Cheating at Saddleback: McCain Appparently Knew Question About Supreme Court in Advance

MCCAIN: Could I — are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices or should I mention —

WARREN: We will get to that.

MCCAIN: OK. All right. OK.

WARREN: You’re jumping ahead…

The McCain campaign is fighting hard against charges that McCain cheated on the rules of debate at a rightwing evangelical forum in a California megachurch over the weekend by cribbing the questions in advance. They are so desperate, apparently, that a McCain operative even played the POW card, citing McCain’s imprisonment by the Vietnamese 40 years ago as evidence somehow that he did not cheat Saturday night.
What’s suspicious here is that the topic of the Supreme Court had not come up in McCain’s interview, so it was not a topic to go “back” to.
Even “Pastor Rick” Warren, the multimillionaire evangelist who hosted the event — and who clearly favored McCain in the questioning — has admitted that McCain was not sequestered during the live session with Obama.

Warren told the live audience in the hall and on CNN that McCain was in a “cone of silence” to prevent him from having the advantage of hearing the questions in advance. In fact, McCain was in his car during much of Obama’s session, where he certainly could have listened to the interview.

And this exchange from the forum appears to indicate that McCain knew that Warren was going to ask him a very specific question about the Supreme Court. Notice how McCain asks if he can go “back” to a question about the court:

WARREN: Let’s deal with abortion. I, as a pastor, have to deal with this all the time, every different angle, every different pain, all of the decisions and all of that. Forty million abortions since Roe v. Wade. Some people, people who believe that life begins at conception, believe that’s a holocaust for many people. What point is a baby entitled to human rights?

MCCAIN: At the moment of conception. (APPLAUSE). I have a 25- year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment. That’s my commitment to you.

WARREN: OK, we don’t have to beleaguer on that one. Define marriage.

MCCAIN: A union — a union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. That’s my definition of marriage.

Could I — are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices or should I mention —

WARREN: We will get to that.

MCCAIN: OK. All right. OK.

WARREN: You’re jumping ahead…

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: When we speak of the issue of the rights to the unborn, we need to talk about judges. But, anyway, go ahead.

What’s suspicious here is that the topic of the Supreme Court had not come up in McCain’s interview, so it was not a topic to go “back” to. On the other hand, Obama had been asked a question about the Supreme Court during his earlier session, which McCain supposedly had not heard:

WARREN: OK. The courts. Let me ask it this way. Which existing Supreme Court justice would you not have nominated?

OBAMA: That’s a good one. That’s a good one. I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. [ applause ] I don’t think that he — I don’t think that he was as strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution. I would not nominate Justice Scalia, although I don’t think there’s any doubt about his intellectual brilliance, because he and I just disagree. He taught at the University of Chicago, as did I in the law school.

According to the CNN transcript of the entire McCain interview (see below) up through a question about when life begins, Warren had not mentioned the Supreme Court before McCain blurted out “are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices”:

WARREN: Welcome back to the “Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency.”

And welcome, Senator John McCain.

MCCAIN: Thank you. Good to be here.

WARREN: My first question, was the cone of silence comfortable you were in just now?

MCCAIN: I was trying to hear through the wall.

WARREN: This first set of questions deals with leadership and the personal life of leadership. The first question, who are the three wisest people that you know that you would rely on heavily in an administration?

MCCAIN: First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq, one of the great leaders.

Fourth of July a year ago, Senator Lindsay Graham and I were in Baghdad. Six hundred and eighty-eight brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, swore in reenlistment to stay and fight for freedom. Only someone like General David Petraeus could motivate someone like that.

I think John Lewis. John Lewis was at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, had his skull fractured, continued to serve, continues to have the most optimistic outlook about America. He can teach us all a lot about the meaning of courage and commitment to causes greater than our self-interest.

Meg Whitman, Meg Whitman, the CEO of eBay. Meg Whitman, 12 years ago, there were five employees. Today, they’re 1.5 million people that make a living off eBay in America, in the world. It’s one of these great American success stories. And in these economic challenges times, we need to call on the wisdom and knowledge, the background of people like Meg Whitman, who have been able to make such a great success such as eBay part as the American folklore.

WARREN: OK, let me ask you this. This is a character question.

MCCAIN: I hope they get easier.

WARREN: Well, this one isn’t any easier. We’ve had a lot of leaders, because of their weaknesses, character flaws, stumble, become ineffective, are not even serving anymore, serving our country. What’s been your greatest moral failure, and what has been the great — what do you think is the greatest moral failure of America?

MCCAIN: They don’t get any easier.

WARREN: No, they don’t get any easier.

MCCAIN: My greatest moral failing — and I have been a very imperfect person — is the failure of my first marriage. It’s my greatest moral failure.

I think America’s greatest moral failure has been. Throughout our existence, perhaps we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest, although we’ve been at the best at it of everybody in the world.

I think after 9/11, my friends, instead of telling people to go shopping or take a trip, we should have told Americans to join the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, the military, expand our volunteers, expand what you’re doing — (APPLAUSE) — expand what you’re doing, expand the current missions that you are doing, that you are carrying out here in America and throughout the world, in Rwanda. And I hope we have a chance to talk about that later on.

And you know — a little pandering here. The first words of your very successful book is “this is not about you.” You know what that also means? Serve a cause greater than your self-interest.

WARREN: John, you know that a lot of good legislation dies because of partisan politics, and party loyalty keeps people from really getting forward on putting America’s best first. Can you give me an example of where you led against your party’s interests — oh, this is hard — (LAUGHTER) — and really, maybe against your own best interests for the good of America?

MCCAIN: You know, by a strange coincidence — (LAUGHTER) — I was not elected Miss Congeniality again in the United States Senate. I don’t know why. I don’t know why. I don’t know why.

Climate change, out of control spending, torture, the list goes on, on a large number of issues that I have put my country first and I’ve reached across the aisle. but I’d probably have to say that one of the times that probably was one of the most trying was, when I was first a member of Congress, and I’m a new freshman in the House of Representatives and very loyal and dedicated to President Reagan, whom I still think is one of the great, great presidents in American history — (APPLAUSE) — who won the cold war without firing a shot, in the words of Margaret Thatcher. He wanted to send troops to Beirut for a peacekeeping mission.

My knowledge and my background told me that a few hundred Marines in a situation like that could not successfully carry out any kind of peacekeeping mission. And I thought they were going into harm’s way. Tragically, as many of you recall, there was a bombing in the Marine barracks and well over 100 brave Marines gave their lives. But it was tough, that vote, because I went against the president I believed in, and the party that believed that maybe I was disloyal very early in my political career.

WARREN: There’s a verse in the Bible that says intelligent people look for ideas, in fact, they search for them. What is the most significant position that you’ve held, 10 years ago, that you know longer hold today. I think the point I’m trying to make is that leaders are not stubborn. They do change their mind with additional information.

So give me a good example of something, 10 years ago, you said that’s the way I feel about and now, 10 years later, I changed my position. That’s not flip-flopping. It’s just sometimes growing in wisdom.

MCCAIN: Offshore drilling, we’ve got to drill now and got to drill here and we’ve got to be (inaudible).

(APPLAUSE).

And I know that there’s some here in California that disagree — (LAUGHTER) — that disagree with that position. Could I also mention very seriously about this issue. My friends, you know that this is a national security issue. We’re sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much, that some of that money is ending up in the hands of terrorist organizations. We cannot allow this greatest transfer of wealth in history and our national security continuing to be threatened. (APPLAUSE).

And Rick, I know we’ve got a lot of issues to cover but let me say it. At the town hall meetings that I have every day, that’s the issue on people’s mind is energy. If I could take one, 30 seconds. One, we’ve got to do everything. We’ve got to do wind, tide, solar, natural gas, hydrogen cars, hybrid cars, electric cars. And we have to have nuclear power in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save on our energy costs.

By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed it, the French, 80 percent. We love to imitate the French. 80 percent of their electricity is generated by nuclear power. If they can do it and reprocess, we can, too, my friends. And by the way, if you hadn’t noticed, we now have a pro-American president of France, which shows if you live long enough, anything can happen in America. (LAUGHTER).

WARREN: Well, you just took the — I had that question later on but now we don’t have to ask it. What’s the most gut-wrenching decision you’ve ever had to make? And what was the process that you used to make it?

MCCAIN: It was long ago, and far away, in a prison camp in North Vietnam. My father was a high-ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. And we had a code of conduct. It said you only leave by order of capture. I also had a dear and beloved friend, who was from California, named Ebb Alvarez, who had been shot down before me. But I wasn’t in good physical shape. In fact, I was in rather bad physical shape. So I said no. Now, in interest of full disclosure, I’m happy I didn’t know the war was going to last for another three years or so.

But I said no, and I’ll never forget sitting in my last answer, and the high-ranking officer offered it, slammed the door and the interrogator said, “Go back to your cell. It’s going to be very tough on you now.” And it was. But not only the toughest decision I ever made, but I am most happy about that decision, than any decision I’ve ever made in my life. (APPLAUSE).

WARREN: Great, great.

MCCAIN: Could I finally say, it took a lot of prayer? It took a lot of prayer.

WARREN: Great. We’ll be right back with John McCain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WARREN: Welcome back. Welcome back. And we’re here with Senator John McCain.

Now, John, in this next section we’re going to talk about world view. And I actually invited a couple hundred thousand people of my personal friends to send me their questions. And these are heartland questions that came in from all over America. No matter how you answer them, somebody’s not going to like them, because we have many world views, obviously, in America. But let’s walk through these minefields together.

First, you’ve made no doubt about the fact that you are a Christian. You publicly say you’re a follower of Christ. What does that mean to you and how does faith work out in your life on a daily basis? What does it mean to you?

MCCAIN: It means I’m saved and forgiven. We’re talking about the world. Our faith encompasses not just the United States of America but the world. Can I tell you another story real quick?

WARREN: Sure.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: The Vietnamese kept us in prison in conditions of solitary confinement, or two or three to a cell. They did that because they knew they could break down our resistance. One of the techniques that they used to get information was to take ropes and tie them around your biceps, loop the rope around your head and pull it down beneath your knees and leave you in that position. You can imagine it’s very uncomfortable.

One night, I was being punished in that fashion. All of sudden the door of the cell opened and the guard came in. The guy who was just — what we call the gun guard — just walked around the camp with the gun on his shoulder. He went like this and loosened the ropes. He came back about four hours later and tightened them up again and left.

The following Christmas, because it was Christmas day, we were allowed to stand outside of our cell for a few minutes. In those days we were not allowed to see or communicate with each other, although we certainly did. And I was standing outside, for my few minutes outside at my cell. He came walking up. He stood there for a minute, and with his sandal on the dirt in the courtyard, he drew a cross and he stood there. And a minute later, he rubbed it out, and walked away.

For a minute there, there was just two Christians worshipping together. I’ll never forget that moment. (APPLAUSE). So every day.

WARREN: Let’s go into the tough ones. That was just a gimme.

MCCAIN: All right.

WARREN: Let’s deal with abortion. I, as a pastor, have to deal with this all the time, every different angle, every different pain, all of the decisions and all of that. Forty million abortions since Roe v. Wade. Some people, people who believe that life begins at conception, believe that’s a holocaust for many people. What point is a baby entitled to human rights?

MCCAIN: At the moment of conception. (APPLAUSE). I have a 25- year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment. That’s my commitment to you.

WARREN: OK, we don’t have to beleaguer on that one. Define marriage.

MCCAIN: A union — a union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. That’s my definition of marriage.

Could I — are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices or should I mention —

WARREN: We will get to that.

MCCAIN: OK. All right. OK.

WARREN: You’re jumping ahead…

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: When we speak of the issue of the rights to the unborn, we need to talk about judges. But, anyway, go ahead.

22 Responses »

  1. […] The only exciting thing about McCain is when he gets caught cheating. […]

  2. pligg.com August 18, 2008 @ 12:01 pm

    Pensito Review » Cheating at Saddleback: McCain Appparently Knew Question About Supreme Court in Advance…

    The McCain campaign is fighting hard against charges that McCain cheated on the rules of debate at a rightwing evangelical forum in a California megachurch over the weekend by cribbing the questions in advance. They are so desperate, apparently, that a…

  3. Brock Lesnar August 18, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

    Such a LIAR… :)

    MCCAIN: Could I — are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices or should I mention –

    WARREN: We will get to that.

    MCCAIN: OK. All right. OK.

    WARREN: You’re jumping ahead…

  4. Greygolla August 18, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

    If a Godly person were to be worldly enough to have an accurate assessment of McCain, the moderator could not let it be published here. So let us sing the praises and collect our bounty. Did you hear the senator bragging that he used to beat the Senate with a chain but doesn’t anymore. Now, all he needs to do is rattle his POW links to get results. Joke! Just kidding Senator, please don’t beat me. Seriously, I don’t think anyone has had so many fooled or cowed since J. Edgar H.

  5. Larry August 18, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

    Look at the question to both on education. Pastor Rick states a fact related to the US % of HS graduates being 19th in the world while we are #1 in incarcerations. He then states that 80% of Americans in a recent poll favor merit pay. He then asks Obama two more questions. Obama answer thoughtfully.
    With McCain, he starts the same but after the 80% statement, he says…”now I don’t want you to give me your typical stump speech on this. In his hurry to give his answers, Mccain interrupts before Warren can ask the other two questions. But McCain quickly answers…”Yes…Yes… and find the bad teachers a new job.” Warren ask Obama about the poor teachers but he never got to ask McCain. The look on Warren’s face was priceless. He knew then he was being screwed. He made some inane comment about he and McCain going and playing poker.
    McCain reminded of classmates of mine in the third grade who didn’t excel in class but when they knew they had the right answer, they would blurt it out before being recognized. Gotcha, John!

  6. Walter Sear August 18, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

    I’m afraid I want a better liar than that to be president.

  7. Justin August 18, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

    Larry,

    I don’t get what you’re saying … I’m not trying to defend the whole deal … but I think you might be wrong about this …

    “Warren ask Obama about the poor teachers but he never got to ask McCain.”

    I looked at the CNN transcript and it seems to quote Warren as asking McCain about the merit pay? Which you say he didn’t?

    —– Question to Obama —-
    WARREN: OK. Let’s go to education. America right now ranks 19th in high school graduations. We’re first in incarcerations.

    OBAMA: Not good.

    WARREN: Not good. 80 percent of Americans recently polled said they believe in merit pay. Now, for teachers, do you — I’m not asking do you think all teachers should get a raise. Do you think better teachers should be paid better? They should be paid more than poor teachers?

    —– Same Question to McCain —–

    WARREN: Let’s talk about education. America ranks 19th in high school graduations, but we’re first in incarcerations. Everybody says they want more accountability in schools. About 80 percent of America says they support merit pay for the best teachers. Now, I don’t want to hear your stump speech on education.

    MCCAIN: Yes, yes, and find bad teachers another line of work. (APPLAUSE).

    WARREN: You know, we’re going to end this, you’re answering so quickly. You want to play a game of poker?

  8. Faith August 18, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

    Here’s the test–If I disagree with your accusation, does that mean I’m offensive?

    Go back to the abortion question and note that Roe v Wade is mentioned. Every Presidential election brings up nomination of Supreme Court justices in reference to Roe v Wade–because it is the Supreme Court who made abortion legal. Now read the whole thing in that context.

    Your accusations of McCain cheating are baseless. If I were representing to you what I believed, I would answer your questions simply too–because I am not trying to please everyone and only trying to convey my ideals. McCain is on record of having the ideals he put forth on that stage. He’s had two decades in the Senate debating bills and writing laws. He’s not a dummy and there would be no use in him trying to pretend to be something he’s not.

    Now if you want to say you hate McCain, fine. To accuse him of cheating speaks more of you then him. Obviously whatever good will Obama might have gotten from that forum is gone because you can’t pretend to be a Christian and then accuse your Christian host of cheating.

  9. Dee August 19, 2008 @ 12:36 am

    It was so obvious McCain cheated. He was answering before Rick could finish the question. He answered yes, yes, yes to a 3 part question that he should not have known it was 3 parts. Someone in the audience texted him the questions when he was in his car, don’t you think? He is never that quick to answer or with those good of answers. I knew it smelled funny and now the truth comes out, he was not put in a sound proof booth like he should have been. Good for Obama, his answers were very thoughtful and he played by the rules. Shame on you McCain!

  10. OBAMA HAS VISITED 57 STATES August 19, 2008 @ 12:48 am

    Obama knew the ‘three most important people’ question and the best he could come up with was my wife, my grandmother, and Teddy Kennedy? Does that guy have beans for brains?

    Here’s the point regarding the Saddleback event: If McCain can take these questions and tailor his answers perfectly to the base, then he has proven himself to be able to respond without a teleprompter. This was a discussion not a stump speech.

    McCain can perform on his feet — unlike Obama, who needs 300 advisors, a pre-scripted speech, a teleprompter and a bunch of foreigners in the audience (remember his world tour)! Why won’t he do town-hall meetings with McCain in rural America? Let us ask the questions!

  11. Faith August 19, 2008 @ 5:08 am

    Write those questions down, back to back. Which ones would have stumped YOU?

    When does life begin?
    Who do you not like on the Supreme Court?
    What is your greatest moral failure?

    If you were to answer honestly, you would have no problem–neither did McCain. If you were trying to capture evangelicals while keeping your base, you may have a problem parsing words just as Obama did.

    The only thing you guys have proven is 1) Obama got his rear handed to him and 2) being all things to all people didn’t work out for him and 3) the whining has gotten really old. He’s not applying for a job in subway, guys. He’s trying to prove he has the ability to lead our country and he’s far from qualified.

  12. Earl fm TN August 19, 2008 @ 6:18 am

    Obama did okay considering the room was full of haters and bigots. The whole event was tilted to McCain. Watch the video and you can see that Preacher Rick was rooting for the rightwinger.

  13. Bpb August 19, 2008 @ 7:23 am

    There is nothing suspicious about McCain jumping ahead to Supreme Court justices. In your zeal to try to find a reason for Obama’s poor performance, you forgot to do your homework. Rick Warren clearly stated before, during, and after the event that both candidates were given a list of general topics to be covered. In fact, since McCain was late, Warren now states that Obama had advance notice of one question, about support for orphans, and McCain did not. the truth is, Obama is terrible when he has to think “on his feet” without a teleprompter. Rather than spending your energies searching for blame and developing conspiracy theories, you on the left would do far better to be intellectually honest with yourselves, to really analyze why Obama did so poorly, in hopes of helping him to do better in the debates.

  14. Padrino August 19, 2008 @ 9:51 am

    The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.
    – George Orwell
    This explains Obama’s evasive equivocations. McCain gave instinctive answers to questions he’s made concrete decisions about. He has clear understanding of issues and how they are related to one another (That’s why he wanted to talk about Sup.Ct.Justices Hellooo!)

  15. Gusgus August 19, 2008 @ 11:49 am

    Get real, this debate was above one debaters “pay grade”

    Now that is funny! I don’t care who you are……..!

  16. […] one could rightly argue that the McCain camp playing the prisoner of war card was inappropriate): Pensito Review Cheating at Saddleback: McCain Appparently Knew Question About Supreme Court in Advan… The answer to this is really simple: REPUBLICANS know that whenever abortion is being discussed […]

  17. The Cult of McCain « August 19, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

    […] or examined beyond the fictional John Rambo the media makes him out to be.  He would never lie or cheat – to suggest such a thing is to impugn the character of a war […]

  18. […] didn’t cheat, especially in light of his ‘quick on the draw’ answers and his anticipation of a question about Supreme Court judges that had not yet been asked. It also no secret that Warren supports the Republican’s policies […]

  19. […] McCain didn’t cheat, especially in light of his ‘quick on the draw’ answers and his anticipation of a question about Supreme Court judges that had not yet been asked. It also no secret that Warren supports the Republican’s policies […]

  20. Jill Coleman August 22, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

    This is a bunch of CRAP! Why did John McCain appear to handle the questions so well? It’s because Obama can’t think for himself! He can’t speak unless he has a teleprompter in front of him! You libs are totally grasping at straws! Face it! John McCain is more presidential than Obama. Quit making “excuses”!

  21. […] must have missed McCain’s appearance at the Saddleback megachurch a couple of weeks ago, when he said this: “PASTOR RICK” WARREN: Let’s deal with abortion. I, as a pastor, have to deal with this all the […]

  22. Nancy October 25, 2008 @ 1:14 am

    LOL Cheating? Seriously, there’s a long list of people who have cheated us all. McCain isn’t at the top of my list. Or Obama. Is he on yours? As a ticked off American, this isn’t what is bothering me. I don’t care if they hold 3×5 cards in their face or sing & dance together. I don’t donate to either campaign. They are plenty rich, they can pay for their own staircase to power. No matter what happens, if we are going to ever get to a government FOR THE PEOPLE, we need DEMAND as a collective force that every single department in Washington be purged of excess, justification for all expenditures (more disclosure & approvals) in our best interest overall per the United States Constituition (unless amended). NOW THAT’S REFORM YOU CAN COUNT ON!

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