August 18th, 2008
11:52 AM ET

Is the tide turning?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/18/art.forum.jpg]
David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Heading into the candidates' appearances on Saturday night at Saddleback Church, the conventional wisdom in politics was Barack Obama should have a clear upper hand in any joint appearance with John McCain - one the young, eloquent, cool, charismatic dude who can charm birds from the trees, the other the meandering, sometimes bumbling, old fellow who can barely distinguish Sunnis from Shiias.

Well, kiss that myth goodbye.

McCain came roaring out of the gate from the first question and was a commanding figure throughout the night as he spoke directly and often movingly about his past and the country's future. By contrast, Obama was often searching for words and while far more thoughtful, was also less emotionally connective with his audience.

To be sure, Obama held on to the loyalty of his own supporters - many have written in blog sites since how much they respected both his nuanced answers and the honesty of his convictions, especially his Christian faith.

There is no evidence that he lost ground through Saddleback. Moreover, Democrats can poke lots of holes in McCain's arguments and can charge that he is too much the warrior who would be too quick to send troops hither and yon. So, there is much for Democrats to chew on.

But the point is that McCain showed that he can be a much more formidable and effective campaigner in a joint appearance than hardly anyone imagined. The debates this fall are going to be pivotal to the final outcome of the election, and McCain gave a clear wake-up call to the Obama team that he may be much tougher to beat than expected.

Moreover, McCain is now on a sustained roll in his campaign. Since the time he shook up his organization a few weeks ago, he has been much more focused and has started to get through to voters. Democrats - and the press - didn't like the quality of those ads, but they seem to have worked politically. His stand on drilling and on Russia have also strengthened his aura of command. And now Saddleback.

That's quite a run and it is reflected in the polls: not only have the national numbers tightened up but McCain has actually moved ahead (slightly) in three key battleground states: Ohio, Virginia and Colorado.

A web site that averages all significant polls, RealClearPolitics.com, has previously projected that just looking at polls, Obama was ahead in states with over 300 electoral votes; now he is down to 275 - a tiny cushion since 270 is the magical number for winning.

At Saddleback, Obama surely held on to his base support but McCain strengthened his and probably appealed to some undecideds, too.

In short, the tide is moving for the first time in the Republican direction. And the realization is setting in that McCain might just win.

We are still many weeks away from the election and the overall landscape clearly favors the Democrats, but these latest developments put pressure on Obama and his party to pull themselves together or face a stunning upset. What must they do? For starters:

  • Obama must select a running mate who gives a lift to his campaign and can also hammer home a message in the convention and in the vice presidential debate this fall. He definitely needs a fighter by his side. (For my money, Hillary Clinton looks better and better; if not her, Joe Biden is probably the best fighter - perhaps Evan Bayh, or a surprise choice.)
  • The Democratic convention in Denver has to be a roaring success, not only uniting the party but sending a much clearer, crisper message about why 4 more years will be 4 more years of tears.
  • Obama himself must find his voice again, not only in his acceptance address but in the debates. He needs to bring passion as well as inspiration, a clear sense of what the choice is, and a compelling sense of why he is strong enough as well as wise enough to lead the country through tough times.

In the meantime, the message of the moment is that John McCain is no old fuddy-duddy who isn't sure where he is going; he was on fire at Saddleback and for the first time, he looks like he could win in November.

Filed under: Barack Obama • David Gergen • John McCain • Raw Politics • T1
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. Larry

    Who is MccLame?

    August 18, 2008 at 5:04 pm |

    If one takes this forum as a way to pick a candidate then that person is a simpleton. McCain came across as an old guy with lost of stories of the way things were... back in his day....... His accomplishments... POW... well that's over 40 to 50 years old. The experience that he claims he has.... is that of sincerely old polictics and old thinking...... I mean the man voted against a King Holiday in his state... and all he can say is he was wrong...... he stood by the president for the past 8 years...now he says he's nothing like him... this forum between Warren, Obama and McCain was truly scripted... right down to Warren and McCain's matching attire..............

    August 18, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  3. lampe

    McCain, was very poised, and professional, and he did not avoid any questions. I am so sick of Obama, and his supporters blaming everybody else when, it's evident that this man has no idea what the heck he is doing. They tried this same mess with The Clintons,and got away with it. But, McCain and The Republicans, are not going to stand-by and watch it happen to them. I think Obama, is starting to lose his luster,and people are getting their first real good look at him. Americans it's not to late to CHANGE YOUR MINDS.

    August 18, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Barb in MN

    When Obama's stuck for an answer, he always goes back to “I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning”. It can be tied to a judgment question, a courage question, a foreign policy question – in a pinch it can even cover domestic issues (…we would have been able to deal with this if we hadn’t spent all of that money in Iraq-which I opposed from the beginning).

    Two problems:
    One – It barely makes sense sometimes (on Sat. night, he used his opposition to the war as an example of bipartisanship. What???).

    Two – it can lose its impact if he tries to morph it to fit too many different questions. He described his opposition to the war as a “gut-wrenching” decision. He said he “agonized” over it. Not nearly the strong, sure conviction he’s previously claimed. If it was the unpopularity of his stand, and not the right or wrongness of it that was “gut-wrenching” for him, that’s not a pretty picture of a future president.

    August 18, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  5. Heather

    I have always felt that McCain communicates better when he isn't working from a script or a prepared speech.He looked and sounded very comfortable.Obama,however always has problem when there isn't a prepared speech to read or a script to follow.Even in interviews he always struggles.He may be a great speaker,BUT that is ONLY when he reads from a prepared speech.If he doesnt,I always stammers to talk. How can he say he is change when he cant even answer questions like the old fashioned politicians he claims are old Washington? McCain no doubt did great!

    August 18, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  6. Arachnae

    McCain came across as a “grandfatherly” which what we need for our country.

    No, this country needs to grow up and stop looking for Santa Claus.

    August 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  7. Presley

    Sure ONE of them is on a roll now.

    However, I know my attention span is shorter these days, hours, minutes. Next week Obama will be "back on track" and the week after....

    What were discussing again?

    Can't there ever be a Republicrat or Democracan?
    I'm still stuck in the middle again, jokers to the left of me, clowns to right, here I am...

    August 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  8. Lamont austin

    To: Cindy Ga
    There you go again giving your un-insightful opinion, I think your responding B4 you have all the info, Well, did you know MccLame wasnt even at the forum when Obama started his interview, he was still in a limo on his way there which means he's pretty undependable when it comes to being on time as well as dishonest, we all know limo's have televisions in them so Im sure he got to hear the questions, not to mention MccLame looked and sounded like an old man telling war stories yeah its fun for a minute but after a while you get kind of tired of hearing about what was. One of the most profound moments of the interview last night was the question about evil, basically the question was Does evil exist? and what we as a people should do about evil? MccLame didnt even answer the question in full, he just blurted out "defeat it" Obama had a much more realistic answer, He first answered the question "yes evil exist" that was the first part of the questions answer (in which MccLame didnt answer)
    and Obama went on to explain that we as a people should confront evil, God is the only one who can defeat evil, which to me was the most realistic answer, MccLame went on to say in a old style like torrent shaking his fist that he cant even lift over his head "defeat it defeat it" as he then said " I will track down Bin Laden and follow him to the depths of hell to get him" ask him if he plans to take the rest of th U.S. with him.

    Dam Old fool.
    You guys are craxy to back an old senile fool.


    August 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  9. Chicago

    JC- Los Angeles

    Couldn't agree with you more... came off very week... almost trying to pander to all sides of an issue leaving wondering where he stood at all... not what I want in a leader!

    August 18, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  10. Mike in NYC

    tjs wrote:

    "The polls are mis-leading! A huge number of Obama supporters use cell phones and can’t be polled."

    If this was a factor, primary exit polls would have consistently understated BO's support. As far as I could see, this was not the case. They were generally consistent with election results.

    Dani, Seattle wrote:

    "Well Cindy, I guess you’re one of the 19% of people that thinks Bush is doing a good job."

    She said nothing about Bush. Personally, I don't like either BO or McCain. An Obama presidency would "torture" me, in the sense that racial grievance politics would finally have been brought to its logical end - namely, the election of an unqualified President on the basis of his race.

    Larry wrote:

    "The only tide there will be is if Sen. Obama is denied his POTUS, and that will be a crimson tide on the streets of america."

    Most unseemly of you. I'll be glad to meet you on the streets if that happens.

    "Protected groups" have employed threats time and again to get what they want. They continue to be coddled, which is why Larry and those of his ilk persist in it.

    August 18, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  11. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    To JC in St. Louis

    Senator Obama thinks before he speaks (and in the moment) and he answers questions from his heart and his intellect. Senator McCain is rehearsed and drilled on the types of answers that he will get questioned on.

    Wait until a real debate, you will see McCain blow a fuse.

    August 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  12. Titi

    Why CNN are favoring McCain now!!!

    August 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  13. Rose from Southern Calif

    Obama is just starting, just watch him finish...

    Remember guys McCain Loves war just like Bush and more war means more higher gas price's ect. Then who wins in all of this?
    The REPUBLICANS not the people who they suppost to serve. Don't let McCain scare us with his "I know more about how to take care of business when it comes to war". Yes he does HOW TO KEEP US IN A WAR!
    So, use the commen sense that God give us and let start a fresh year with a new President with fresh idea's!

    August 18, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  14. KJ Western, MA

    As for the controversy about wheither McCain did or did not hear the questions is really of little concern- as both guys did a great job.

    In the future there is an easy fix, have a debate forum where both hear the questions at the same time. Obama does not want this kind of forum. Why not?

    I am wondering if Clinton would not have been a better choice? Of course I think she would have been, as I voted for her. Right now I am still undecided ..... I wish there was a third choice.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  15. Jacie - San Leandro, Ca

    David , I thnk that the tide is not turning in McCain's favor for one thing McCain had the opprotunity to hear the quesitons a he came out of the gate on top. He lied about being in the "Cone of Silence so this is just another tatic the republicans used against Senator Obama.

    Also, women voters you should really find about the issues that Senator McCain if for he wants to overturn Roe. v. Wade he believes women doesn't have the right for free choice. Do you really think he cares about your rights.

    McCain thinks that the rich midde class makes upf of people making 5 million dollars wow I guess everyone else is classifed as being poor.

    As far as Senator Obama anwers to the questions he is a person who thinks very carefully before answering questions.

    As for McCain take a look at how he has answered questions to the media reporters in the pass he stubbles and makes gaffles.

    I just think he was well prepared and his answers seemed to be rehearsed that would make anyone look good in front of the camera.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  16. Cindy

    It wouldn't have mattered if McCain went first rather than Obama. McCain still would have answered the questions the exact same way. And Obama would have stammered and hem hawed around before answering. He did the exact same thing when he was debating with Hillary Clinton. He may give good speeches when they are written out for him but when it comes to speaking off of the top of his head he fails miserably. And the reason for that is he is trying to cater to too many people and doesn't stand for one thing in particular.

    As far as this forum not being fair...why not!? Doesn't Obama say he is a Christian and has the same values and morals as any other Christian? So he should have been just as at ease there as McCain was! How does he think he is going to get their votes if he can't even answer a simple question without stammering and having to think out what he thinks people want him to say instead of what he really feels.


    August 18, 2008 at 3:32 pm |
  17. Bud Curtis

    I think the tide may be turning. First, maybe we've all had too much of Obama. Then, conservative republicans are realizing that McCain may not be as bad as they once presumed. And, finally, many Hillary supporters, like me, are not going to drink that Obama koolade.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  18. Beverly

    Mr. Gergen:

    You are putting too much stock in one appearance, especially when it appeared that Mr. McCain knew which questions would be asked and he was basically preaching to the choir on pro life , marriage meaning man and woman. Finding Bin Laden etc. I found it telling when Pastor Warren noted to MCCain that he was answering the question before they were asked. The 2 that come to mind are merit pay for teachers and the Supreme Court question. In addition he was allowed to go on with his 'my friends" stump speeches I did not learn anything new about McCain on Saturday and my vote remains for Senator Obama.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  19. Lucy

    I watched the event which had me completely dumbfounded. How could it be that an evangelical church is so powerful that it is able to conduct 'interviews' with our presidential candidates. What message does this send to the rest of the world? Could it be that as a result we appear to be a nation of evangelicals or evangelical panderers?

    Watching the event was difficult as I was unable to reconcile how it came to be and who is Rick Warren? how powerful is his church? On another note.....I was a little offended that he didn't bother to wear a tie to interview the future leader of this nation (and the freeworld).

    In the end my conclusion is that this event was designed to throw McCain in a environment of 'his' people where he could easily answer the typical conservative platform questions. It was a much more challenging foray for Senator Obama who was able to be mindful of the evangelistic platform while remaining true to his base. I was very proud of the way he handled himself and how he stayed true to his convictions while being respectful of the environment he was in.

    I wonder if Senator McCain would fair as well were he being interviewed by the countries most powerful and liberal voting block?

    Good job on Saturday Senator Obama, I look forward to voting for you in November.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  20. Lex Blanton

    Anderson – I think it's telling that John McCain wasn't comfortably enconced in the cone of silence that the audience thought he was. No one is making the charge that he did know the question prior to the event – but that he could have.

    Instead of a statement from John McCain clarifying what he was doing during that thirty minutes, his campaign strikes out at anyone who even questions that there was that 30 minutes of uncertainty.

    When McCain said he had a ear to the wall, he just might have been.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  21. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    I just can't stop wondering if when Michelle first told Barack she was pregnant with either of his two daughters was his response something like, "Well, honey, it's 'above my pay grade' to believe there is a new little life growing inside of you."

    August 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  22. Jeff in Los Angeles

    David, does having the ability to tell a great story make someone a great leader? I don't think so. Stephen King is a great story teller, but I wouldn't want him running the country. Also, every topic the pastor brought up, reminded McCain of something that happened to him at the camp in Vietnam. He needs to stand on his record now, and stop making comparisons to things that happened to him 40 years ago.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  23. Michelle

    I just want to know why I have only heard from the radio that John McCain heard the questions before he got on stage and was able to think about his answers. The proof is he had the answers before the questions was asked just look at the tape. That is why some people think that he was so forceful. He knew the questions. Is that fair , so he give him a break, Obama needed to take time to think. Oh he is long winded no he is thoughful and not a hot head and someone that just will go forward with anything. We need a thouhtful President not a hothead or someone that will not listen to others. Still McCain came off to me as someone who just cares about the rich of America and winning a war that I feel can not be won the way we are going.

    August 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  24. Larry

    It seems the only way that Sen.Obama supporters can describe him is through what they think they know of Sens McCain & Clinton.

    I don't see the vicious hatred spewed by Sen. Obama's supporters reflected by the supporters of Sens. McCain & Clinton.

    August 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  25. LG

    I have enjoyed reading blogs for some time, but today is the first time I felt compelled to join the conversation.

    I watched the forum and believe Obama's answers were sincere and McCain's were a version of his stump speech and lacking depth. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, answering a question prior to any contemplation is not a sign of strength, but ignorance. Being rigid in your views is a weakness. That means you believe in the "my way or the highway" mantra which is a recipe for getting absolutely nothing done!

    But I am more concerned by his dishonesty. There's something called full disclosure, partial disclosure, and non-disclosure...Only the first one is the truth. When Pastor Rick asked John McCain, "How was the cone of silence?" and he did not tell the American people that he was not in fact in the cone for a full half an hour (or more), he boldly lied to the Pastor, and more importantly to the American people. He missed an opportunity to show us that he had the courage to be an honest citizen of the United States of America, and break from the politics of lying, cheating, and deceitfulness for one's own political gain. If you recall, Obama was honest when he disclosed to the public that he had forewarning regarding the adoption question. That's called integrity. Something that John McCain is clearly lacking.

    When tensions begin to escalate in the world, will he leave out a few pertinent details regarding intelligence obtained to lead us into another military conflict? It is clear by the lack of attention to his confirmed lie by his own campaign's admission that nobody in the media is going to ask the tough questions and get to the truth. If the media won't ask the tough questions and find the truth regarding such a simple, straightforward demonstration of a candidate not telling the truth, it is clear when McCain wags the dog in the future, they will drop the ball again. I find this stark reality truly frightening. When will we as a nation final demand the truth!

    August 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  26. Gary Chandler in Canada

    You know what, CNN gets better ratings if the election is close.
    It is not bias to McCain, it is bias to have the polls tighter.
    Take for example all the negative coverage of the upcoming unified Democratic Convention. If Hillary wears a blue dress, will that be an issue? (make something of nothing)
    Compare with the minimal coverage of 'in shambles' divided Republican Convention. (make nothing of something)
    (how to explain???) Close your eyes and imagine HEADLINES that Richardson, Kennedy, Kerry, Clinton, Clinton, and so on were NOT going to the convention!
    Would that not be a picture of DISASTER for the party.
    There are so many things, but we once had a Prime Minister lose an election because they got a photo of a pat on the bottom he gave to one his aids. McCain rehearsed, consulted with his wife, went on stage and READ from a script, that his wife should enter the Miss Buffalo Chip Contest.
    MSM could not run that one very much, but think of the coverage if Obama had made such a premeditated and STUPID comment!
    CNN reported America ranks #19 in developed countries in education and #1 in incarcerations.
    Should not leaders be role models? Should NOT America get their act together before meddling in World Affairs.
    As a Citizen of Earth, I wish I could ask for the impeachment of Bush, as well as the impeachment of McCain.
    Huckabee or Romney would both be better Presidents than Obama, but Obama is miles better than McCain. Heck Bush is better than McCain.
    McCain's daddy and his camp CO turned down the early release the Cong had offered him. Did anybody ever ask what you had to do get early release??? Kind of fits in with all those propoganda tapes Kerry and McCain had sealed forever.
    Some day, somebody, will wake up and realise it was a direct political conflict of interest for Kerry and McCain to run that Committee and open up what they hid.
    Why does McCain NEVER mention this amazing piece of bipartisan cooperation. He does NOT want any mention of it, does he?

    August 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  27. Arachnae

    McCain sounded smooth and forceful because he was prepped with the questions in advance. When caught offguard, he looks like a stunned chicken.

    August 18, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  28. Evan of San Jose

    Obama should pick Evan Bayh for VP (Experience plus Indiana)

    McCain should pick Tim Pawlenty (Young plus Minnesota)

    Nevertheless, Obama will likely win in November, as he is the candidate of the middle class (Jobs & Middle Class Tax Cut for Workers).

    McCain, in contrast, wants to eliminate the estate tax for Billionaires & provide a tax cut for those who want to keep breeding children,

    August 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm |
  29. Ron San Bruno Ca

    All religions are based on stories and interpertations handed down through time . Its like Senator McCains story about the Guard and the Cross . It sounds as if God himself took control of the guards foot and used it for a Devine intervention . We must be very leary of stories without valid proof before we believe it as fact . It could change the course of history , if we vote for thier stories and not thier Ideals .

    August 18, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  30. Paris

    We are choosing our next LEADER.
    And what we witnessed was the fact that Obama is NOT A LEADER.
    Principal and character matters no matter which party you belong to and John McCain demonstrated that he has both.

    August 18, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  31. Froeda

    McCain came across as a "grandfatherly" which what we need for our country. His story tellings were interesting and he came across someone with real depth! Obama's talking style is tiring now. He seems that he is always searching for the "right" word to say, instead of being relaxed and give us what he really believes.

    I say, enough of baby-boom generation presidents! its' time for someone with real experience. Clinton did not have much, Bush did not have much of experience and they just winged it...it's enough I see Obama as another Clinton and Bush, he is part of the last bay-boom generation.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  32. JC- Los Angeles

    David, after reading your column, it's refreshing to see that the mainstream media may finally be realizing that Obama is a skilled faceman at best.

    As an undecided Independent who usually votes democrat, I tuned in to Saturday's interviews and found Obama almost unlistenable.

    When asked each question, he stammered time and again when "searching for words" or an appropriate response, continually avoided eye contact when responding and came off as meek and unconvincing.

    Obama's penchant for arguing both sides of an issue and his inability to frame articulate, straight forward and timely responses to questions can leave listeners unsure of convictions.

    If asked what time it is, Obama might want to build you a watch; if asked what two plus two is, he might don an accontant's hat and tell you it's whatever you want it to be.

    I was waiting to be convinced on Saturday and the only thing I am convinced about is that Michelle Obama is the born leader in that family.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  33. Susan


    I mean no disrespect, but it has always been the MSM ( in general ) that has tried to portray Senator John McCain as a bumbling old fellow.

    Thanks, but I will judge for myself !!!!


    August 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  34. John...Minnesota

    It is frustrating how the media will sway opinion to generate controversy.
    It was glaringly evident at the Saddleback forum that John McCain has a cracked rearview perspective of the world. Every question was answered with war, no matter what the question was. He reminds me of a relatives and friends who returned from WWII and Viet Nam. They had been emotionally scarred. Not all, but many beat their wives, had failed marriages, drank to excess and could not see a broader world. Although we loved and appreciated them, they could not escape the singular vision of violence and could never see past their own personal pain and vengefulness. John McCain is the same. It is also sad, that the 'mob mentality' of America is being fanned once again. America's penchant for violence has proven to be killing us, literally and globally. Our country voted for G. Bush, twice and look where we are. And now to have the media and David Gergen sing the praises and glorify McCain's commitment to violence is irresponsible. I have to believe there are good people out there who see the same. McCain's broken perspective is now wanting more war for oil with Russia. Everything Reagan accomplished is on the verge of being torn down. Here's the simple truth, we don't have the military to start another war with anyone especially Russia, no matter what the reason. All our troops and money are gone. We are wounded, weak and limited. Before we start another global barroom brawl, maybe we should heed the words of President Reagan to become a 'kinder, gentler nation". It is time to heal America.
    Dear Mr. Obama, thank you for your consciousness.

    John... Minnesota

    August 18, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  35. Jolene

    I'm still in the "undecided" category so I was very interested in the forum. I was impressed by both candidates' answers. I do agree with you, McCain came out like a lion and really showed confidence and passion in his answers, even though some of them appeared to be "canned" . In comparison to Obama who took his time answering the questions but you knew they came from the heart and were genuine.

    Obama needs to be careful on his approach to these types of events, while some think he's a true leader because he's a people person and thinks about all sides and seeks compromise. Taking a long time to make a decision or answer a question is not a good leadership skill to have either. Remember when McCain couldn't even answer the Viagra vs. Birth Control insurance coverage question? It makes them look wishy-washy.

    Perhaps McCain had the advantage of hearing the questions ahead of time but for me it was the content of the answers that mattered most. Needless to say, I think McCain shined on this one. Thanks for blogging today about the forum. I was hoping you would!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    August 18, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  36. Larry

    The pastor should have considered himself fortunate to be on the same stage as Sen. Obama. Not once di the pastor ask Sen. Obama if he was comfortable and if he would like a better chair; such rudenes. You can be sure that pastor Wright would have been more curtious towards Sen. Obama and more agressively interrogative of Sen. McCain.
    The only tide there will be is if Sen. Obama is denied his POTUS, and that will be a crimson tide on the streets of america.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  37. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    Amended entry:

    This event violated the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution forbids any religious means testing and shame on CNN for participating in this. I cannot believe how ignorant of the Constitution that everyone is (this includes the press), it is deplorable.

    This also violated the First Amendment of the Constitution that states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." CNN and other media outlets have tunnel vision with this Amendment just see "freedom of the press" and nothing else.

    Let me give you reasons why church and state should be kept worlds away, The First World War, The Second World War, The Taliban in Afghanistan and September 11th, 2001. Are you listening to me and do you understand what I am waring you about. When religion gets involved in the affairs of State, evil, horrible and awful things happen.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  38. Lee in CA

    First of all, let's be more honest than the McCain camp has been (yes, I'm willing to call them out on this) – McCain knew every single question ahead of time and heard every single one of Obama's answers. Period. I do not believe for a moment that "they heard nothing". So much for the indignation expressed by the McCain camp that Obama would "do anything" to win an election. And the questions themselves, as well as the audience, were skewed to favor conservative responses. I had heard Pastor Warren, ahead of time, state (himself) that he wasn't going to focus on 'wedge' issues. The end result certainly seemed like he did exactly what he said he wouldn't do!

    I do not want four more years of a President who will continue to subsidize the rich getting richer at the expense of the middle class (and the poor), a President who blindly supports an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, a President who will surely go to war with a highly unstable (and potentially nuclear) country like Iran, a President who has no concept that a "voucher" based education system does nothing to improve the schools most in need, etc, etc, etc.

    I just can't even begin to imagine that at the end of the day – when people are standing in the voting booth – or filling out their absentee ballots – that this country will elect to continue the essence of one the most severely failed administrations in this country's history.

    And I, for one, can't wait for the debates – when, hopefully, the playing field will be level, genuinely objective and conducted more honorably.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  39. Mike, Syracuse, NY


    I thought Obama was equivocating and evasive. McCain seemed more like the straight talker of 2000. If the same two men show up at the debates, Obama will lose big time. you are absolutely right about the tide turning. The latest PEW poll shows Obama with a 3 point lead. that's down from 8 points in June and 5 points in July. It was also taken before the Georgia crisis, and Saddleback, two events Mccain has done well at. Why has the MSM ignored the tightening race?

    August 18, 2008 at 1:21 pm |

    Well this forum showed one........... everybody gets atleast 15 minutes of fame... Warren... two... Obama answered the questions..no long drawn out stories of infidelity...... an things that happened over 40 years ago........... this forum did not show much, except.... a cone of silence.. means you hear the questions before you are asked.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  41. Nicole

    I can understand why some people will think McCain did better than Obama b/c he went straight to the point on most of the topics which also leads me to believe that he knew the questions ahead of time but it still didn't change my opinion of him. I still don't know anything about him other than he was a POW about 100 yrs ago but what about NOW! He still seems out of touch with most of the issues facing Americans today. Obama gave answers that was about the question asked but McCain answers didn't relate to the question. All of his answers came back to his days as a POW and National Security which is straight out of the GOP handbook. Let's make everyboday scared and they will vote for us.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  42. Collins

    David – Having watched McCain in a number of forums, I was kind of amazed at how he managed to so quickly come up with answers to the questions and how the answers just seemed to fit with the message the Republican "base" likes to hear. It almost seemed that he was reading from a script. Now we know why.

    I'm not sure if CNN or Rick Warren is to blame for not realizing that McCain was not only not in the "cone of silence", as Rick Warren stated at the beginning of Obama's interview. He wasn't even in the building. And of course, with Karl Rove protege's in charge, I'm sure no one associated with the campaign listened and helped McCain come up with the answers.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  43. Dani, Seattle

    Well Cindy, I guess you're one of the 19% of people that thinks Bush is doing a good job. Seven years of Republican rule was enough for me! I'm one American that really doesn't like being tortured. We're being tortured just as much as the folks in Guantanamo. And as far as the town halls go, Obama, and everyone else can see right through that. They pick and choose who will attend these so-called town hall meetings, and the news media has reported that many times. I know they wouldn't want me to be at one, as angry as I am.

    August 18, 2008 at 1:04 pm |
  44. bernadette

    I hope the media looks further into the disclosure that McCain was not in that cone of silence when the Obama q and a began. Not only did he have an opporturnity to listen, but his staff would have had blackberries, etc to pick up what was going on and advising him. That means the Forum totally lacks credibility and I am shocked that Pastor Warren did not check things out before beginning the session with Obama. He should have made sure everything was on the up and up. If the media lets this go without a full investigation and without full disclosure to the public, that would be a travesty to the political process. Cheating and lying go to the heart of one's character and it is already known McCain cheated and lied in his first marriage so it is not impossible he would do it again. I would hope this new information on the cone of silence would alter Mr. Gergen's assessment of the performances.

    August 18, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  45. Jim

    McCain is a centrist candidate. Obama will not be able to move to the center to effectively challenge him in the center. Obama has won the far left which has no politcal allies. The lesson learned from this election may be that winning a primary from the extreme wing of the party sets up a disaster in the general. I feel for the African-American bloc in that they are stuck with the far left on this one. What a shame.

    August 18, 2008 at 12:47 pm |
  46. Marlon

    The whole event was very inappropriate. The questions asked were inappropriate and irrelevant. Asking the candidates about their relationship with Christ is invasion of private personal beliefs. Furthermore, having the forum in a conservative religious environment is a death trap for the candidate who has liberal views. Religion should have no place in politics. Who decides if Christianity is the religion that should be thrown into the pot of politics? Why couldn't it have been Islam or whatever?

    I thought it was awful and was only done to make John McCain look good. But he actually looked stupid saying that he believes marriage is for one man and one woman. In his case, one woman right after another. And apparently he believes in cheating and leaving the wife is she's no longer attractive.

    August 18, 2008 at 12:46 pm |
  47. Cindy

    The tide has been turning in McCain's favor for a while now. It's about time that the press realized what the American people already have. With this forum McCain just showed exactly what he is ...a very formidable candidate that Obama will in no way walk all over. In fact he answered the questions way more eloquently than Obama. I can see now why Obama will not do town hall meetings with McCain. He'd blow him out of the water! Obama is all talk with very little substance to back it up, this forum showed that in spades!


    August 18, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  48. Larry

    Who vetted obama, and when?

    August 18, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  49. Cynthia

    No David I do not think that the tide is turning in Senator McCain's favor. Look at the land mine of things they were discussing abortion, among other things that were right in line with what Senator McCain believes in. Of course, you would expect him to excel because his beliefs are more closely aligned with the evangicals – at least with the older ones. In addition to the above, Senator McCain was supposedly in the "cone of silence" but according to a CNN storyline he did not arrive there at the site until 30 minutes into Senator Obama's interview. I guess some people saw it as personable that Senator McCain was telling jokes, and telling his war stories but for me it was more distracting than helpful. Everything that he said we already knew about him from him being out on the campaign stump.

    August 18, 2008 at 12:22 pm |
  50. tjs

    The polls are mis-leading! A huge number of Obama supporters use cell phones and can't be polled. As far as McCains proformance on Sat. night, he clearly is a man that believes he has all the answers and his is the only right answere! Obama respects that other opinions are also valid. Obama thinks about all sides of an issue and seeks a compromise. Thats what a true leader should do. Its McCain's way or no way..God help us should he wins because fighting back in his mind has only one goal, win! The ramifications , an after thought! Also, that cross in the sand scene first appeared in Ben Hurr. He plagerised that story!

    August 18, 2008 at 12:21 pm |
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