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. IndependentGA

    I used to be a McCain supporter. Right up to the the last rep primary debate, when he continued to say things about Romney that was proven to be false. Then I supported Huckabee. He won my state, but lost the primaries.

    Although McCain has more experience than Obama, I think Obama would be much better for our country as a whole. Obama seems to understand that no matter who is the president, things will not get done unless we change the tone and tenor of our politics.

    But you know how we, Amercians are. We love drama. We love the negativity that comes from campaigns. It's like a sport.

    As far as the conflict between GA and RUSSIA is concerned, I have a senerio/question to pose for whomever:

    One of our states(FL) decides that they want independence from America. Do we let them just break away from the rest of our country? and, If they refused to let go of their aspirations of independence and a foreign country(China) decides to support Florida, what would be the USA's response?

    Probably the same as Russia's response to the USA and Georgia?

    If that's the case, are we a power that says do as I say, not as I do?

    If it was okay for us to invade Iraq to suit our needs, why is Russia so wrong for invading Geargia to suit their needs?

    August 13, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. He's too old

    I read somewhere that McCain was pissed when the communists took over Russia in 1917.

    August 13, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  3. adam

    So this just goes to show that McCain wants to follow Bush's lead... shoot your mouth off, tough talk, create conflict, use the military, spend money on war not on health care. We can see that McCain's "axis of evil" has already begun and Russia will be on the top of the list. But since we need Russian oil, it will be the same old thing... spend the money on war, not on getting ourselves free of oil.

    August 13, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. pat C.

    i am sure McCain keeps up with war stories. that is all he knows. obama is trying to pull our country together ecominically and bring peace to countrys that can not stand us while the old white haired man is just looking for a place and reason to send our american troops in to bomb..bomb...bomb!
    at least obama is intelligent enough to prononce these other countries leaders names correctly.
    i bet old McWar and oliver north are buddies as well but that means nothing to me when i am trying to stretch my income to pay extra on food, gas as well as worrying about my children's future as to whether they will have jobs when they get out of school.we must have a president that feels our pain, and not jump into wars that we shouldn't be a part of.

    August 13, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  5. He's too old

    I heard that when the communists took over Russia in 1917, McCain was pissed.

    August 13, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  6. NoMcSame

    But you and Bush have not done anything. The Russians are having their way with Georgia and Georgia is calling for help and you talk tough but take no action. In other words your card has been pulled and now it's time to show COWBOY. Our troops are spread so thin that we can't do anything to help them. Ok McSurge go surge on Georgia to stop the Russians. Saddam went into Kuwait and you sent in the military to stop him, so why don't you send in the boys to stop the Russians. America looks like COWARDS to the rest of the world because we run in to fight against the little guys but when it comes to the big dogs we want to run to the U.N.
    McSame, you said that you know how to win a war well I would like to know what war have you won? Talk is cheap MY FRIEND.
    We are watching Bush/McSame

    August 13, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  7. Not fooled by distractions

    Obama may lack experience in Mr. McCains position, but his reaction to the situation in Georgia convinced me that he's the wrong man for the presidency. He's too heavy handed and leans too fully on bully diplomacy like bush did and we can all see what a failure that isolationists theory has become.

    McCain proved to me this week, that he has the wrong temperment and disposition for the presidency.

    I'll take Obama's brand of experience over McCains any day.

    August 13, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. raw is war

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

    but when the only direction McCain wants to pursue over 15 years is "bomb the **** out of them" and in 15 months you have someone willing to pursue peaceful diplomatic negotiations, it makes you think

    August 13, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  9. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Actually, John McCain's rush to judgement comments (most undiplomatic and largely hypocritical to critize "an invading country" after all the recenet invasions the USA has engaged in) demonstrate that he is NOT ready for the job of commander in chief.

    The stupidity of the statement: "Today we are all Georgians" was so ridculous. Most of Americans (even the well traveled ones) can't find the country of Georgia on a map, let alone empathize with any of its heritage, culture, language, or religious background.

    What McCain should have said is "Ich bin ein dumber than toast".

    August 13, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. Hurley

    The crisis in Georgia exposes how delusional and out-of-touch McCain actually is. He's saber-rattling and trying to start a new Cold War while our economy is on the skids and our military is already stretched to the breaking point in two major conflicts. McCain is imperiling this nation, and heaven help us all if the American people are foolish enough to let this incompetent into the White House.

    August 13, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  11. Mr Republican

    Hey Mr McCain, is it the Shiites or the Sunnis that are fighting in Georgia?

    August 13, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  12. Lynn

    If McCain is such "good friends" with Georgia's president, how come he mispronounced his name 3 times

    August 13, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    I will take the best ideas over "experiance" everday.

    McCain will continue the Bush legacy of turning our country to dust and will no doubt be ready, on day one, to get us into any war he can find......and thats all he'll be ready for.

    August 13, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  14. My friend

    McCain enjoyed a day of water sports with the Georgian president, but doesn't know how to say his name?
    That is not good foreign policy my friend.
    This idiot and his idiotic advisers must stop bashing some one who is visiting his family .
    Desperation by the McInsanes

    August 13, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  15. Republican for Obama - TEXAS

    McCain can laugh and make fun all he wants to along with Joe Lieberman. They are both idiots.

    What war has McCain won? NONE
    What war did McCain vote for the USA to enter into? IRAQ
    What has McCain don't in the Senate for the last 26 years? Nothing
    Does being held captive, because he wouldn't leave, but could have, give him the qualifications for being Presidential? NO

    It's like Hillary saying she was more qualified to be President because she was First Lady.

    McCain is not qualified to be President. He has no judgement or knowledge. He is a Warmonger.

    August 13, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. Shawn, Lincoln, NE

    That's great for McCain if we in the middle of the Cold War but this is a new century where force must be met by overwhelming international response. Bellicose statements about Russia will not hinder their intentions of returning Georgia back to Russia. Democracy must be protected here in Georgia so that others can know we stand with and for them. The Czech radar plans and recognition of Kosovo have contributed to Russian antagonism to the West but we are correct in promoting democracy in Kosovo, Georgia, and wherever it is threatened by a police state. The European Union, NATO, UN, and the US must get a peaceful settlement here with as little bad feelings as possible so the Russian mentality does not return to a paraniod distrust of the West. Maybe Bush should go jetskiing with Putin to solve our dilemma and bring our two countries closer.

    August 13, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  17. chris (hartford, ct)

    Sure, because expelling Russia from the G8 and further isolating them will go a long way in diffusing the tension. Without the threat of military action, how exactly does McCain think all this tough talk will get the Russians to back down?

    August 13, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  18. freddie

    So it's okay for Johnny Mack to run around acting like the POTUS? Nothing like trying to use a little thing like a war to score political points hey John? You are creepy and disgusting and I can only hope America wisens up and sees thru you soon. You scare me.

    August 13, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  19. Dave from Gainesville

    Well, gosh, you'd think that if there was a "depth of knowledge" advantage for McKeating, he wouldn't have to steal his remarks on the subject from Wikipedia... which he did.

    August 13, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  20. Craig

    I'm sorry, it's really hard to imagine McCain jet-skiing.

    August 13, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  21. Obama supporter:White, 60 year old woman

    Did CNN forget that Scheunemann was a lobbyist for Georgia?...a day of water!! People should do some research on John's good friend from Georgia.

    Which nations are now siding with McCain? Always generalizations and attacks without any details. McCain's bellicose response and his presumptuous comments are politicizing a very tense situation and further isolating America's voice in the world.

    McCain's support of the Bush foreign policy and obviously a desire to see everything in black and white has made America unable to help in an "international peacekeeping force" and anow are spectators on the sidelines as the real diplomacy is being handled by the Europeans.

    August 13, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  22. judy, Wisconsin

    They're such great friends, McCain mispronounced his name 3 or 4 times during his speech and nearly called for war on Russia. His advisor is the Georgia lobyist. McCain was tripping all over himself, showing what a great warmonger he can be.

    August 13, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  23. What if?

    All I have to say is ask Mark Stanford about McCain's claim of having different agenda and Policies as BUSH.....Then think for your self who really has the experience to deal with Russia....Do we want another President that will BOOM.........BOOM, no matter if surrender is going to happen or not.

    Come on November.......Get Bush and his same as me McBush out of the White House.........NOW!

    Obama 08

    August 13, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. Mike

    So... we should vote for the inside man, is that it? The guy who has had lots of time while his party was in power to get these cherry picked state visits? it shouldn't count as "experience" if you weren't calling at least some of the shots...

    So what is McCain's actual plan for dealing with this situation? Let Georgia fall? Declare war on Russia? What does that "15 years" get us, Senator?

    Oh, and next time you meet with the President, Senator, please ask him what exactly he saw when he looked into Mr. Putin's soul. We'd love some details; it might even tell us if Russia is going to try something in Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan...

    Lay off Obama for a minute and tell us what you will do for us, Senator McCain, and where you will lead us. Because, if you're elected, that's all that will really matter.

    August 13, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. ben

    Who cares what a Georgian lobyist says? Obama would like to see diplomacy used instead of war. Georgia feels they are already at war and who better than the United States under McCain to join them against Russia. Russia is not Irak, my friends. They do not have a rag tail army. They do have a powerful air force. They also have a nuclear bomb! !!!!!!!!

    August 13, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
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