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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain-Obama Debate at Warren's Saddleback Church

On Saturday, McCain and Obama were at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church for a debate. The format was interesting: both candidates were asked the same set of questions and had to answer without hearing the opponent's response. Here is a good summary of the event. An excerpt:
There's really no other way to put it: John McCain stole the show at the Saddleback church.

He was quick, confident, and often funny, even if most of his seemingly off-the-cuff quips are staples of his stump speech. He connected effortlessly with the live church audience, to judge from their loud and sustained ovations, and evidently with the media, which has largely pronounced the event a win for Sen. McCain.

To considerable effect, McCain also mixed heavy doses of patriotic and religious themes, twice invoking, in some detail, his experience as a prisoner in Vietnam. The crowd ate it up.

Barack Obama, by contrast, was treated politely by the crowd, but not much better than that. His answers to moderator Rick Warren's questions were long, nuanced, and mostly humorless, and he sounded like a man very much aware that any poorly-phrased thought could haunt him for the rest of the campaign. He treaded cautiously and made few emphatic points.

Of course, it's an open question how many swing voters tuned in or will even hear much about Saturday’s proceedings.

The forum, which featured separate one-hour interviews with the candidates, aired live on CNN and MSNBC, but on a Saturday night in the middle of the summer, most voters were probably preoccupied - especially with Michael Phelps preparing to go for his eighth gold medal over on NBC.

That the forum was specifically geared toward evangelical voters further thinned the audience. The image of McCain and Obama meeting briefly on-stage between their grillings, the image that made the papers, is all that most swing voters will take from Saturday night.
Did you see the debate? Any comments?