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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. China Nolan

    Here in the body of the comments, we get the "if this was a job interview" bullcrap. Hey, people, this is the CODE. I'm sure given many of the Republicans, if this was a "job interview" Mr. Obama wouldn't get the job because he was "over qualified" or he might get bored with the position. Or he was the first to be interviewed and they will get back to him after everyone has been seen or one of the many CODE words racists use not to hire black men and women. Well it's not a job interview; it is an election. An we must elect someone who is calm, cool and collected. Not someone who is one surprise from death.

    August 20, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  2. Rob - WA

    People voting for McCain: I do hope you can look your teenage children and grandchildren with a straight face when they wind up being shipped to war that "you made the right choice." Typical Baby Boomers (the majority and likely McCain supporters) will sink this nation for sure!! Your just rewards WILL come though when the younger generation is left to care for your PATHETIC old age retirements and you get no sympathy from the youth left to pick up the pieces of the wrecked world you left to us.

    August 20, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  3. Say What!!!!

    To -Nova from Nv ......McCain and NATO were very quick to criticized Russia from the beginning-the President of Georgia critize McCain
    for Pandering ..he made 2 phone calls to president of Georgia- Mccain Let it be known to the public and of course he said they were friends of course he pronounced his name Wrong The President of Georgia blast McCain on cnn via satelite ...lets give Coni her dues

    August 20, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. John

    Look, the McCain camp is lying about an easily proven fact again. What a surprise. (End sarcasm)

    August 20, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. Peter E

    I would love to have all these pliticians stop pretending to be the president. Bush is still our Commander in Chief, whether you like it or not (I certainly don't) and we shouldn't undermine our own government. That's called treason.

    August 20, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  6. Deb, Allentown, PA

    Hey Wilfred, don't be a jerk. My father fought at Normandy and was proud of his service. In the event of a cause like the liberation of the Allies in Europe, I would be honored to have my children serve. But if you think I'm going to let McCain take them for an illegal invasion like Iraq, for made-up reasons, or because he's a warmongering fool who refuses to negotiate because he's suffering from PTSD, there's no way my kids are going without a fight.

    If you're so interested in dying for McCain's cause, I'm sure I can locate a recruiting office for you.

    August 20, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. Charlie Black

    Hey look it's Mr. A Noun, A Verb and 9/11.

    Who would trust the lying, cross-dressing, scumbag Giuliani?

    August 20, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. Caroline

    Go ahead you gullible people and vote for McCain........he apparently has no problem with reinstating a draft. Or maybe that question at today's town hall meeting was too long for him and he "forgot" about that part. Can someone PLEASE follow up on if he would be OK with a draft? Because I will have no part of sending any more American youth to war for oil or whatever else the Halliburton Crew are cooking up this time. I'm so appalled/disgusted/sceptical about /with the current administration that I also can't help but think that bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11 and thus chasing him to the gates of hell would be looking for the wrong guy(s). Hey, maybe that's why Bush/Cheney didn't bother looking in the first place. Oh what a subversive citizen I am...................but yet, still PROUD TO BE AMERICAN.......and hoping I can be proud of our next administration, because the current one reeeeeeeeeks.

    Obama oh PLEASE '08 !!!

    August 20, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |


    August 20, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. Clinton Supporter

    Obama is such a DUMMY.

    August 20, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. Trevor

    "he's a warmongering fool who refuses to negotiate because he's suffering from PTSD, "

    Wow, and you're telling Wilfred to not be a jerk?

    August 20, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  12. People make no sense

    Nova from NV – what did McWar's comments solve? Russia is still in Georgia doing whatever they want. America has no credibility right now because all the slogan rhetoric makes them look like hypocrits. Start watching international news and look at how They perceive america. We have the usual backers but it is just us and that is why Russia is doing whatever they want. The U.S. didn't stop Israel from bombing Lebanon did they, then why should anybody stop Russia from bombing a city that bombed them first. (911 – oh sorry Iraq had nothing to do with that – America just wanted Oil)

    McWar spent his military years being beaten, tortured and spilling his guts about America. They pampered him compared to the other soldiers because of who his father was. He has no credibility on war. What is he going to teach everybody how to get captured? What a loser he is? Look Semper fi when they beat you turn to the side like this and it hurts less. That's his idea of winning a war. What a loser! And so many dumb people worship this guy. Usually when you are good at something you excel in that area. How is being a prisoner excelling? If that is the case our prisons have a lot of experts. I'd elect one of them before electing McBush II.

    August 20, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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