Candidates show candor


August 16, 2008|By Paul Anderson

Torie Immel will cast her first vote for president this fall.

She’s 18, grew up in Newport Beach and was a championship equestrian athlete while attending Mater Dei High School.

A lot of prognosticators are predicting a large youth turnout in this presidential election so you might assume Torie’s been paying very close attention to this historic election. But you’d be wrong. And not because Torie’s a typical apathetic teenager.

It’s because she’s been spending most of her time in Holland competing as a horseback rider.

When she tagged along with her mom, Tracy Manzi, and stepfather Mick Manzi to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest on Saturday night to see Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have what amounted to an almost talk-show-type interview with Pastor Rick Warren, she got her first chance to really dive into this race that has transfixed millions since the election started in January.


“I didn’t know much about either of them, but I think they both did well,” she said after Warren was done quizzing the presidential hopefuls. “They both did a really good job, and they were likable.”

To grizzled veteran news junkies like me, the evening at Saddleback yielded basically no surprises. At this point, I’ve heard every stump speech so many times I know a lot of their lines by heart. Warren did an admirable job cajoling and wheedling them when they lapsed into the canned-response habit, but they did not say anything I hadn’t expected.

But this night was really for people like Torie who wanted to get to the know the candidates.

It was also an evening for the Manzis, who have been paying attention, but wanted to hear more than the usual issues brought up in media-sponsored debates.

Mick, who plans on voting for McCain, said he didn’t change his mind, but he felt both candidates were impressive.

“Obama was incredibly thoughtful and articulate,” Mick said. “I’m more impressed with his motives than before I came here.”

But McCain “gave all the right answers,” except for his stab at humor when Warren asked McCain to define, “What is rich.” The Arizona senator joked that an annual salary of $5 million should be the standard, but it seemed to me McCain knew he had given his critics a YouTube moment, especially those critics unfamiliar with his irreverent sense of humor.

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