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. Rod

    I am not Georgian and McShame certainly doesn't speak for me.

    August 12, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  2. Barack Obama IS Our 44th president!

    McCain doesn't have much experience outside of being a war hero. He isn't experienced enough and he lacks good judgment to lead this country successfully into the 21st century. All he can really offer the American people is another Bush term. I believe we deserve better.

    It's time for REAL change in Washington, it's time to elect Barack Obama for president !

    August 12, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. Tony Z-MD

    No. It showed no diplomacy. Same reaction to any international situation.

    August 12, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Well, I dont know that I'd go that far but the crisis in Georgia doesnt highlight Obama's strongpoint, mainly promoting himself.

    August 12, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. Sue just shows how inept he really is.

    August 12, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. Nick

    His strengths being what? That he knows how to start a war?

    Actually I think this crisis exposes Obama's strengths; that if we had done the last eight years his way, we would have at least an once of freakin' credibility when telling another country they can't just invade another soverign country. Russia thumbs it's nose at us and laughs...thanks to people like John McCain.

    August 12, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  7. Jack

    I don't want McSame deciding to send my kids out to kill or be killed every time he feels that another country isn't playing by his rules. Maybe we should be trying to strengthen an organization like the UN as opposed to unilaterally telling every major power in the world how we are going to dictate their foreign policy.

    August 12, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  8. J.C.

    Yes, Senator McCain should invite Putin to his inauguration to thank him.

    August 12, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  9. Dosteovsky

    A strength? Are you freaking kidding? His answer to this situation is friggin Anna Karenina? He wants to stop the Tsar? Next he'll be calling Obama a Trotskyite. A strength? Methinks a resounding no.

    August 12, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. tennisguypitt

    No, Russia's too dangerous to provoke. It's WWIII waiting to happen.

    McCain needs to look at both sides of the story. If he looked at it, Georgia, the "Democracy" was the aggressor by attacking innocent Russians in South Ossetia, and Russia retaliated. It's blind support and something like this shouldn't be tolerated.

    I like Obama's approach at looking at both sides MUCH better. I bet all the money I have Medvedev and Putin are laughing at us.

    Obama '08

    August 12, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  11. Tyler in Raleigh

    Ummmm... wasn't it revealed that a large part of his speech on Georgia was "borrowed" from Wikipedia????

    Google it.... there was a story on it today, but of course CNN misses the real story many times. McCain has one solution to Iraq, Iran, Russia and everything else... bomb bomb bomb... bomb!

    August 12, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. Eric

    So all you who think John is a war monger what do you think of Russian president Medvedev? Not facing his actions with strong language decrying them is supporting his actions. I know this is a free country and it shows since every communist, socialist and liberal turn out to toss mud at the persons who will defend it till death. This is the price of freedom and standing up to a resurgent communist threat is not politics its patriotism.

    August 12, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. americaN for Peace

    The crisis in Georgia only serves to highlight McWar's ultimate weakness which is a profound desire to make war and engage in war and be a part of war in any shape or form possible. McCain is war .. nothing else at all.

    Do you want war for your children???????????????????

    August 12, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  14. Joan, Ontario

    It sounds like McCain is starting his own "axis of evil". You know how that turned out last time. He came out blustering but everyone knew there was really nothing the US could do besides call for diplomacy, sanctions and co-operation from other countries. You couldn't send troops because they are all tied up in Iraq. It seems that actually Obama had the more reasoned approach and as of now there is a cease fire so flying off the handle seems to have not been the best idea after all.

    August 12, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  15. Nino

    I think The U.S should cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Iraq. What a loser he is!

    August 12, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  16. Beauty

    Unfortunately, he may not live to finish any war he started. I believe he will go to his grave with a "war" grin on his face. It is in his blood, don't blame him for liking war so much. He lives for it – just don't put him in the oval office. Thanks.

    August 12, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  17. phil/dallas

    America will only be able to lead on the world seen, when we lead by example. What about a shout out to France......

    August 12, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  18. john

    what strengths?

    he has no strengths....

    August 12, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  19. Bob G.

    It's 3 AM and the phone rings, Hillary answers. It's President Barry and war has started in Georgia – "What should I do?" Hillary says wait 4 days and then say exactly what John said last Friday.

    August 12, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  20. Prisoner

    McCain has this eagerness to prove that he is a war hero. He has no judgement. He should have realised that in a time like this, a country can only have one president. He should have been more careful about what he says and how he says. Scoring one or two points in an election is not the kind of commander we are looking for. Careful,,thoughtful comments with an even tone is required . There is a danger of war immenent with McWar. He has no clue as to how to diffuse a crises. He will add fuel to the fire and going to kill many soldiers unnecessarily.

    August 12, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  21. McWar

    Definitely Not. Perhaps his biggest weaknes.s

    August 12, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  22. Jay

    all Obamabots all the time on ONN ( Obama News Network). McCain is a strong and solid leader. Obama is a dishrag. When we find our shores invaded with terrorists blowing up our own people in our own shopping malls, thank Obama everyone...

    August 12, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  23. McWhine

    Repugs just launched the "Energy Freedom" countdown website. Sorry, my mistake, the "Give oil companies all the money they want" website.

    Please read "American Theocracy" by Kevin Phillips. This book clearly illustrates how the crazy Repugs policies are selling out America for snacks.

    August 12, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  24. The Truth

    answer: yes

    August 12, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  25. Ilona Hussein Proud Canadian


    Sen. John McCain thinks, eats, breaths, sleeps, smells, sees. WAR.




    August 12, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
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