On the usually friendly couch of the TV show "The View" today, Sen. John McCain found himself challenged about the truthfulness of his campaign ads and the consistency of his character.
In the harshest moments of the show, co-host Joy Behar grilled McCain about two campaign ads released this week that imply Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was insulting GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin when he used the phrase "lipstick on a pig" during a stump speech and another ad that suggested Obama wanted to teach sex education to kindergartners.
"We know these ads are lies," said Behar. "But you say 'I approve these messages.' Do you really approve them?"
"Actually, they are not lies," answered McCain before being interrupted by Barbara Walters, who pointed out that McCain too had used the lipstick phrase during the campaign.
McCain said he used the "lipstick" quote while talking about Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care plan. Obama has argued he used the phrase while describing McCain's claim that he would be a force for change if elected president.
McCain also didn't give ground to the accusation that he had misstated Obama's position about teaching sex ed to kindergarten students.
"Teaching kids sex is not all right," said McCain. "[Obama] shouldn't have said it. He chooses his words very carefully and this is a tough campaign."
Obama told Planned Parenthood last year that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is "age-appropriate," is "the right thing to do."
Behar argued that McCain, who has been on "The View" previously, has become "much more lockstep with George Bush's policies" and that that she doesn't "see the same old John McCain who used to really buck the system."
McCain insisted he's "the same guy."
"What specific have I, quote, changed? Nobody can name it," said McCain. "The point is, I'm the same person with the same principles, whether spending, climate change, the conduct of the war in Iraq, torture of prisoners – no matter what it is."
During a commercial break Walters approached the audience – a total of 196 people, of which only 20 were men – to ask if the hosts were being "too harsh" on McCain.
The audience replied in unison that they were not.
Asked about his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain said he's "very happy and very pleased to have her" and that she "ignited a spark in America."
McCain also revealed to the "The View" that he prays every day. The disclosure was the latest move by McCain to be more open about his faith, a subject that he had long been reluctant to discuss.
"I pray every day for guidance and to do the right thing and not to succumb to temptation and not be an imperfect servant and to do what's in the best interest of the country," he said.
"I have a fundamental faith," he added.
"I've always prayed, frankly. In prison, I would tell my friends not that we'd get out of prison but that it would be God's will for us to get of prison because we were doing Caesar's work at the time," he said.
McCain's confessional style about his religion has evolved during the presidential campaign as he has tried to attract evangelical voters. McCain had long been at odds with the leaders of the conservative evangelical wing of the Republican Party, but he has tried to mend those fences over the past year.
Co-host Elizabeth Hasselback – prefacing her question about abortion rights by saying, "You're not going to get softballs from me even though you have my vote –" drilled the presidential nominee on the whether he and Palin would work to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.
"I think what we'd be doing is appointing or nominating justices to the United States Supreme Court and other courts who strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States," said McCain, adding that he believes "Roe v. Wade was a very bad decision." The answer prompted the audience to boo him.
Joining her husband on the show, potential first lady Cindy McCain refused to answer questions about how many houses they own, saying, "You know what, that's not part of this campaign," which ended discussion of the subject. The couple owns nine homes and Obama has made an issue of McCain's inability earlier this month to name the number.
Adding that she and her husband see "eye-to-eye" on most issues, Cindy McCain did admit to disagreeing with Palin when it comes to abortions in the instance of rape or incest.
Cindy McCain went on to answer the co-hosts' questions about why she believes McCain is the right choice for president.
"He's so good at what he does," said Cindy McCain. "But he's also a very measured man who has always, throughout his entire career, put country first."
"It was always about what was best for the country and not what was best for himself," she added.
"I know that sounds, you know, coming from me, obviously very prejudiced, but I truly believe in that. That's part of what I love about him."