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. RAY IN NJ

    Hmmm...because McCain's lobbyist has worked for the Georgian president, this makes McCain a foreign policy expert? Yes, the fact that they are intimate does give him an advantage in this one country but I seriously question whether this qualifies McCain as "ready to lead". I'm sure if Obama knew the Georgian president, the McCain campaign would malign him for such a relationship – saying this is more indication of his "celebrity" but does nothing regarding "experience". 'Experience' without 'Judgement' means nothing in my opinion. McCain seriously lacks the latter as evidenced by his chaotic campaign and flip-flops on every issue. Whatever he feels is the right thing to say at the time becomes his stance. What kind of leader is that? More Bushism! Finally, the fact the McCain has issued statements on the Russian/Georgian conflicts as if he were already elected smacks of serious "audacity" and "presumptiousness"! Again, if it were Obama, the republicans would be saying the same!

    August 13, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  2. W.H. Thomas

    McCain went jet skiing in the Black Sea with Saakashvili? McCain cant even pronounce his name correctly. Some lobbyist expect me to believe that. I guess if McCain gets elected we are going to invade Russia over a country I never heard of until last week. Get ready for WW III

    August 13, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  3. paul

    Now McCain wants Georgia to join NATO and be protected by the "any attack on one member is attack on all" military guarantee?

    I'm REALLY worried about this guy now. He's got his emotion fully invested in this, and he is intent on having the world's greatest military force put Russia in its place.

    August 13, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  4. I want to be just

    Like Obama- famous celebrity in the world- but couldn't,
    Like Arnold-famous rocky- but couldn't
    Like a true maverick – but couldn't
    Like a true patriot-but couldn't
    So, wants to be the biggest fool in the world- YES YOU CAN

    August 13, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  5. Monica, Texas

    The President of Georgia was wrong and MCCain is wrong for his statements ....Why should US be willing to send any type of military support, we do not have enough for our own wars. What gives McCain the authority to speak for the American people???? All McCain "saber rattling" gets nothing done his tactics are out dated. Strong diplimacy is the answer

    August 13, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. Bill Nash

    McCain is a neo-con war monger, as is his top advisor. What's all the more dangerous here is that Scheunemann is being paid by the Georgian gov't. to expouse this diatribe. McCain will insure that we go to war with Russia and Iran. It naturally follows then, given the depletion of our military, that we must have a draft. We can all now agree that we were lied to, intentionally deceived, and duped into supporting a war with Iraq. Trust and believe McCain will dupe us into WWIII. Is this what America needs right now: A 72-year old, senile hawk, still trying to fight the Viet Nam war all over again? Think about it...

    August 13, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  7. Mike in Houston

    Uh, message to the President of Georgia and Scheunemann, you need to worry more about Georgia's neighbor than our Presidental race. And besides, how can either you critize Russia when we, the United States, which McCain supported whole heartly, invaded a soverign nation, Iraq, for no reason other than, they, the Bush Administration, did not like Sadaam. Hypocrites!

    August 13, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    ..from above.'
    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."

    I'm sorry. That is flat out misleading to the point that I will declare it outright false. On Friday, McCain had called for NATO peacekeepers to go into Georgia to resolve the conflict as if Georgia were already a NATO member.

    Just what role were these NATO peacekeepers supposed to play this past Friday?

    August 13, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  9. Tim in NC

    Yes, because CLEARLY the use of troops and military hardware to settle tthe disputes in Georgia is working so well.. why HASN'T NATO or the EU "surged" into Georgia, bombarded the Russians and driven them back to Moscow.

    because the situation there is VERY volatile, very tense, and more destruction and troops will only escalate the crisis. you want to talk about a lack of international experience and lack of judgement on the world stage, take a good long look in the mirror McCain. Your positions on the Georgian crisis would only widen the conflict.

    August 13, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  10. Uncle Sam

    President McCain: Judgment + Experience = Leadership

    August 13, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  11. Isaac

    Why was it so wrong for Obama to act like the President overseas last month, but it's okay for McCain to act like the President now?

    Talk about a double standard!

    August 13, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  12. RDS

    Yawn...if they were such good friends why is it that McCain can't even get on tv and pronounce his name correctly?! Thanks McCain for adding yet another page to your comedic calendar "McCainisms" that will be coming out next year!

    August 13, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  13. EMJ

    Why is it all the Republicans can do is complain about Obama? They are obsessed with it. How about laying off that and telling me why I should vote for McCain? If McCain, like other Republican presidents, wins by doing nothing but negative lies, smears and fear mongering, this country is going to get more bullying foriegn policy, continued war, economy fixes that only benefit the rich and so on like we have under Bush today. I am so freaking tired of Republicans thinking they own foreign policy and who is and isn't patriotic and I used to be one.

    August 13, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  14. Texas Trail dog!

    "bomb bom bomb, bomb bomb Iran, I got more experience .... "

    August 13, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. What if?

    Where was McCain when Russia was building it's attack on Georgia (any Country), doesn't he claim to have 25 years of experience. If so MUCH experience...WHAT HAS MCCAIN DONE IN THE SENATE BEFORE NOW THAT WOULD HAVE MADE RUSSIA THINK TWICE ABOUT SUCH A BAD CRIME? 25 years of experience.....HUM!....Where was McCain when Russia was building it's attack on Georgia (any Country), doesn't he claim to have 25 years of experience. If so MUCH experience...WHAT HAS MCCAIN DONE IN THE SENATE BEFORE NOW THAT WOULD HAVE MADE RUSSIA THINK TWICE ABOUT SUCH A BAD CRIME? 25 years of experience.....HUM! ..................... I guess distancing himself from BUSH..............Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee

    26 years of EXPERIENCE, if this is what experience looks like after 26 years, then we are going to be in deep trouble if he is elected in November….

    Obama 08

    August 13, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Similiarities

    How close McCain and Hilary are. Now I know why they are friends. Inexperienced people., both have similar fates. .

    August 13, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  17. Jeremy - Columbus, OH

    Does McCain know where Georgia and Russia are, guess we should start with that before slamming Obama, shouldn't we McCain?

    August 13, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  18. Andrew

    Hmmm, here we go again, using Georgia for political purposes, it is ad, "Misha" should have never sent his troops to Ossetia first, the enclave that wants to cleave from Georgia, then when he got burnt, he is crying foul, he should have resolved the problem the other way. But nontheless, Russia should pull its troops out of , there no justifications for that.

    August 13, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  19. Sharon Kitchen

    Let's see..Randy Scheunemann was/is(?) a lobbyist for the country of Georgia......There is oil in Georgia.......He says McCain has a 15 year historical history.....doing what ?.......Tell all...What has McCain been doing all that time in Georgia ??????Just curious....Oil...........Several reporters for the U.S. have said that Georgia attacked Russia and killed at least 2,000 people (civilians). Is this true......France and other countries in the EU have started talks with the neighboring countries.and cease fire calls have taken place. The U.S. does not and can not solve every countries problems. We do not have the recources.They have been run down. The U.S. does not have the money to handle other countries the French Pres. said there are World Courts to take countries to task for any wrong doing by whoever. Oh that the people in the U.S. had that type of effective court system. Here, anyone who is in power can do whatever they wish to whomever they wish at anytime , whithout concequences it seems. Just watch C-Span.....and the non action of the new Attorney General with regards to anything brought to him that might be in the least way tied to Pres. Bush.All the t.v. channels are reporting the stories.....rule of law ?????? If this country can not protect and stop violating it's laws against it's own citizens and take to task wrong doers,whether attorneys or pres. or v.p., then do folks realy believe the U.S. would be effective to other countries ???????McShame has not even been taken to task for knowingly writing a bill that was queitly signed by pres. Clinton that forcefully removed women,children and elders onto a radio-active toxic dump. So much for their health/survival.
    He will help now with a health plan ???? No. He will help with the economy ? No. not forget he is one of the TOP RICH people. He is one of the BIG fish. All the rest of us are the little fish. Rember how that food chain theory goes. Yes...he fought in WWII. Yes...he was a P.O.W. I have family members that were also. Yes...he comes from a military did my father,mother,grandparents....but none of them thought they knew it all and could lead a country. They did ,however,help their country publicly and in their jobs they were quiet leaders ,by example.

    August 13, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  20. mike

    lets see, McCain gets shot down over Viet Nam, which give him hero status and military insight. Must have visited South Korea where he gets idea for military occupation for generations to come. Jet ski's on the Black Sea and is in like Flynn with all things Russian. So whats to choose between Obama, or McCain??? It doesn't appear that a whole lot of brain power or common sense is involved.

    August 13, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  21. Really

    It is funny how the Obama supporters are posting comments about McCain being a war machine and making comments about why aren't we attacking Russia or defending Georgia militarily. This is an example of why we needed to invade Iraq and why we need to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Lets see Russia has a very large army and 12,000+ nuclear weapons. The Russia issue is a little different than the US invading Iraq. History lesson 101, Iraq invaded their neighbor in '91. We drove them out. We spent the next 10+ years using sanctions and diplomacy with them. Saddam continued to threaten people and refused to work with us to prove that he did not have WMD. We called his bluff. Everyone thinks that we just woke up one morning and decided to invade Iraq.

    August 13, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  22. Linda K.

    Laura wrote:

    Well, when I have a medical problem, I want the guy with the most experience helping me. If I was to need counseling for anything, again I would go immediately to the person who had experience in helping me with whatever problems I had.


    On the surface that sounds like good reasoning. But I've gone to an old doctor who wasn't aware of the newest technology and barely knew how to communicate with me. After some frustration I sought out someone younger and more able.

    August 13, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  23. Mikey, Tampa, FL

    How can Mccain/Bush/Anyone who voted and supported the Iraq war have any credibility telling another country that it's wrong to violate another nation's sovereignty? This is another reason Obama is the better choice from a foreign policy standpoint.

    August 13, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  24. Michael "C" LOrton, Virginia

    I guess when you have a "friend" like Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, that makes you more "experienced." McCain doesn't understand there are no friends in the political business.

    August 13, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  25. Q

    I hear it is oral tradition that McCain has a chance to go cross country skiing with Peter the Great once ..McCain actually gave him the idea of St Petersburg!

    Wow this OLD Man has awesome foriegn policy experience ....

    McCain 1708, 1808, 1908, 2008 !

    August 13, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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