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. Pedro

    Kurtzer is guilty just like Wigton and Tabor were guilty of insider trading, right Rudy?

    August 20, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. gotcha

    You can always tell when the Obamanites are scared, because the ugly blogs against Senator McCain increase. I love that they will lose.

    August 20, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Daki

    For all the rhetoric from McCain about the Russia and Georgian Situation,what did it do,what is all this ignorant tough trash talking done to show his so called experience.America needs to wake up and realize this man is dangerous to our safety and foreign relations.

    August 20, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Denise Groves

    So what? Did McCain not send Lindsay to Georgia? Syria not an allie of ours? Old man whining. I am glad he will loose in Nov. We do not need babies in the WH

    August 20, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. hillybilly

    might? what are you trying to imply ,rudy the terrorist expert?he's NOT over there negotiating for obama or the us,so shut up!why do you print this crap ,cnn?it's are clearly being biased for mccain when you print these slanderous accusations.what about georgia?mccain and scheuneman MIGHT have prodded georgia into attacking ossetia,in an attempt to influence the election here ,and got more than they bargained for.scheunemans firm is still being bought off by georgia. who knows what they've been talking about ,in private?[psssst! start some trouble ,now,americans will become afraid ,and vote for mccain ,then we'll make sure you get full protection in the future through nato.good plan?psssst!]now, posted giuliani's comment ,with all its inferences.let's see if you post's no different ,so be careful!

    August 20, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. Lawrence

    Rudy who? What a looser. No change that. Anyone that would pay to listen to this security expert that did nothing for security deserves what happens to them.

    I will give him credit on one thing. He talked a lot of you bone heads into paying him for his worthless advise.

    August 20, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. Seattle Sue

    Why would I believe a man that cross dresses?

    August 20, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Voter

    Mac should stop whining with all his millions he could buy himself a whitehouse and a country.

    August 20, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Hamas

    We endorse Obama's advisor to Syria.
    Let's keep it in the family.

    August 20, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. Que Quedas

    911 was your clain to fame......key word......was

    August 20, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. PG


    Sweetie its the other way around...Panamanian McCain is the dangerous one. Get your facts straight!

    August 20, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. Marc PDX

    Interesting. A big oil company paying for the trip. Wonder what the nature of the meeting was and why it was kept two degrees away from Obama himself. Chicago backroom politics again. I suppose we'll hear Obama say he didn't know anything about it (Rev. Wrightism) once again. Well, a commander in chief who doesn't know anything about what his own people are doing is called a "Jimmy Carter". But I suspect old Barack knew all about this...

    August 20, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. Susan

    This has already been disproved – once again, another lie from the McCain camp!

    August 20, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. hillybilly

    sweetie.your just another part of republican fear attacks.your comment dosent even come off as serious.get a life,loser.

    August 20, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Chut Pata

    Guilliani: "Kurtzer’s actions might be a result of an Obama policy of “negotiating with dictators without precondition."

    That is hillarious. Pubs are notorious in creating and sustaining dictators like Marcos, Pinochet, Noriega, Saddam etc etc. The monarchs of Middle East are personal friends of the Bush family. The latest was Musharraf of Pakistan whereas Obama constantly opposed dealing with dictators and stressed on dealing with elected officials.

    August 20, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Cindy

    I'm actually more apalled that McCain turned us all into Georgians... who was he to do that? Is he golf buddies with the Georgian president or something? His whole display of "action" seemed too much like he had been bought.

    It's not like Obama's calling us all "Syrians..." ^_^

    August 20, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. Louis

    WHEN IS GIULIANI going to reimburse the taxpayers of New York City the $400,000 of extra security he spent to go visit and screw his mistress while his wife was at home with his children? What a scumbag.

    August 20, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. Lesley

    To Roberta – How about McCain hobnobbing with his good friend Misha by telephone every day and who knows what he is saying on behalf of the American people, except that we are all Georgians. He doesn't have the authority to speak on behalf of the American people. But the press let him get away with it. And his foreign policy adviser, a completely unofficial anything except lobbyist, has a clear conflict of interest advising McCain while he has spent years lobbying for Georgia. That's not in the best interests of this country. McCain's clear penchant for military action should be a warning sign for people that he will fight first.

    August 20, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. hillybilly

    thank you for posting my first comment.i was testing you with truth.

    August 20, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. Jean, CANADA

    Besides Rudy being a complete clown and CNN posting this crap, I actually want to respond to the CLOSED article (I love how CNN does that when THEIR point of view isn't getting positive responses) on Barack's lead you actually think AMERICA IS THAT STUPID??


    No wonder your country is in the state it is....if you elect McCain....good luck and you deserve the consequences....

    August 20, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  21. R.I.F.

    I would advise everyone to go outside of CNN and read about this conference call. Again, the news here was that theis call opened up way more questions about McCain's surrrogates. Bad move for McCain. By trying to attack Obama on this one he's opened up a whole can worms for himself and the main principals on this call. Props to the reporter on the call who finally decided that the media needs to start pushing back on the lies, inuendos, and baseless attacks of the McCain campiagn. The reason why they keep doing it is because the media won't call them on it, and when they try to, ie Andrea Mitchell, the McCain camp gets upset and starts complaining about the media.

    August 20, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  22. Marc PDX

    Looks like Hillary will be getting that 3am call after all. But it will be from the Marquis d'Obama. (Now we know the rest of the story... LOL!)

    August 20, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Enlightened Voter

    I also heard that mccain agrees the draft should be reinstated today. Go ahead repugs and christian right, sacrifice your children for this warmonger because you can't bring yourself to vote for the black guy even though you know in your heart he is the best choice and the best man. Mccain is a true patriot when it comes to sacrificing other peoples lives.

    August 20, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr


    Kampeas also asked about Giuliani’s illegal dealings with Citgo, the Chavez government and the Saudis - all of which Giuliani was “speechless”

    A few minutes later the McSame campaign cut Kampeas off the conference call.

    Guess, the smearing republican bigots could'nt take the heat when they started getting hammered!

    but seriously, when is CNN going to be fair in their gutter one-sided reporting? S$HAME ON YOU CNN!!!!!!!!!!

    August 20, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. Pat Riot

    How about Ron Paul? I'd love to see him slap up Gulianni again on foreign policy.

    August 20, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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