(LAKE FOREST, CA.) - It's no secret that Barack Obama has been aggressively courting evangelical voters, but his appearance at the presidential forum at Saddleback Church Saturday night was a clear indication that Christian voters can be a tough bunch.
For starters, Pastor Rick Warren, one of America's most prominent evangelical ministers, was clearly in control of the forum. Although he was cordial, calling both Obama and John McCain his friends, he asked tough questions and didn't let Obama veer off into his stump.
"Don't give me your stump speech on these," Warren told Obama when he asked him about domestic issues.
Warren also often signaled Obama to wrap up his answers at times when it looked like he could veer off onto a tangent. He would give an "uh" or glance at his notes, indicating that Obama needed to speed things up.
The audience at Saddleback was equally as tough as Warren. They respectfully applauded for Obama when he came out on stage, but during the first half of the program, they only clapped a few times. However, as Obama began to express a more conservative position on issues such as marriage, the audience noticeably perked up.
"I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman," Obama said as the crowd applauded, adding that "God's in the mix."
Obama's lines on building bridges across "partisan, racial, and religious lines" also garnered a lot of applause and even a standing ovation at the end.
And when Warren asked Obama to defend his line of questioning, Obama happily obliged. "One of the things if you are a person of faith like me, I believe that things will work out and we will get the president that we need," Obama said and later added, "I trust in the American people, they are going to make a good decision."