McCain and Obama participate in Saddleback Church forum
Monday, August 18, 2008
United States Presidential candidates Senators Barack Obama and John McCain each participated in a live forum broadcast from Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. The forum, moderated by pastor Rick Warren, was scheduled to showcase the candidates to an evangelical segment of the population, who account for 26.3% of the American public.
During the forum the candidates were each individually asked a series of identical questions by the pastor, with Senator Barack Obama going first and Senator John McCain taking his turn second. Senator McCain traveled to the church and waited in a green room while Obama was speaking, and by agreement did not listen to the questions or Senator Obama's responses. On some questions the candidates differed in their interpretations.
When asked whom they believed were the three wisest people to rely on as president, Obama answered that his wife and grandmother were at the top of his list along with a mix of Republican and Democratic Senators. McCain comprised his list of a range of people: the architect of the troop surge in Iraq, General David Petraeus; Democratic Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis; and the former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman.
In response to being questioned about their toughest decisions in life, Obama answered that deciding to oppose the Iraq War in 2002 was his toughest, while McCain cited his refusal to leave his men behind in a POW camp in Vietnam when given the chance.
On some philosophical questions the candidates differed in their moral stances. When asked when they believed individuals should be given human rights, Obama responded that the question was "above [his] pay grade" while McCain decisively replied that he believed it should occur "at the moment of conception." On the concept of evil, Obama related it to the situation in Darfur and on America's streets. McCain related it to radical Islamic extremism relaying that he believed evil should be "defeated." He then promised that as president he would hunt Osama bin Laden to the "gates of hell."
On a few questions the candidates had similar responses. They both answered that the biggest moral dilemmas in their lives were personal mistakes they had made when they were younger. For Obama, it was his drug use, for McCain it was his failed first marriage.
Both candidates were on the stage together briefly between the interviews and shook hands and hugged in a moment symbolic of Warren's call for civility at the beginning and end of the forum.
- Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta. "Barack Obama, John McCain discuss faith, issues at Saddleback Church forum" — , August 17, 2008
- Chris Cillizza. "Saddleback Forum: First Thoughts" — , August 17, 2008
- Jake Tapper. "McCain at Saddleback: His Wise Men, and His Moral Failure" — , August 17, 2008