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. Doesn't like Kool-aid Obamaphiles are wacko's. He didn't say he wants to go to war with Russia. Just because you talk tough doesn't mean he wants to go to war. War monger is about as dumb as flip flopper. What would Obama do? He didn't know what to do. Just let them into the other country and maybe we can have tea and crumpets...
    I hope you enjoy being the world's doormat, having every country walking all over you while your savior is in the white house and you all are holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

    August 12, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. Soldier 4 OBAMA

    "Barak Obama is right: The violence should stop. Georgia should not have intervened militarily initially, and Russia should not have responded with military force. John McCain is quick to resort to military force, that is his area of expertise." As a military officer I agree that OBAMA level headed, calm approach in previous speaches when he spoke about this issue in 2007 and after the incident highlighted his judgement and leadership style. McCain is a fake and all he know or want to do is launch another WAR, against Russia, China, Iran and continue in Iraq...Americans should be very wary of John McCain he definitely has an agenda and not even George Bush support him forcefully, they are all doing what is necessary tactfully because he is the party nominee and I wonder what ethics do any of them really have when they know McCain is "crazy", he is a hot head and his thumbs do not need to be on those launch pads to the nukes. Only OBAMA clarity of thought will prevent us from dooming ourselves at least for the next 8 years. I rather buy my time with OBAMA than get blown up under McCain! He crashed 5 plans how is that for leadership, resourcefulness or responsibility?

    August 12, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  3. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    It (so far) has showed the pompous elitist old presumptuous anal cavity to be nothing more than an ego-maniac of biblical proportions.

    His blasphemy has turned me off. I AM NOT GEORGIAN and he does not speak for me my friends.

    Go Obama '08 – diplomacy over war war war war war

    August 12, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  4. Sofia

    How can you guys say that McCain 'loves war;?? You must consider the fact that he was a prisoner of war in the Vietnam year for approximately 8 years, being tortured goodness knows how. I think that someone who went through THAT misery must harbor a few rebellious feelings AgAINST war, wouldn't you think?

    August 12, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  5. Observer

    I'm not convinced that McCain's tough stance is what American's want to hear. I don't know anyone who thinks another war for America would be good. I think most people would rather see a measured response. I certainly don't want another hot head getting us into a war we don't need.

    August 12, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  6. Charlotte

    I love the way the Obama-bots call for party unity and want a republican as VP? Get real you mindless fans, the party is democrat, not repubacat? Who will run for President, God Forbid, if Obama should win the election and serve his term? What if a fanatic eliminated Obama, who do we want as President? The person to take his place is the VP. I cannot believe Obama would pick a republican as VP and expect any kind of party unity in November. His fans are pretty crazy, but I can't believe they could be that stupid. Maybe they are as dumb as I first thought they were. Whomever McCain picks as VP is, without a doubt, a hairs breath away from the Presidency. The party expects Hillary to be so loyal to the party, but Obama can pick a republican as VP, go figure. I will write Hillary on my ballot in November….

    August 12, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. Michael

    It saddens me to see the type of comments that are shown here. The lack of respect is astounding. I hope that the Obama supporters here aren't representative of Obama supporters in general.

    As to the issue at hand, the USA looked really weak after this incident. The fact that Georgia is one of our best allies in the Caucus states and in fact is one of the few countries in the world that likes Americans, and we barely had any strong rhetoric against Russia, let alone any further steps.

    August 12, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. Danny from OH

    What kind of strengh? He is John McCain. Have you forgotten Paris?

    August 12, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  9. B. DUN

    in reading al this tripe, I firmly believe that the whole of the American people, have completely lost their sense of normality, and are all as crazy, as the leaders, that are in power.


    August 12, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. robert

    SImple answer,no,it does not highlight his power

    August 12, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. Power to the People - Former Repug Atlanta, GA

    If McWAR thinks that he is speaking for all Americans he is wrong again. Let somebody go tell McWAR that I will not go fight for GEORGIA under any circumstances. He said "Today we are all Georgians!" I am not and will never be. Foreign medling has brought hardship to ordinary Americans and today the only thing I hear is the foriegn policy (WAR) credentials of John McWAR who 3 times could not pronounce the Georgian President's name correctly yet is ready to commit American lives in another war. Tell McWARmonger we do not need another war. We need somebody who can fix this economy in this Internet Age and he is not that person because the Stone Age mentality has possessed him.

    August 12, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. sft

    Regrettably, the ill advised war in Iraq, strongly supported by McCain, has worn out our military and emboldened nations such as Iran and Russia. McCain's tough rhetoric is similar to that of someone who has inherited a fortune, squandered it, yet still reaches for what has become an empty wallet.

    August 12, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  13. Tempe

    No. I think crisis shows a bravado, an arrogance about McCain. His hard line talk scares me and leads many to wonder could this guy be more radio active than Bush.

    August 12, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Rilenn

    Obama was right. Even in a bar fight, people talk first before the blows are struck. Give discussion a chance....then blow them out of the water. McCain is old school, Cold War era that has no place in today's world. BTW, im military. I go where im told to, but I still have an opinion, Thank God for our founding fathers.

    August 12, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. Elaine in Union City NJ

    Please note that McCain does not speak for me, nor is he "My Friend". His presumption of spokesperson for all Americans is nonsense.

    August 12, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Goodman

    which strength?, what did our president do, except making calls, there's pretty much nothing we can do, we squandered our goodwill in Iraq, and now any major power can easily pounce on the little ones claiming that the world would be safer without them, we've eaten our supper so early in the morning. Goodnight

    August 12, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. Mike

    I can think of no better example of how the old ways, the old mindsets that McCain represents MUST change if we want to see a different kind of result. Sure McCain has experience, but it is all based on the old cold war model of international relations.

    Obama has the ability to appeal to other countries from a different mindset, a different model. And make no mistake, his approach is NOT one of pacifism or appeasement, it is one of strength. But he is willing to engage our adversaries, and most importantly rally our allies to our cause, in ways that the Bush administration, and a McCain administration, can never do.

    So no, this moment of international tension is not McCain's moment. It only speaks clearly as to why we need the change that Obama brings.

    August 12, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Tori, Oregon

    Unfortunatley while I would have liked to have help with Georgia WE HAVE NO TROOPS FOR IT. We lost our big stick with Iraq and Obama is right in saying now all we can do is to first be diplomatic. Then if Russia still fought georgia then Europe would be all for getting militarily involved. We are unable to fight by ourselves until we get out of Iraq and redeem ourselves in the global communities eyes. I mean we invaded Iraq which was a nation that did not attack us first.

    August 12, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. DRS

    And, of course CNN was just about to mention that the head of McCain's campaign previous job was as a lobbiest for Georgia, right?

    August 12, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Griff

    Sofia! Named after the Capital, no doubt... Another ex patriot of Europe...

    August 12, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. The Surly Scholar

    No. It doesn't.

    The fact that so many voters still cling to the utterly false notion that McCain is stronger on foreign policy is, quite frankly, alarming.

    August 12, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  22. cjg

    As far as I can tell, McCain hasn't said anything about attacking Russia. All I've seen so far is a clear, albeit bold, condemnation of 21st century tyranny. What puzzles me is how so many Americans seem to think it's more important to childishly pick away at insignificant semantics than to discuss to any degree the actual issues.

    August 12, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  23. phillip

    It could be risky to put someone in the top job who still has a fude to settle. He was a POW and may still be angry at someone or still feels the need for revenge, and the only way to ease his pain is to bang someone or start a fight, a war so he may be able to get it out of his system. Now this person would be only putting self first, and would be the perfect person to keep away from the phone at 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am cause they will not make a good judgement call.
    Vote for world peace, vote Obama.

    August 12, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  24. Irakli, Georgia

    Believe me, if Americans do not want to have war with Russia, nor Russia want that. If Georgia was already member of NATO, we have had already peace restored in region and none ot hese escallations would have happened. Russian is just shameless country always getting as much as it can.

    It already tried to conquer Georgia in 2008, however succeded in 1921 and 1801, they entered Finland in 1939, hungary in 1956, Checkoslovakia (Chech republic and modern Slovakia) in 1968, Afghanistan in 1979. Would you like more?

    August 12, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  25. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    It (so far) has showed the pompous elitist old presumptuous anal cavity to be nothing more than awar-mongering ego-maniac of biblical proportions.

    His blasphemy in some of his ads has turned me off.

    And Last, I AM NOT GEORGIAN and he does not speak for me, my friends.

    Go Obama '08 – diplomacy over war war war war war

    August 12, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
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