"They were snatched from jaws of a Hellish beast, and were made the fruit of your works."

    August 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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