August 12th, 2008
05:25 PM ET
6 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. Former independent, now Republican

    The President vows to protect and defend the United States and our Constitution.

    John McCain is more than qualified for that job.

    Obama is frighteningly unqualified and I do not trust him to do the job.

    I am enthusiastically supporting John McCain. He was exactly right about Russia – A REAL 3 AM MOMENT!

    August 12, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  2. Ben

    McCain doesn't have any strengths.

    He's a wannabe Democrat with no executive experience and thinks he's qualified to be President because he sat in a whole in Vietnam.

    Strengths?

    I'm still looking for one.

    August 12, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  3. Mike from L.A.

    Nope, not at all. I don't see how we can lecture Russia on this one, considered we did the same thing. Difference is, we're still there and still fighting about why we went their in the first place!

    August 12, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. James Golden, New York

    every single issue that pops up, from gas prices to Iraq to the war in Georgia, they ALL highlight McCain's strengths. The question should be, all hype and pomp and circumstance aside, exactly what highlights Obama's strenghts? Speaking to cheering crowds in Germany but not saying much of anything isnt it.

    August 12, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. Aaron Hussein

    Anyone think Russia is going to listen to old man McCain? I don't think so. He's trying to act tough but he's not. And America is tired of being the big bully telling people what to do. Maybe McCain should be asking what's wrong and what we can to to help resolve the situation. But McCain loves war. I'd love to hear from McCain's elementary school mates and how many of them he beat up. McCain was a POW who tried to kill himself and that doesn't make him fit to be POTUS. And being 72 doesn't help his case.

    August 12, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. Simone "Hussein"

    McCain is weak on Foreign Policy.He knows nothing about what's happening in Georgia except for that he has lobbyist ties to the oil in Georgia. I heard Obama's comments and he spoke with common sense on Georgia.Obama respected Russia but he also condemned them.McCain is a person who was captured for 5 years which seem to indicate atleast in his case that he wasn't exactly a great soldier.

    August 12, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  7. Charlene

    If McCain was President now we would be at war with Russia!
    He does not know when to shut his mouth and when to open it!

    August 12, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  8. Gary in VA

    No he is a candidate running for POTUS. At this time he could enact any action of his true direction at this time. So at this point it is a bunch of strong rhetoric. The only think I see is what possible direction each candidate may go in. I am more in favor of Senator Barrack's approach. Every action doesn't require a I gonna getcha reaction. Look at the President of France, he went to the table and started talks and look at the results. May not be long term for the moment, but it's a start and buys time and hopefully peace. Less lives lost and only cost him a plane ride and a few meals.

    August 12, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  9. Tjaye in LA

    No, but it does highlight the possibility that we can be dragged into another war with the wrong Pro-War President.

    August 12, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  10. Ian

    "I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, `Today, we are all Georgians."

    I'll speak for myself thank you very much, and I am most certainly NOT a Georgian.

    August 12, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. jason

    Exactly! War hawks have no place when there is no army they can thrust at our enemies on a whim's notice.

    August 12, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  12. Dwayne Minnesota

    NO!

    August 12, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. Cecil

    Today's Campaign Contest: Count the Young White Women in McCain's Anti-Obama Video
    August 12, 2008 9:30 AM

    How many young white women professing adoration for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, can you count in this anti-Obama web video that the campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, was sending out yesterday?

    One...two...three...four...sure are a lot of young white women in this thing....

    Why do you think they put so many young white women professing their love for Obama in what is clearly an anti-Obama video? What would possibly be negative about young white women liking Sen. Obama?

    When asked, the McCain campaign says they took the video from local news packages, but of course that doesn't explain anything.

    - jpt

    UPDATE: McCain campaign senior adviser Mark Salter writes to say: "All we are suggesting is 'the kids think he's dreamy. But should he be president?'"

    UPDATE 2: Looks like the McCain campaign has taken the video off youtube.

    August 12, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  14. Joshua

    What about sovereign Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan territory? Oh sovereignty only matter to Republicans when it's not America do the invading.

    August 12, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  15. Mary WA

    ABSOUTELY NOT! It dispays his eageness to engage any enemy OR PERCEIVED enemy with military force as his prime objective. He appears to have an obsession with voilent knee jerk action that lacks forethought and naunce. It is as if he has a reaction formation issue from being a POW. THE ENIMY'S EVERWHERE AND MUST BE DESTROYED. Please, keep him away from the black suit case with the red button!

    August 12, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. R.I.F.

    No. Actually his weaknesses because McCain seems to be stuck back in the Cold War mentality. We need a more progressive view of the world and its threats. We don't even ave enough troops to finish the job in Afganasthan so we definitly shouldn't go picking fights in other places. McCain = Sabre-rattlling.

    August 12, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  17. Ardnuas

    Will somebody tell me what EXPERIENCE McCain has? He has sat on committees for 25 YEARS.... he was in the Navy 50 YEARS ago... WHAT EXPERIENCE??????????????????????????? Look at how he has run his campaign........ PROBLEMS GALORE!!!!!!!!!!

    August 12, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  18. Travis

    McWar's depends are wet.....he hasn't gotten any sleep trying to find a

    way to get us into the Georgia war. I listened to the BS that he tried to

    feed us and almost puked. But one thing that did stick out of his

    speech was about the OIL yes OIL in Georgia. So McWar and Bush

    can have it both ways.....A WAR FOR MCWAR and OIL FOR BUSH

    August 12, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  19. Yet Undecided

    Well at least Mc Cain didn't call them Soviets etc, Obama, looking like a this doesn't mean anything I'm already the Presumtive President. I have a feeling I prefer Mc Cain on the world frount as long as he keeps his language unprovocotive. Obama, not sure has he ever dealt with potential xpolsive situations don't know of any he leaves me wondering if he is appeaser or just out to show us he is smooth.....???

    August 12, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. It Be Me

    ******Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory," the Arizona senator said Friday.********

    What he SHOULD HAVE said was.......

    *****The United States should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Iraq territory," the Arizona senator said Friday.*******

    To bad this didn't actually happen......................................

    August 12, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. Paris

    Mr. Schneider you call Obama’s response ‘ measured!
    I call it weak, undeceive and not leader like.
    Russia invaded a sovereign country and all Obama had to say was “for all sides to show restraint’?

    On the other hand I found McCain’s response very clear and to the point and ready to deal with the crises.
    Where Obama had to go back and fine-tune his response and come back with a stronger one!!

    But as president you don’t get second chances to fine-tune your response when people are being killing.

    I am voting for a leader not an intern.

    August 12, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  22. Ted:Canada

    Something is wrong with American intelligence!
    I wonder if the American Intelligence services are out of touch or if the Republicans in office prefer their repub crystal ball.

    They got it WRONG in Iraq – STRIKE ONE
    They can’t find Bin Laden – who have made American look like fools – STRIKE TWO
    They did know it was coming in Georgia – STRIKE THREE

    Very dismal record!!!

    CNN needs to follow up – is the Intelligence Services or is it the Republicans?

    Bush said he looked into Putin eyes…But now I wonder if Bush knows his body parts?

    In most democratic countries most people would say… Enough is Enough!

    August 12, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. Joyce in Florida

    What strengths? Hmmmmm, another mention of oil. Just great. Let's go into another war. It's always been about the oil. I could care less what Lieberman has to say. Who asked him anyway? Dumb and dumber.

    August 12, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  24. Pat

    Not for me. Of course I didn't see that he had any strengths. His statements to Russia to cease military operations, withdraw forces, and stop the armed conflict is quite amusing coming from a man who stated he would stay the course in Iraq for 100 years if that was what it would take!

    So, guess it's ok for him and his twin bro Georgie to ride into the country of their choosing and shoot em up, blow em up, bomb em to bits and shock and awe em into paralysis but no other Nation is allowed to play their game! They rule the world with a free reign! Giddy Up...

    Why not report on McSame's extramarital affairs whilst his wife was convalesing or tell about how Georgie was able gave up the booze, it would carry alot more substance and give us alot more bang and pop for our buck! :-) Strengths? Are you turly serious? I'm still laughing! :-)

    August 12, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. R

    Mccain, how can we try to be the moral authority, when we are responsible for the deaths of over 1 million Iraqi civilians? We cannot say anything that doesn't make us look like hypocrites because of what we have done. In the meantime of letting Russia become stronger, we cannot say or do anything to condemn this. I will say this though; Georgians started it, Russia responded with a iron fist, what do they expect? Putin is more of a worldwide threat, than Saddam Hussein ever was. . .

    August 12, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
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