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. bwilli

    Why does John McCain keep claiming to have such experience in areas that are clearly headed for or in an actual state of disaster? Is McCain claiming that he saw the invasion of Georgia coming? If so, what did he do about it? Is he saying that this invasion is Obama's fault because Obama had nothing to do with it? The whole message is so muddled that, frankly, I wonder just exactly what he is claiming.

    August 13, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |

    WE GOT YOU OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    OBAMA '08

    August 13, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. Salina, Washington, DC

    I'm sure the Georgian president has much more important issues to attend to and problems to resolve than having to worry about updating John McWar daily. And I seriously doubt McStiffness was jet-skiing with anyone 2 years ago, he may have been in his rocking chair on the shore watching someone jet-ski but I doubt he was actively participating in any such activity. The lies from these idiots just keep coming don't they. LOL!!

    McCorny thinks war is the answer to everything. That's his foreign policy: let's go to war! He's insane and senile. He is not qualified to be president of anything.

    Obama '08/'12

    August 13, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. Ryan Sullivan

    Well it's no wonder McCain and Saakashvili are so close what with his campaign's lobbying ties to the Georgia Republic. As if that's something to brag about!

    August 13, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. Richard

    Hillary supporter for McCain! A true American!

    August 13, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Wow, that's all you're able to use McStain? See? I was there with the president of another country a few years ago! That automatically makes me eligible to be commander in chief because I skiied with the dude!! SEE? SEE? Looks like you left some bad karma over there when you left.. God, can you imagine Mr. Pasty in shorts water skiing? EWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!

    August 13, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  7. lynn

    So this guy was a lobbyist for Georgia and so McCain is acting in Georgia's behalf. And Georgia did provoke Russia. So lets start a new cold war like McCain wants (by shooting off his mouth) when our military is already stretched thin instead of trying to get the situation to calm down. We can't afford another war right now when our enemy is Al Queda not Russia. McCain is showing he is the hothead that should not be in charge of our country nor commander in chief unless we want continuous war.

    August 13, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  8. Are you scared yet America????

    "You can't compare a 15-year historical record to three or four statements over the course of 15 months."

    Actually, you can't compare a lobbyist in the pocket of a Country and daily updates and watersporting together ensuring direct access to the candidate McCain.

    Now tell us the truth and tell the promises made to Georgia if McCain becomes President. Then let's talk about experience vs. being bought and paid for.

    August 13, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  9. Greg, NY

    If McCain and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili are such great friends, then why can't McCain even pronounce his name correctly?

    What a crock.

    August 13, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  10. Larrry

    Wow, McCain top advisor and Georgia bought and paid for speaker (lobbyist)...straight talk at it's best. These guys should be ashamed of themselves. People think about this a conflict of interest, is this the judgement of McCain (taking advice from a paid agent)? Scary, real scary.

    August 13, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  11. jAY

    Scheunemann gets paid 0ver $200,000 to lobby for Georgia and $70,000 to be McCains top foeregn policy advisor. So who is his most important client. NOT AMERICA!
    who is going to ask media darling Mccain the important questions?

    August 13, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  12. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    Now it has come to war.Diplomacy is not part of mcWAR's agenda.I had expected him to declare war on Russia before now.His resort to diplomacy and in the process criticizing Obama is tantamount to defeat in his philosophy.
    Is he also presumptious when he talks on behalf of America instead of his partner in terrorism Bush?
    BOMB,BOMB,BOMB Russia!

    August 13, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  13. Jul

    Yes, McCain might have russian experience... but in a cold-war sence!! The conflict in Georgia was also provoked by Georgia and not just a russian one... but McCain ignores this! Obama said spoke to both sides... not only to the old enemy. McCain stands for old politics.

    August 13, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  14. bam

    By parroting McCain propaganda, this article omits important information that Bush and McCain provoked the conflict in Georgia by encouraging Georgia to move against South Ossetia, under Russian control. Georgia initiated the aggressive action, and Russia responded.

    All the experience in the world don't make a good president if that person's motives aren't favorable to the American people, and McCain's record shows this. He is in league with the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, all of whom have loads of experience.

    How many more international conflicts will be manufactured between now and election day?

    August 13, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  15. Kevin

    McCain uses Wikipedia to craft foreign policy. That's scary!

    August 13, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  16. NMB

    May we remind McSame there is still one president.... and you're not it!

    August 13, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  17. Rich R

    You also can't equate 'jet-ski fun' with thoughtful even-handed foreign policy judgement....

    August 13, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |

    Obama is a joke and I hope enough people in this country are beginning to realize that fact, if they haven't already. Everytime he opens his mouth I have to shake my head in wonder. He can NEVER think on his feet and has to wait "to get advice" in order to even form an opinion. His "handlers" have him on a very short rope.

    August 13, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  19. Jeff an Independent

    Again, judgement is more important than experience. McCain's "experience" is decades as a neo-con hothead. Witness his over-the-top bluster; just as much an over-reaction as Russia's response to Georgia. But Obama – like the rest of the diplomatic world – encourages the parties to the table and a peace. I'll take encouragement to peace over bluster any day.

    August 13, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  20. proud army and navy mom

    what's new? mdattack criticizes Sen Obama. That's all he can do because he has no new ideas just the same ole, same ole tired failed policies. Mccain is a senile old man who really needs to retire.

    August 13, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  21. Anand

    Aaah, a day of watersports in 2005. Tell me, how is that going to stop Russia from sending Georgia back to the stone age in the coming week?

    McCain Jetskiing on the Black Sea. And the GOP has the nerve to criticize Obama for taking a break in HI to visit his gandma!

    I think I'll play online poker with Putin. I know that will help reverse Russia's course.

    August 13, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  22. Republicans Hate America

    And your experience McCain is to just bomb your way to solutions. I will take Barak Obamas judgment. try again loser.

    August 13, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  23. Orlando

    I find it odd that McCantRemember adviser questioning Obama experience in Georgia while in reality they have a lot of experience in Georgai LOBBYING. McCain can't remember how he votes and lobbyist questioning experience. EXXON JOHN REMEMBER "THEIR WILL BE NO LOBBYIST RUNNING MY CAMPAIGN"

    This is a Judgement CALL.


    August 13, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  24. Darryl Miller

    If Sentar John McCain had his way America will be at War wit the World. America is not the World Police and we must study what happening around the world and not be to quick to react nor too slow to response.

    The US has it's hand s tied and Russia knows this it time for the UN to stepup..

    Bush need to just to straight to JAIL. with CHANEY..

    August 13, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  25. Liberal4Obama

    John McCain cant be an honest broker in any conflict the US is involved in. Why? because lobbyists are involved at every turn running his campaign and advancing their own interests.

    This is very troubling that John McCain would make a former lobbyists to a country party to the conflict his primary spokesman. It shows poor judgement when it comes to handling international affairs, where at all times you want to show an image of honesty, equality and non bias at every level.

    August 13, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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