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. Ridiculous

    So now jet skiing counts for experience and because you talk to another president on the phone counts for experience...i think its even better if you're not friends so it doesnt clout your judgement. Even though it's realistic to support Georgia becuase Russia is being unfair but jet skiing with the one of the presidents definitely disqualifies you from being "unbiased"

    August 13, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. ChicagoJosh

    Besides tough talk that baits Russia, what is McCain's plan for stability?? How is he going to help out his old chum? The Georgia Pres today said he wants to see Deeds, not words from McCain. Well it turns out McCain doesn't have anything to offer. He was speaking out of turn.

    While Johnny and his good buddy were on jet skis in the black sea, did John ask him about the separatists regions?? Did Johnny ask him about attacking the Russian peacekeepers?? Apparently Johnny didn't give his good buddy any good advice.

    August 13, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Gadissa

    who cares what J-Mac is saying?

    Obama 2008

    August 13, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  4. Chips

    Let's see the videos. Sound like we have another sniper fire.

    August 13, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Linda from Prescott AZ

    Senator McCain has no right to speak for this country. He is a war monger who thinks all situations are best served by rattling a sabre and threats. Hello, where the hell are we going to get troops to send anywhere, remember...we are sending them to Iraq for the next 100 years.
    And why are we being lectured by his lobbyist advisor

    August 13, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  6. Barack O'blah-blah = World Chaos

    Clever sound bites and flowery oratory taken from history will NOT lead this country out of war, the energy crisis, or terrorist risks – it will only cause us to stumble and bumble our way into chaos. Barack Obama is NOT fit to be the President – not even close

    August 13, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. steve

    This is coming from Randy schuemann ,Mclama`s Foreign policy adviser who is a lobbyist with the georgian government.
    Schuemann and the mccains gave this georgian folks a false sense of security that made them to start this conflict in the first place.
    Now the Georgian president would want some of thier money back because Mccain and his henchmen could not protect them as the taught.

    August 13, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. lol

    obama had to "adjust" his original response on the russia/georgia conflict, because as usual he didn't know what the hell was happening. just like he did in the debates with hillary, he stole mccain's ideas and ran with them. inexperienced, empty suit, hot air, that's obama.

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

    Why was the Georgian president attacking the area in dispute LAST WEEK??? Did he actually think that Putin (still the REAL leader) would not retaliate? Or did he think the U.S. would come to his aid ?
    Maybe the "wrinkly white-haired guy" would lead the charge on his jet-ski?
    BTW, "wrinkly white-haired guy" , it was very presumptuous of you to speak for "all Americans"....let me make it clear that YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME!!!

    August 13, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Wrinkled Old White Man

    Jet skiing on the Black Sea? Now there is some foreign policy experience we can count on. If you are insane vote McCain

    August 13, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  11. mel

    McCain,you will put anything in thicker just for all american to see
    but it is just talk by your campaign advisor. This is to help you look good but do we know this for a fact. Lies can get you a lone way,but
    I don't think you are being honest with the voter. Voter be careful
    republic are good at getting you to believe,Bush did with iraq war
    and lies to go to war.McCain will carry the tradition of the Bush
    administration. Republican do not care about about low income
    peoples or average as well,it's all about money and power.

    August 13, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. Olu Akins

    I thought the GOP came out all guns blazing at Obama during his tour. Obama was labeled with things like celebrity, citizen of the world, not paying attention to problem at home. Honestly, it is so sad to see the GOP come up with this BS. Now will it be right to call McMoron citizen of the world or not paying attention to matters at home. I think the GOP are frustrated, satanic, confused, deceptive, arrogant, dishonest, angry, bitter people. These guys are nothing but "ANIMALS IN HUMAN SKIN"

    August 13, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  13. Len in Washington

    "good friends?"
    McCain can't even pronounce the guys NAME for cryin' out loud. Who are you trying to kid here? Us or yourselves.

    Diplomacy isn't spelled "G-R-U-F-F"

    August 13, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. David in Virginia

    The only experience "Bang Bang Shoot'em Up Mccain" has with Georgia is reciting Wikipedia. He also claims to be friends with the president of Georgia but he can't pronounce his name? Hmmmmmmm........

    August 13, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. Greg, Atlanta

    Seeing how Saakashvili provoked this conflict with the Russians, I can see why he and McCain are friends...they are both war mongerers.

    August 13, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  16. Dave in Boston

    I'm very happy to know that John McCain was out jetskiing with the President of Georgia while Barack Obama was too busy working in the Senate on behalf of his constituents that sent him there.

    August 13, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. Dan , TX

    The Europeans handled it just fine with diplomacy. What I want to know is the substance of McCain's diplomatic skills. My way or we'll throw you out of the G8? I'd like to see McCain get the votes from Europe to throw Russia out of the, McCain is naive.

    August 13, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. Ms. D


    Why you are not posting my views. Is it because you don't won't me to tell the truth about the media keeping up tensions between Obama and Hilary camp. Or is it because if Clinton don't give Obama her full support, that her political future will be over. If Obama lose or win without the Clintons full support, she will lose her Senate race in the future. She needs Obama supporters and we will not rally around Hilary for her Senate seat if the Clinton supporters don't rally around Obama!! Now that's the bottom line. If Clinton wants to play politics, then let the games begin.

    August 13, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  19. Dave

    McCain is out of touch. Most Americans don't even know where Georgia the country is and could care less.

    Ask some people along the street, where Georgia is..and they'll say next to Alabama.

    August 13, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. prairieguy

    Well heck he went water skiing with him...that makes him qualified to resolve the issue...HAHAHAAHA!!!!

    He is becoming more and more the butt of a joke!!!!!!

    August 13, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. IsMcCainPresidentnow?

    Hey LUIS are you stupid or are you just Sean Hannity? Nice talking point arguments with ZERO substance, HMMM zero substance, no wonder you support Republicans. Senator Obama is absolutely qualified to be President and I think you may want to start cozying up to that idea really quickly.

    August 13, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. ethelind

    Really low....WHere is empathy instead of using the situation to benefit yourself politically. Let the American people judge if Obama is handling the situation correctly. But instead use war to benefit yourself. It was done 4 years ago so I guess why not use it again? McShame!

    August 13, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. Peter

    um....McWar would just attack, Obama might talk to Russia and not start WW3

    August 13, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. Al Ware

    The article says everything I need to hear to convince me that my voting for Sen. Obama is about the smartest thing I will or have done all year!

    August 13, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  25. Concerned Citizen of America 08

    Didn't Sec of State Condi Rice visit Georgia last month? Funny how things change so quickly and now Russia and Georgia are on the brink of war. What the heck are we doing?

    August 13, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
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