August 11th, 2008
05:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama moves closer to McCain on Russia stance

The conflict between Russia and Georgia is making waves on the presidential campaign trail.
The conflict between Russia and Georgia is making waves on the presidential campaign trail.

(CNN) – Barack Obama moved closer to John McCain’s tough position regarding the military conflict in Georgia on Monday, issuing a statement from Hawaii scolding Russia for the intensifying violence in the conflict.

“No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over South Ossetia and invaded another country,” Obama said in a statement distributed by his campaign. “Russia has escalated its military campaign through strategic bombing and the movement of its ground forces into the heart of Georgia. There is no possible justification for these attacks.”

The comments marked a departure from Obama’s initial statement on the conflict, released Friday, which avoided chiding Russia directly and urged restraint from both nations. He released a sterner statement the following day condemning Russian aggression.

Today, he focused his criticism squarely on the Kremlin, a posture first taken by McCain four days ago, as the conflict began.

Obama urged Russia to agree to a cease-fire and withdraw all troops from Georgian territory, and called for a non-Russian international peacekeeping force, along with a U.N. resolution rejecting Moscow’s actions – all demands put forth by McCain last week.

Still, the Democrat’s statement featured a note of optimism about Russian-U.S. relations: “Let me be clear: we seek a future of cooperative engagement with the Russian government, and friendship with the Russian people,” Obama said in the statement.

“We want Russia to play its rightful role as a great nation - but with that role comes the responsibility to act as a force for progress in this new century, not regression to the conflicts of the past.”

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, McCain amplified his rhetoric against Russia in a Monday morning statement to reporters.

“Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government’s actions will have for Russia’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe,” McCain said.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. David Goldman for OBAMA

    CNN, THERE IS ONE PROBLEM WITH YOUR STORY.

    IT DOESN'T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE FACT THAT

    WE DON'T HAVE A LEG, NOT EVEN A SMALL TOE,

    TO STAND ON, WHEN IT COMES TO REACTING,

    DEMANDING OR EVEN SUGGESTING ANYTHING

    ABOUT ANYONE'S WAR ACTIVITIES, DUE TO THE

    IRAQ WAR, WHICH BY THE WAY, MCMORON IS AND

    WAS FORE IT. WE HAVE NO CREDIBILITIES IN THAT

    ARENA, WHATS SO EVER.

    August 11, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. The Patriot

    While Russia is tearing Georgia apart, Obama is talking about past present and future. Does Russia even listen to this lamer? OMG, this guy entertains me more than Berney Mac.

    Berney, RIP Brother.

    Substance over Hype.

    McCain 08

    August 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  3. Perla

    Even if they occasionally end up holding similar views, there is a WORLD of difference between the macho McBluster and the careful, reasonable Obama. McSame is not intelligent and is NOT up to the task.

    August 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Zolesh

    McCain is gonna get us all killed.For him its all about confrontion confrontation all the time

    August 11, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  5. Roger from CA

    Good, Lord, Obama-haters! Last I checked, NEITHER Obama NOR McCain is currently the President of the United States.

    They are both candidates, and anything they say on the stump doesn't come with the degree of information and responsibility that the (unfortunately) current President has at his disposal.

    It is really easy for McCain to start hopping up and down within hours of the onset of hostilities (which, by all accounts I've seen, was STARTED by the Georgians) that this is all Russia's fault. OOOOOO– Big, tough man pulling out the dusty old demagoguery of the Cold War! Red meat for a bunch of sentimental anti-communist right-wingers missing the good ol' days.

    Obama's position was completely appropriate, especially given that (though briefed), he inherently has limited information from which to work. Obviously, the call MUST be for a peaceful resolution. As some prior bloggers have pointed out, there's NO way we can intervene (under our current circumstances). But, given Russia's rather aggressive decision to ignore Georgia's pleas for mercy this weekend and apparently inclination to wipe out the independent, sovereign country next to them, Obama's statement today is entirely correct.

    So, stop this nonsense about not having his own ideas. UNLIKE Bush and UNLIKE McCain, Obama's brain responds to changing circumstances in the real world. Friday, things were not so clear. Today, the balance of blame seems more weighted to the side of Russia. That's NOT "flip flopping" or "wishy washy" or whatever: that's adjusting to the facts.

    Oh, and "RedGuyInAblueState": I can promise you there has been no polling on this issue that Obama could have reacted to.

    August 11, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  6. Lloyd M

    How different is this from what Israel did in Lebanon?
    Provocation is always a cause for retaliation...

    August 11, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. D

    McCain took Russia to task because he knew that it was Russia's fault. He wasn't "overreacting" or being "hasty". He knew it. It's that same kind of appeasing, pansy, "kum-by-ya" attitude that has rendered us powerless to Russia in the first place. John McCain was right about Putin. No one can deny that now. He condemned Putin in 1999. Anyone who denies that is either being willfully ignorant or a mindless obama-bot. He was right and maybe, if we would have elected John McCain in 1999 instead of George W. Bush, we wouldn't be in this problem. I'm no Bush basher, but he has shown that, at least in this situation, he has a complete lack of spine and if we had've did the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan right in the first place, these wars would be over now and we wouldn't have to sit back and watch one of our staunchest ally get slaughtered.

    August 11, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  8. Veteran for Obama

    CNN, baloney. Obama wants to attempt to help solve this escalation peacefully while McCain clearly only thinks militarily. Obama has a much more comprehensive stance while McCain has a one dimensional stance, send in the military and risk more lives and spend billions more to add to our deficit. CNN, you are being absolutely unfair with your innuendo here.

    August 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. a southern bell for OBAMA

    THE IRAQ WAR HAS LEFT US INTERNATIONALLY

    IRRELEVANT AND DOMESTICALLY BROKE.

    August 11, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. RAM

    THE WHITEHOUSE NEEDS FRESH FACES WHO WILL WORK HARD TO BUILD THIS COUNTRY BACK TO WHERE IT USED TO BE. BUSH CAME UNDER HIS FATHER'S UMBRELLA...LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE...TOOK ALL OF US FOR GRANTED!!!!
    WAKE UP AMERICA...LOOK AT CHINA, INDIA...NOW RUSSIA IS TEMPTING US AND WE CAN NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! MILITARY INDIVIDUALS SHOULD NOT RUN FOR PRESIDENT BUT DEALING WITH/ ADVISING ON CRISIS SUCH AS THE RUSSIAN/ GEORGIA WAR!!!!!!
    HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE LISTENED TO GW. BUSH SINCE HE IS NOT SOFT...OBAMA IS NOT SOFT, JUST TEST HIM!

    August 11, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  11. Surafel Melaku

    McCain continiusly shows his commander-in-chief ability, while Obama being a follower and not a commander-in-chief/ leader once again.

    August 11, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  12. CE

    Follow the news people... Obama changed his tone after Russia moved into Georgian territory yesterday. Russia is important in any negotiations with Iran. We have to maintain some sort of diplomacy with them... however, it now appears that they may be trying to overthrow the Georgian government. They have escalated it to the point where we have no choice but to take a tough stance against them.

    August 11, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  13. Lyle

    Mr. McCain obviously has the experience and understanding to guide U.S. foreign policy. Mr. Obama is a novice and lacks the skills and knowledge to be President.

    August 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. No Time for Haters

    CNN YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. CAN YOU JUST COVER ANYTHING WITH JOHN MCCAIN? YOU HAVE BEEN BASHING OBAMA FOR MONTHS NOW AND THIS IS NO DIFFERENT. THIS CONFLICT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE US AT THIS POINT DUE TO BUSH AND HIS FOLLOWER MCCAIN. SO IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER WHAT EITHER OF THE CANDIDATES HAS TO SAY. THE MAN CAN'T EVEN TAKE A VACATION...BADGER HIM ON THE BEACH. THIS IS SAD. SURELY YOU HAVE MUCH MORE IMPORTANT SUBSTANTIVE TICKERS. IF MCCAIN HAD FOLLOWED OBAMA AND LISTENED TO HIM AND NOT VOTED TO GO INTO IRAQ THEN PERHAPS THIS WOULDN'T EVEN BE AN ISSUE.

    August 11, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  15. CE

    Also, this is a really tricky situation. Georgia is a major ally of the US. Their president grossly underestimated the Russians in moving troops into South Ossetia. Obviously, at the outset, Obama was trying/hoping that we could reach a reasonable resolution to this... it doesn't appear to be possible at this point. Again, read the news people...

    August 11, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  16. A NATION OF WHINERS for OBAMA

    WE HAVE SET THE EXAMPLE WITH IRAQ

    THAT IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE LEADERSHIP

    OF A NATION, FEEL FREE TO BOMB THEM.

    AS A SUPPORTER OF A WAR THAT HAS KILLED

    A MILLION IRAQIS & THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS,

    MCSENILE DOESN'T HAVE A LEG TO STAND ON,

    WITH THE RUSSIANS OR THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.

    August 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. wilma

    This is a very serious situation & other countries could be drawn into it. We live in a very dangerous world with many, many problems. Personally, I will take EXPERIENCE over PRETTY SPEECHES, when dealing with problems such as this. McCain was on top of it immediately & Obama come lately was trying to figure out what he should say.

    August 11, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  18. Clif

    This is a sad state of affairs that our country is in today. There are many white and black people that know McCain will thrust this country further into the abyss. They will vote for a paper war hero and a infamous adulterer before they vote for a decent man with leadership abilities like Mr. Obama into the oval office. You people complain about the way the country is going and let your prejudice mentality keep us going deeper and deeper into darkness. I would love to see Mr. Obama get elected, but if he loses I will survive. I have survived Reaganomics, Bushwhackers and Tricky Dicks. We don't need McShame in the office. I am a black american with indian heritage. You do remember the red men who were the first americans don't you? I love America. I just don't love the racist minded immigrants who think that their blood is so lilly white.

    August 11, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  19. Josh

    Not surprising that McCain picked the right side of the argument 4 days before Obama decided to take a stance.

    I guess McCain's EXPERIENCE in foreign affairs has actually played to his advantage; ie, he knew where this was headed because he can actually remember the soviet union first hand without having to refer to a history book.

    Don't worry though, Obama has now taken both sides of the argument and has, therefore, won the debate on the issue

    August 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  20. syl parbe

    Obama is on vacation. McCain is campaiging. Yet CNN carries two pictures of Obama and none for McCain. Is this what the polls were referring when they talked about over exposure for Obama? Or is it a case of a media that is biased in favour of Obama? The ball is in your court CNN.

    August 11, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  21. Alexander, Russia, Saint-Petersburg

    Georgia's president is telling lies all the time! Georgia didn't retreat, so Russia is not an agressor! We're trying to make peace and stop Georgia's government from killing peaceful people. We're not going to conquer Georgia, because we needn't that, though in our hearts there starts the fire when we hear the lies that Saakashvily tells the world about russian actions.

    August 12, 2008 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
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