August 12th, 2008
05:25 PM ET
10 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. Tare

    Actually it does just the opposite. We have no resources to wage any type of millitary response to Russia. they know that and so does McCain. So he is just a paper tiger saber rattling. Actually it makes Obama's platform of restoring our moral authority and agressive diplomacy look even more appealing, because at this point that is all we really have... well now that I think about it I don't know if we even have that.

    August 12, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  2. McDrill here and Now.

    No, this only shows how trigger happy he is. He is a war monger with no diplomacy in him. His statements only instigates! It will be a mistake to vote for him. If elected be ready to fight with IRAN, RUSSIA AND CHINA. John McCain will lead to the end of the world.

    August 12, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. TOM


    August 12, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. joe mett

    Let us get real! This shows McCain is McSame McBush. All war mongering and no wisdom in foreign policy issues. Let us go out and bomb Iran, Russia and feel high about our military power.

    It does not take a rocket scientist to know that Russia is not Iraq. That reckless cowboyism in war would not help. Russia has the biggest reserves of oil and natural gas in the world, it is as much a military power as the United States. Does McCain really want to go and fight Russia in its backyard? It would be a total disaster and that is what McCain wants. Another world war. McCain has no visionary wisdom despite 26 years in political Washington DC. McCain go and bomb Russia in Georgia and all the European capitals including major cities in the US would see the wrath of Russian long range missiles.

    McCain is a pathetic war monger and has a brainless penchant for war despite his so called experience in national politics!

    August 12, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |

    Now is where experiance counts. And there is no room for flip flopping.

    August 12, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. IKE

    McCain's stance highlights what is wrong with th Bush policies and the way he handled international politics. There is no place for threats and insults untill you have talked to both sides and have determined who the aggressor is.
    Afterall, when USA invaded IRAQ, it was, it is still wrong. What moral justification has the US to tell other countries who to invade or who not to?
    The present US is weak, ineffective, morally bogged down on the international scene and militarily exhausted.
    We need a cool headed President, who will project the strenghts of this country. Threats have never worked, never wil.

    August 12, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |


    August 12, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. Ohio

    Let our current President take care of this crisis. Its important that the candidates stay advised and up to date with the situation as well as emphasizing international diplomatic pressure, but lets not turn the grim reality of a country in conflict into a few extra chips for McCain's stack. We are in the middle of an illegal terrorist campaign in a foreign nation. Until we clean up our own mess, we have little to say against Russia.

    August 12, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. videmocrat

    I don't think we pose anythreat to russia our goal is to get out of Iraq but still see who has the best war record

    August 12, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  10. Erin in Edmonds WA

    No it highlights his weakness for tough talk and military options if things aren't done the "republican way"–especially to a world leader who, if he spits, a whole lot of people could drown.

    McCain criticized Obama's trip to Iraq and his discussions with their president and said Obama was being presumptuous. Looks like old talk-out-the-other-side-of-his-mouth is doing the same thing. Tough talk from an old man means nothing to Putin, and if McCain were president, Putin would laugh in his face and tell him to stick to ruling his own country. Go ahead, McCain, tangle with Putin if you want to–but I warned you......

    August 12, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  11. James C., Arizona

    Couple of clarifications for McCain. If Russia had decided to take out the oil pipeline they would have.

    Secondly, though Georgia is an ally (well sort of) it seems to me that the Georgians themselves provoked this issue.

    Secondly, what are we really going to do with Russia? Bomb them, I think every American should think really really hard before making that decision. Russia still has a huge military and don't forget a couple of thousand nukes!

    We need cooler heads than what McCain has demonstrated this week. I think McCain has already shown the cards he has to play and they don't look good.

    On a side note, does this mean that McCain thinks Americans are now Georgians. Does he believe that this means it is an attack on America?

    Speaking for all of the American people... talking about what America will do.... Now who is being presumptious?

    August 12, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  12. DOH!!!

    John McCain doesn't speak for me!

    I don't like what I in Georgia, but there is no comfort in hearing John McCain pontificate.

    August 12, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. Another grumpy old white woman for Obama

    Answer: NO!

    August 12, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Jay, Chicago

    This is soooo stupid, if McSame is elected next thing you know we're gonna charge off to war with Russia because somehow they were behind the 9/11 attacks as well!!

    August 12, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  15. PUMA-Jessie


    August 12, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  16. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    McBush promised us months ago in the primaries "....... we will never have to go to war for oil again ......"

    HE'S a LIAR !!!!!!!!!!

    August 12, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  17. lila

    McCain = 4 more wars! Why only have a war in Iraq and Afghanistan when you can have a war with Iran and Russia too! And Obama made a pointed statement about calling a cease fire and America working with NATO for peace negotiation. Not anything like trigger happy John who has the pompous presumptuousness to think he can speak for us all. Condoleezza Rice had to come out and back track for what Bush and McCain said yesterday and make it clear that the USA will only be involved in a joint diplomatic effort with NATO. Um, just like what Obama called for. Condoleezza Rice wanted to try and stop all escalation and antagonistic rhetoric but McCain will have none of that. McCain is a hot headed warmonger.

    August 12, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  18. McCain=the draft

    McCain thrives on war, so expect war!

    August 12, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  19. SUE

    No vote for Obama..You ppls who are for him make me sick,,The way you talk about the clintons is a disgrace to you and Obama and also to the dem party..Bill Clinton was 1 of the best presdend we have ev er had are ever will have..there will never be another like him,,he was the greatest...I am a dem from Texas,I will vote for mccane,,all my family and will do like wise..You Obama ppls have disgraced this party shame on you dirty mouth ppls..And leave John Edward and his family out of this it none of your business let them work this out God will help them but he sure don,t need your help.."God bless the Edward family God loves you

    August 12, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  20. Lennox Fraser

    This must be a clear example of CNN stirring the pot and hoping it boils over.

    In fact I have wondered why none of the analysts have noted that this shows there is is no 3:00am moment! How could this highlight McCain's strengths? What could he or Hilary or George Bush do?

    McCain's attitude will lead us into a war that we cannot win and please stop trying to arm McCain with blanks!

    This Georgia incident shows that most rational Americans would communicate with the Europeans and the rest of the world to jointly condemn Russia's aggression and encourage an immediate ceasfire. To give him credit for looking into Putin's eyes and seeing the KGB is plain loco!

    Lennox Fraser

    August 12, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. Orisseau , Obama supporter

    Mccain has no integrity to comdemn Russia , for he gave Bush authorization to invade Iraq, which is also a sovereign country

    August 12, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  22. Sherri

    Not even a bit. McCain can posture all he wants, but he has no leverage with Russia. They are still the monsters of years ago, brutally murdering their own former citizens by the score. McCain wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years...we have no moral hgh ground left.

    Shame on all war mongers.

    August 12, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  23. Sammy

    Half yes, half no. Everyone wants for the fighting to end and for both to pull back.... remember the Georgia launched its own operations. Calling everyone to stop is a good thing. However, some of McCain's rhetoric belongs more in the cold war and few wish to go back to those days. Unfortunately its one of those 'stuck in the past' things that can be used against him.

    August 12, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. Paul - Seattle

    His response is that we should go on the offensive when we don't have the resources to do so. I'm sorry old men of the Republican party, but war is not the solution to every problem this world faces anymore. We aren't living in the times of WWI or WWII when right and wrong was so clear and agreed upon by the nations of this world. In a world as complex as the one we live in today, it's time to start dealing with complex issues with thought and wisdom, not some knee-jerk bully approach that may have been the solution in the past.

    August 12, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack

    >"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.>

    That's the problem for months he has not been offering any real new dialogue...the same old ways of dealing with foreign policies...the world is not impressed by this same old way...a real change in foreign policy is long over due and in need of acknowledging our own mistakes! Have we already forgotten Irak just to name one! How many times do we need to train and equiped soldiers abroad to protect our need for is a slippery terrain. We need open dialogue about resources being paid for our needs in return for peace and respect of human rights... but that is probably to dreamy for McCain to actually give real talk...

    August 12, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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