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. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    What strengths? America has lost her moral authority and it will take a lot of work to hopefully regain world respect someday. This is not done by jingoism and cowboy diplomacy. What's happened in the last 8 years is surreal. The fact that almost half of America is still too blind to see this is even more surreal!

    August 12, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  2. CB

    Yes, and then McCain went on to say cold-war type stuff about "Russian Empire" wanting to spread and take hold again – he is continually on edge. I don't trust McCain with the button. He's the type to escalate conflicts because he can't control his temper.

    August 12, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. NPA

    What strength? The guy is a puppet.

    August 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Obama For President

    I'm curious no one questions McCain appearing too presidential – talking about his lengthy proposals and taking stands President Bush should take. I recall not too long ago Obama in Europe started a storm of critizism for appearing too presidential, hmm there is a double standard when it comes to these two candidates. I wonder why that is! Could it be that when it comes to Obama everything he says or does is open to scrutiny just because he is AA? I think the US should mind their business and stay out of Russia's before we bite more than we can chew. Someone need to put a muzzle on McCain before he start another world war. This man is dangerous for America's security. His eyes glows when he speak about military conflict and that is very telling.

    From: One American who would like to live in a peaceful world.

    August 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. BBB

    I guess the implication of this ticker is that the hawkish and warmongering position John Mccain is the better than the measured and balanced position of Obama . Obama's position provides leverage ,is more responsible and more receptive for all parties though very tough and firm.
    I have obsereved most are either favorable to Mccain or negative to Obama even though the pundits touts that Obama gets more media coverage.

    August 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. Timothy

    Mccain acting like he is the President and Mccain has no right to claim he is speaking for all American!! The media need to call Mccain on acting like he is President and speaking for every American

    August 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Lynn

    I think McCain has a clear message.....and it reminds me of George W Bush. How much would it take to get John McWar to " bomb bomb bomb somewhere"?? Lord help us and the free world if he gets elected.

    August 12, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Canadian black & white man for Obama.

    Yeah it favour McCain because he is a war winner. Remember McCain adviser said if there is another terrorist in America it will favour McCain.

    If McCain was the president he would have started war with Russia.

    August 12, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. mello doug New Mexico

    If the United States had not intervened in Georgia Russia probably would not have invaded. Russia is paranoid and for good reason. They have been invaded too many times. And here we are monkeying around in the countries that used to be part of the USSR and putting in missiles or anti-missiles and obviously they are going to get nasty. We came unglued when Russia tried to put missiles in Cuba and we still have a problem with Cuba. We need to use sound judgment when dealing with Russia and other powers. Threats and talking tough are for children and McCain, I think, is long past being a child. Although the way he is acting lately I wonder if dementia has begun to set in.

    August 12, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Informed Voter

    It just shows he is a war-monger .. who can't wait to get his hands on the red button ... Mc Cain and many other Repubs see force & more force as the only resolution to a conflict ...

    August 12, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I personally feel that McCain must focus more on America's issues.

    August 12, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. PIERCE


    August 12, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. mcoffshoredrill

    Well, we don't need any war mr. mcdrillwar.

    August 12, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  14. Obamasupporter

    It seems to me that Sen. McCain is quick to bring us into a war with Russia. His comment about Russia ambition to bring back the old Russian Empire might fuel Russia's aggression more. Fierce negotiation on both sides, Georgia and Russia, I believe is the best way to agree on peace. Criticising Russia to the point of fueling their anger is the wrong approach. I agree more with Sen. Obama's approach that all sides show restraints and stop this armed conflict.

    August 12, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Liz S. in California

    Yeah, right... it does just the opposite. It just goes to show how quick McCain is to want to fight. He's like the big oaf playground bully who starts a fight with his big talk and then runs and hides while his unwilling followers are left to the dirty work and take the punches and get the bruises.

    August 12, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. paul oregon

    just shows hes out of touch. being a war monger is not a stength.
    if obama would have done what mcbush done by telling a nother country that the u.s.backs geogria . mccain would have tiedinto obama kor acting like he thought he was already elected presdient.

    August 12, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. Sofia

    Even though, personally, i am rooting for Obama, i feel that McCain SHOULD feel for such peril and devastation to other countries; in this case, Georgia. As for Iraq, half of our nation's men are fighting in it, so of course it is a critical issue to speak of!!

    August 12, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. kendall

    McCain sounded like he's tough, and like were not commited to two wars currently. As a 24 year old male I for one think he would start the draft back up to start another one. America the sleeping Giant is asleep, the Russian Bear is flexing his muscle, And McCain is the demwit that would set the stage for the confratation,

    Obama is out of the picture now, I would like to see how tough he talks.
    But I do like the idea that he spoke with people in other countries before making stark criticism of Russia, why aren't they a strng ally?

    August 12, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  19. steve

    Contrary to what McCain's supporters say, his position shows his weakness on foreign policy and further, his similarities to Bush Jr. In other words, McCain lacks any diplomacy in dealing with foreign policy. His stance is an empty threat, since Russia knows we are dangerously overextended in Iraq and lack the ability to stop them. Only fools would listen to his diatribe.

    August 12, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  20. Scott L

    Yes it does. McCain IMMEDIATELY reacted to protect the attack of a Democratic nation. You Dems say Russia invading Georgia is just like US invading Afghanistan or Iraq but you FAIL to realize that Georgia is a Democratic elect government and leaders. Afghanistan and Iraq were under Taliban and the dictator Sadaam Hussein.

    What don't you understand? And then Obama followed in McCain's footsteps...duh...McCain is ready day one. Obama is amateur hour...

    August 12, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  21. Michael

    I find it funny that "Liberals" who portend to care for freedoms and civil rights are the first to head for the hills if Freedom needs to be defended with force. Power flows from the barrel of a gun, and right now Russia wins because they will use it.

    August 12, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  22. kendall

    And he doesn't speak for me. Scary that he thnks he does, he's not the president

    August 12, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. Linda FL

    No, if McCain is filled with all these experience and have good judgment he should have known Iraq was a bad idea. Where are those Republicans Idiots with go at it alone way of thinking. Go stop Russia, oh shoot u can't. We can't even get more soldiers into very needed Afghan.

    August 12, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. Jeff Brown

    This old Fart would only make matters worse!

    August 12, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. joe

    McCain brought up the cold war and sounded like a 20th century figure and not a 21st century leader. And the whole G8 thing is so childish because it seems like a club that only the best belong to. Politics can really turn me off....

    August 12, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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