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. Ron Democrat turned independent

    not especially but it does reinforce sen. obama's weaknesses and penchant for piggy-backing on his opponents strengths. when he saw McCain's forceful reply was well received by the public he jumped right on and made another statement. Putin would eat this puppy raw. as for the war in Iraq be honest if McCain was in charge the war would have been won and the troops would be back home a long time ago. another thing obama is one man one vote the majority of democrats including many ex military men voted for the war.

    August 12, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  2. sharif from philly

    bomb bomb Russia .get your children ready for war! think people if you put this old war monger in office we are going to lose our children this old man has been living for 72 years i would like to be that age one day.he has live his live and some. we need new thinking in office Hey why is no one talking about McSame's Presumptuousness by claiming he " speaks for every American" … ?
    McCain thrives on war, so expect war

    August 12, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  3. Penn

    The world is an unstable place, that's why we can't afford to have someone as unstable and inexperienced as Obama in the White House.

    Hillary is still our best choice.

    August 12, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  4. Michelle

    Hey Hillary supporters who say McCain is their man. Is this really what you want? Think long and hard. Hillary lost plain and simple. Get over it or plan 4 more years of war, death, dismemberment and wheelchairs. Take a visit to Walter Reed and you will see the fruit of this Administration's labor. WAKE UP and stop whinning. People are DYING!!!

    August 12, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  5. Veteran for Obama

    Those voting for McCain had better be prepared for a military draft. McCain's answers for solving problems is war, war, and more war. We do not have nearly enough troops to attack everyone who doesn't agree with McCain so he will have to call up a new military draft. With equal rights of men and women this will not be targeted at just men. Women will also be drafted under McCain.

    Also, why isn't McCain foreign policy adviser being a Georgian lobbyist being called out. If this was Obama's adviser the media would be on it nonstop.

    August 12, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  6. Veteran for Obama

    If you consider being a world bully a positive then McCain is your man. He is a mean old dirty senile man who has a love affair with war and will spare nobody. He will re institute a military draft if he is dared given that power.

    August 12, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  7. Nathan Simpson

    These statements have hurt his campaign more than help it.

    August 12, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  8. Obama supporter:White, 60 year old woman

    NO: his response to everything is embedded in the past. He has not come to the realization of how eroded America's voice and standing is in the world. He lacks the vision and judgment to be a leader and the ability to energize and inspire others to his point of view.

    August 12, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  9. Anse

    Mcain speaking for all Americans'?, Angering Putin ? That is presumptuous, that is arogance. Is this how he will answer the 3 o'clock phone? Obama wants' peace, Mcsam want's war! war!! war!!!!!!!!!!!! The game changer is here.

    August 12, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  10. Hani, Indonesia

    Mc Cain is living in the past. He will bring you, American back to the Cold War. He is the product of the Past that American do not need anymore.

    Come on American, be smart... you are lving in the now and for the future !


    August 12, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  11. DR. YES

    i think the mcbush camp. caused this crises to influence the backfired with russia's response,but,they still think they can gain a few votes from it.americans are tired of this government,and are finding it hard to trust anything they say.

    August 12, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  12. Michael McCutchen

    They say the first casualty of war is the truth. If lying is required during time of war, then I would say McSAME is overly qualified and by far the stronger candidate. What a joke!!

    Obama '08

    August 12, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  13. California Gold

    McCain talking tough is not Presidential. In fact it underscores his inability to function as a diplomat and leader. He needs to stop watching the movie Top Gun and pretending like he's a cool Naval aviator. NOT!

    August 12, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  14. Central Scruitinizer

    PIERCE Please seek help from a mental health specialist.

    August 12, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  15. Rumpusgoopus

    Wow, CNN really took a bias turn toward McCain this week. You're not even trying to hide it anymore.

    August 12, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  16. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    "Today... we are all Georgians" said by John McCain. We Americans no longer hold the moral high ground to get into the affairs of other's muddled conflicts after the Iraq expedition.

    McCain is an old stooge.

    August 12, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  17. Mrs. McInostoch

    McCain we cannot afford another WAR.

    August 12, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  18. BJGT

    McCain is unable understand the complexity of the world we live in – his bellicosity is dangerous, foolish, and outdated – and so is he!

    August 12, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  19. Olivier Kouao

    Listen, I'm french and shouldn't be on this forum however for international issues like this I can't resist responding to this gray haired man with no wisdom ATT ALL!!!! Does he thinks young americans blood belongs to him to speaks like he speaks. My president Sarkozy has just shown the opposite of what this dangerous commander in chief ia advocating. Humble yourself and go and meet the "Axe of evil" to stop the bombing by using his head. How many wars American are you willing to fight to secure what will be a cemetery at last since all your futur generation will be oversea fighting for oil...Come on shut up old man and make friend instead of ennemies!

    August 12, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  20. KG

    Of course Obama's tone at first was demur. He didn't have a clue what to say or what to do. I'm guessing one of his advisors finally told him that he better get out there and stand for something (for a CHANGE) or he was going to look weak and worthless (and, then American would begin to see him for what he really is, a novice politician who has been built up by the liberal media).

    August 12, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  21. The Other Side

    While McCain may have strong words I believe that a strong response to oppression is the only justified one. If we claim to be a nation that holds to human rights and democracy we should show that in response to anti-democratic measures taken by countries like Russia. I haven't seen a single comment aired in support of McCain's response in this entire blog. It is a shame that the other side can't even argue their point without being demeaned to the mere status of war-mongers. Certainly we would have a more firm response against Russia if it were our children and families that were being killed in Georgia.

    August 12, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  22. LncCrplMJB

    And FYI Republican POLITICIANS are cowards who send men off to fight because they can't or choose not to fight for themselves, but Democrat POLITICIANS, and they are politicians, are cowards who couldn't even fight if they had to. Any who worships either side is a fool. Find a middle ground, and stop being armchair quarterbacks of war. Sanctions and diplomacy do not work without threat of force, but force is always the last option. THINK.

    August 12, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. aaa

    anything thats war Mccain will support it!!!!!!!!!! MCdrill calm down you are not going to win anyways

    August 12, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  24. Togegawa

    People seem to forget that McCain lept head-long into the mess, while O'Bama acessed the situation before acting in a more measured way. Which would you rather have dealing with nuclear weapons in a crisis?

    August 12, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  25. CG

    highlight his strengths? Are you kidding me? Itonly highlights what a grumpy old sell-out He is!

    August 12, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
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