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. simplykris, NE

    I dont believe this Old poop is trying to misues the situation.He is the worst person on earth and am gonna pray everyday for his early demise.!
    Trust me, its good for not just the US, but the whole world.I choose not
    to see another war waged in the name of ..what do the repugs call it? – yeah – "FREEDOM" ! Total BS !

    August 12, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. PA

    Who wants to talk about sovereignty, loss of human life, or territorial disputes, when we have pipelines to worry about.

    McSame 0Not!

    August 12, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  3. J. Dean, a Republican from Juno Beach, FL

    THIS OLD MAN NAMED JOHN McCAIN HAS NO IDEA ABOUT WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT.
    THE GREAT VILLAIN IN THE RUSSIAN-GEORGIA CRISIS IS THE PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA, NAMELY MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI. NO MATTER WHAT NAIVE OLD MAN JOHN McCAIN SAYS WILL BE REDICULOUS. THIS OLD MAN JOHN McCAIN BETTER KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT. McCAIN SHOULD GO TO SCHOOL TO UNDERSTAND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AND ESPECIALLY REGIONAL POLITICS THAT COVERS AN SPECIFIC REGION LIKE CAUCASIA. IT SEEMS McCAIN KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT CAUCASIA.
    OLD MAN JOHN McCAIN WAS WRONG ON IRAQ, IRAN, PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN, NORTH KOREA, SUDAN. WE HAVE SEE NAIVETY AT ITS BEST WITH THIS OLD MAN JOHN McCAIN.
    JUST BRING BACK OUR BOYS, OUR HEROES FROM IRAQ.
    GOD SAVE AMERICA AND OUR MILITARY FORCES.

    August 12, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  4. NotFallingInLine.org

    NO! Anybody can make a speech. Isn't this what McCain always says about Obama? All McCain did was state the obvious. He has shown that he is going at it alone instead of asking the real President permission to speak the way he has. Furthermore, he has burned his bridge with Moscow (if he were to become President). Therefore, this cowboy behavior has proven him inept.

    August 12, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  5. Independent voter

    short of something dramatic happening between now and november, i have already made up my mind.

    obama08

    August 12, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  6. Arkansas Undertaker

    Not really. It shows me that McCain would rather start trying to reconcile the situation by escalating tensions with his idiotic comments about Russia and their President and Priminister.

    Instead of diplomatic solutions he already wants some kind of military action. He is all ablout fearmongering and war is all this shows me about him.

    August 12, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. Nate MN

    Interesting that McCain references an oil pipeline. Is he trying to suggest that the Russians invaded Georgia over oil??? Hey John, there's a pipeline, an oil pipeline that starts in Iraq. The USA invaded a soveriegn nation for oil. Our soldiers are fighting a war for the Big Oil companies and the American Taxpayer's money is being washed in Iraq into clean profits for big defense contractors.

    Talking tough doesn't make you strong, or principled.

    August 12, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. Sandee from Portland, Or

    Leave it to the Republicans to use the threat of war to win a presidency. Their past campaigns have been used the fear factor, just like Bush did, and McCain seems to be using it as well. We, as a nation, should not be involved in this. This is a European problem, and France, etc. should be the ones chastizing Russia, not America. But, as usual, we get involved because this involves Oil!!!!

    August 12, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. FL4Obama

    Unfortunately, no. After McCain supported Bush's misguided efforts in Iraq, I find it difficult to trust him with judgment on national security. In contrast, Obama has been correct on many of these foreign policy issues; therefore, he gets my support in this election.

    August 12, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. NickNas

    LOL NO! Or am the only one who has been watching the News and all of the almost daily fumbles of Mr. " Foreign policy expert" Making up non-existant borders and speaking with AUTHORITY about Countries that no longer exist. Pretty much eliminates him from the " Can Think on their own without a cheat sheet " Club.

    August 12, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. ChicagoJosh

    Or maybe the risk is that McCain is pretending Georgia is innocent in all of this?? The goal should have been to stop the violence, not to goad Russia.

    McCain failed big time in my eyes. And I am not impressed by Obama staying on vacation throughout this.

    August 12, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. dukeboards

    It actually points out his weakness. His policy is "bomb everything and fight for more oil", except we have no available troops because of his support for the Iraq war. And he is too blind to see that the world now ignores us with impunity because of it.

    August 12, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Stupid, stupid are we willing to break out the Nukes children? The Gop is so stupid with all there tough talk! All they do is talk trash and do nothing. Our country is so broke and our Military is so beaten up from that War in Iraq. And these guys are talking more trash, and making more threats Russia knows we are not going to do anything.

    Oh I know lets take out another loan from China and lets fight Russia. Just think back during Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 just think if McCain was president. You would all be dead and all of your children would be dead. Thank God Obama has a cooler head than hot headed Mcwar that thru his first wife under the bus!

    Just think back during Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 just think if McCain was president we would all be dead your children and my children.

    August 12, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. gObama

    Oh goody... another Cold War. Just what we needed to move forward.

    August 12, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Indiana Bob

    At least McCain has a clue. They are at war and the talk has to be immediate and tough. It is not a playground spat. Obama saying "ah gee wizz lets all just be friends" doesn't cut it. What would Obama do as president? Send Oprah over there to convince them to put their toys away? Send Rezko to buy them off? Wake up people!!

    PUMA - Vote McCain

    August 12, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  16. biffington, biff

    If his strength is reading the text of Wikipedia regarding Georgia, then.. yes.

    if his strength is lifting the line from 911 "Today we are all American"

    (insert Georgia)..

    THEN YES...

    August 12, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. Karen - Missouri

    NO strengths at all...McCain has proven himself to be mentally unstable under any circumstances as well as the most insulting candidate/person I've ever seen. I don't trust McCain with this country, our money, our economy, getting off oil...McCain gives us NOTHING but a bitter old man who cracks insulting jokes and tells lies in his ads.

    August 12, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  18. Rocky

    When things like this happen I don't think you can help but consider what both candidates would do if this situation turned even uglier. I for one would feel much better with McCain leading the country. We had one appeaser named Jimmy Carter try the BO approach and it got us nowhere.

    August 12, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  19. biffington, biff

    One has to wonder, if Putin did not have such a free hand while we were busy protecting the Carlyle Group's and Haliburton's profits, would he have made this bold move.....

    August 12, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  20. Marc

    Yes, McCain looked sharp in his immediate recognition of Russia's agression. The other guy had to talk to Wesley Clark, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, his wife, etc. before he could manage a decent statement.

    August 12, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  21. Raymond Duke

    It does show that he is more qualified than Obama. But that does not say much. A pet monkey would be more qualified than Obama.

    August 12, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Strengths? He has strengths? So far all he has done is told us about Obama's weaknesses.

    August 12, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  23. Beverly, NYC

    McCain has no strengths when it come to war, just same old tired rhetoric. I want a presidet who thinks before shooting his mouth off. I found it funny him trying to take the moral high ground and tell Russia is should not invade a sovereign nations. Is he now taking back his war vote on Iraq? We invaded a nation with much less provocation than Russia.

    August 12, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  24. Marcel, CA

    I'm sure John McCain is eating up this crisis right now. Nothing like a little war and mayhem to boost the popularity of ones political ambitions.

    August 12, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. biffington, biff

    "I think it's very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire."

    (sigh)...... and then they stopped today.... what a bummer for mccain

    August 12, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22