David McNew, Getty Images
John McCain (R-AZ), pastor Rick Warren and Barack Obama (D-IL) greet each other at the start of the Civil Forum on the Presidency at the Saddleback Church.
David McNew, Getty Images
Earlier this afternoon, Farai Chideya spoke with Pastor Rick Warren, leader of Saddleback Church and international best-selling author.
Warren moderated Saturday's Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency — a two-hour event, in which Warren engaged presidential contenders John McCain and Barack Obama on an array of faith and value issues.
What follows are highlights of Farai's interview with Warren, which will air in full on tomorrow's broadcast.
On the greatest success of the forum:
"I loved the fact that Americans saw not just the political differences between these two guys but also the personality differences. ... Barack was exactly who he is, and John McCain was exactly who he is. They were exactly who I know them to be. They are both friends of mine; I've known them for some time. With their answers, Barack is the thoughtful, consensus builder. He likes to nuance things. He likes to talk things through. You know, he's a constitutional attorney. John McCain is a straightforward, happy commander who says, 'Yes, yes. No. Let's get it over. Let's do it.' By asking the same questions to each candidate, it allowed America to compare apples to apples, and I liked that."
On differences between McCain and Obama:
"Both of these men love America. Both of them are patriots. I think both of them are good leaders. They just have drastically different visions for the direction of America."
On the rumor about McCain having advance notice of the questions:
"I'm afraid that that rumor might hurt the Obama campaign. I've talked to a number of people about this; they say, 'An anonymous source told me that John McCain was watching a monitor in his green room.' It's flat out impossible. In the first place, there were Secret Service staff and Saddleback [Church] staff with McCain the entire time he was there. There was no way he could have listened to anything without being seen. If he had heard anything, believe me I would have heard about it."
On a perception of the candidates finessing the audience:
"I think they were both genuinely answering the way I expected them to answer. Barack tended to look more toward me and talk to me ... John tended to look more at the audience. But part of that was because — right [about] five minutes before we got onto the stage — I looked at Barack and I said, 'Let's just make this a conversation between friends.' And I didn't get the opportunity to say that to Sen. McCain to remind him."
On having an influence in the Oval Office, looking ahead:
"This is not my day job. My day job is I'm a pastor of a large church in California, and I'm extremely involved in humanitarian efforts around the world. ... All my time is taken up by that. ... I have no aspirations to be a political consultant in any sense of the word."
On the conflict in Georgia being raised during the forum:
"I got a communication today from the President of Georgia's office, who said that the president of Georgia had watched the Saddleback Civil Forum in his nation and had been near tears, thanking that his country got mentioned. He was saying, 'The bear is back,' and asking for me to send out a note to all the churches in our network, saying, 'Would you pray for Georgia?' And I think this issue right here is going to be an interesting test of how either of my friends — Barack or John — would deal with that particular situation."
On hosting similar political forums in the future:
"What I hope will be copied is the format. I don't have to be doing it. But I do think that the debate format of the 30-second rebuttal and the five second rebuttal to the rebuttal ... is an artificial "gotcha" kind of format that doesn't play to either man's strengths, doesn't allow their personality or character or commitment to actually shine, and I'm hoping if anything happens, it will add a little civility to the dialogue."