August 20th, 2008
03:45 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain camp: Obama advisor on freelance 'mission' to Syria

Giuliani accused an Obama advisor of being on a freelance 'mission' Wednesday.
Giuliani accused an Obama advisor of being on a freelance 'mission' Wednesday.

(CNN) - On his first campaign conference call as a surrogate for John McCain, Rudy Giuliani accused an unpaid advisor for Barack Obama’s presidential effort of engaging in a freelance diplomatic “mission” when he met with a Syrian official last month in Damascus.

Giuliani said Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who also served as the first Jewish U.S. ambassador to Egypt, had met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Kurtzer did not meet with the Syrian president during his trip, which was not connected to Obama’s presidential effort.

He did meet with Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem while in Damascus for a legal conference co-sponsored by the American Bar Association and paid for by donations from a Canadian oil company and Syrian corporations.

Discussions should only take place "when you have confidence that you're not being used," said Giuliani, charging that Kurtzer’s actions might be a result of an Obama policy of “negotiating with dictators without precondition."

Listen: Giuliani takes aim at Obama's advisor

Kurtzer, who advises Obama’s campaign on Middle East affairs, has been an advocate of diplomatic engagement with the government of Syria.

McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann, asked about his lobbying work on behalf of the nation of Georgia, responded that his actions were different because they were not “covert.” The reporter who asked the question, Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, abruptly dropped off the call. He later alleged that the campaign had cut him off.

(UPDATE with Obama campaign response after the jump)

UPDATE: Obama foreign policy advisor Susan Rice responded to Giuliani’s charges on a Wednesday afternoon conference call with reporters, saying “there is nothing but falsehood and distortion” in the comments.

“[Kurtzer] did not represent the Obama campaign or Senator Obama, he went as a private citizen. And so John McCain who himself sat down one-on-one and had a meeting with the leader of the same country in its most active moment of support for terrorism – to criticize a private citizen for taking a private trip is absolutely outrageous and dishonest,” said Rice. “If John McCain wants to be held accountable for the travel and the conduct of every private citizen who may have at one point or another offered him advice then let’s have that discussion.”

soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. Enlightened Voter

    Hey John = I AM NOT GEORGIAN okay buddy? Just because your advisor received 200000 from Georgia and you want to fight the Russians doesn't make me Georgian so don't speak for me you moron.
    And Nick – get a real life and some therapy while your at it.

    August 20, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. non black nonwhite

    McCain's adviser took money from Georgia! How is this ok???

    August 20, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. Who Speaks For McCain?

    Rudy ... I have ZERO Credibility .... Guiliani .... speaking for you?

    Mc Cain you are seriously out of touch give him this role.

    Beside, I thought on you spoke for you? Isn't that what you said when Phil Gramm called folks whiners? in a MENTAL recession?

    August 20, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. TonyinKentucky

    There are people that still listen to and respect the neocon fascists?

    Are you all braindead, on the board of an oil company, hate democracy, or do you just despise the citizens of the United States?

    August 20, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  5. Bill Nash

    FOR ALL THOSE WHO SUPPORT MCCAIN/NEOCONS/REPUBS IN THE WAR THAT MCCAIN IS TRYING TO START WITH RUSSIA AND IRAN:

    HOW MANY OF YOUR SON'S AND DAUGHTER'S ARE YOU PREPARED TO SACRIFICE SO THAT JOHN MCCAIN CAN WIN THE VIET NAM WAR BY STARTING WWIII?

    HOW UTTERLY STUPID CAN AMERICAN'S BE. IF MCCAIN IS ELECTED IT WILL BE THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF AMERICA AS WE KNOW IT.

    WE WILL BE AT WAR FOR A GENERATION, IF WE'RE LUCKY AND WIN. WE WILL LOSE AND BECOME THE SUBJECT OF ANOTHER NATION IF WE'RE NOT.

    August 20, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  6. bob

    Mitt Romney will increase the visitors and tourists in Denver. Why don't you join him Guili?

    August 20, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. Dan

    Good! He would have a better chance of running for President there.

    August 20, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  8. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Giuliani = Glory Hound!

    August 20, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  9. the dude

    Remember kids, talking to people bad, bombing people good. Here's a pudding SnackPack, now go outside and play soldiers.

    August 20, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  10. PUMA-Jessie

    My goodness. Obama is in a free fall in the polls, fubs the Rev. Warren debate, talks about abortion like he is in some kind of fog and is a serial flip flopper .Now he is fishing in the troubled waters of the mid east.

    August 20, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. ron

    seeing as how Tony Rezko was born and raised in Syria and as connections to the higher echelon of that country(evident when they tried to smuggle million into this country for his trial) I'm sure he will be given preferential treatment. what was that comment obama made about McCain's supporter having connections to Georgia lol

    August 20, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. kerry

    Mccain is more of the same. Go Obama!

    August 20, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  13. Kitten for Obama

    They are really trying to distract the voters with all of this no nonsense.
    We better WATCH McCain he is trying to slip the draft back into play. A Vote for McCain is a vote for the draft and Bush policies. THINK!!!!!

    August 20, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  14. wilfred

    Deb in Allentown , freedom ain't free , move out if you want to ride for
    free , what have you done for our country beside whine ?

    August 20, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  15. Indiana Bob

    Careful Rudy, you might offend Obama, the Messiah, and his hate-filled followers. The last false Messiah with hate-filled followers that the world had goose-stepped their way to power in Germany. That didn't work out so well for those that opposed them. But I guess opposing a cult leader is a risk some are willing to take.

    PUMA — Vote McCain

    August 20, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  16. Phil Newton Murphy, Oregon

    Yaaaawwwwwnnnnnnn.....

    August 20, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Giuliani will be McCain's VP pick, that's what's floating.

    August 20, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  18. SSGT USAF

    Ok, so an UNPAID volunteer met with someone with whom he has more than likely met with before during one of his official roles? Are there any meeting transcripts for us to look over or critique? For all I know they could have been swapping recipes. If he was a paid lobbyist like the McCain's advisor I would expect this type of argument from the Repubs. Seems like more of the McCain clean campaign tactics.

    August 20, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  19. anonmouys

    puma dont vote mccain

    August 20, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  20. Ovitshio Branco

    Much to do about nothing. Everyone knows OBAMA will win with 53% of the popular vote and 350 electoral college vote. The Media is pushing ratings, yet even this spin will motivated DEMOCRATS to go VOTE and not take anything for granted. The polls will favor McCain because that is what the MSM want us to believe, but NOT THIS TIME!

    August 20, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  21. rachel

    funny, and people saying cnn competing with the national enquirer turns out cnn and the media made them more creditable by overlooking johns affair.

    August 20, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  22. McCain has no original thought in his head.

    looks like a toad to me

    August 20, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  23. Rich in Seattle

    And yet, somehow Republicans believe this stuff. They will say anything, do anything to win no matter the cost to the country. It's sick to see how low they will take this country. How can they live with themselves?

    August 20, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. Obama cousins

    Obama has his fifth and sixth cousins living all over there,
    he needs to have that lost link re-established thru such channels.

    August 20, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. Helen, NY

    Obama also need to send someone to Kenya or even to Somalia.
    What a tragedy for Obama Campaign. They are desperate. They do not know what to do. American people have now realized what is barack. He is a fraud. He came into politics because of Tony Rezko. Otherwise he would not be in politics.

    August 20, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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