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. Connie

    During a republican debate ,John McBush raised his hand when asked if he believed in evolution.As a born again Christian I do not , how about all of you. OBAMA 08
    Connie from Indiana

    August 18, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    I do not think he is finding his way, HE HAS ALWAYS HAD HIS FAITH, but now he is opening up his faith to others. He like alot of people include Evangelicals keep their faith to themselves and the ones they know. Remember when the fight ing starts in War, there are no atheist! As a POW a superior being was looking out for him and his fellow POW's. I know I would be relying on my faith to get me through the Hell he was put in by Jane Fonda's friends.

    August 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. sandra

    Why didn't John McCain be honest and say that he cheated on his poor first wife with his current wife...Talk about moriality...Give me a break!

    August 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. MMN Milwaukee WI

    I remember on one occasion a presidential candidate was asked who is the greatest philosopher he’s ever known is and his answer was Jesus. Oh wait that turns out to be the current POTUS and look where he gotten us to. Nuff said.

    August 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. jeanette

    I think John McCain changes his campaign words too much – I think he panders to whomever he's speaking to at the time.
    I have very serious doubts that he is a true bonafied Christian man...if he were a true Christian he would stop all the lies in his campaign about Senator Obama.
    Christians are listening and watching him closely – and they're noticing the lies and misrepresentations McCain is waging against Obama.
    McCain lost my family's votes because of his campaign lies.

    August 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Ha HA!!
    No wonder Obama will not join McCain in town hall debates. Obama got it handed to him. He looked like a blathering fool. It is a problem when you need to think that hard about what your own beliefs are.

    I hate that religion is part of our presidential election. They should not be able to tell what denomination they are. Let the people vote one way or the other based on the facts and issues not on if they have been saved or not.

    August 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Mike, Neb.

    I dont see why people are making a big deal saying "Obama lost!". There really was no way to win or lose this forum, it wasnt a debate. The cards were clearly stacked in McCain's favor at the start of the forum because of republican's stranglehold on religion. I think Obama did a good job considering the circumstances. A sizeable group of people still think he is Muslim, he wanted to show everyone there is no basis for that rumor.

    August 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. tim, mississippi

    many in my church, which are 99% white, would rather vote for Bob Barr, or Obama.

    most of veterans in my extended family support Obama, not mcshameless.

    but few of us ever get a call from the pollsters, or

    maybe we're too quick in hanging upon the unsolicited calls, LOL.

    August 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. tiredofOLDboysclub

    McCain's answer to everything..."When I got shot down (due to poor skills), blah blah blah.

    One trick pony, just like Rudy (911, blah blah 911, 911)

    If you think the GOP deserves four more years you should have your head examined.

    I'm voting for Obama!

    August 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Larry

    Some many dumb responses here and so little time to respond. Obviously the left-wing blogs, etc., have been busy pumping out this "Pastor Rick lied", "McCain heard the questions", etc., blah-blah-blah. Of course there is no indication of this.
    Seems that so many were leaning left so far that they fell over and missed the part where BOTH candidates were given the format, the general areas, and the exact first two questions to prepare. BOTH CANDIDATES!
    Even then Obama could not muster up a decent answer to those first two questions.
    The left can't stand it if someone talks about their faith, and apparently can't stand it if they don't. Flip-flops anyone?

    August 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. jeanette

    Don't forget McDRAFT.

    August 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Carol

    Yeah waiting on stage after he heard the questions instead of being in the "cone of silence" and with a newly revised Christmas story now including the cross in the sand part, plagerized from one of his favorite authors.

    August 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Bulldog

    McCain talked more about the military than he did about religion. It was just another reheared stump speech for him. And he likely knew some of the question since he arrived late and was traveling when the Obama was being asked questions.

    At least Obama gave fresh answers while McCain gave very rehearsed and recycled answers.

    August 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. baker

    Choice is clear:
    want a socialist america, vote OBAMA;

    Want freedom, liberty, and a good economy, vote for McCain.

    August 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. tim, mississippi

    even GW is distancing himself from Mcshameless the war-mongerer, LOL

    August 18, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Carmen Colorado

    We need to remember that we are to separate religion from politics. It is great that the canidates have faith but we are not to force religion upon anyone. We are not to wear our religion on our sleeves. Your religion is privatel.

    August 18, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. Reality

    he is soooo full of it. Its not even funny !! He did a great job at acting !!

    August 18, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Phil Newton Murphy, Oregon

    Amazing how running for president can get you religion.

    In a hurry.

    OBAMA 08

    August 18, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Again...courage.

    maurice August 18th, 2008 12:13 pm ET

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

    You are a man of clear precision & astute vision, Maurice!

    Could Obama truly be the ultra elitist?

    August 18, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Once a Republican



    He really avoided questions about his faith and God on Saturday just like he does everytime this topic comes up.

    August 18, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Mark

    He's a liar and a cheat...why did he not declare that he was not in a cone of silence when Pastor Warren asked him before the start of his segment?

    August 18, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Chris

    You people really don't get it, John McCain will do anything to win this election because he knows this is his last shot at it. McCain thought he had it back in 2K but, Bush swindled it from under him therefore, he is desperate and will do anything because he will be way too old in four years. So, you folks who think Mr. Straight talker will not do what ever it takes to win are just dreaming!!! He will lie, cheat and steal at this point!!! Don't be so naive people. McCain along with folks who believe that leadership in this Country should remain in the hands of Caucasian

    August 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. GC from Virginia

    I agree ATLian. Obama tried to give honest and thoughtful answers to the questions (as he was asked to do by Pastor Warren). McCain just went into his stump speech – he asked Warren if he could every time. Every single anectode he told, we've heard before. When asked about taxes, he talked about drilling. How does this candidate appeal to anyone? His platform has two planks – he's a POW and he wants to drill here, drill now. That's all the debates made clear to me. We have a choice between a thinking man and a scripted man. And we all know what the latter's presidency will look like...we've been seeing it for 8 years.

    August 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. dittohead with forty names

    He cheated on his Litmus Test by hearing the questions ahead of time.

    August 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    sPoNgEbOb sQuArEpAnTs

    You forgot one under far left fools, his name is Barack Obama!!!!!!!!!

    August 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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