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. Sylvia

    What do you mean, CNN, McCain's strength? McCain is a warmonger, no differenct from Bush. I do not see any strength in that. I see fear!

    August 12, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    It so far has showed the pompous elitist old presumptuous anal cavity to be nothing more than an ego-maniac of biblical proportions.

    His blasphemy has turned me off. I AM NOT GEORGIAN and he does not speak for me my friends.

    Go Obama '08 – displomacy over war war war war war

    August 12, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. dormar

    no

    August 12, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. Troy

    Yes, McCain was all over Russia on this and if you noticed Obama's first reponse was very weak and he has now come around to give a stronger tongue lashing. Obama...Change you can count on.

    August 12, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. jennifer, Houston

    It seems to me McCain's attitude is a case of "don't do as I do just do as I say." Didn't we attack a sovereign nation? Hasn't he made threatening statements regarding Iran? McCain's campaign must think we are too stupid to remember and over look his huge ego and hypocrisy.

    August 12, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  6. Gail

    Look – most people have already made up their minds on who they are going to vote for. I'm just so glad Obama is leading and has so much more support behind him because if McSame were somehow to get elected, the entire World would ROAR in collective laughter and disgust. Our reputation in the world would finally be completely ruined because we can't elect anyone new – anyone with any different ideas and ideals – we just keep on electing the same old pasty white men who are ill equipped to handle the most important job in our Country. Don't let Bush have a second term – this country simply can't withstand another 4 years of what we've had over the last 8 years.

    We need a change and no matter WHAT you say about Obama, he Is a change.

    August 12, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Matt from Mesa, Arizona

    To be honest, I'm more interested in that blonde in the ad with the pink number on the right, than I am a 72 year old.

    August 12, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. corbin

    i guess your words would carry more weight john if you wouldnt have voted for the invasion of iraq (an illlegal military action of our own)

    August 12, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  9. Des,Toronto

    NO he is wrong to be threatening a super nuclear power,without the benefit of the whole story.
    How come good old MCTrigger happy McWar did not say bomb bomb bomb,Russia afraid of the return nukes, now can everyone see why Iran has need to worry about their security, it is a deterrent...period!! they can't have em then you shouldn't either. Now we are all Georgians Today,how come he never said we are all Darfurans or Rawandans or Palestenians today!!!!

    CNN would not print this anyway they prefer silly lies an gossip!!

    Sanity in 08 Vote Obama

    August 12, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  10. biffington, biff

    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

    (you know... because you don't just go in guns blazing like SOME cowboy diplomats).... will someone PLEASE tell me what is wrong with KNOWING THE FACTS BEFORE MAKING A DEADLY DECISION????

    "No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over south Ossetia," the Illinois senator said Monday.

    the 'appropriate' response.....

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

    NO!!! This does not highlight McCain's strengths! It highlights his 90% agreement with Bush/Cheney policies.

    We don't want "more wars. more wars." We can't police the world. I don't understand why everyone is touting McCain's foreign policy crendentials. They're a joke.

    The rest of the world agree with Obama. If that isn't foreign policy clout then what the hell is?

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

    Look – most people have already made up their minds on who they are going to vote for. I'm just so glad Obama is leading and has so much more support behind him because if McSame were somehow to get elected, the entire World would ROAR in collective laughter and disgust. Our reputation in the world would finally be completely ruined because we can't elect anyone new – anyone with any different ideas and ideals – we just keep on electing the same old pasty white men who are ill equipped to handle the most important job in our Country. Don't let Bush have another term – this country simply can't withstand another 4 years of what we've had over the last 8 years.

    We need a change and no matter WHAT you say about Obama, he Is a change.

    August 12, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    McCain demands immediate withdrawal by Russia...
    Yeah? Or what, Johnny boy? You ain't in any position to do anything.

    And parently given your "huff and puff 'til I blow your house in" style comments, you would have us get involved in another military mess by responding too quickly with inappropriate demands.

    The US is no longer in a position to demand anything from anybody. We have lost the respect friedn and foe alike once had for us.

    Yours is a tired old song, John McCain. You show no dipolmatic skills what-so-ever. Please retire....

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

    I was appalled at John McCain and his ARROGANCE as he pretended to be our President; making demands and rattling his personal saber as he practically declared war against Russia and threw 'Official State Religion' of "Christianity" into the fray to boot, effectively demeaning all other religions in the world in his efforts to gain votes.

    I have a beautiful Bible and if I had a chance I think I would thump him with it.

    I am NOT a Georgian. I am an American!

    Furthermore, McCain is NOT President and he better scramble right back down off that particular pedestal on which he so presumptuously perched himself.

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

    I love how McCain criticized Obama for being to presidential and stating we are "fellow citizens of the world," and now McCain is basically doing the same thing.

    McCain first response to any crisis "dictator like"…and basically threatens war if you don't do as I say. McCain thinks everyone should listen to America. MCCAIN WE HAVE NO MORE TROOPS FOR ANOTHER WAR....!!!! Obama is more rational and waits to get all the facts and speak to the parties effect by the crisis before he issues a position.

    This just shows that McCain will throw America into as many wars as he possible could....

    August 12, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. Nando, Florida

    MCCAIN 08 IGNORANCE WE CANT COUNT ON !!!!!

    PUTIN could care less about MCCAIN he won't be President Anyway.

    August 12, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. Luke

    No. It highlights his weaknesses. Obama is the winner here. McCain's tone was, as usual, needlessly antagonistic. McCain just doesn't do diplomacy. The slightest provocation leads him to confront other countries. McCain is dangerous and cannot be trusted as our commander in chief.

    August 12, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  18. McCain:SmallWeakCowardlyMan OffersMoreOfTheSame TearsOthersDownToBuildHimselfUp

    This man couldn't talk his way out of a paper bag even on a good day when he halfway lucid and full of the right medication. Wrong, unclear, belligerent, mismanaged, ill-informed and steals his talking points word for word off Wikipedia to make a major statement on the crisis. I think his knowledge of foreign affairs is as sharp as current White House Press Liar, Dana Perino's.

    August 12, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  19. Strange Days

    Taegan Goddard, at the respected politicalwire.com, is reporting (http://politicalwire.com/archives/2008/08/11/a_case_of_plagiarism.html) that McCain's recent speech on Georgia was plagiarized from Wikipedia.

    So much for his extensive foreign policy experience.

    August 12, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  20. Sue/PA

    He sure is acting Presumptious....................already deciding that Russia wants to go back to the old Russian Empire..........what actual evidence can he produce to back up that statement??? I believe he over stepped his bounds. That is not a sign of good leadership!!!!

    Russia has us over a barrel for our illegal war in Iraq, it will take us years to rebuild our standing in the world. Shame on Bush/Cheney/McCain illegal war.

    August 12, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. bernj

    McCain has no strengths CNN. When will you folks stop attributing positive qualities to this non compos mentis pretending to be a senator?

    August 12, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. CB

    No!

    August 12, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. Jim

    Are you kidding? McWar is a war loving nut...

    August 12, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  24. Lone McCain Blogger

    In response to an issue:

    (a) refer to being a POW
    (b) threaten war
    (c) push for tax break for wealthy
    (d) propose drilling more oil
    (e) redirect w/ lie regarding opponent

    ~
    This is not a McCain strength by any stretch, he's frigging scary

    August 12, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  25. NEVEROBAMA

    Yes!!!!!!!

    GO PRESIDENT MCCAIN

    August 12, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
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