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. NORA, FLORIDA

    SURE IT IS. THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR. HAVE AMERICANS LEARNED NOTHING FROM BUSH'S SAY WHATEVER THEY WANNA HEAR TACTICS.

    LOL AND WHAT IS FUNNY IS THAT MANY AMERICANS ARE STILL FALLING FOR THE DUMBEST TRICK AROUND!!!

    August 18, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Kathryn Irby - Metairie, LA

    I seriously doubt it!

    August 18, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Justme WV

    When will there be a "forum" that's tailored to Sen Obama? It will be so sweet come November when Hills,Bills and Johns are long gone!

    Amen

    August 18, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I counted 15 times McCain said "my friends" in the 40 minutes he took to answer an hour's worth of questions.

    Seriously, does the "my friends" thing work with anyone? Shouldn't he stop saying it? Don't they know how phony and old-fashioned it sounds?

    He sounds like a used-car salesman, trying to put one over on an unsuspecting sucker. Hmmm...

    August 18, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. BettiH, Indianapolis, IN.

    I thought Obama did very well. McCain seemed kind of rehearesd to me, and for ALL the analyst to say they have heard the story of what happened during his time as a POW, and to have added, we were just two christians wroshipping together was kind of cheesey to me.

    August 18, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. No theocracy but still a democracy

    Stop with the forcing people to prove their faith.

    GOD KNOWS... human judgement is irrelevant...

    Obama can fool people better than McCain can- that proves nothing of character, substance, faith or valor.

    August 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Robert

    McCain's war attitude and experience totally overshadows his political and faith views. As far as the Economy issues and Health Care and Taxes goes, he can only think and relate in terms of war and his sacrifices as a prisoner of war. Unfortunately, he has no solid plans on how to create jobs or improve our standard of living.
    His image in the world is, he's a war monger.
    Therefore, I know he would be the wrong choice for President.

    August 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Lorna, NY

    I watched the forum without bias. The forum was totally geared to McCain and I think, he knew the questions beforehand. he has never been so quick to answer any questions before. It was a set-up for Obama, just like the debate with George Stphanolopus at ABC.

    August 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. lil

    mccain is a very angry old man and his faith is in war and he has no
    judgement and care nothing about the the people of this country.
    He is a very scary looking person and he lies a whole look just look
    at the expression on his face when he speaks down to you.

    August 18, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. naomi

    Wow way to alienate all of us Jewish voters. Discouraged by how much we've brought faith into the general elections. People will do anything to get elected, including cheapen their beliefs and value systems. Division of church and state should be division of faith and politics. These people are making it virtually impossible for someone who isn't a self confessed Christian to ever run.

    August 18, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Everybody basically believes in something other than themselves. Faith is not going to resolve what the nation is facing today; it may give one the opportunity according to thier beliefs, but in most instances faith is an absentee landdlord......someone is going to have to resolve it for themselves and the country.

    August 18, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Sam

    McCain seems to be running his campaign on being a prisoner of war. My uncle was a prisoner of war and he wouldn't talk about the subject at all. I actually wasn't impressed with McCain at the forum and his answers were too pat.

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Th only things McCain has faith in are dirty political tricks and dirty campaign money. I'm sorry to feel this way because I am retired military, but McCain seems to have sold his soul in order to be elected president. Nothing is worth losing your soul and humanity, but GOP presidential candidates do it over and over.

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Rickymo

    Mc Same pandered to the intended audience who will probably would have voted for him anyway. I could care less who knows god or not...there are way more important issues facing our country than this stuff!

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Kevin

    Thou shalt not commit adultery ...

    Can McCain really be religious if he cheated on his first wife?

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Enuff with faith

    To survive what he survived in Viet Nam and emerge a whole person- McCain already had oodles of faith.

    You can not prove such a thing... it is part of your fiber.

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. Dayahka

    What, are we back in the middle ages when everyone had to be questioned and affirmed–or be burnt as witches and heretics? McCain was right the first time he spoke–religion is between a person and their god–but he's apparently seen the light and realized that you have to conform to the irrational expectations of the true believers, even if on the inside you are saying BS to all this. Too bad. Maybe some day we'll have a non-believer able to be president.

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Uh huh

    You just don't slide into heaven by saying you're a believer – at the last minute. You have to believe with your heart. It's the same deal as George Bush's promise to Evangelicals to overturn Roe vs Wade, in order to further perpetrate the neo-con agenda. Sorry, this Republican doesn't like it or buy it.

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. Thomas, Illinois

    If he would follow OBL to the gates of hell...What does that say about him?

    August 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. Roseanne

    Roseanne Barr says "McCain looks like a fetus and Cindy Lou looks like King Tut". I can stop laughing.

    August 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Everyone is shocked that McCain can put two sentences together, so despite the fact that his answers were terrible and ofter not related to the question, the media and all the sheep say he was a big winner.

    Sounds like Dubya: convince the people you are a moron (not too difficult), show up on TV and don't drool, win the election.

    August 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. JB

    Obama will lose the general election if he debates with John McCain. John McCain is very good at debates. He answers questions quick and to the point. Thats how he was able to come from behind and beat his rivals in the primaries. Saturday night’s forum was just a small example of whats to come. Obama got whipped really bad by John McCain at Saturday nights forum.

    August 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. BHO: Ignorance is bliss

    Obama go beat, hes very poor at thinking on his feet, and reads teleprompters before a speach deal with it ObamaBots your candidate is a joke.

    August 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Independent

    wow you Obamanites are such poor losers... sour grapes anyone?

    August 18, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. Truth B Told

    Well Well Well John McCain a wolf in sheeps clothing! The only faith I have in McSame is his Alzhimers, he's due for remission this WEEK!

    Obama 08

    August 18, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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