Candidates to Speak at Rick Warren Forum

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This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," August 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, HOST: NAUERT: We're back now to politics and the 2008 race. McCain and Obama will wrap up the primary campaign season with a joint appearance at a church. That is right, Evangelical leader Rick Warren is bringing them together in a non-debate setting on August 16 at his California mega-church called the Saddleback Church. So will it help the candidates win over some of the Evangelical voters that they both have been so actively pursuing?

Pastor Rick Warren joins me now on the phone. He is in Mexico City right now and nowhere close to a camera. So Pastor Warren, thanks for joining us.

Let me start by asking you, what is it that you want to ask each candidate when they come to the forum before your church?

RICK WARREN, PASTOR, SADDLEBACK CHURCH (on the phone): Well, thanks for asking, Heather. I'm actually going to cover five different major themes. A lot of times on debates and town halls, they tend to ask questions about hot button political issues like oil, the border, the war, things like that. But there are some things that I think are a lot deeper, that aren't as short term, that have implications for the future of America.

Video: Watch Heather Nauert's interivew with Rick Warren

We're going to look at five major sections of 10 minutes each, section on leadership issues that is character, confidence. We're going to look at stewardship issues which are, what is the president called to protect according to his job description, like the constitution, security, safety, the next generation, things like that. We will look at worldview issues, how they see the world. We're going to look at compassion issues - poverty, disease, and international things. And we're going to look at vision - what is their vision for America.

NAUERT: OK. Not issues like abortion? Some of the traditional issues that a lot of the members of your church might care about.

WARREN: Well, actually, that gets covered under worldview, and it covers, you know, all of the things that - in fact, I will ask them about their faith and explain what their worldview, what their faith is. It is not a litmus test, but I think we have every right to say, "What do you believe? Tell us who you are."

NAUERT: OK. Let me ask you - Barack Obama has been going after the Evangelical vote, which has traditionally been a Republican vote. But McCain has a pretty significant lead, two to one. We have a poll we're taking a look at right here in just a moment. What kind of chance, though, does Barack Obama have with the Evangelical voters?

WARREN: I don't think the Evangelical voters have made up their minds in a lot of areas. In some areas, they have. A person can be a Christian and not have a particular worldview that's an evangelical worldview. And I think in this setting, people are going to be able to hear what does John McCain really believe, and what does Barack Obama really believe.

And I intend to do it in a civil way where, you know - actually, what I'm going to do is probably ask the exact question to each person. We're going to - we flip add coin and Obama is going to go first, and we're going to put McCain in a tone of silence.

NAUERT: OK. Great.

WARREN: He can't hear what the others are saying and then they will both get a chance to explain themselves.

NAUERT: All right. Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in California, thank you so much. That is August 16th. We will be watching for that.

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