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. DFoster Georgia

    Let Russia do as it pleases. Why is the US butting in? We need to finish the mess we're already in. This could only lead to World War 3 if we try to stop the Russians. Let them take Georgia. They shouldn't have shot the planes down.

    August 12, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. Monica, Texas

    Actually it confirms why it would be scary to have this man as president....For all his "saber rattling" this seems to be his first response to any American crisis. How many wars will this man engage the U.S.....everyone should be afraid, very afraid!!!

    August 12, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. Kendra, MD

    No, it highlights his ambitions. That's it.

    August 12, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  4. Donna

    All this shows me is that he is QUICK to want to fight...we already know he has a terrible temper...that last thing I want in office is a man with ANGER ISSUES and loves to fight first and then ask questions/get details....

    August 12, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. Teddy California

    Not necessary good for McCain. In the Gallop Tracking Poll, McCain is performing poorly these few days after the crisis.

    I guess a lot of Americans are afraid to have another cold war with Russia worrying about Russia's nuclear missiles raining down on America.

    Just think about Iraq, only a couple of thousand soldiers have died from the war for over five years. Majority of Americans are now against the Iraq war. At the beginning, two thirds or three fourths of Americans supported the war. But Americans cannot accept the human and economic loss.

    Americans cannot stomach the cold war with Russia anymore. As long as Russia does not threat America directly, most Americans will accept the mild positions against Russia. McCain has taken a losing position!

    I am pretty much sure Georgia will lose the two provinces. When U.S.A. and Europe stripped Kosovo from Serbia, I knew that was what would happen. When Kosovo became offcially independent from Serbia, Russia threat to make the two provinces independent too. Russians have just been waiting for the chance. Georgia does not have power to take the two provinces back and people there want independence from Georgia. Russia will let the two provinces become independent. If U.S.A and Europe applied the same standard as they used for Kosovo, they should accept it too.

    August 12, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  6. Don

    The United States has been agitating Russia for the past several years. Perhaps if we had a bit less of the Cold War era ideology this wouldn't have happened.

    August 12, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  7. MarkStuart

    No more war please, he doesn't undertstand difference between strength of Iraq and Russia. 1st we can't win, 2nd we are busy in un called for war in Iraq.

    He will be the worst president as he can only thing about is WAR.

    August 12, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  8. Lisa

    In the famous words of Whitney Houston " Hell to the naw "

    August 12, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  9. steve-MN

    It only shows his cold war mentallity. I know the main stream media might ignore this but we saw and heard Putin point out that some politicians in the US( obviously, McBush). Are we going to slide back to the cold war era again, being that McBush already went full war focussed on Russia. Threatening Russia is not what we need. America needs someone who would employ diplomacy before anything else.

    August 12, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  10. Griff

    Eastern Europe! So far away... Your shrinking USA...

    August 12, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. G at Dover, NH

    The fact he's being opportunistic about a war highlights volumes, but not strengths.

    August 12, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. cain and able to vote

    america our beautiful young adults DO NOT HAVE TO die in a sense less war that got no where. We need to mind our bizz and repair us first before helping another country.

    obama 2008

    August 12, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  13. Craig in Des Moines

    Yes. Anyone is stronger than a 1 year Senator who is in charge of a committee he never even held a meeting for.

    BO thinks that one trip to Europe and a speech at a rock concert in Germany is enough to qualify him for President.

    I pity our country if he's elected.

    August 12, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Jan Illinois

    Yes, this time it did. Even a blind squirrel stumbles onto a nut every once in a while. Good for you McCain. Promise to bring home our troops now and you might have a chance.

    August 12, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  15. jimmy

    Senator McCain does not like war anymore than Obama does.
    McCain is a war hero and knows what war does to nations and people. He is however much more mature in judgement and haa a lot more experience than an unknown Obama who has been sailing along on the "Change Theme" but nobody seems to know what "Change" Obama is trying to do. He is largely vague on his rhetoric . More important nobody knows who the real Obama is.
    His background is murky . His Agenda is even more murky since he has virtually nothing to give him credit for in his short unremarkable career as a politican. He was a State Legislator just 4 years ago and even there has no record of any meaningful and lasting lehgistive record.. Even more than that he has no administrative Experience.
    His rise to prominence as a politician and his primary victories are a direct recult of the MEDIA coverage that favored him. In short Obama is a MEDIA Created Image and a Media darling. So much so that Obama's camp had shown a pseudo-Presidential SEAL on the rostrum of his campaign speech platform. He also had been welcomed in the LEFTIST groups in his European tour.

    August 12, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  16. Independant Thinker

    I don't know that it shows McCains strengths as much as it shows Obama's weaknesses.

    Russia will challenge the next president the same way that they challenged JFK.

    Obama is an amature whereas McCain is experienced.

    I know who I am voting for.

    August 12, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  17. Jose

    Does the crisis in Georgia highlight McCain's strength's? NO!!!
    and why would it? He hasn't said anything accept that there should be a cease to the conflct. Hell that's a NO BRAINER. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican you are saying there should be a cease to the conflict. I just don't understand why we would even question that the crisis would highlight his strength. Unless you're a Republican then you would say Oh DEFINITELY!! HOGWASH.

    August 12, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  18. Griff

    Europe will be the next "Super Power"... You seem to want to keep shrinking from your responsibilities... We are the Great USA....
    You only get to be Champion, when you fight every Contender....
    Business is Business. Cruel isn't it???????????/

    August 12, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  19. DJ CO

    I'm still getting moderated CNN. How come?

    August 12, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  20. FL Voter

    It highlights more lobbyist connections for McCain. One of his chief strategist, Randy Scheunemann, lobbied for Georgia and accompanied McCain's speeches today. Strength? I seems to reveal ulterior weakness.

    McCain = Special interests
    Obama = American people

    August 12, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. Glen in Los Angeles

    Each candidate has made a statement showing their resolve to end the crisis. They might take a lesson from Dr. Armand Hammer on how to deal with Russians. That is, stand outside their gate and yell at the top of your lungs until they let you into the house for a chat.

    August 12, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  22. david

    while these politicians ignore the will of 70% of the people, he has the nerve to speak for us and say " we are all georgians"! these people do not speak for me, i speak for me! look what all this 'experience' has got
    us...owning trillions of dollars, fighting 2 illegal wars and wanting to start another with Iran, making threats tio Russia, China, Korea! when are we going to take back our government from these tyrants that want to rule the world at our expense?

    August 12, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  23. EBC

    NO he does NOT. John McCain comes across as clueless, he's saying pretty much the same thing he did about Iraq, same song, same verse. I mean he has NO power or authority to make any decisions, HE'S NOT THE PRESIDENT, oh, but his close buddy is!! Wow....

    August 12, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  24. Les-Wa

    YES!!!!! And it also show how WEAK is Obama.

    August 12, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  25. Filipina

    No McSenile just a war monger and he cant get my vote...My first vote goes to Obama!

    August 12, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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