Right Pundits will be Live blogging this event so join us!

A pastor was able to do what no one else could this summer: bring together John McCain and Barack Obama for a joint campaign appearance before their parties’ conventions. They will participate tonite in “The Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency” hosted and moderated by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life.�?

The “Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency” will be conducted in a non-debate format to provide opportunity for McCain and Obama to engage in a conversation about critical issues of interest to the faith community and the general public. At the candidates’ request, the questions will only be posed by Warren – not a panel or from the audience – and open to all media, rather than co-sponsored by one network or news outlet, as with many debates.

As a result, more than 550 media representatives have requested credentials to cover the event as news!

The topic of the forum will be “Compassion and Leadership.�? A recorded phone message at the church said that Warren “will ask questions that don’t often come up in political campaigns�? so that should be fun. And here is how the format will work:

Warren will question each candidate, beginning with Sen. Obama, who won a coin toss, for approximately one hour on four different topics: stewardship, leadership, worldview and America’s role in the world.

Unlike earlier debates, which often focused on short-term, hot-button issues – such as the war, price of oil and healthcare, even catching bin Laden – Warren will be posing identical questions to the candidates to help show American voters each of these Senators’ leadership style and decision-making process. And there won’t be many “gotcha-type” questions but rather ones that will be introspective — hopefully getting answers that require them to be more transparent than candidates tend to be on the campaign trail.

“I am a pastor, not a pundit,�? Warren clarified. “I will ask all the tough questions. But this is a conversation, not a confrontation, and I am going to be civil in our discussion. People know where I stand on the critical issues; however, this forum is not about me and what I believe, but to give a place for America to hear the candidates’ hearts by going beyond moral issues and their virtues, to also share their values and vision for leadership.�?

This will be a two hour event, held from 5-7 p.m. (PDT) and broadcast live – in real time across all zones starting 8 p.m. (EDT) – on CNN, FOX News Channel and Daystar Television Network, as well as Southern California’s KDOC-TV. You can also watch the event via live streaming at SaddlebackCivilForum.com.

The interesting thing about this forum is a pastor brought the two candidates together in a church — a crossover of religion and politics? Maybe. It also speaks in many ways to the fact that 11% of evangelicals are still undecided according to this poll which is twice as many as in 2004. Translation? Votes up for grabs.

For years, most Democratic presidential candidates avoided campaign trail discussions of faith and values all together siting “its a personal matter.” This seemed to give ground to Republicans who, in turn, solidified their already strong electoral advantages among religious voters who identify with religious candidates. But with the rise of “hopechangery,” the usual dynamics may not be at play this election year. I guess we can find out together.

Don’t forget we’re live blogging, so join us please!

Warren to Obama ……

Warren: 200,000 questions about Obama’s world view.

Warren: What does Obama’s faith in Christ mean to him.

Obama: Jesus Christ died for my sins and that is sustenance on a daily basis. I have to get myself out of the way to I can carry out some of His intent. Obligation to embrace not just words, but deeds the expectations that God has for us.

Of course, Obama elaborates profusely.

Warren: Now the tough ones.

Warren: Abortion …. 40 million abortions. At what point does a baby get human rights?

Obama: Can’t answer question with specificity is above my pay grade. Let me speak more generally about abortion. One thing I’m convinced of is there is a moral and ethical issue to this issue.

I am pro-choice, not because I’m pro-abortion, but because women don’t make these choices lightly. They wrestle with these choices. How do we reduce the number of abortions?

I am in favor of limits to late term abortions unless there is an issue of the mother’s health.

He again brings up the idea of what we can do to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies? Are we giving women the health care they need? Are we providing the option of adoption?

[Obama Abortion Policy]

Warren: Define Marriage?

Obama: Marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Its also a sacred union as a Christian.

He would not support constitutional amendment regarding same sex marriage. He claims he doesn’t support same sex marriage, but supports civil unions.

Warren: Stem cells?

Obama: Refers to the structuring of the stem cell bill. Only could use stem cells that were being destroyed. He believes that is a legitimate moral stand to take. If embryos are being discarded, they should be used for research. If adult stem cells would work just as well, then we need to avoid the issue of using embryonic stem cells for research.

Warren: Does evil exists? How do we deal with it?

Obama: Yes – it exists. We see evil in Darfou. In abusive parents, in the streets of cities in the U.S.

We can’t erase evil from the world. That is God’s task, but we can be soldiers in that. We need to have humility in how we confront evil. Just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t mean we are actually doing good.

Warren: The Courts (he asked Obama to not give him his stump speech) – which Supreme Court judge would he not have nominated.

Obama: Clarence Thomas. He’s not a strong enough Jurist or legal thinker for that elevation and he profoundly disagrees with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Scalia – cause they disagree on a fundamental basis.

Roberts – He’s a different issue. However, he’s not liked his decisions since he’s been on the bench. He’s been too willing to give the Supreme Court too much power.

Warren: Faith based agencies do a better job with social services than the government. Would he take funds from faith based organizations.

Obama: I support faith based initiatives. They are always free to hire whomever they want. When it comes to programs that are federally funded we have to be careful that we are not creating a situation in which people are being discriminated against.

Warren: Education – merit pay for teachers?

Obama: We should set up a system of performance pay – negotiated with teachers so they feel they are being judged fairly.

Warren: Taxes – define rich?

Obama: [avoids question by making joke re: $25 m in book sales]. If you are making $150,000 or less as a family you are middle class. If you are making more than $250,000 as a family, then you are doing well. These things are all relative.

If we believe in good schools, good roads, no debt, college, then we have to pay for these things. Shouldn’t spend money on a war we can’t pay for.

He hasn’t answered ‘the number’ that defines ‘rich’.

[expect huge taxes under Obama]

Warren: America’s responsibility to the rest of the world.

[Obama Iran Policy]

Warren: What is worth dying for?

Obama: American freedom, lives, national interest. Goes on a tangent about his vacation in Hawaii and visiting Pearl Harbor.

We have alliances that we have committed to help defend and have to uphold our commitments. There’s not a hard and fast line – its a judgment call. If we have it in our power to stop genocide and can work with allies, then we should act.

Warren: 148 million orphans in the world. Would you consider doing some kind of emergency plan for orphans like President Bush did for aids.

Obama: its a great idea. Lets figure out what we can do and look at how we prevent more orphans. [more meetings and committees]. Praises President Bush’s work on aids.

Warren: Religious Persecution

Obama: Bear witness and speak out. Our relationship with China is an example. Take care of our economy so we don’t have to be dependent on China or others who are not concerned with human rights. Join international forums. Create a universal norm and have religious tolerance in the United States so that we lead by example.

Brings it back to the war – US should not torture.

Warren: Human trafficking

Obama: This has to be a top priority.

Warren: Why do you want to be President

Obama: I want to be President because I believe in the American dream. Our politics and Washington is so broken that we can’t bring together people of good will. I want to bring together ppl to bring back the American dream.

Warren: What do you say to ppl who oppose me asking these questions?

Obama: We need these discussions.

Warren: What would you tell the American public if you knew there wouldn’t be any repercussions?

Obama: Solving global warming problems will not be easy and is going to take sacrifice on the part of the people. We should be able to make sacrifices on behalf of the next generation.

Warren to McCain ……

Warren: Who are the 3 wisest ppl you know who you would rely on for support in your presidency?

McCain: General David Petraeus, John Lewis, Meg Whitman (CEO of Ebay)

Warren: What’s been your greatest moral failure and greatest moral failure of America?

McCain: I am a very imperfect person. My greatest moral failure is failure of his first marriage. America’s greatest morale failure is that we haven’t devoted ourselves to causes greater than ourselves. We have been the best at it – but we have a way to go. We shouldn’t have been told to go shopping after 9/11, we should have been encouraged to join the military, the peace corp and understand that there is a need to serve a cause greater than your own self interest.

Warren: Where have you lead against your parties interest for the good of America?

McCain: I was not elected Ms. Congeniality in the U.S. Senate. Climate change, out of control spending. There are a good many issues that I’ve put my country first and reached across the isle. Early in my career, voted against that sending a few hundred Marines to Beirut and were being sent into harms way. He voted against the President regarding sending Marines there for peace keeping purposes.

Warren: What issues have you changed your mind about?

McCain: Off shore drilling. We have to drill here and we have to drill now. This has become a national security issue and money we are spending overseas is ending up in the hands of terrorists. We have to change this now. We need to do everything we can to reduce green house emissions and increase our independence from foreign sources.

Warren: Most gut wrenching decision you ever had to make and how did you make it?

McCain: Long ago, far away while in prison camp. When he was offered the opportunity to leave early, against the Code of Conduct and before others who had been imprisoned longer than him. He knew his release would be used for propaganda. He said no. But he said he still remembers that it got tougher on him after that. He saids it was the toughest decision he ever made, but he’s very glad he made it. It took a lot of prayer.

Warren: What does Christianity mean to you and how does that work out in your daily life?

McCain: It means I’m saved and forgiven. He was being tortured in Vietnam when a guard loosened the ropes around him and then tightened them before his shift was over. He drew a cross in the sand in front of McCain, then rubbed it off before he walked away. For a moment it was just two Christians there together.

Warren: Abortion

McCain: Human rights for the baby begin at the moment of conception. 25 year history of pro life supporter.

Warren: Define marriage

McCain: A union of one man and one woman. He’s a Federalist – he believes states should make that decision. Gay and lesbian couples should be able to enter into legal agreements, but he strongly feels that marriage should be preserved.

Warren: stem cells

McCain: This is a great struggle and a terrible dilemma. He is optimistic that skin cell research will make this debate an academic one.

Warren: Does evil exist? Should we ignore it, contain it, confront it, defeat it?

McCain: Defeat it. I will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell and bring him to justice. No one should be able to take American lives and get away with it.

[Strong … STRONG support of our Troops!]

Warren: Teacher pay? Educational system?

McCain: Choice and competition. Every American family should have the same choices that they have had. Send their kids to the schools of their choice. Home schooling, charter schools, voucher schools work. This is a civil rights issue of the 21st century. Everyone has the opportunity to go to school, but what kind of opportunity is that if you send them to a failing school.

Warren: Taxes – define ‘rich’

McCain: Some of the richest people I know are unhappy. Rich is a state of mind more than a bank account. I don’t want to take money from the rich. I don’t believe in class warfare and redistribution of wealth. I want everybody to get rich. Keep taxes low and give every family in America a $7,000 tax credit for every child and tax credit to get health care.

$5 Million is the income level. Seriously, the point is we want to keep ppl’s taxes low, we want to increase revenue. We spent out of control, which caused the problems we are having. Discussing pork barrel spending. $3 Million to study DNA of bears in Montana.

Congress should come back in session instead of taking a 5 week vacation when there is legislation pending that would relieve gas prices.

Warren: When our right to privacy and our right to security collide – what do you do?

McCain: They do collide. We must preserve the right to privacy as much as possible. That’s something we are required to do to maintain our Republic. We have to keep up with the capability of our enemies in cyber space and technologically. Congress and Judiciary to review laws and work together to review these laws and work these things out for the good of the nations security and the people. The constant fighting in Congress has compromised our security.

Warren: What is our responsibility to the world? What is worth dying for and committing American lives for?

McCain: Freedom. We can’t right every wrong. But we can be what America has been throughout history and that is be a beacon of hope. The most precious asset we have is American blood and Americans have gone throughout the world and shed that blood in defense of others. No other nation has ever done that.

American national interests are threatened.

Genocide is more difficult. We should supply logistics, aid. We have to be committed to never saying ‘never again.’

Warren: Georgian Russian War

McCain: Very sad to see Russia reasserting its domination of that part of the world. People are being killed and run out of their homes.

All of the Presidents of the former Russian Bloc nations flew to Georgia to offer support. They all know they are also at risk. Keep them in your prayers and let Russia know that this behavior is not acceptable in the 21st century.

Warren: Religious persecution?

McCain: The President of the United States’ greatest asset is the ‘bully pulpit’. Many criticized Reagan for calling for the Soviet Union to tear down the wall. They said he was antagonizing the Soviets. Many countries still look at us with hope to be like us. We have flaws and are imperfect, but we remain the most excellent experiment in freedom.

Warren: Adoption of orphans throughout the world?

McCain: We have to make adoption a lot easier in this country. Teddy Roosevelt was the first modern American President to talk about adoption. Tells story of adopting his daughter Bridget McCain.

Warren: Why do you want to be President?

McCain: I want to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self interests. Our best days are ahead, but we still face challenges as evidenced by the events in Georgia. American wants hope and optimism. I want to work with all Americans to put our differences aside and work on our great nation. He will be the President of every American and he’ll always put his country first.

Warren: What would you say to ppl about this forum?

McCain: I want to participate in every venue available. I’m happy to be here in your church.

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“Purpose Driven Network Summit 2008″ Video