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. Sandi AZ

    John McCain may be forgiven, but it is evident he has not accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord or Savior, or he would have said so. Makes me wonder if he accepts Jesus as the Son of God and believes in the resurection of Christ?? Sort of makes you ponder a little on this matter. He has always backed away from faith issues, is ashamed or just does not believe. He needs to explain himself more.

    August 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. No Messiah comples- unlike Obama

    McCain is the only republican who can win this year... when no democrat can fail.

    Obama is the only Democrat who can lose this year... when no republican can win.

    Which party chose better? Oh... one party voted...and one party selected.

    Which side is God on? Earn votes or threaten and steal them?

    Riddle it out all you wise, educated worshippers of Obama.

    August 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Pam

    Mark VA August 18th, 2008 12:24 pm ET

    Faith is great and shows a sound moral foundation. I heard substance in McCain's conversation. I only heard uhms and uuh from Obama.
    Because that's all you chose to hear.

    A man with deep religious beliefs and values wouldn't have cheated on his disabled wife and left her for an empty-headed, rich bimbo.

    August 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Why do you never post my comments?

    The tripe that Obama's campaign sent out about McCain hearing the questions and rehearsing his answers reminds me of when they called Bill and Hillary Clinton racists.

    Getting nervous, are we?

    August 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Monica, Texas

    Why are we not hearing more about this "cone of silence"....CNN you above all the other broadcasted shows should be questioning this....Duh XM SATELLITE RADIO, you mean to say his motorcade does not have this? He would not need a TV to see the show. I listen to CNN Live all the time in the car.

    August 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. mollygonz

    Whatever McSame..All you talk is surface talk. You don't know how to dig deeper unless someone is pulling your strings like a puppet. Your whole performance at that forum was of a master puppet. Obama oozes of authenticity..I can't believe that people can't see that..oh, could it be that they don't know how to identify with someone who is authentic..they can't believe that someone of that caliber could possibly be running for president?

    August 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Generation X

    He found his faith in that prison story when it was convenient. That's why he divorced his wife shortly thereafter upon release from prison. A Christian msut be humble and I saw no sign of humility in any of McCain's responses. I know of no Cristian that will follow someone (OBL) to the gates of hell, unless, perhaps, you are pandering to the right for votes as McCain. And I am a Christian, too.

    August 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Also, Warren asked Obama the question about something the American people wouldn't want to hear, forcing him to deliver "bad news."

    He asked McCain no such question.

    Also, McCain nearly forgot Justice Stevens' name. Well, he's only been on the Court for 34 years (appointed by a Republican, btw).

    This whole thing was a farce, putting Obama in a no-win situation, even though he did quite well, all things considered.

    Would McCain agree to a similar format in front of the ACLU?

    August 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Jeff D, South Bend, IN

    Finding his way to a liar's pulpit, certainly. Are you one of the McCain faithful who choose to believe him when he says he didn't hear the questions ahead of time? Then go watch the video again, specifically the question on education. Warren did not even get the question out of his mouth (which was a 3-part question to Obama followed by "what do we do then") – DID NOT EVEN ASK IT YET – and McCain cut him off and responded "Yes, yes, yes, and find the bad teachers a new line of work".

    So, McSame supporters – explain how McCain did not LIE to everyone, proclaiming he didn't hear the questions ahead of time. The old timer cannot keep up with Obama, so he lies, lies, lies, lies. He's the McSame as Bush and company – a disaster in waiting.

    August 18, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. Michelle, PA

    If this forum had been a game show, and the second contestant was able to hear the answers of the first, would you call it cheating? How much more so when the Presidency is at stake! If I were one of the evangelicals in the audience that night, cheering the obviously rehearsed (look at his tone and cadence) answers, I would feel infinitely cheated.

    August 18, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. Sacto Joe

    The fix was in on this "debate". But of course these "real" Christians would rather believe someone who tells them what they want to hear than someone who speaks from his heart and who is undeniably a Christian!

    August 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Al, NY NY

    He didn't find his way, he found a way to pander to the zealots who rule his party. The odds were clearly stacked for him so all he had ot do was to give them the usual buzz words and talking points and the lemmings would go wild

    August 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Tired of W, OH

    I think that true Christians already know the answer about McCain's faith. He and the GOP use religion and faith to get the only thing that they care about (besides money) in this world: POWER. You know that it's true. So, if you like getting used, go vote for McCain. The evangelicals felt burned by Bush after they helped him secure the presidency and it will be no different under McCain. Please, if you voted for Bush, prove that you can learn a lesson. Try to understand that, while religion is important, America faces challenges that McCain cannot solve. Vote for Obama.

    August 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. WOW - Cedar Hill, TX

    McCain is a follower not a leader. He is not getting better at anything. McCain heard all the questions on saturday night before he was to speak with Pastor Rick Warren... When asked by CNN if McMain was in the building while Obama was on stage Rick stated yes.... According to CNN McCain was NOT in the building. So McCain had an edge on Obama because he knew what the questions was before Rick asked them.

    McCain and the GOP are cheats!!!!!!


    August 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. David in Illinois

    As Christians, we should always ask: What would Jesus do? Well, Jesus was a peacemaker, not a saber-rattler. Nobody can speak for Jesus, of course, but a "man of faith" should be a little more willing to try to avoid war than to bully, threaten and be willing to attack at a moment's notice when that isn't ABSOLUTELY necessary.
    I think McCain fails to fulfill the tenets of his faith.

    August 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. The Bush Twins : George and John

    Anyone that has recieved the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, when asked about it, would never deny doing so. They would also never beat around the bush with their answer. Jesus said "anyone that denies Him before man, He will deny before our Father in heaven". It seems to me that Sen. McCain has realized what the people want to hear. I guess if that's what he has to do to try and win the election, so be it. Unfortunately John you don't realize tat God the Father can truly see into your heart.

    August 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. Kelby from Houston, TX

    What happened to the whole 'agents of intolerance' thing? Why are we not separating the church from the state? Shouldn't we separate the church from the government?

    August 18, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Frank in NYC

    the funny thing is that people say that obama stutters and all that but when you are held to a different standard then your counterpart you have to think about and choose your words carefully or else they will be miscontrued to mean something else....someone tell me why when mccain says something wrong or politically incorrect it is not made a big deal???

    August 18, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  19. Sheeple for Obama

    Obama's tactics and lies tell me that his faith is a strange faith... maybe more for show than for real?

    Just like every other carefully orchestrated Obama show moment?

    Obama is a master manipulator- charismatic leader, if you prefer.

    He inspires vitriol and intra-party hate and inflames racial tensions.

    Pretending to unite and be for hope and change.

    I don't care how many years he attended Rev. Wright's Church.

    He still falls short on humility and sincere faith.

    August 18, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Pam

    Let's fill that same room with college students from UCLA and see how McCain does. He wouldn't even show up.

    August 18, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. Dems are stuck in the fix they rigged

    You don't have to or NEED to talk on an on about your faith to be a person of faith.

    Quite the OPPOSITE illusion.

    August 18, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. Vote 4 the Hero

    No one should force their religion on anyone...

    McCain handles himself very well, he doesn't need to talk about his faith. The man has been through alot in his life and he has stated before his faith in God played a huge part in him making it through.

    This man is ready to lead this country... Unlike the Obama who has no experience and bases his views on polls not America.

    AMERICA 4 McCain!!!

    August 18, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Sherry, Atlanta




    August 18, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. EDW

    I agree, Warren didn't even know that McCain WAS NOT in the building yet. After all the gaffs that McCain has had recently he seemed too prepared for those questions at the forum. The forum was filled with the GOP and that is why Obama didn't agree on these fake town hall meetings with McCain. They would have all been biased out the gate.

    August 18, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. JJ

    well if he's saved and forgiven, that's all that matters.

    August 18, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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