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. Vaxe J L

    McCain cheated on that silly forum Saturday.
    Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater,
    Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater,
    Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater, Cheater,

    August 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. Julie

    If he is a Christian or not, he only has God to answer to.

    August 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. Marilyn

    I could not possibly care less about a candidate's religious views. Religion should have no place whatsoever in this election. Get to the real issues people!!

    August 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. kmk

    When you get questions from a lawyer and answer the questions too fast they know you know the answers, I think McCain had a crash course in all the right things to say by his handlers!!!!!!!

    August 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    The Logan Act (18 U.S.C.A. ยง 953 [1948]) is a single federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.

    SO, uh McSame...Your campaign guy, the lobbyist for Gerogia...did he put you up to that "We are all Georgians!" crap? No one I know is a Gerogian...We're Americans, pal! Inflammatory rhetoric seems to be your specialty and not very helpful to your current president...

    August 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Upon Further Review

    John killed hundreds of babies and their mothers from thirty thousand feet. But we arent allowed to talk about it, are we censors?

    August 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  7. Barry Soetoro

    Ummm... Uhhhhh.... Ahhhhh..... Welllllllll Ummmmm.....
    That question is above my paygrade...

    Great answer Barry... especially for a POTUS wannabee

    What a joke

    August 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. A christian voting for Sen Obama

    Obama '08

    August 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Georgian! Darned dyslexia...

    August 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. gman

    First...saying that you are a born again Christian is redundant. Second... God will forgive you if you vote for Obama. That's the great thing about God. He will overlook your screwups!

    August 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. Mike

    McBush is pure pandering politics. If you ask a Christian, Is Jesus Christ your Savior. A Christian smiles and answers with a joyfull resounding YES. Yet when McCain was asked that question he waffled and dodged and flatly refused to say yes. McBush attends a Baptist Church and yet has never been Baptized. 'my friends', ALL Christians recieve Baptism. McCain has said in the past that he is not 'Born Again'. He has referred to Christian Leaders as agents of hate and crazy. Many Christians will vote for McBush simply because he is the Republican candidate. That is their choice to make. But if Christians vote McCain and think they are voting for the Christian candidate, they are sadly in error. Obama despite his liberal upbringing and views. Is the committed Christian candidate who does not hesitate to proclaim his Lord and Savoir Jesus Christ.

    August 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. ProudToBeDemocrat

    what do you excepect he will say anything to get elected now. I would not be surpised if had said got talk to me last night. This guy is a republican remember what bush said when he sent our troops to Iraq, God advice me to go to Iraq, I am telling this false so called conservative christians had and will use God's name to score cheap politics, republican party is a party of smear, negative attack and demonize your openent to get elected Karl Rove tactic, they have nothing to offer to the American people we have seen it in the last eight years. America time to wake up and fight for your country don't be igrorant get involved study the candidates your self do not be consumed by the negaive attacks from the right wing media. Sean Hannity, Bill O'Relley are getting paid millions for spreading false rumors time to take the Republian spear machine.

    August 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Moderate Democratic, New York

    I read the DNC wants to paint the picture of Obama with an "All American" look. How!!???! Just a few pictures of him where he grew up or lived in Indoneisa, and NOBODY will believe he's All American.

    August 18, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. John Starnes

    John Mccain is the archetypal chameleon, changing his colors at will to match his the man that has been "saved" by Jesus thinks it is funny to joke about killing millions of people in one setting, expresses "regret" over his "failed first marriage" during which he cheated with his current millionaire wife in another setting, then expounds about "traditional family values" awkwardly in another. IF there is a real John McCain, have we ever seen him?

    August 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Rob, Canada

    McCain said he believes life begins at conception, but he is also in favor of embryonic stem cell research. He can't have it both ways.. or can he? No one seems to be calling him out on this contradiction.

    August 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. Rich

    He is finding his way to one line catch phrases and stump speaches. I admit he had good delivery but nothing about what he spoke about on Saturday lead me to believe he is truly a man of faith. More so it made me think with his "the one" commercial and war mongering answers that he not saved or understand the fundamentals teachings of the bibel.

    August 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Gerry

    McCain finding his way on faith?-right. I guess that's why he cheated on Saturday and plagarised comments.

    The only faith McCain has is in Bush policies-nothing else.

    August 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. ProudToBeDemocrat

    Time to take the republican smear machin DOWN.

    August 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Miss C

    It will be peace in the world- once Obama takes his place.

    There wouldn't be No wars, for Mccain to fight.
    Mccain you are just some old frout looking for attention.

    August 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. tim, mississippi

    mcshameless can hardly remember his own name, never mind answering any simple question without teleprompter.

    have mercy on the old pathetic bum, LOL.

    August 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Red Rotor

    I don't trust McCain anymore. Do we still have to listen to him? He has lost me TOO many times in the last year.

    August 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. Helene

    What a joke ! He cheated on his first wife, he cheated on the second, And his story about the cross in the sand ! Please, this is plagiarizing Solzhenitsyn !!!

    August 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. Renee

    A true Christian would never offer their wife up to a bunch of bikers or anyone else for that matter.

    August 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. 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 he ignored their agenda, 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 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Diane

    McCain definetly knew the questions before the forum. I don't understand the lies about McCain NOT knowing. They can say all they want, but it was fixed. Also that the beginning of the program Rick said this will be an "interview like forum". In my book an interview is between two people...yet, Obama got chastised by the media because he didn't look at the audience Ift the people vote McCain they deserve 8 more years of BUSH. McCain is a piece of work. A mean phony at that.

    August 18, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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