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. aohs

    Are you sure McCain knows which Georgia you're talking about?

    August 12, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. Concerned Voter

    John McCain publically claims to "speak for all Americans." Did I miss something? Is he the President?

    Talk about arrogance!

    August 12, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. Susan

    McCain is being presumptuous to say he speaks for all Americans, in any situation. McCain doesn't have the authority to speak for all Americans.

    August 12, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  4. Cynthia

    No it scares me. He may be more an of expert a war and I'm only saying maybe. He seems to like to fight to me and where will he get troops from – start up the draft?

    August 12, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  5. Jeff D, South Bend, IN

    What strengths? Sure he got shot down in Vietnam and was a POW, bummer of a deal no doubt. But he wasn't a good Navy officer (check his service records), never commanded anything of note, never was placed in strategic decision making positions there, and performed so poorly in the Navy that he had no real future there, so he quits. He has a terrible voting records towards Veterans and Veteran policies. He plays fast and loose with the facts, and hopes that people are too stupid to realize the difference between being a "qualified military commander" and the reality that he "once served in the military in a role in command of nothing substancial, then quitting because he had no future".

    How does that qualify him as having "strengths" on military matters?

    Add to that the Edwards-style repeated cheating on his loyal but disfigured-wife, then leaving her for a rich 25-year old heiress, a woman whom he publicly derides and calls a "c * nt" – and I think it's clear that he's not qualified to lead a cub scout troop, much less the free world.

    August 12, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  6. Sleepless in NC

    Be afraid, be VERY AFRAID.

    August 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. Garth

    So how does saying that Russia should stop fighting mean anything to the Russians and therefore shows how strong McCain is. And since Right wing nut Joe Lieberman, the new flip-flop party animal, agrees with John McCain, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

    Barack Obama gave a strong measured comment and when he was able to get some facts, gave a stronger comment. Of course the Russians aren't going to listen to him either. But at least, Obama didn't try to start up the Cold War like McCain. He knows the Cold War is over doesn't he? Didn't Lieberman tell him?

    August 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  8. Dameun Strange

    It shows he's a hawk in the same mold as Bush. Let us rush to judgment without understanding the place and the situation. Looks like we will have more wars with McCain...not time for diplomacy.

    August 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  9. Brian

    Seems like there is an international crisis every four years right before the election, strengthening the Republican nominee. The difference this time is that anyone would be hard pressed to say that the U.S. instigated this. As usual, the price of gasoline will go down and international affairs will become more important as we head into the winter, giving the Republican the presidency. I guess that's a good thing, considering the alternative.

    August 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  10. McElitist

    Does John McCain have any strengths?He must – let's see...

    He left his first wife (who was loyal and devoted to him all the years he was a POW in Vietnam) for a young blond beer heiress (who was able to catapult his political career with her connections).
    He mockingly printed his opponent's face on a dollar bill, then called his opponent out for "the race card" when Obama merely made reference to the incident.
    He refuses to release the majority of his military records, yet touts his military experience as his main credential to be President.
    He looked right into the camera and denied it when Obama referred to McCain as a continuation of Bush policies, although his voting record shows him agreeing with the President 98% of the time.

    So that must be it – McCain is an opportunist, a liar and a sellout.

    August 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  11. Herman in LA


    August 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  12. Brenda

    Not at all, instead you'll see how much Bush he is,,,,

    August 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  13. Dan (Redmond, WA)

    This highlights Senator McCain's utter incompetence. He seems fully willing to wield our over-used, mis-used, spent, and weakened military wherever there is a conflict (especially one that involves oil).
    He is making blind threats with no ability to back them up with our military spread thin throughout the world fighting on illegal war and one legitimate one.

    August 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  14. david disbrow

    it looks like this picture has been altered to make his profile and jaw more prononced. Can someone look into this deception?

    August 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  15. Walter

    What it highlights is how dangerous it is to have a President who only knows about the use of military force.

    McCain's answer for everything is confrontation. That approach is what has broken our military and destroyed our alliances.

    If America were not in the disastrous position that McCain and people of his ilk have put us in, we would be able to respond more effectively when our genuine national interests really are at stake.

    As it is, the rest of the former Soviet possessions are watching our helplessness and fearing for their hard-won independence.

    America cannot afford another four or eight years of mindless militarism.

    August 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  16. biffington, biff


    Obama was prepared for what some inthe media are calling a "3AM Moment". While McCain reads Wikipedia and consults his Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor, who is a lobbyist for Georgia, Obama speaks to President Kaashvili and Condi before he speaks.

    (You know… gathering facts and ensuring a level of appropriateness BEFORE speaking and trying to make political hay out of tihs)


    August 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  17. BBOvenGuy

    I think McCain runs a big risk of overplaying his hand with the Russia issue. It shows that he's stuck in the past, still thinking in terms of the Cold War instead of the 21st Century. The American people don't want another war, cold or hot.

    August 12, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  18. sandy

    I will take Obama's measured approach anyday. McCain has the same cowboy mentality that Bush has had over the last 8 years and look where we are today. I want someone who measures their words not talk a lot of rhetoric. Wake up America. We need someone with Obama's intellect and coolness.

    August 12, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. Bradley In Colorado

    CNN asked: "Does the crisis in Georgia highlight McCain's strengths?"

    No, but it does bring out his stupidity and inner warmonger.

    August 12, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  20. obamaforyourmama

    Mccain has no strengths to highlight

    August 12, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  21. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Boama's an idiot:

    c'est moi, moi et moi says Obama. Obama's worldview as expressed in Berlin is much closer to the whining, hand wringing critics of Truman, Kennedy and Reagan than it is to the views of these three stalwarts of freedom.

    Obama's response to evil in the world is not "We are staying in Berlin, period," "Ich bin ein Berliner" or "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

    His response is "everybody hold hands and sing Kumbaya, cuz golly gee if the world will only 'act as one,' all our troubles and all the bad guys will go away." Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Obama

    August 12, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. Jeremy

    Why is it that McCain wants the U.S, to engage in yet another conflict? We have enough enemies aready. We do not need any more.

    Obama 08

    August 12, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  23. CTP

    McCain made a statement, and Russia didn't hear it. Obama made a statement, and Russia didn't hear it. They could care less about candidates, and about the USA. We're not the same superpower we once were, in case you didn't know...

    August 12, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  24. judyb

    McCain is the empty suit, not Barack Obama. He has been issuing statements regarding the Georgian situation since last April. John McCain was busy ignoring it until he could become the opportunist! And, of course, no one says anything about his senior advisor being a paid lobbyist for Georgia. No conflict there...right!

    August 12, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Dan , TX

    No. McCain doesn't have any strengths left. The man can barely speak and when he does saliva drips out of the side of his mouth.

    August 12, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
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