CNN's Schneider: McCain May 'Frighten' Voters By...Believing CNN

At the top of the first hour of Tuesday's The Situation Room on CNN, fill-in anchor Suzanne Malveaux led with Russia's invasion of Georgia and she cited how “Moscow responded with a show of military muscle that was reminiscent of the Cold War era.” But 40 minutes later, CNN political analyst Bill Schneider contended that raising the very “Cold War” specter CNN had reported could “frighten” voters.

He characterized John McCain's assessment, about how Vladimir Putin's "ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire,” as “ominous” and warned that such language may hurt McCain since it could cause “some voters” to “worry: Does he want to start a new Cold War?” Schneider argued: “The risk for McCain is that he could overplay the issue and frighten war-weary voters, whose priorities are at home right now.”

Malveaux, at 4:01 PM EDT:
Right now huge crowds of Georgians are showing their support for President Mikheil Saakashvili. Georgia moved Thursday to crack down on separatists in two breakaway provinces supported by Russia. Now, Moscow responded with a show of military muscle that was reminiscent of the Cold War era.
About 38 minutes later, Malveaux asked Schneider: “Is this McCain's moment, Bill?” As Schneider's answer played out in his report, CNN displayed this text at the bottom of the screen:
MCCAIN EDGE ON HANDLING CRISIS
BUT HE COULD SCARE WAR-WEARY VOTERS
Schneider began: “A major international crisis, it could be just what John McCain needs to highlight his strengths.”

But he ended by seeing a downside for McCain:
BILL SCHNEIDER: His statement on the radio was ominous.

AUDIO OF McCAIN, ON WITF-FM IN HARRISBURG: I think it's very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire.

SCHNEIDER: Some voters may worry, does he want to start a new Cold War? The risk for McCain is that he could overplay the issue and frighten war-weary voters, whose priorities are at home right now. The Russians are doing a pretty good job of frightening people already.
Schneider's story in the 4 PM EDT hours of the Tuesday, August 12 Situation Room on CNN:
SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Is this McCain's moment, Bill?

BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, he is certainly acting as if it is. A major international crisis, it could be just what John McCain needs to highlight his strengths. McCain has talked tough from the outset of the crisis.

MCCAIN: Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces out of sovereign Georgian territory.

SCHNEIDER: Initially, Obama's tone was more measured.

BARACK OBAMA: I think it is important at this point for all sides to show restraint and to stop this armed conflict.

SCHNEIDER: After speaking to the President of Georgia, Obama's tone got stronger.

OBAMA: No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over South Ossetia, and, and has now violated the space of another country.

SCHNEIDER: Last month, Obama and McCain were trusted equally to handle international affairs. But McCain had the edge on handling an unexpected major crisis, like, presumably, the one in Georgia. At a town hall in Pennsylvania that drew an unusually large turnout, McCain talked about the relevance of the crisis to Americans.

MCCAIN: There's a pipeline, an oil pipeline in Baku, Tbilisi and Ceyhan which brings oil from the Caspian to points west and traverses Georgia. That's the very pipeline that the Russians tried to bomb.

SCHNEIDER: He played to the emotions when he recounted his remarks to the President of Georgia.

MCCAIN: I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, today, we are all Georgians. (Audience applause)

SCHNEIDER: His statement on the radio was ominous.

AUDIO OF MCCAIN, ON WITF-FM IN HARRISBURG: I think it's very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire.

SCHNEIDER: Some voters may worry: Does he want to start a new Cold War? The risk for McCain is that he could overplay the issue and frighten war-weary voters, whose priorities are at home right now. The Russians are doing a pretty good job of frightening people already.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center