August 13th, 2008
08:23 AM ET
10 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. Steve - Wyoming

    Wasn't McCain the one who lifted info about Georgia from WIKIPEDIA???? At least he didn't offer to send the Nat'l Guard to defend Atlanta from the Bresnev's Russkies. Sheesh.

    August 13, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Alice Brinkley

    Get real. Obama has no national or international experience, including in the USA. People who are supporting him must be deluded by the media hype surrounding him.

    August 13, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Think First - then vote

    If John McCain knew so much (or remembered so much about Georgia), then perhaps he can explain why the first 3 paragraphs of his remarks were lifted directly from Wikipedia!

    While I'm glad he's mastered "the google" – I'm not at all impressed by his handling of things. Kudos to Pres. Sarkozy of France who flew in and is actually trying to do something – as well as the other European presidents.

    But I'm not at all impressed with Condi and Bush and McCain who have nothing more to offer than very empty words and empty threats while thousands are being killed. Obama had pointed out the problems in South Ossentia a month ago – when McCain's only interest would have been what deals he could cut for a jet-skiing buddy? Or business deals for his lobbyist/campaign advisor.

    August 13, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. Sue

    Experience, what experience? Please...someone who thinks McCain is experience explain to me where.

    August 13, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. non black nonwhite

    I really don't believe one word that McCain says he is the biggest flip-floper of all. he makes Hillary's sniper fire seem like nothing.

    I think McBush still thinks that we are in a cold war, he probably is unaware when it ended. he has lost his mind, no good judgment from him.

    August 13, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  6. Joe Kiloz

    Obama's sheepish response is what we can all expect as his foreign policy.

    McCain, an honorable man who understands commitment to our allies, measured his response and responded in kind. Think for a moment he is talking about one of our major allies who had 2,000 + troops alongside ours in Iraq.

    McCain has stated, just like the rest of us wish, that peace is our goal, diplomacy is first.

    Nevertheless, this is the world that we live in, and there are certain attitudes that diplomacy alone cannot change. In this case, the anarchical ways of Mr. Putin will not be "negotiated away." That is the reality.

    This is one of the fundamental differences between the candidates. McCain has the judgment and experience to know when and how to respond to crisis, Obama does not.

    August 13, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |

    Exactly what "experience" does McBush have concerning Georgia ?. The jet ski experience he shared with the president of Georgia in the Black Sea perhaps ?.
    Don't we have enough problems here at home to worry about ?. And what about Iraq ?. McBush concern yourself with whats going on here at home. Make a solid stance on something concerning the American people. In fact for the good of the American people just go ahead and concede the race to Sen. Obama so he can move on with repairing the damage done by your daddy Cheney and your twin George.

    August 13, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. jimmy


    August 13, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. non black nonwhite

    McCain's temper is going to cause WWIII. And then all the hillary supporters who voted for him will have to hang their head in shame.

    August 13, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. Laidetea

    See America.......that's what I have been saying for the longest. McShame is a longtime wharmonger. He shouldn't have made any comments on that issue involving Russia/Georgia, besides its not our business to be stepping someone else's war. I am an American, not a Russian/Georgian

    August 13, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. Syd

    I am so glad that McCain has the stage on this one, and everyone can see how foolish and idiotic he looks announcing that we are all Georgian! Who provoked whom?

    Obama wants diplomacy to be exercised before physical combative agression is implemented. Isn't that common sense thinking?

    McCain want to stay, if possible, 100 years in a war that has killed and maimed our sons are daughters. Many more are psychologically depressed when they are discharged from the military. The country is financially drained by two wars currently, do we need another war?
    I think McCain needs some brain food to think before he speaks. We need PEACE NOT MORE WAR!

    August 13, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. spoton

    to chris from new york.the bank will foreclose on your house only because you did not fulfill your contract with them.they do not want your house

    August 13, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  13. Obama supporter:White, 60 year old woman

    Maybe McCain and Leiberman can roll into Georgia on the "Straight Talk" express to the blaring of the Rocky theme song and scare the Russions away.

    August 13, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Republican for Obama

    Who would I rather vote for? I respect John McCain... But I can't vote for a Republican this time 'round. The main issues we have now, we've had over the past few years, or longer.. Jobs going overseas, the Iraq war, Energy issues, Health Care concerns. I'd be more concerned with why, with someone that has had so much experience and been there for so long – has it taken till now to talk about what we're going to do to fix things? These are things that should have been issues – with all McCains experience – years ago. Mr. McCain, also, please don't speak for me. You are not my President. Had Obama said anything like ' I speak for all American's', I would have seen another Britney/Paris commercial about how he thinks he's 'all that'. Funny how its fine for McCain to do it though. Too bad McCain hasn't spoken out as loudly or strongly about things going on in Darfur. Oh yeah, there's no oil there so why should it matter? I'm TIRED of it all. Obama may not have the same experience, but may have some new ideas – because the old ones certainly aren't working. It's a CHANGE I'm willing to put my money on this time. We need to make changes and make them quickly.

    August 13, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. Defend Our Constitution

    We don't need a president who can be manipulated by small countries like Georgia to enter another World War... isn't it obvious that Saakashvili is trying to spin his terrible miscalculation into an existential threat to the Entire Free World? He tweaked the nose of the Russian bear, and now is running to Uncle Sam to protect him. And McCain is more than willing to play into that game.

    What are you going to do McCain? Send a "surge" of American troops in to fight Russia and ignite World War 3? All your big talk about being Georgians and stopping the Russian Empire is being called as a bluff.

    We don't need belligerent rhetoric or promises of more war now. We're tired of the same rush to war of the Bush years. Let's mop up what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan first. I say we get more creative in solving world crises, instead of sending in the brave men and women of our armed forces every time we want something done in the world.

    August 13, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. Texas Trail Dog!


    OBAMA 08/12

    August 13, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. spoton

    to lost.its the eu not france.

    August 13, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Xavier

    If McCain is so experienced why hasnt he learned to keep his mouth shut and not make promises he cant keep. The Georgian president called him out, and what can he do about it as senator? NOT A THING! McCain likes to talk trash on Obama, but McCain is the one that is all smoke and mirrors as far as I can see.

    August 13, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. the heart of the matter

    this morning on cnn the Ga. Pres thanked McCain for his sentiments, however it was clear that he's not looking for talk–and further, where's all the big russian friendship and influence that bush touts he has? odd-russia says they stopped but CNN reporters on the ground wsith russian troops clearly prove thats just not true! i find it very disturbing that the MCCain camp see this as a political gain for them–its disgusting behavior to say the least-however–this pattern of saying we support these people and then what?? its no wonder that bush's current and McCain's potenital future policies make our country look like fools!! hw did the current admin & Mccain or the armed services comittee(oh thats right mccain doesnt attend those meetings anyway) not see the buildup coming? cuz why with all that exprience–and ya think we need 4-8 more years of this????

    August 13, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  20. wow

    What a bunch of rabid crazies. You all bash McCain for laying out a multi-pronged, multilateral approach to the situation, and you all either can't read, or you've been so brainwashed that you refuse to listen to his plan, instead brazenly lying about his approach. And you say he's not experienced enough, or because he went jet skiing he's not qualified to make a judgment on this situation? I don't know any Americans that have not been jet skiing before. How is that out of touch? And if you want to talk lobbyists, I challenge you to look at Obama's closest advisors, the donations to his campaign and DNC. Obama and the DNC have taken more lobbyist money than McCain or the GOP. Check the facts people, they actually do matter more than the communist images that flash across the news media of sen. obama.

    August 13, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. Tommy

    McCain jet skiing? Maybe on a jet hospital bed or in a jet ambulance!!!

    August 13, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  22. fella from Chicago

    McCain water skiing on vacation while Obama golfs. Hmmm...who's the "old man" here? McCain rubbing elbows with world leaders over the years while Obama listens to a racist minister over the same length of time. Hmmm....I wonder who I'll vote for?

    August 13, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. Internet Argument Winner

    1. Georgians shelled sleeping S.Osetian town in the middle of the night, killing estimated 2000 civilians (Russian citizen mostly), many children and women.

    2. Russians attacked Georgians and moved into their territory to destroy their ability to do this in the future.

    3. McCain: "We are all Georgians now"


    August 13, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. JK

    I wouldn't trust on someone who befriends a leader who razed tens of villages and kills civilians in Ossetia....

    I guess people don't remember that Georgia strike first that zone and from then this terrible episode began....

    No one is good in a war, neither Gerogia or Russia, but I guess some people has missed the point of what Georgia did

    August 13, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. Xavier

    Not talking millitary action? Randy Scheunemannh, what at do you think the Georgian president is begging for? You sir, are an idiot.

    August 13, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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