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. George

    It's incredible that after 8 years of Bush's cowboy foreign policy which cost thousands of lives, and made the whole world hate us, McCain's identical "shoot first, ask questions later" approach is considered a "strength".

    It's truly incredible.

    CNN, I'm deeply dissapointed by your bias.

    At least people like Olbermann or O'Reilly are honest about their partisanship.

    August 12, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  2. Phyl

    I 'm beginning to believe that John McCains needle is stuck on his record ! That happens when you have nothing else to talk about.

    November 4th can't come fast enough !

    August 12, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  3. informed florida voter

    America...we have a leader..and he's not a rookie!

    McCain is the ONLY choice between the present choices.

    August 12, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  4. Anthony

    Talk about Obama being presumptous, MMCain sure sound a lot like that to me. Hey cnn are you going to run that tonight, tomorrow or this week? Barack got blasted by CNN FOX and all the rest FOR ACTING PRESUMPTOUS like he was already president. Please talk about MCCain own, thankyou.

    August 12, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  5. Coit Tower

    I can only hope that the United States will borrow more money from China and South America to fight a new Cold War, and further compound our deficit. It will be great to have no job and an idiot like McCain leading the charge!

    August 12, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  6. SD

    McCain suggested that G8 should go back to being G7 expelling Russia. I think that is a good course to take - there is no talk of starting a war with Russia. I think overzealous Obama supporters are disingenuous in claiming that McCain is leanining towards starting new wars. Having a backbone and standing up for good democratic principles is a necessary qualification of being the President of the USA. Pandering to totalitarian regimes whether in Iran, Russia, China, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Saudi Arabia or wherever, is not an appropriate policy for the USA and other leading democratic countries, even if it lets you have a million-people love-fest in Berlin.

    August 12, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. Irma in North Carolina

    Mccain is nothing but a war hungry pig. Go ahead ad vote for him all you puma pigs out there, if you cant get your dear little back stabing Hillarry girl in there. If she puts her name in their then it is just all lies how she is supposed to be for Obama. I knew a person could not trust her Willy. Willy might as well go join Mccain they are two of a kind who can cheat on their wifes and we want that kind of people running the white house.

    August 12, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  8. Perla

    Don't forget, please, that McCain is the same guy who doesn't know the difference between the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border, and also thinks that Czechoslovakia still exists.
    If he finally got something right regarding Georgia, that's great, but he's still a nincompoop most days.

    August 12, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  9. Charles

    Wow, people! Could there be a more representative group of what is wrong with the U.S.A, then the sad lot of you who have posted comments about this article?

    When did it become wrong to stand for something in this country? If you do, and then you stick by your choices then nobody will respect you. Instead they will call you insensitive, a bigot, or intollerant. While there are many who fit that description in the United States of America, most don't, but will quickly be painted into that corner anyway if they do not conform to whatever the popular secular beliefs of the day are.

    That is the big problem with what is going on right now with Barack Obama and all of his promises of change. So, is Washington broken, or is just the republican part of it broken? Do we need real change, or do we just need to change the party occupying the white house?

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! The Senate and Congress will be controlled by democrats (which I am sure most of you are excited about). If you think for a single second that Barack Obama is going to have any leverage to step accross the isle to deliver non-partisan politics for the good of all of us, then you are a certified MORON. Barack Obama won't have the power or the connections required to really change gov't in the U.S. Plus, after the first round of mistakes he makes, or when he doesn't deliver all these wonderful changes, then the American people will turn on him too. No sacrifice please, only fast and easy gratification! The only reason people are listening to him now is because they are pissed off because in their minds George Bush has robbed them of the instant gratification they are apparently entitled to by birthright!

    Wake up, nothing is going to change. Even if we get out of Iraq immediately, we still have to hunt terrorists and take care of them before they take care of us, so we are going to be waging a war....most likely for the rest of our lives, or until we convert to Radical Islam. The sad part is that would require a sustained sacrifice on our part, and heaven forbid that happen and mess up all the instant gratification we are entitled to! We are talking about people who would walk into your home, stare you and your children in the eye, and then kill you with no regret or remorse if given the chance to do so. Do you all honestly believe if you close your eyes they will just go away? Maybe that new BMW you bought will get them to change their minds! Seriously. After Obama pulls every troop from Iraq, only to have to chase terrorists elsewhere....then what? Just bring em all home and hope like hell that the entire radical muslim population who wants to kill us all just magically dissapears. I sure hope so because I cannot bear the thought of them making us continue to chase them around forever because that will definitely rob us of that all important instant gratification we all need so badly!

    Wow, people. That is some very excellent change you are all banking on! Let me say that I am not extremely excited about John McCain either, but I will take my chances on the guy who was born and raised in a time when it was OK to stand for something, and sacrifice, for anything at all, was actually viewed as a good thing and not the end of the world.

    August 12, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. Monch

    No. This does not show McCain's strengths at all. It does show: first, McCain is too bellicose. McCain's aggressive approach could ruin already tenuous relationships with important foreign allies. Keep in mind, if the U.S. is planning to have an effective sanctions against Iran, we will need Russia's compliance.

    Second, McCain's comments emphasize his propensity for saying the wrong things. Earlier, he made a comment about "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." Today he accused Russia of returning to its old empiracle ways. Both of these comments would draw unneeded ire from countries that the we cannot afford to go to war with. McCain comments perpetuate the perception of America as being violent, gun slinging cowboys. That's a perception we no longer can afford. Unless we are willing and are desirous of actually backing it up with military force.

    Third, McCain's comment about speaking for "all Americans" is extremely presumptuous. My heart goes out to Georgians, but my heart goes out to every group of people suffering from oppression, like the people in Darfur, Sudan. Perhaps McCain felt compelled to bring every American into the fold because his adviser Randy Scheunemann is a former lobbyist for Georgia. I wish I knew how much moey this former lobbyist contributed to McCain's campaign.

    No former Georgian lobbyist has deposited any money into my bank account. So I don't have any reason to identify with the plight of Georgians any more than I do to identify with the plight of anyone else. McCain did not speak for me.

    August 12, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. Reality Check Richmond Virginia


    they highlight that his so called strength on this issue is all a farce.

    August 12, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. Goodman

    All American living in McCain's demented Alzheimer world are Georgian today, how about the Ossetians that Georgia wanted to run over and got trampled in the process, why not give me the news and let me interpret it as I want, AN EYE FOR AN EYE, EVERYONE GOES BLIND.

    August 12, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. LncCrplMJB

    The Russians should be cast aside globally and sanctioned in the same manner the EU has handled Iran. Cease trade of raw materials and future research and technologies necessary for the production, manufacturing, and logistics as long as they intend to stand hostile. Punish them economically first because of the fact that they are neither a huge factor nor a substantial benefit to world economy in the first place. And don't be fooled it takes one who has never been in the military to believe for one second and post a very uneducated comment concerning the capabilities the US military.

    August 12, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  14. george

    I'm not Georgian.

    August 12, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  15. Badger

    No. It does not.

    August 12, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  16. rob10001

    McCain is already trying to start another war? This time wuth Russia? This man is crazed and dangerous. Somehow it shows strength to be belligerent? No wonder why he got the name "Bomb 'em if you got 'em Johnny." At least Obama gave some room for a mutual cease fire, which has now occurred, while warning Russia stop its aggression. McCain would have had us on the verge of WWIII. Wake up America, McCain is a hot-tempered impulsive old man. Only Obama can lead us in a strong and civilized way, with good judgement!

    August 12, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  17. rayster

    Barbara I love you gal and I'm 70.
    Been around the block a few times and thought only I remembered that statement Mr. McIdunno made about not having enymore wars and sending our young men to fight over oil
    Your the only one who has raised it a number of times God love

    August 12, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |


    August 12, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  19. Shannon

    Obama is sending aid to Atlanta, he thinks the Russians have invaded the south! His rock star status has not prepared him to be this countries president. It's prepared him to read a teleprompter.

    August 12, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  20. Kristin

    No. McCain's an opportunist. He thinks war is foreign policy or vice versa. He talks about "success" in Iraq, but cannot define what "success" is. He has a vested interest in Georgia. Georgia is portrayed as the victim, but Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Russia overreacted. McCain's a warmonger and must be muzzled.

    August 12, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  21. Deb

    Obama was mocked for saying he had gone to Berlin as a citizen of the world. At least he was only referring to himself. McCain just claimed he spoke for all of us saying that we are all Georgians. He doesn't speak for me. Bush is still president, and it was presumptious of McCain to jump into this as if he were really chosen to be speaking for all Americans.

    August 12, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  22. Peter Thickwood

    It highlights how old he is.

    August 12, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  23. tony

    You Libs are weak–
    Your big issues are Gay Marriage, let the aliens in-It's no wonder National Security is not a priorty–
    The Christian beliefs which this Country was built on are fading-
    You forget –there's a price to be free–THere always has been-!!
    Nobody wants to lose lives in the pursuit of Freedom-
    But helping others is what has always made this country great-
    That's my thought-
    Wish you all well-

    August 12, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  24. Noah

    It's funny to me how McCain says he "speaks for all Americans." ALL Americans? this idiot doesn't even no what the average American is like, heck he does ant even know how to use a COMPUTER!!!! this man is so out of touch with the modern world...he needs to realize that computers and the internet have changed the world. we do not need a President that is entrenched in World War 2. It is time for change. It is time for the Future.

    Obama, 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 12, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  25. jennifer murphy

    why is everyone making a big deal about what McCain said about Georgia. Everyone else (Bush and Obama) is saying the same thing. In this situation there is only one thing to say. I just don't get this guy! I don't care that he's a war hero, a lot of guys are war heros along with him. Doesn't make them qualified to run a nation, the fact of the matter is he faught for his country and not very well because he was taken hostage. I'm for Obama, we need someoone fresh and new and someone who at least knows how to use a computer! I mean really people it's a new day.

    August 12, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
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