From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
LAKE FOREST, CA -- McCain also participated in Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency here last evening. Appearing after Obama, McCain responded to the same set of questions, plus a few more due to his brevity. Mostly, McCain was short and to the point, although he told a few of his favorite stories to illustrate his points.
Interestingly, when asked for an example of his greatest moral failure he cited the dissolution of his first marriage. Although that was as detailed as he got, the fact that he mentioned it at all -- especially while current wife Cindy was sitting in the first row -- is notable.
"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."
When asked for an example of a gut-wrenching decision he has had to make and how he made it, McCain cited the decision to remain in prison camp despite being offered early release. He said that his poor health at the time had made that decision very tough, but he made it with "a lot of prayer."
On the merits of flip flopping, McCain was asked for an issue that he has changed his mind on in the last ten years and he cited the issue of offshore drilling. He used his favorite tag line to resounding applause saying, "We've got to drill now and we've got to drill here and we've got to become independent on foreign oil."
On the issue of religion, McCain is notorious for his apprehension when it comes to talking about his personal faith, but today he opened up a little bit. When asked what being a Christian means to him. "[It] means I'm saved and forgiven and we're talking about the world. Our faith encompasses not just the United States of America but the world."
Then McCain told a well worn story about his experiences with a Christian Vietnamese prison guard.
On the issue of gay marriage, McCain left the door open tonight for legal civil unions -- something he has done before -- but unlike Obama, he did not elaborate on the issue. He said he was believed that marriage was between a man and a woman, but "I'm a federalist," he said, adding "that doesn't mean that people can't enter into legal agreements, that doesn't mean that they don't have the rights of all citizens."
On what "rich" meant to him, McCain joked that it meant having $5 million. But he said that rich "should be defined by a home, a good job and education and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world."