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Live-blogging the Saddleback Civil Forum, with Barack Obama and John McCain

7:19 p.m. And now a final bit of analysis:

This event was meant to give voters a closer look at the candidates as people, and its most significant moments did not have to do with policy but with personality.Senators Barack Obama, John McCain, and Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Forum

They took different approaches. Obama seemed to treat his time as an intimate conversation with Warren. He looked directly at the pastor when he spoke and only rarely turned toward the crowd. He talked a lot about his faith -- at one point quoting from the New Testament. He came off as thoughtful and even-toned, if not exceedingly engaging.

McCain was much more gregarious. He usually spoke directly to the audience, punctuating about every fifth sentence with the phrase "my friends." And he joked a lot -- as usual -- which played well with the crowd.

But considering that this was a forum at a church, he didn't talk much about his personal faith. He stuck largely to his stump speech, sprinkling it with engaging stories and anecdotes.

Compared to Obama, who spoke in long, nuanced sentences and made subtle points, McCain was much more direct. Several times he interrupted Warren to answer a question with a quick, one-sentence response.

It's too early to tell how their differences will affect voters' decisions in November.

But it's clear, after tonight, that those differences will make for some mighty interesting debates.

Here is a link to the full transcript of both sections of the event.

The running text of our live blogging continues below:

7 p.m. And . . . it's over! McCain's time is up, and he leaves the stage. 

6:55 p.m. When asked why he wants to be president, McCain rattles off his stump speech, almost verbatim -- the one that begins: "I believe that America's best days are ahead of us. . . . "

6:52 p.m. Warren and McCain are talking about the crisis in Georgia, which the senator refers to as "a beautiful little country." McCain gives....

... a short history lesson, telling Warren about the Georgian king who converted to Christianity in the third century.

He advocates a hard-line approach to Russia, saying, "Let's send the message to the Russians that this behavior is not acceptable in the 21st century."

6:40 p.m. Warren asks McCain about the right to privacy versus national security.

McCain says that America's law enforcement agencies need to step up their ability to monitor new forms of communication. "There's a constant tension," he says. "It is changing with technology, and we have to change with it."

McCain seems very loose tonight. He's cracking more jokes than Obama, and the crowd seems to be leaning his way.

6:20 p.m. McCain is going on and on about energy, uttering his stump speech mantra: "We need off-shore drilling, and we need it now."

Now Warren turns to the same set of three tough social questions that he asked Obama. These are the answers that the religious audience will be listening to closely.

Warren: "At what point does a baby get human rights?"

McCain: Life begins "at the moment of conception."

Warren: Define "marriage."

McCain: "A union between one man and one woman."

Warren: Should the government fund stem-cell research?

McCain: Like Obama, he advocates skin-cell research as an alternative to stem-cell research.

6:17 p.m. Warren asks McCain the same question he asked Obama: "What would be the greatest moral failure of your life?"

McCain says it was his behavior during the dissolution of his first marriage. This is significant, because McCain doesn't talk about his first marriage much. He says he takes responsibility for the divorce.

6:15 p.m. McCain is on stage now. Warren begins by asking him to name the three wisest people in his life.

His answers: Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Rep. John Lewis (a Georgia congressman and civil rights advocate) and Meg Whitman (the former eBay chief executive who is a close McCain adviser).

Obama had been asked the same question. He listed his wife and his grandmother as the two wisest people in his life. He said that when it came to choosing advisers to his Presidency, he wouldn't restrict himself to three people -- though he did mention former Georgia senator (and potential running mate?) Sam Nunn as one of the wisest people in his life.

6 p.m. Obama's segment is over. He stands up with Warren, who calls John McCain to the stage.

And then -- the handshake! McCain leans over to Obama, and the two lock hands. As McCain pulls back, Obama puts his hand out to pat McCain's shoulder. It's more than a little awkward.

5:55 p.m. Warren is now talking about world issues. He asks Obama what he thinks America should do about religious persecution around the world.

Obama brings up China. He says that while China is a close American business partner, there are "very real persecutions taking place" there. He says Americans must also make changes to avoid charges of hypocrisy. "We have to lead by example. . . . We have to make sure we're abiding by moral law and by habeas corpus and not engaging in torture."

The camera pans, strangely, to the audience, where a man in a big American-flag T-shirt is clapping.

5:45 p.m. Warren has moved onto domestic politics and is talking about taxes.

Warren: "Define rich."

Obama poked fun at Warren, whose book, "The Purpose-Driven Life," was a best-seller. "Well, if you've got book sales of 25 million, you qualify," Obama jokes.

Warren laughs, gives Obama a high-five. Then Obama elaborates: "I would argue that if you're making more than $250,000, you're in the top 3% or 4% of the country, and you're doing well."

5:35 p.m. Warren has moved on to the tough ones -- abortion, gay marriage, stem-cell research.

Warren: "At what point does a baby get human rights?" Obama skirts the issue. "From a theoretical perspective or scientific, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade." He goes on to say that while he is pro-choice, he is not pro-abortion.

Then Warren asks Obama to define "marriage."

Obama begins, "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman." He is interrupted by the crowd's applause. Then he says: "I am not someone who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions. . . .  I don't think [they] inhibit in any way what my core beliefs are." He says he can afford civil rights to gay couples without compromising his faith.

Warren asks about stem-cell research. 

Obama says that already-discarded embryos should be used for research but that it would be best to find other methods -- like adult stem-cell lines -- that are less problematic morally. 

5:28 p.m. After a commercial break that features an ad with bikini clad women doing ad work, we're back. Warren reads a question submitted by a church member. (He says he received about 2,000 questions.)

Warren: "What does your faith in Jesus mean to you?"

Obama: "It means Jesus Christ died for my sins. . . . I know that I don't walk alone."

5:16 p.m. Obama has entered the stage to polite applause and has taken a seat with Warren.

After asking Obama about the wisest people in the senator's life, Warren asks: "What would be the greatest moral failure of your life?"

Obama talks about his experimentation with drugs in his youth. He says he did it because he was selfish at the time.

5 p.m. Here we go! Rick Warren, standing on a purple-lit stage, is making his introductions.

"We believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and politics," he says, before explaining the format. Each candidate will get one hour with Warren. Obama will go first. While he speaks, McCain won't be listening.

"We have safely placed Sen. McCain in a cone of silence," Warren says to laughter.

Before he brings Obama on stage, Warren tells the crowd, "I have to tell you up front: Both these guys are my friends."

4:53 p.m. Inside the church, a Christian soft-rock band is warming up the audience of 3,000. Outside, scores of protesters clog the streets.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department estimates that there are 1,000 people there. Our Susannah Rosenblatt counts about 700.

There are McCain supporters, Obama supporters, antiwar protesters, anti-illegal-immigration demonstrators, abortion rights advocates, followers of libertarian candidate Bob Barr, followers of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and anti-same-sex-marriage protesters.

And there's a lot of yelling and sign-waving.

Our Seema Mehta passed by the melée on her way into the church and had this to report:

One woman carried a large picture of an aborted fetus that said "Barack Obama Change This." Others read "Obama Mama" and "Enough Dead." The requisite Ron Paul and Ralph Nader supporters made an appearance. Two people held three signs that read "God Hates Obama," "God Hates McCain" and "America is Doomed." And one man, inexplicably, held a sign that said "I Like Burritos."

Saddleback Church has got to be the safest place on the face of the Earth right now. The 120-acre campus was crawling with Secret Service agents, including at least four on the roof. Two helicopters buzzed overhead.

4:32 p.m. Hello, all. Today we’re going to be live-blogging the Saddleback Civil Forum, with presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain. The candidates will appear at the Lake Forest church this evening and give back-to-back, hourlong interviews with Pastor Rick Warren.

As our Maeve Reston reports today, the event will be an important preview of what's to come in the three presidential debates, the first of which takes place next month at the University of Mississippi. This will be the first time since the general-election campaign kicked off that the candidates will share a stage together.

They're expected to talk about faith, abortion, same-sex marriage and humanitarian efforts abroad. As we reported yesterday, Warren has promised that the conversations will get personal. "I'm going to deal with their personal life, because character matters," the evangelical leader and author of "The Purpose-Driven Life" told the Christian Broadcasting Network. "Their personal life does matter as a leader. God says so."

For more on Warren, who has been called "America's most influential pastor," check out Duke Helfand's recent profile.

To watch live coverage alongside us, you can tune in to CNN, MSNBC, the Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, the Daystar Television Network or KDOC-TV. And live Web streaming of the event will be available here.

We'll have a play-by-play of the candidates' conversations with Warren as well as dispatches from our reporters inside and outside the church.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (25)

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I have already made up my mind, the only way John McCain will get my vote is putting huckabee on the ticket.
I am with the other disanfranchised conservatives, the GOP and McCain have been ignoring us and courting the left. I may just stay home this year. I got an email this morning discussing the possibility that the conservatives and evangelicals may form a new party. I would love the opportunity for a new party. I am very unhappy with both. http://www.mccanes.com/newparty.html

What in the world happened to separation of church and state? Please, someone, explain this to me! Can we as a nation support this religious "test"?

Thank you, Spiralli


the senator held his own during his part. We'll see whether McCain sucks up to his audience.

Did anyone notice on the CNN coverage when Pastor Warren leaned over to Obama following a commercial break to tell him he hit a "home run" on his response to a question regarding tax brackets.

Somebody please tell me they noticed this besides us!

i may have missed it -- did warren ask McCain the "what does your faith mean to you" question? If so, what was the answer? if not...that seems like kind of a significant
oversight.

face it, Warren/McCain (and the evangelical audience) expect, represent and respond to the 'prototype' mythological image of American 'leadership' and the projections of strength/privilege/entitlement that accompany that macho white cowboy model.

Obama can kiss off the traditional evengelicals and stop wasting his time.

Americans wonder why Obama lacks the guts to debate Ralph Nader on the very substantive issues that party leaders want Obama to take on (see the NYT) to win in battleground states? Instead, he wastes his time with this.

Did John McCain have the questions beforehand?

If you really want to change how politics is practiced "promise everything and give them hot air" this was the perfect example of pandering, stump speeches, I know everything and set in stone mentality (on McCain's Part) as opposed to thoughtful consideration and honesty (Obama).

Christians with any thought should know deceit from bluster.

A couple of things. Both men did well, the biggest loser was actually the national media that had to be shown how to do their jobs by a Pastor. Imagine asking difficult questions and letting the men answer..and then not bringing in 15 people to spin each word. The national media could learn a lesson on what American's actually want in news.

Secondly the debate, as it were, was very telling for both men. If you want a President that is thoughtful, introspective, and meticulous...than Obama is your man. If you want a President who is quick on the draw, adamant in his beliefs, and sees all issues in terms of black and white...than McCain is your guy.

Pretty simple.

After watching all the positive press prior to the program (and not knowing anything about Warren), I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED!! I thought that Warren was supposed to be bipartison?! What happened to that?! All during Obama's interview, he was trying to pinpoint him on definate issues, and he kept UHHHing Obama over and over again every time Obama tried to answer! Freudian Slip?! I was actually open to this supposed bipartism discussion - until John McCain came out and the whole situation changed!! "It is not the questions that Warren asked, It was how he asked the questions!!" (since you were supposedly asking the same questions to each). Warren may have thought that he was being fair to "his friends", but I was so disappointed - not that I had ever heard of him before this, I was made to believe that he was ACTUALLYnot politically involved.! I watched the Obama portion of the interview (noticing your constant UHHHing and continuing to keep it short) and than McCain coming out and your difference in questioning. I guess you serve a Republican platform after all. Again, how disappointing!! I had to express my irriataion! You claim to be bipartison - you get them both to come on to improve your popularity - Good for you. I guess you are the winner in this whole picture. I guess you are just the same as all the other evangelicals. Bummer! I was really starting to believe a pastor was really offering a more open view.

I was at the forum in the main auditorium, I think both candidates did well but thought Obama had more precise and thought out plans on how to deal with the issues Warren brought up. McCain kept using personal stories to engage the audience, and kept tugging the emotional strings on our hearts. In front of me I noticed a woman wiping away a tear after one of the stories McCain shared.

Obama seems to grasp the concept of getting to the root of our global problems in order to prevent them from getting larger. He clearly stated that tonight in his responses.

I’m shocked that the Times story didn't raise the issue of whether a religious official should inject himself into a political discussion. Rick Warren’s questions frame the race within the context of evangelical Christians to the detriment of citizens who don’t share their beliefs. The Founders separated government from religion not – as some current Christians contend – to persecute Christians but to ensure that all could believe, or not believe, as they desired.

As US Senators, neither Obama or McCain should be promoting any particular religion. And church officials should not attempt to influence the voting preferences of their flocks – regardless of which religion is doing the influencing.

Citizens must be free to select candidates without interference from religion – not to promote a secular society, but to protect freedom of belief for all.

Excuse me for asking this, but I believe the American public MIGHT have been duped by Pastor Rick, who looks silly in that goatee of his, and he could lose some weight too......but what I am talking about is this: you didn't mention it and nobody else, but I have a very strong suspicion that the questions that Pastor Rick asked the two candidates were GIVEN to both Obama and McCain in advance of the "show"........why do I suspect this? because at one point Obama said "I cheated here and did some research before hand.....I actually looked at this idea ahead of time...."

he said this in response at first to one of Rick's question around the 45 minute time....

and CNN made a major gaffe: on the news scrawl below the screen, the news editor who is obviosuly illiterate wrote for all the world to see on CNN: "What is the greatest moral failure in your LIVE?

shoulda been LIFE? it was never corrected during Obama's half......way to go, CNN!

but the main questuon here, sir, is WHERE THE QUESTIONS GIVEN TO THE TWO MEN BEFORE THE SO CALLED FORUM? I believe they were. I am going to ask Rick right now and see what he says....

when Rick also said "we are the most blessed nation on earth"...again he is so full of it. Other nations are also blessed, sir Rick, American is not NUMBER ONE in BLESSEDness, this is a huge mistkae of arrogant overweight ammericans like Pastor Rick, who is a brainwashed mindcontrolled robot of an ancient religion that is completely based on myth and legend, there is NO JESUS at all, and yet he gets away with this crap.....sad in this day and age..but that's America for you, LIVE!

Obama stuttered and paused the entire time. The man is not a quick thinker like we need in Washington. He danced around most subjects, never really giving a concise answer other than the couple religious answers he had prepared due to presuming those would be questions.

I've never been more impressed with Senator McCain, who spoke with confidence, intelligence, without hesitation, friendliness, and an unwaivering position of protecting and loving our country.

McCain is a good, good man.

I hope everyone is intelligent enough to see that.

His answer to "what is rich" is spot on. How dare Obama determine what is enough money for someone? How dare he, over and over, say, "the rich people don't need their money anyway?"

How dare he.

Those who earn it have the right to keep it, spend it, donate it WHERE they want and not where Obama deems necessary.

Think about it -- even if everyone paid the same PERCENTAGE (which we don't), the rich people pay far more than anyone else ... dollar amount. Someone making $250k is likely paying at least $75k to $90k in taxes.

On top of that, they likely buy a more expensive car. Tag the sales tax on a $100k car, and there's another $8k in taxes.

License tags on the expensive car? Likely another $2500 to $3500 a year in plates, yet another form of tax.

Likely their house is more expensive, so they're probably paying $15k to $50k in property taxes, so all the "poor" people can drive around on well maintained streets.

There is absolutely NO need to burden the successful people in this country anymore.

As John McCain brilliantly said, I don't see any reason to redistribute the wealth. I want EVERYONE to get rich.

EVERYONE has that opportunity because this is America. Obama had that opportunity, but this isn't good enough?

Go John Go..... I look forward to meeting you as President John McCain.

AMEN.

Well we all know what we are in for with Obama, pretty scary! Michelle will rule the country as that is who BO looks to for advice except his typical white grandmother who is not alive anymore. So guess she won't have much to say about things however Michelle will have plenty you can be sure of. Obama showed weakness on every subject he was asked about. BO leaves deep holes to weasel out of on issues because he has deep holes in his past that effects every decision he makes. He is unsure of himself, mainly because he has not been honest with his campaign from the beginning. BO is too IFFY! Lack of experience showed big time and this sure gave the BIG PICTURE as to what kind of president Obama would make. The boy Obama is no leader, and cannot lead. Michelle on the other hand wants to wear the pants and she's biting at the bit, too backbite America. After all she has not ever in her adult life been proud of her country until now. She finally is since her 'baby daddy' is running for prez, and she thinks SHE (ALL ABOUT MICHELLE) can turn America into a country that none of us would want to live in, or be proud of. MO doesn't sound like an adult IMO! Those two BO and MO need to first grow up, and learn you can't be 'wishy washy' and have any authority to make good decisions. They are clueless as to how to even manage their own lives, with attending a blasphemous church for twenty years, calling America names like mean, bullies and insulting us by saying we cling to our guns and our God.
What kind of language is that for anyone to say, let alone someone running for the Presidency. Also, not even visiting the troops when he went to visit the WORLD, HELLOOOOOOOOO! Yet he said when he visited the troops, give us all a break please on that one. NO COMANDER IN CHIEF - EVER - HE IS IN DENIAL CITY ON A DEAD END ROAD.
OBAMA WILL BE SAYING, "I MUST HURRY, THEY HAVE ALL LEFT AND I AM THEIR LEADER"! Obama is a ROBIN HOOD . . .
IN SHORT (A SOCIALIST)

McCain showed he is ready to lead America NOT down a garden path, but REMAINING a strong America bringing out the best in each of us. That is what is needed in our day and time. McCain shows toughness and loving strength that will keep America a land of the free and home of the brave. Thank you John McCain for standing up for our country's core beliefs and values. AMERICA will be OIL independent for our children's children and still the best country, NOT on welfare, in the world. McCain wants to rid Americans of Personal and Excess Baggage.
WE WON'T MAKE A WRONG TURN WITH MCCAIN BUT STAY ON THE SUCCESS HIGHWAY.
AMERICA WILL TRAVEL LIGHT YEARS AHEAD WITH JOHN MCCAIN.

SO AMERICA GET READY TO FLY FREE, IT'S YOUR GPS FOR SUCCESS, TRAVELIGHT WITH JOHN MCAIN!

GOD BLESS AMERICA IN CHRIST!

www.travelightgame.com

Peter- I am baffled. You would rather stay home and let B. Hussein Obama win the election than vote for McCain? Why? You can't get any more left than B. Hussein Obama. Look at the big picture here. I am a Christian and I feel McCain gave me all the right answers during his interview. So I ask you, what do you not like about him? What have I missed?

Spiralli- Separation of church and state means that the government can not force you or anyone to practice any type of religion. It does not mean that the parties of government can't practice a religion. The USA was founded on Christian beliefs, however, you can not be forced to be a Christian. Having a hearing of the candidates in a church and asking them their views on a particular religion is not against the law.

McCain won this round, hands down!!!

He was succinct, direct and clear about his values and policies. Obama was wistful...

GOD I WISH HILLARY WOULD JUST GRAB THIS NOMINATION!!! I can't believe the DNC chose such a weak candidate to boost.

If this is the case, then it's.... McCAIN/Meg Whitman '08

Lies in this article. McCain had no supporters outside

Bob Barr had like 3

Ron Paul had about 250

As one of the guys holding a Ron Paul sign, we moved from segregated corner to corner without a problem.

It seems everyone likes Ron - The Pro-Lifers love him, The Immigration Control people love him, The Anti War people are pretty much Ron Paul supporters, and even the Obama supporters loved us. I heard one say "I love Ron Paul, but I'm voting for Obama" and who can blame them for picking Obama? Right now John McCain is marching towards war and he's not even the President!

The Campaign for Liberty will be very active in this election, whether McCain likes it or not

Associate, the rich have been getting richer & richer while the rest of us fall behind. Obama is right. They don't need all that money. Do they really need another house or another yacht while others are losing their homes?

Let me say from the outset that I am a post-evangelical Christian (google it, it will be informative) and a minor fan of Rick Warren. However I was greatly DISAPPOINTED by this Civil Forum. Firstly, I am not entirely convinced Pastor Warren was an effective moderator. The questions were imprecise to say the least. Let's take for example the final "world-view" question.

To ask "does evil exist" in the first place is a silly question. Of course anyone would say evil exists, even the most relative of moralists. Secondly, asking "what do we do about evil: confront it, ignore it.... defeat it?" I thought Obama's answer was balanced and truthful, and also more Christian in its foundations. While not specifically saying it, he pointed to the Christian idea that evil is found within us all, and it must be confronted where ever it is found. Defeating evil though, I'm sorry McCain, is the purview of God, not us. (Rom 3:23 anyone?) Besides, evil doesn't just exist within al-Qaeda, it exists in everyone and in everything... even in America.

So, Rick, you needed better questions. Also, as a moderator, he warned Obama several times about not stumping, and he respectfully did not do so, directing his responses to Rick and crafting them in a non-stump fashion. McCain however, ran all over Rick, stumping the entire time, saying "my friends" and using the time to go through his campaign rhetoric instead of answering the question. Rick however, failed to reign him in.

Last thought about that world-view section... those issues don't necessarily define a "worldview", besides what does that even mean?? How about HIV/AIDS? World poverty? Just War (Iraq)? Human Rights? Social justice-based trade policy? A moment of anger: the world is coming apart and we're screwing around arguing about stem-cells? Jesus is rolling his eyes.

Glad to see that I was not the only one who thought that McCain had access to the questions to enable him to prepare for the forum, because he is not that quick to respond to questions in the Town Hall meetings. Even so, he really didn't answer too many questions. He spoke about what he wanted to, killed time with the same old stories and was very impatient to be done with the interview. The "Cross in the Dirt" story sounded familiar, ... think Solzhenitsyn was reported to have had a similar experience.

We all thank Sen. McCain for his military service and sacrifice as a POW, ... however, that is not a free ticket to the Presidency. Am still waiting to hear what he has accomplished while in Congress for the last quarter century. He intentionally avoids it, including the time he was admonished by the Congress for having "bad judgement" in his business/political associations in the 80's, and darned if he didn't gravitate to the same type of association again with Phil Gramm (largely responsible for the Enron loop hole and deregulation of financial institutions that caused the mortgage, banking, and oil price problems, and this is the guy who is crafting McCain's economic policy). We don't hear McCain saying anything about fixing that problem. I was also upset recently at his response to the Georgia/Russia crises. First of all, he is not the President, and good judgement dictates that he waits to see what the current administration does before he makes a public statement so as not to send conflicting messages regarding the crises. Further, and what was most disturbing was the tenor of the statement. Diplomacy is what is needed first ... NOT THREATS.

Maybe Senator McCain could spend less time misrepresenting the policies of the other candidate and provide substantive information on his Congressional record and his policies.

Joel, I think that our behavior is probably what started this whole Georgia/Russia problem in the first place. We have been making threats & acting tough towards other countries ever since GWB came to office, & then Georgia got the idea that we'd back them up if they attacked Russia. It's obvious that Russia got scared that US-backed regimes were going to surround them. We are causing these conflicts with our bullying behavior, & McCain isn't helping.

Obama was thoughtful and honest in his responses, for Mccain this was just another stop for the double-talk express. Where is mccains authenticity - or is that a mccain myth too?

If mccain didn't have the questions ahead of time, he must be psychic - how else can you answer the questions before they're asked?

It seemed to me that Obama avoided answering most of the questions asked. I read touts like - McCain sees things as black and white. Is that a bad thing? I would rather have a president that didn't play me for stupid and naive. Obama makes it clear that he can address issues of any type without decisiveness. The word chameleon comes to mind and I won't trust such a person.
Many of the comments here indicate to me that the most writers are hardcore liberal (at any cost) and watching the Saddleback Forum was a exercise in looking for things to build an attack on McCain. Did you watch the same forum I did? Is there an underlying "Freudian slip" that you are acknowledging McCain had clear and sincere responses by your continual indicating you felt he had the questions before hand?
Clearly, McCain was humble, honest and sincere. Clearly, Obama was evasive, simply didn't answer most questions, and fed us a bunch of finkle matter.
I saw a comic that comes to mind - funny then, but a scary thought now. It goes something like this; One man says, "stupid people shouldn't be allowed to vote", the other man says, "It is the American way to allow... even stupid people to vote", the one man then asks, "so what happens if there are more stupid people than smart people?", the other man responds, "then America will elect a man named Barrack Husein Obama as president of the United States". I am not into name calling, but how in the world does anyone place their trust in Obama after watching the Saddleback Forum?
There was one defining statement made by McCain that clarifies what I see as the main difference between the two presidential candidates. McCain is a man that encourages Americans to put others above themselves and has vowed (and demonstrated) to continue to put America above himself. I saw and heard nothing that would support the idea that Obama subscribes to a similar philosophy, on the contrary.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Carefully consider your motivations when making a decision on who to vote for. Above all, exercise the right to vote.

I hope to God not Meg for VP! She brought “ebay” success, not the ebay community! ebay and Meg got greedy and the little guy suffered. It used to be a place for the people. I remember back in the beginning of ebay, before they went to the stock market, they talked about giving those of us who made them who they are, today, the opportunity to buy into their stock. They changed their minds and left all of us out in the cold. That caused alot of resentment and left a bitter taste in our mouths. She, they bought all of the stock options, became very very very wealthy and turned it into nothing less than a huge market place for the wealthy. The small mom and pop business’s were eventually forced to go elsewhere because of their greed! Now, big business is all over ebay. Their prices to sell have gone off the charts. The profit margin is near to nil for small business. Most ebayers who were loyal to ebay, have left and have been gone for years now. Check the internet for searches on meg and ebay and the disdain folks have for them. I personally will vote for McCain in a heartbeat. But my heart will stop beating if he chooses Meg. I will not vote for him. If he chooses, let’s say, Romney, who I believe is a better choice, I will vote for them. Period.

After reading the comments by B Mcknight, Howard and Bob D, only a heavy dose of reality could soothe my disbelief that these Republicans could be so factually ignorant. First of all this was a religious, evangelical forum rather than a civil forum as Rick Warren intimated. I mean evangelical in the modern American meaning of the term, not in the Biblical sense. I came to this conclusion because eradicating evil IS NOT a constitutional requirement for the President of the United States. Concomitantly, evil CANNOT be eliminated according to the teachings of Jesus, whom we Christians are supposed to be telling the world about (Evangelizing). He said in Mark 7:21-23, “…from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. ALL THESE evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” The only 2008 Presidential candidate who has committed the evils of sexual immorality and adultery is John McCain, by his own admission. Yet, you Republicans think that just because Iran and North Korea were listed by George W. Bush as evil empires, that Evangelicals should support anyone who speaks about destroying them. Take a lesson from the fall of the Soviet Union. Republicans claim that Reagan caused its collapse because of his tough stance and being in office when it happened. Well, with that logic, we should blame George W. Bush for the restoration of Russian power including its recent incursion into Georgian territory as well as the attacks on 9/11. You should be aware as a Christian that no world power would exist were it not God’s plan. Read about Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 4. Or look to the New Testament, which we true Evangelicals follow, to read Jesus’ response to Pilate in John 19:11, “you would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” The greatest evil, as maintained by Republicans and so-called Evangelicals is abortion. Do you believe that only Democrats and non-Christians get abortions? You guys need to check the statistics. Before the law was changed to legalize abortions, Democrats, Republicans, Christians and non-Christians got abortions based on their ability to pay. Those who couldn’t afford a “medical procedure” got “back-alley” abortions. If you want to claim the moral high-ground as it relates to the sanctity of life, then consider that the United States kill more people through capital punishment than any other industrialized nation in the world. Additionally, recent DNA testing has proved some of those individuals were innocent. Where is the moral outrage from religious groups like Focus on the Family, on this form of evil which also takes innocent life? Oh, I know where they are and why they are not teaching people like you about the love of Jesus Christ through His Gospel, they’re busy praying for it to rain on Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. By the way it was a perfect night weather-wise.
Postscript: Are you familiar with Biblical teaching on God sending rain. Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that our “Father in heaven causes His Sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” You decide for yourselves where you fall among these groups. May God bless you in your search for the truth!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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