If I had to rate this one, I would say that McCain came out on top at the Saddleback Presidential Forum. His answers were clear and were made more compelling by his allusions to his time in a Vietnamese prison camp.
Rick Warren did a lot better than I thought he would in his interviews. In a traditional debate, the candidates get asked different questions by the moderators, and oftentimes one candidate gets asked tougher questions than his opponent. In the Saddleback forum, each candidate got asked the same questions, so the viewer was able to compare apples to apples. I thought Warren’s format was brilliant on this point.
One final observation. I am often frustrated during presidential debates because the personhood of the unborn is rarely if ever a part of the discussion. But Warren’s formulation of the abortion question was ingenious. He asked both candidates when a baby gets human rights. McCain answered “at conception,” and Obama said “answering that question is above my pay-grade.” If that doesn’t sum up the difference between these two men on the abortion question, then I don’t know what does.
See Obama’s answer to the abortion question below.