Rarely does John McCain not have an answer.
But two questions, about race and drinking, caught him off guard Tuesday during his stop on MSNBC's "Hardball College Tour" at Villanova University.
One student questioner raised Democrat Barack Obama's comment about his grandmother being "a typical white person" and asked McCain: "Would you characterize yourself, as Barack Obama would phrase, as a typical white person?"
An amused McCain paused and praised Obama's recent "excellent" speech on race, saying "it was good for all of America to have heard it."
"I can't comment directly as to how I portray myself," the likely Republican presidential nominee said. "So I'm sorry if I basically ducked the question, but I want to say that I think Americans, all Americans, want a respectful campaign."
A second student raised Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's weekend visit to an Indiana bar, where she knocked back a shot of whiskey.
"I was wondering if you think that she's finally resorted to hitting the sauce just because of some unfavorable polling. And I was also wondering if you would care to join me for a shot after this?" the student asked.
Hoots and hollers came from the audience. McCain laughed, too.
"I did not see the clip of it but I certainly heard about it, and whatever makes Senator Clinton happy is ... is certainly, uh, certainly ...," McCain said with a broad smile, chuckling and raising his eyebrows.
"You know, I've had two of the best questions, or the toughest questions that I have ever had in the last two questions," he said.