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. tim

    Does McPain know that there is a country named Georgia and a US state named Georgia?

    I wouldn't want him getting confused....

    August 13, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. Tarrie

    Lol...this is rich!!! McCain plagiarized Georgian facts from wikipedia and he has the nerve to question Obama judgment on the georgia conflict. if it were up to McBush we would be fighting three wars, iraq, afhaganistan and Georgia.

    August 13, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. Obama 08

    McCain and Georgian President Jet Skiing?
    Now tell me who is the elitist here.

    McCain keep talking about being friends with Iraqi President and now Georgian President. hmmm. Since when did being friends with a president helped with foreign policy. How can occasional chat with someone be seen as being friends.

    He also talks about knowing how to win wars, can someone please tell me the war that he won?

    August 13, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Let's see, lack of experience....Uh, would that include the Bush plan to encourage Mikheil Saakashvili to invade South Ossetia and killing innocent civilians [or what us laymen call "POKING THE BEAR"...and John Boy..NEWSFLASH! Unlike what you said yesterday , we are NOT all Georgians....So go bomb Scottsdale and see how that plays on the nightly news.

    August 13, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. Really

    This whole situation proves that Obama is not ready to be President. He has not handled the situation very well. Georgia made a very poorly calculated decision. This was made by their young leader who is very arogant and inexperienced. Hmmmm.... sounds familar.

    August 13, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. Rodney Hopper

    So why couldn't he pronounce his name?

    And for that matter, why did he blatantly copy his knowledge of Georgia from wikipedia?

    August 13, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. Jerry

    So what does Mcain having gone Jet skiing helped the kids,women and men of Georgia who are getting killed every day. Bragging that Mcain are friends with the Georgian president is lame unless he has done anything to bring the two countries to a cease fire. Obama is friends with many leaders that Mcain doesn't even know but Obama won't brag about it.

    Mcain, foreign policy does not mean War. It also means peace and economy, your foreign policy "expertise" only seems to be concentrated around war struck countries. Mcain do you know the presidents of Andorra, Grenada, Nauru, Tuvalu etc...they have no standing army and they still exist peacefully.

    August 13, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. atutsie

    Since they are friends, how can we trust McCain to make an unbiased judgement in this situation? Friendship with the Georgian president DOES NOT in any way or form indicate that McCain has better international relations. For pits sake, telling one side to restrain itself is not the answer if two parties are fighting. Both have to stop and thus for me Obama shows better maturity.

    August 13, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  9. NMB

    NeverObama Wrote:
    "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."

    Funny, that's exactly how I feel about McCain. Everytime he opens HIS mouth, I shake my head and wonder if it's PTSD or pre-Alzheimers causing his confusion. He NEVER is seen without Joe or Lindsay whispering advice in his ear and his handlers have restricted his cell phone use so he doesn't get advice from outside the campaign so I would say they have HIM on a very short rope (or leash) now!

    August 13, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  10. John E

    Experience vs. Judgment
    McSame endorses US unprovoked attack on Iraq but condemns Russia unprovoked attack on Georgia. Where is the moral high ground? McSame jet skies with Saakashvili and proceeds to misspeak his name three times in a speech on the Georgian incident. Is the Georgian regime coming out for McSame because he likes to take a hard line against Russia because old habits are hard to give up? All of this makes McSame stronger on international relations? I’m missing the connection.

    August 13, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  11. Fitz

    McCain and Mikheil Saakashvili are such good friends yet Johnny has such a hard time pronouncing his name.

    Pretty hilarious.

    August 13, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  12. EBC

    McLAME needs to just SHUT UP, he's OLDER than dirt and yet he lacks any level of "original" JUDGEMENTS.

    His only focus is taking this country back into another WAR!!! That's ALL he knows. WAR, WAR, WAR!!! How predictable. This OLD WHITE HAIR DUDE continues to live in the past. What a scary thought.

    He forgets, HE"S NOT THE PRESIDENT. He's been flapping his gums like he's the man, when in fact, he's NOT THE MAN!!! Sooner or later he's going to stick his nose in too far and it's going to get cut off!! He's meddling yet again and rambling out the side of his neck. His recent speeches were so LAME and put me to sleep yet again.

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

    Why aren't you at CNN reporting the fact that one of McCain's campaign staff is a lobbyist for Georgia? No wonder he is himself lobbying so much on Georgia's behalf. All of the phony saber rattling is just talk and only talk. The United States invaded a sovereign nation and refuses to leave. So how can the hypocrites in this country slam Russia for doing the same thing? Quit being a tool and start being true journalists.

    August 13, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  14. angie - dallas -28

    didn't McCrack mis-pronounce his name.

    way to be there McWarmonger, i bet you wish you could strap on that helmet one more time, go some place exotic and kill the innocent- yeah that's great presidential qualifications right there [SARCASM]

    August 13, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  15. JJ

    McCain is a joke and he needs to stand down from this situation. Both he and Bush just need to let the European leaders handle it. The last thing we need is to tick off Russia. Georgia has not been an innocent party in all this.

    I guess Scheunemann should know what he's talking about since he's a lobbyist for Georgia and McCain's top advisor on this issue.

    August 13, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  16. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Personally, I don't want my President getting too chummy with specific foreign politicians–it clouds their judgment.

    It's like Bush saying he looked into Putin's soul. Now Putin is bombing Georgia and John McCain is playing "water sports" with the Georgian President.

    What next, pictures of John McCain walking hand-in-hand with "Misha" ?

    August 13, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. McCrazy

    Again, what has all this experience gotten him exactly? Iraq, Iran, Water Sports with the Georgian President? Who cares. He only knows how to start conflicts, not end them.

    August 13, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  18. California Gold

    This still does not make the voter believe in McCain's policy, which amounts to nothing other than aggressive talk of invading and bombing. In November McCain will experience the back lash for tirelessly campaigning against his opponent rather than campaigning to promote himself.

    August 13, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  19. JC

    Here we go again – another article that highlights a flaw in Obama and the Obamabots are all over it spewing hatred and name calling. What a shock – every discussion that doesn't praise Obama as the new messiah turns that way.

    August 13, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  20. Phil in KC

    If he's such a good friend, why can't he pronounce his name? McCain used Saakashvili's name 3 times in a speech recently and mispronounced it all 3 times.
    It would be refreshing to have a president who sounds educated and intelligent when he speaks. After 8 years of a president who sounds like an ignorant hick and offends foe and ally alike, I'd like a president who puts our best face forward to the world and garners their respect.

    August 13, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. McCain= Bad Judgement+No Clue=No Leader

    Would love to know Saakashvili's opinion of John McCain & George Bush.

    The US through the Republican administration had basically no diplomatic authority to do any thing in this conflict. Our country is in DIRE need of a president that can build international relations.

    August 13, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  22. Phil From VA

    This is a joke. Just because you talk to someone does not mean youy are qualified to run the country. Bush was sitting right next to Putin at the olympics while his country was bombing Georgia.
    McShame... war, bomb and more wars. Only thing he knows.

    August 13, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Lieberman accuses Obama of "not always putting his country first" when it comes to policy.

    That statement comes from a guy who always puts Isreal first whenever he has a decision to make. LIke who to support for POTUS.

    That statement comes on behalf of a guy whose recent comments are stronger than those of the current POTUS. Whose interest are McCain putting first?

    Now they turn around and criticize Obama for going on vacation, while bragging about their man, McCain, having vacationed with the President of Georgia.

    Is the general public paying attention to what they actually do, and not what the claim to say and do?

    August 13, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  24. Proud Army and Navy Mom

    ******Breaking News Obama has called UPS and will have his teleprompter shipped to Russia to fix the situation. Also, Gum Drops will be replacing bullets and unicorns will be used instead of planes. Nancy Pelosi and Code Pink have both approved of these measures***********

    August 13, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  25. Christy

    I'm saddened by the events in Georgia but I am much more concerned for our presence in Iraq.

    That is why I am voting for Obama.

    August 13, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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