August 13th, 2008
08:23 AM ET
6 years ago

McCain adviser criticizes Obama's lack of experience with Georgia

McCain's adviser said the GOP candidate has 15 years of experience on Russia policy.
McCain's adviser said the GOP candidate has 15 years of experience on Russia policy.

NEWARK, New Jersey (CNN) – John McCain's top foreign policy adviser briefed reporters Tuesday on his candidate's policy towards Russia and Georgia, noting that McCain and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili are friends that have been speaking throughout the conflict "to exchange daily updates about what's going on."

The adviser, Randy Scheunemann, also confirmed a report that McCain and Saakashvili enjoyed a day of water sports in the summer of 2006.

"I can confirm that Sen. McCain and President Saakashvili were jet-skiing on the Black Sea together," he said.

Reporters spent several minutes asking Scheunemann, a former lobbyist for the government of Georgia, to firm up details on McCain's comments regarding the crisis that has unfolded in recent days.

Asked about Barack Obama's statements on the Georgia situation, Scheunemann accused the Democrat of lacking experience on the matter, saying his record consists only of a handful of paper statements, most of which related to matters of loose nuclear material. But McCain's record on Georgia and Russia, he argued, runs deep.

"There's a depth of knowledge, a breadth of knowledge, and an extent of historical experience that doesn't compare between the two on Russia policy," Scheunemann said. "You can't compare a 15-year historical record to three or four statements over the course of 15 months."

Scheunemann repeatedly stressed McCain's position that Russia's actions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are without merit.

"What he has said is whatever tensions and hostilities preceded the Russian invasion, nothing justified the Russian invasion," he said.

Scheunemann said that Western leaders are now coming around to positions that McCain "has raised for years," in particular his calls for Russia to be expelled from the Group of Eight and for NATO to reconsider its decision to not extend membership to Georgia.

He said "nobody is talking about military action" against Russia. He also indicated that U.S. troops wouldn't likely be part of an international peacekeeping force in the separatist regions.


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (367 Responses)
  1. Tim Hudson

    This demonstrates the lack of experience the rookie senator from ILLinois has, He is just not ready for this high office. His is a very small man compared to what McCain has been through.
    I hear all of you Liberal democrats bad mouthing him, I predict after the conventions are over your shallow man will be on the losing end and McCain will will be elected president.

    August 13, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Dave from Florida

    Hey! What else is new? Tell me something that every non-ultraliberal doesn't already know.

    August 13, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Barack Obama is Our 44th president! YES WE CAN !

    And while you are spending your time critizing Sen. Obama for his good judgment, you better take a good look at McCain and start critizing him because he definitely lacks experience in terms of exacting good judgment to lead this country and restore America's image image.

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

    August 13, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Anonymous

    GOD BLESS AMERICA WILL BE NO U.S.A. IF YOU VOTE FOR IMAGE INSTEAD OF EXPERIENCE. WHERE AGE COMES WISDOM. WE ARE HEADED FOR A WORLD WAR. CNN DONT WAQNT TO TAKE MY COMMENT BECAUSE ITS THE TRUTH. WE HAVE TO SECURE OUR COUNTRY BEFORE WORRING ABOUT ALL THE OTHER ISSUES.O.B. IS NOT THAT GUY. AMERICA BETTER WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TO LATE.

    August 13, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Kansas for Obama

    It wouldn't surprise me one bit that the RNC made a deal with Russia to invade Georgia just to make their arguement of McWar's experience...It's not going to work.

    Sound judgement will always trump "so called" experience any day and we know who has the IQ and judgement in this contest....

    Obama

    August 13, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. AL in West Palm Beach, FL

    I like the fact that CNN failed to tell us that Randy Scheunemann (one of McCain's foreign advisers) is a paid lobbyist for......

    YOU GUESSED IT.

    GEORGIA

    August 13, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. Anonymous

    CNN YOU DONT WANT TO HEAR MY COMMENT. WHY DONT YOU LOOK AT REALITY. WITHOUT OUR COUNTRY SECURE WE DONT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYOTHER ISSUES. KEEP VOTING FOR A IMAGE AND SMOOTH TALKER INSTEAD OF AGE AND WISDOM. AMERICA YOU GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR .

    August 13, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Lost (maybe) in CNN Moderation

    What's interesting to me about this whole situation is that the French are the ones who seem to be making the most progress in this situation. You know, the same country that all you Republicans critized Obama for visiting and the same country that seemed to agree with Obama on foreign policy.

    BTW I don't think having one of your advisers lobby for Georgia is makes you objective. Then again, I'm sure we can find a lobbyist from Russia on McCains team. Afterall, lobbying seems to be a job requirement to work in the McCain campaign.

    August 13, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Barack Obama is Our 44th president! YES WE CAN !

    And while you are spending your time trying to find ways to critize Sen. Obama for using good judgment here and abroad, you better do your homework and take a closer look at McCain and start critizing him because he definitely lacks experience in terms of exacting good judgment to lead this country and restore America's image abroad.

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

    August 13, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    Jeez, what did you expect Scheunemann to say – he was on Georgia's payroll as a registered agent! Now he's McLame's foreign policy advisor.

    Come on America – see thru McLame for what he is – a war mongering, pandering, hypocritical liar who will say and do anything to anybody just to get elected.

    McLame has experience all right – in how to screw this country using fear, smear, mock and lie tactics.

    PS: I'm an American, not a Georgian as McLame says we all are...

    August 13, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. caron

    McCain scares me. He's like one of thos Chihuahuas who does a lot of barking but then he personally won't be able to back it up – he would force our military to go and cover his stupidity.

    August 13, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. eye's of the wise

    Oh they are good buddies , that why Mccain immediately came out and blame the whole thing on Russia without knowing that detail's of what was going on, that is very irresponsible and war mongerish

    August 13, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Shari, NY

    The same lines over and over. The LP is stuck on the turntable – time for and IPOD!

    Does Sen. McCain want to throw in the towel? Can this be an attempt to sabotage his own chances because the little train just cain't anymore (not a typo). Too much pressure, and Georgia asking for deeds and not words is causing him grief. Poor guy!

    August 13, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. sas

    what Mccain's policy over for Georgia...go to war with russia!!!...seems like the only policy GOP leaders can boast about is how they went for Wars that killed thousands of American Soldires

    August 13, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. McBride, SLC, UT

    That's why McCain's more experienced than Obama? He played a game of water sports with the President of Georgia? What a laugh!

    August 13, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Anonymous

    CNN KEEPS TAKING MY COMMENT OFF. YOU MORONS PUTTING MCCAIN DOWN BETTER WORRY ABOUT VOTING AGE AND WISDOM INSTEAD OF IMAGE AND SMOOTH SPEECHES.OUR COUNTRY BEING SECURED IS THE MAIN THAN. WITHOUT THAT TGERE WQONT BE ANYTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. THAT IS THE FACTS. AMERICA WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TO LATE.

    August 13, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. AZ Senior

    McCain criticizes??? After his rash words, and the challenge to turn them into deeds? Whose army is he going to send?
    Who is shooting from the hip?

    August 13, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. GrandMa

    On August 12, McBush had town hall meeting on Philadelphia. I just want to let you know he always make fun of Senator Obama, which said on Germany “citizen of the world”, and also questioning senator Obama love of the Unites State which is stupid and unacceptable. He did not do nor had the flag pin on his speech and not call him self-citizen of Georgia but call all of us. McBush I just want to tell you I am US citizen and proud of it you can be Georgia’s citizen since you got the money from that country for your campaign not us the people of USA.

    August 13, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Tom. B

    Not just Georgia, Obama doesnt have experience in any area.

    August 13, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. Chuck, Euigene Oregon.

    Give me a break, McCain does not speak for me. I am not Georgian, never will be. If McCain think he is going to go head to toe with Russia he has another thing coming. The American people and congress will not allow such a stupid stunt. Our military can not support it's self right now with its current missions. What is McCain going to do, institute the draft? If so it will take a year or more to induct, train, equip those new troops? Very silly on his part to take the position he has. Sorry, NO WW III for this country. Obama had this one right again. Europe has it right. McCain has it all wrong, even Europe as a whole take a position different from McCain. So really who is wrong when you take into consideration the world response vs McCains response. I rest my case.

    August 13, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. MB

    Wow CNN you closed the first article after only 23 responses. I guess you do have to go to Fox News for fair and balanced reporting. I do however find it very telling that the Georgian leader opened up to McCain but never even mentioned Obama, that in itself is very, very telling.

    Leadership and experience first and foremost

    McCain 09

    August 13, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Sherry, Atlanta

    MCCAIN, STILL HAS A MAJOR PROBLEM!

    "MCCAIN WILL NOT WORK ON WEEK-ENDS". . .

    August 13, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. David, Belgium

    RJ, CA:
    Wow, impressive argument. That will do it for the "undecided". You sound so intelligent. Maybe you should lead?

    August 13, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. Generation X

    @Uncle Sam; when McCain starts a new war, make sure you join and fight on the front line!! lol

    August 13, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Chris, NJ

    "Peter August 13th, 2008 10:21 am ET

    um….McWar would just attack, Obama might talk to Russia and not start WW3"

    So tell me. Would YOU be willing to go try talking an ex-KGB leader into halting all hostilities. The KGB thrived off of this stuff. Chances are he would just laugh in the diplomats face that went over there. It's sad but true. Ideally every situation could be worked out diplomatically, but that is not the case. For a short list of those that simple reasoning would not work with is, Iran, Al Qaeda, North Korea, ex-KGB prime minister Vladimir Putin, Syria, and Hugo Chavez when he's having a bad day.

    In the end though, neither of these candidates gets to do anything so anything that comes out of this event will be pure speculation. It's up to Bush still to handle the situation, but he's taking the easy route and letting the United Nations do it's thing (or lack thereof)

    August 13, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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