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. Virginia

    I noticed that McFossil says he speaks for all Americans on the Russian and Georgia problem. Well, he does not speak for me. It is easy to see that if he had his way and had the ability to do so, he would have started sending our troops to Georgia to fight Russia. Is this the kind of person we want? A leader who starts beating the drums for war for the slightest reason? I believe we have had enough of war for a while. Especially one brought by lies and greed. Please vote for Obama, who would at least try negotiations before jumping into war. Our country has been left in a weakened condition due to the Iraqi war. We need time to replenish and rebuild before we start sabre rattling again.

    August 13, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. Brenda

    See how wrong you are again MSwain.... The idea came from Georgia to start it with the blessing of your bigger supporter GWB.... You are really senile, if you believe that Obama got not experience, he proove it again , he is having more judgement than you have in 30 years..

    August 13, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. voter

    Laura from Boston you are correct. You also want someone who knows the difference between a femor and a rotary cuff when you are having surgery. Not someone who claims to have experience but can't tell the difference between the two. This is McCain. McCain may have been an POW, but how does this equate to having foriegn policy experience when he does not know that dafur is in sudan and not somelia. He believes iraq borders pakistan which is not true. He does not know the difference between shiate and sunni. How is he planning to speak to world leaders when he confuses countries and cultural groups?

    August 13, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  4. Jaycee

    Meanwhile, Obama text messages Sonny Perdue to express his disapproval.

    "Yo, Sonny, haps in the hood? Do me a solid: as Guv of Georgia, in one of our phat 57 states, come along and stop getting aggro with the Russian homes. TY, 'Bama."

    August 13, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. Nikki, Florida

    When is the McCain camp going to stop criticizing and start telling us what McCain would do for this country. You can't always win by tearing others down.

    August 13, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  6. Indie-Voter undecided no more!

    If McCain is the answer to the troubles of the U.S. of A., why wouldn't the republicans have voted to put him in office 8 years ago? Why nominate and elect Bush? Something doesn't seem right with the republicans and this election. I feel they have caused enough trouble and many are bailing out. Which leaves McCain to be so nieve and arrogant enough to want to run 8 years later. After the way the republicans had thrown McCain under the bus?

    ...I believe I have made up my mind. The republicans doesn't sit well with me this go round. I've decided as an independent voter to cast my support for Obama. At least his campaign isn't a regime of Bush or anyone close to it.

    August 13, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. jason

    suprise suprise. i did not think the McCain camp would critisize Obama's lack of experience. It's so unheard of. I always thought it would be much more likely that the McCain camp would praise Obama's abundance of good judgement.

    August 13, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  8. An American

    More experience with flawed ideas and plans, or lesser experience with innovative and progressive ideas and plans? No one is debating that McCain has more experience than Obama. We just don't like what his experience has created.

    August 13, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. NC Man

    Once again .... we have the Obama supports giving slurs and insults but no plan. Say whatever makes you feel better then bottom line is Obama is a rookie and isn't ready to lead.

    August 13, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. Mccain=Bush=WARMONGERS

    Who care that he went sking with the President of Georgia Mccain is so old I need to see Pictures of him Skiing because he is 72 years old and what 72 yearold you know that skies? Mccain just wants to start another War if he is Eleced all you will hear is WAR. Obama is the Future

    August 13, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  11. Franky

    Plus, this is all they know. And do you know what I'm thinking of doing??? I'm actually gonna hire one of the boys to do a political cartoon for me. Hey, I'll make fun of the GOP, from a Conservative point of boy already told me when, just as long I tell him...

    August 13, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  12. JD in Moraga, CA

    I wasn't aware that John McCain was employed by the State Department, or that President Bush had authorized him to conduct these daily talks...

    August 13, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  13. Raymond Duke

    Well Peter I see you pretty well deleted all the statements that criticiced Obama and left in all the praise and glory for Obama and left in the remarks about Mcain being old and senile. You must be a left winger, or black. I say that if McCain is to old and senile according to the Obama supporters . I on the other hand could make the stupid comment to match theirs such as Obama is to black and dumb. Both statements are a little bit stupid aren't they. But it is easy to make stupid statements if you don't research your canidate and only listen to B.S. rehortic.

    August 13, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  14. RJ, CA


    August 13, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |

    Lets be honest here. Georgia is being used by the Republican Party to set an agenda with Russia. Georgia has invaded land that has allegiance to Russia which is the cause of the conflict. This was done by Georgia with the support and blessing of the Bush Administration. Not to mention weapons support. Russia's reactions were in retaliation of Georgia's actions. Senator Obama called for a reversal of positions back to the status quo – a position prior to Georgia's insurgence on Russia's territory – McCain wants to continue that insurgence and add flame to the fire. How many wars or conflicts does this elderly citizen think we can handle at one time; conflicts that factual have nothing to do with our national security.

    August 13, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  16. Charlotte

    Obama had to move closer to McCains position, after he realized he was way too soft initially. Always having to "change" his stance. Obama is without a doubt, change you can count on.

    August 13, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  17. Luis

    Obama is not qualified to manage a McDonald's.....yet these brain-dead Liberals think this Manchurian candidate is the Messiah.......and their "Party" has made a mockery of the primary process (Michigan, Florida, "selecting Obama").

    Wht a bunch of idiots.....................Vote McCain or join the insane

    August 13, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  18. Connie

    I believe that Obama just proved he is the best to lead. Cooler, calmer heads are needed in situation like Russia and Georgia, not bulling our way as we have in the last six years when we invaded a country.I am sure that the McSeniles adviser who was a paid lobbyist to Georgia had a stake in keeping Georgia whole so he could lobby his friend John McSenile in the white house for them. McSenile just proved again he is not the right man. OBAMA/BAYH 08
    Connie from Indiana

    August 13, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. Doug

    The president of Georgia needs to court McCain. If by some stretch McCain becomes president, Georgis will quickly resemble Vietnam (American effort to save small insignificant country from threat of opression and take-over). The prez doesn't want US weaponry to come in and turn his little country into a wasteland...napalm, old land mines, etc.

    What Americans have to realize is that although McCain is a good. decent guy with a "colorful" and deverse past, he still carries the wounds of war and imprisonment. He wants to fight a war somewhere because he missed out on the fighting in Vietnam due to his imprisonment. He has a bone to pick. His legacy wants revenge.

    No different than W., who went into Iraq because they have scads of oil, Saddam wanted to "kill my daddy", and so the Bush family can say that they saved the world from terrorism....even though terrorism is a statistical blip on the radar screen of danger.

    We don't need this "personal vendetta" mentality of the republicans anymore.

    August 13, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. Jennifer

    Age and/or experience doesn't guarantee good judgement. McCain would be a disaster for this country, the world is more dangerous than it has ever been thanks to hawks like him.

    August 13, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. Open Your 3rd Eye

    Using the deaths of the Georgian people for political gain? Real smooth John, real smooth.

    This guy has an agenda for war, pure and simple. Elect him and the country moves backwards instead of forwards. Sorry, I can't afford that to happen.

    August 13, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. bizurk1

    No way can J-Mac even ride a jet ski. Look at his arms, he can not raise them in the air let alone control a jet ski. His adviser is a lobbyist for Georgia, so consider the source?

    August 13, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  23. Paul from Texas

    McCain again with one of his friends my friends. If McCain was Predident now the 7th fleet would be in the Black Sea with the Russian Black Sea fleet now how would that help my friends.

    August 13, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. Nancy

    Georgian lobyist!

    August 13, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. M from Texas

    Obama is completely unqualified to deal with these situations.

    Putin would walk all over Obama.

    We need John McCain.

    August 13, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
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