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. Sane John

    "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."

    And that makes it good judgment for McCain to be doing everything he can to get into a war with Russia?

    McCain is the kind of crazy that'd think we need to invade Russia in winter. Make straight for Moscow, and everything will be just fine, right?

    August 13, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. zago

    Another blow to Sen McCain. Jetskiing with a president on the black see. What a great celebrity is Sen McCain? Can we really afford an all out war? Is it really what we want? I would choose peace, prosperity and economic growth over bombing. So, I hardly see Sen McCain as commander in chief in we dont spend the next quarter century destroying each other. Sorry Sen McCain, it is time to put the country and the rest of the world together. What we have done as unilateralism has backfired. That's why Russia ceases the occasion to show us its military might. We need peace to recover. Probably Sen Mccain can get elected for good in 2032.

    August 13, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. mk

    Great job reporting, CNN! Man, these guys reaaaalllly do their homework, don't they? No need to mention that Randy Scheunemann is a PAID LOBBYIST for Georgia! Hmmmm ... no possible conflict of interest to note in this report, eh?

    August 13, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. Jan Ill.

    If you want to win borrow Hillarys Kitchen sink, Plenty of dishes left in it. Senate record, Birth certificate thing, But know this McCain Americans want American problems solved and paid for first ,we want OUR country back and we are sick of begging for goverment elected officials to WORK, We're tired of our money going to junk projects, no end to all this, if you were here id just bop you on the head, and scream Straighten YOUR SELVES up Now!!!

    August 13, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. Mike, TX

    Unbelievable. You Obamabots are really ignorant.

    August 13, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Dick/NH

    Did McFossil crash his jet-ski ??? He's an expert at crashing anything with "jet" attached to FIVE Navy jets, three of which were due to HIS negligence and POOR JUDGMENT.

    August 13, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. offwallst

    the majority of you need to spend sometime in a place like Georgia,Iraq,Russia.China.....or somewhere where socialism is practiced......and maybe then you will be grateful to live in America and have a President who does not believe in a appeasement AND HAS AND WILL CONTINUE TO PROTECT YOU.....The majority of Dems are decent but the dems here are hateful ..

    God please HELP HELP HELP AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 13, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. ROSJ

    Just because they are friends does not mean he has the all know how about Georgia. This still does not make McCain fit to be President.
    So what if he went water skiing?
    He is not the sitting President and cannot make any decisions about Georgia. He can only run his stupid mouth.

    Obama is right to say just what he has said and no more.

    August 13, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. Willis, Texas



    August 13, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    McSame has a need for people to bleed. No more vampires in the White House!

    August 13, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Cathy in MD

    Why is it okay for McCain to jet-ski with foreign leaders (if he really has, I just can’t picture it), but when Barack Obama simply meets with them he’s criticized for appearing too “presidential” and overstepping the boundaries of what should be Bush’s territory? Incidentally, where was Bush during that beach party? Anyway, this cozy camaraderie between McCain and Scheunemann makes me question McCain’s motives, judgment and trustworthiness. McCain is obviously terribly jealous of Obama’s popularity and I suspect he’s been discussing his own personal criticisms of Obama with the Georgian President – which would be highly inappropriate.

    August 13, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Wayne

    John McCain is clearly a Warrior ... If that's what you want that's what you get .. he's your man to vote for .. but if you're one of those people hurting because of the Cost Of Gasoline please be advised .. Once Senator McCain starts the war with Bomb Bomb Iran or some other Evil Country the cost of Gasoline will Skyrocket to $15 a gallon, if you can get gasoline at all .. Consider well "My Friend, consider well"

    August 13, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. spoton

    ignorant people deserve ignorant leaders.its a dangerous world and we dont need a president who does not believe that but rather believes we are all world citizens.reminds me of the movie spoof invasion of the martians where the president says cant we all just get along.lets apply current logic to all situations in our lives.the less experience the better. airline pilots need minimal flight training/experience,police no special training,doctors.lawyers,teachers,plumbers,electricians,soldiers,basketball coaches,football coaches,olympic athletes.anyone with any experience cant fiil these positions because we are better off with smooth talkers.

    August 13, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. shirley

    America please wake up before it is too late. McCain is living in the twilight zone by threatening Russia, and other countries with his shoot from the hip lip. What does it say about us as people if we constantly want to fight with other people in this world, instead of using the verbal and diplomatic skills that we have before going to war. McCain (26 years in government) and his friend Bush (nearly 8 years) are two of the least intelligent products of the Republican party that I have seen so far. Look at the mess they and their conservatives have created for all of us who are not fortunate enough to be wealthy. God please help America and save us from another Bush term!

    August 13, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. SS

    So....remind me again why McCain recently mispronunced Saakashvili's name not once, but THREE times in his speech????

    August 13, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. Tony

    What else can McCain do except criticize, lie and complain? The old fool has no record of his own to run on other than being an ex-POW, of which someone should remind him, does NOT qualify him to be president!

    What a bore and soon to be two-time LOSER!

    August 13, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Denis

    Maybe that's why McCain couldn't even pronounce Saakashvili's name properly three times when he first addressed the crisis. McCain is a phony!

    August 13, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Clif

    McShame is a opportunist. He was dieing for something to kick off adroad so he could boast about his leadership abilities. He shows up as trying to be a gunslinger of a super power. I know everyone remember the other gunslinger that got us in the position this nation is in. McShame would be a paper president with a laimbrain cabinet surrounded by idiots. This nation would be the laughing stock of the world that has already lost it's credtability if he is elected. " The fall of the American Empire",sounds familliar. The poeple of this nation need to be taken in different direction. Check out his military record. He is not a hero. He was a collaberator with the enemy at the Hanoi Hilton. He was one of the Keating 5. "Oh" you remember the keating 5 don't you. I will refresh your memory. Lincoln Savings and Loan. The taxpayers had to fork out over 3 Billon Dollars for that fiasko. Don't you remember him coming home from VIet Nam and not liking how his looked after her auto accident. He immediately started fooling around. He had a problem keeping his pants zipped up. He dumped Carol by offering to pay her medical bills for life and bought a condo on the beach. 1980 Was a good year for McShame. How about that for a rag to riches story. "Obama 08".

    August 13, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Tommy

    McCriticize!!! That is it, period. That is all he's got.

    August 13, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. SO

    "Old man from town is a clown,I laugh at him.

    August 13, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. Frank Lee

    McCain is ready to rush to Atlanta if the fighting escalates.

    He's a true leader and patriot.

    Thank goodness America has a warmonger-in-waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 13, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  22. Steve

    Proud Army and Navy Mom

    If you had any sense of reality, you would understand that war is not the answer. It's ok to be a proud mother, but don't let it distort the fact that war actually kills people. Being a military mom doesn't mean that we should be using acts of murder as a means to solve problems around the world!

    August 13, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. James Pagani

    It sounds like John Mcacque [A.K.A McWARMONGER] told his jetski- body to provoque russians so he can get a war story to run on. Now he thinks all americans have have to become georgians. What a poor jugement!

    August 13, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. Smith

    With 15 years of experience on the region you wouldn't think McSame would need to plagiarize Wikipedia for information about the country.

    August 13, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. Veteran for Obama

    McCain is using Georgia and Russia another political stunt. Just like his campaign has said if there is a terrorist attack it will benefit McCain. Since that hasn't happed this is settling for second best.

    If you want another military draft vote for McCain. He loves war and their will be alot of it.

    August 13, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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