August 12th, 2008
05:25 PM ET
6 years ago

Analysis: Does the crisis in Georgia highlight McCain's strengths?

Could the crisis in Georgia offer McCain the chance to showcase his security bona fides?
Could the crisis in Georgia offer McCain the chance to showcase his security bona fides?

(CNN) - Is this month's fighting in the Republic of Georgia John McCain's moment?

The Republicans' presumptive presidential nominee is certainly acting as if it is: a major international crisis that could be just what John McCain needs to highlight his strengths.

McCain has talked tough from the outset of the crisis.

"Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory," the Arizona senator said Friday.

Initially, Barack Obama's tone was more measured.

"I think it is important at this point for all sides to show restraint and to stop this armed conflict," the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee said on Friday.

After he spoke to the Georgian President, Obama's tone got stronger.

"No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over south Ossetia," the Illinois senator said Monday.

Last month, a ABC News-Washington Post poll showed Obama and McCain were equally trusted to handle international affairs. But McCain had the edge on handling an unexpected major crisis - like, presumably, the one in Georgia.

And McCain's supporters are making the most of it.

"We've just seen over the last few days as the Russians invaded a sovereign nation, Georgia, and watched the response of this man, John McCain, to that crisis: right, strong, clear, principled - the kind of president we need in the White House," said Senator Joe Lieberman, who joined McCain at a campaign event Tuesday.

At a town hall in Pennsylvania Tuesday that drew an unusually large turnout, McCain talked about the relevance of the crisis to Americans.

"There's a pipeline, an oil pipeline," said McCain, "which brings oil from the Caspian to points west and traverses Georgia. That's the very pipeline that the Russians tried to bomb."

He played to the emotions when he recounted his remarks to the President of Georgia.

"I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, `Today, we are all Georgians."

His tone on local radio in Pennsylvania was ominous.

"I think it's very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire."

That's a message McCain has been saying for months.

Some voters may worry: does he want to start a new Cold War? The risk for McCain is that he could overplay the issue, and frighten war-weary voters whose priorities right now lie closer to home.


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (527 Responses)
  1. Will, NJ

    The United States might still have a stick to carry if it hadn't been broken in their illegal war in Iraq. What threat do we pose to Russia?

    August 12, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Richard

    McCain has been wrong too many times to count in his 26 years in government. I dont trust him and I will NOT be voting for him

    August 12, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    WHO DIED AND LEFT MCCAIN IN CHARGE. GOD FORBID, SOMEONE STOP HIM NOW BEFORE HE DESTROYS US ALL. FRANCE AND RUSSIA ARE TALKING DIPLOMACY AND MCCAIN WANTS TO START A WAR. STOP MCCAIN NOW.

    August 12, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. Cecil

    NO, He's Not The President Yet!

    August 12, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. Rascal

    NO HE WILL GET US SCREWED IN A QUICK WAR...

    OBAMA.....08

    August 12, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. a southern bell for OBAMA

    IT SURE DOES, IF YOU ARE THE SAME MORON HE IS.

    MAN HAS BEEN USELESS & WRONG FOR THIRTY YEARS.

    HOW DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO STRENGTH I DON'T KNOW.

    HOW CAN WE TELL THE RUSSIANS NOT TO DO WHAT WE DID?

    HE HAS BEEN AN IDIOT. HE WILL CONTINUE TO BE AN IDIOT.

    August 12, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. keesa

    I WILL BE SUPRISE IF THIS WASNT ANOTHER FEAR TACTIC TO MAKE JOHN MCCAIN LOOK TOUGH.WHY PRESIDENT BUSH AINT COME OUT STRONG ON THIS ISSUE I WOULDNT BE SUPRISE IF THE RUSSIA WASNT PAID TO DO THIS AMERICA IS A SPOOKY PLACE TO LIVE IN BECAUSE THE RICH WILL DO ANYTHING TO BE IN POWER IF IT HAS TO TAKE SOMEONE LIFE.

    August 12, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. Jim in Atlanta

    Go John , GO. Don't let the wimp Obama get you down. He's not tough enough to be our president.

    August 12, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  9. NotFallingInLine.org

    Any real crisis certainly can't help but highlight Obama's strength: his ability sound important while flinging flowery rhetoric and making empty promises.

    Not sure that this strength is exactly what Obama wants highlighted, though.

    Too bad reality keeps getting in the way of his delusions of grandeur.

    The leaders of the Democratic Party have failed us all...

    August 12, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. Alan Boyer

    John McCain has been an opportunist all his life. He has never worked a day in his life in a real job...

    August 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. SamSunny

    What strengths do you mean? There is no war he doesn't like? This man was active duty for a few short weeks and now is using his 5 years he sat in a POW prison as strength to be Commander in Chief. I just don't get it. He served less active duty than most grunts. He practically failed out of military school and wasn't Admiral material. And he is no friend to Veteran causes. I don't see any strengths in this man as far as Commander in Chief.

    August 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  12. Cecil

    You McCain Supporters Can Have Him.

    "All we are suggesting is 'the kids think he's dreamy"
    This Is What They Do Best!

    One...two...three...four...sure are a lot of young white women in this thing....

    Why do you think they put so many young white women professing their love for Obama in what is clearly an anti-Obama video? What would possibly be negative about young white women liking Sen. Obama?

    When asked, the McCain campaign says they took the video from local news packages, but of course that doesn't explain anything.

    - jpt

    UPDATE: McCain campaign senior adviser Mark Salter writes to say: "All we are suggesting is 'the kids think he's dreamy. But should he be president?'"

    UPDATE 2: Looks like the McCain campaign has taken the video off youtube.

    August 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. Kim

    Not at all ! In fact it shows what more and more people are coming to realize. mcBush is far to quick to respond with aggression when diplomacy would work better. War is an instrument of policy to mcsurge, rather than the measure of last resort. McWar has already alienated most of the Worlds leaders rendering him totally ineffective as a potential world leader himself. As hard as it is to believe. McBush will be even less respected on the world stage than Bush himself.

    August 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  14. Texas trail puppy

    I will gladly answer your question Mr,Schneider, when you first answer mine, Do you still think Obama has a white women voting problem?
    The Primaries proved that most of your analysis were way off the mark so i tend to give little credit to your articles.

    August 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  15. Greg

    Yeah, its going to do us all a lot of good to talk tough to Russia when they know we have nothing to back. No military power (thanks to Iraq). No economic power (thanks to high oil and gas prices). No international community support (thanks to the Iraq invasion). Now's the time for some tough and skilled diplomacy. We don't need another cowboy.

    August 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. HoldenLitgo

    If you consider McCain finally remembered the name of the country he was referencing, then it's a victory I suppose. He actually showed poor judgment by speaking out so bluntly – for purely political purposes – while the current president – lame cluck, though he is – is out of the country. McCain should have shown restraint and a sense of propriety. And he and his surrogates have the gall to accuse Obama of acting like he's already president.

    August 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. EDW

    We pose little threat to Russia. Financially, we are in bed with both Russia and China. That is why you hear Bush say, stop this and stop that but we no longer have the power to push. All of our forces are tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention that we HAVE NO MONEY.

    August 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. Captain Obvious

    Rarrr! Russia bad, America good!! Raarrrrrr!

    yeah, that's quite a strength....

    August 12, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  19. A Vet Against McCain

    Only if McCain's strengths are going to war. Remember he doesn't talk with foreign countries. SO how would McCain fix the problem? Attack!

    McCain does not care about millitary families! He votes against GI Bill becuase to many would leave the milltary. McCain thinks everyone should serve but that the governmet give no benifits. I don't care if he is a vet but he is just like bush forceing more wars on us.

    What lies would McCain tell us to fight Russia now? shoot between Iraq, Afgan, Iran, and Russia where do we go for BinLaden? oh ya he doesn't care about him.......

    --Arizonaians AGAINST John McCain

    August 12, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. kenneth bernstein

    OBAMA 08....McBush = war war war and more war...no thanks yah old goat

    Ken

    August 12, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. Nancy

    Don't even go there!

    August 12, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  22. Julie from WA

    I think John McCain would be more likely to use American Soldiers before considering all the options....like he did with Iraq. We needed to stay and finish in Afganistan and he voted for the war in Iraq.

    August 12, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    O YES HE & GEORGE HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB THUS FAR'

    TWO PURELY RUN WARS, THAT ARE DRAINING US DRY.

    YOU WANT MORE OF IT? ELECT MCSENILE & YOU WILL GET IT.

    August 12, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. Ron Nebraska

    No, it only makes clearer McCains only foreign policy strategy is antagonism and conflict.

    August 12, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  25. Down with the DNC

    I feel that McCain is stronger when it comes to international crisis. Obama says what he needs to get by – it's obvious he tried that tactic again and it back-fired on him.

    Also, George Bush's comments on the invasion are a joke! He has the right to criticize another country's actions after what he did in Iraq? He told the UN Security Council that we didn't need their approval; we would do what we want. He should be tried as a war criminal with over 30K deaths he caused.

    August 12, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
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