September 30th, 2012
10:54 AM ET
9 years ago

McCain: Debate will go down in history

(CNN) - Republican Sen. John McCain - who has debated both President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney - weighed in Sunday on the upcoming showdown between the two candidates, saying both candidates will be "excellent in their own way" during this year's first presidential debate on Wednesday.

"I think both candidates are well prepared, and understandably, you'll see their surrogates lowering expectations," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union." "That's part of the whole routine."

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In fact, the two campaigns have been boosting the other team in recent days. Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, described Obama as a "very gifted speaker."

"The man's been on the national stage for many years, he's an experienced debater, he's done these kinds of debates before," Ryan said in an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News. "This is Mitt's first time on this kind of a stage."

Meanwhile, Obama's team points to the more than 20 debates in which Romney took part during the Republican presidential primary this cycle.

"He's prepared more than any candidate I think maybe in history, certainly in recent memory," Obama political adviser David Plouffe said Sunday on ABC's "This Week," adding he believes Romney will "probably have a good night on Wednesday night."

As the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, McCain battled Romney during the GOP primaries, then competed against Obama during the general election debates. The Arizona senator said Sunday that Romney may have a leg up on Obama due to his experience in the primary debates, but argued other factors are at play.

"I think you could argue that Mitt has had a lot more recent experience, obviously, but also, Candy, part of it depends on who is moderating," McCain told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, who will moderate the October 16 debate. "The tenor of the questions are dictated by that."

McCain added he expects Wednesday's debate to be one for the books.

"I think you're going to see more viewers at this first debate than you have in history," he said.

McCain, however, said he doesn't anticipate any major "breakthrough" moments from the debates, saying those have become far and few between in the last couple of decades.

"I can't remember the last time there was one of these comments that grabbed everybody's attention because, frankly, the candidates are too well prepared. They're well scripted," McCain said.

Obama heads to Nevada on Sunday, where he'll hold a rally before digging in for a few days of preparation ahead of Wednesday's debate in Denver. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who's playing the role of Romney in the president's debate practice, will join Obama this week in Nevada.

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign told CNN that Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who's playing the role of Obama in Romney's debate practice, will travel with the former Massachusetts governor on Monday to Colorado. Romney will hold a rally in Colorado that night before final debate preparations.

McCain on Sunday also weighed in on why Romney is trailing the president in polls measuring support in certain swing states, saying voters are starting to feel more confident about their economic prospects.

"I think he is behind because Americans probably feel better than they did before about jobs and the economy, even though it's terrible," he said. "I think Americans see a glimmer of hope."

A CNN/ORC International poll just after the Democratic National Convention earlier this month asked likely voters which candidate is more likely to win the debates. The poll results give Obama a 25-point (59%-34%) advantage over Romney.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. J.R.

    Where do some of you get the idea that "the jobs are coming back"?

    About 66% of working-age Americans were in the labor force when Obama took office. That number has dropped below 60%. That means the jobs AREN'T coming back. People are just giving up, and the number of jobs is shrinking, not growing.

    Personally, I don't care. I outsourced all but mine and one other of my company's jobs in December of 2008, and have no intention of ever returning that money to America, except for the salary I pay myself to cover my living expenses. I do feel ad for the average worker-bee, though, who still hopes to someday get back to work.

    September 30, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. JM

    Yeah, for comic relief (i.e,, what will Mitt say now?).

    September 30, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. xxGriff

    lol. thanks for the laugh Senator. he also thought Ms. Palin would be a good choice for VP! too funny.

    September 30, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Robert

    Obama will give Mitt a Master Class in debating... just like he did with McCain.

    September 30, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Layne

    Would you declare a suspect guilty or innocent before the trial, based on nothing but media gossip?

    Would you hire a job candidate before the job interview, based only on what other job candidates have to say about him?

    Would you pick the next President of the United States before the debates, based on nothing except attack ads from Super PACs and the opinions of a radio talk show host?

    Let the two candidates defend their ideas in a free, public, moderated, fair debate, and let us all keep our minds open until each man has had his chance to speak.

    September 30, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Kareen

    McCain should spend some time with his family than polluting the airwaves every weekend.

    September 30, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. myviewis

    vic , nashville ,tn

    @ Myviews
    “Obama is used car sales person” some what I agreed, he proof to the buyers other used car sales person (Mitt Romney) selling a lemon that is smart

    Look around you, the country is falling apart and it doesn't run anymore. Obama is a good used car salesman, he can't walk the talk.

    September 30, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Wade

    One of the worst scandals in history the disgraceful way Obama responded to the Libyan attacks and of course CNN and the other Liberal media are protecting Obama and lying to the American people for not being outraged over it. When Romney wins the debate hands down on substance the Media will call it for Obama. Watch and see. they will say Romney did not do it. Did not hit the home run. Etc........ Lie lie lie lie and anything else to protect and promote Obama.

    September 30, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Cam Spurgeon

    The only people who listen to McCain the embittered loser are the media and I sure don't understand why.. but whatever media credibility is sinking fast.

    September 30, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. Space Chimp

    Let Gary Johnson debate...only then will it be for the history books. Right now it's shaping up to be a snooze-fest.

    September 30, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. mark lipovsuk

    We r going "forward"!!!! No doubts here in Virginia...straight D ticket. I can't wait until about 930pm est on 6 Nov. when CNN calls it "over". Then I can watch all the excuses come out of the GOP. What a lost party!
    4 for 44.

    September 30, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. myviewis


    Obama will give Mitt a Master Class in debating... just like he did with McCain.

    True, very true, Obama is great in class but in the real everyday world his class talk is just that Talk, Talk, Talk and he can't walk the Talk. Talking doesn't get this country running.

    September 30, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Tito Sajic

    Let Gary Johnson debate...

    September 30, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. JohnRJohnson

    McCain also expected to win the 2008 election. He also expected Sarah Palin to be decent vice president. If these debates do go down in history, it will be because the Republican candidate for president endorsed the Affordable Care Act.

    September 30, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. PushingBack

    Sorry John, you lost all credibility four years ago. Stand up to the current GOP for once and maybe you will regain some credibility before it is too late!

    September 30, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Siara

    Will the debate change the fact that Mitt made his fortune by "harvesting" [read: bankrupting] American companies and outsourcing the jobs to China? Will it change the fact that he then went on to refer to the unemployed Americans as moochers, sponging off the government and feeling entitled to a free handout?

    September 30, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. BHPT

    With Romney there, what we'll like GET is a debate for the COMIC books.

    September 30, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. SokrMom

    While a sub-set of voters watch the debates, I don't think there is any evidence that debates change very many minds. And early voting has already begun in some States. Even this first debate seems to be coming rather late in the process.

    September 30, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. Dems For Democracy

    Yes, Obama has been shot down on many of his promises by the repubs in Congress. They over-ride, still use dirty tricks, etc. Obama is best debater because he knows what he's talking about, unlike the Bush regime that got us into this mess. Read MORE unbiased news, study facts and learn how to understand the mechanics of budgets, compassion, rhetoric, global interactions and more, America! Yes, this means YOU! And fight for your right to vote, then USE IT!

    September 30, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Durhasan

    History Books? Probably go down in history as the final blow that makes GOP extinct...the way we know it.

    September 30, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. Doc Magnus

    "The fundamentals of our economy are sound." John McCain

    September 30, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. Paul

    Well, heck yah. After all, the Senator chose a Palin. The man's incisive judgment knows no bounds.

    September 30, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. James1114

    I don't see the debate(s) going well for Romney – This isn't a man capable of thinking on his feet, and he puts his foot in his mouth almost every time he's in front of an audience.

    September 30, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. herrick9

    Looking for an entertaining evening although fully expect Myth while slipping in the polls to impart something idiotic while trying to hit it out of the park ...

    September 30, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. stephen a.

    The president is quite simply the best orator and debater that I have ever heard in my lifetime. I hope Romney can hit him with some facts like the increase of the deficit and debt, the cronyisms of Solyndra and Lightsquared, the stasiness of the TSA, the tyranny of NDAA, the chill of the Arab winter, the unemployment of the population, the implant chip in the Health Care Act, and the eve of destruction that the nation faces.

    September 30, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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