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As Focus Shifts From Iraq To Georgia, McCain Does Too

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

(WEST BLOOMFIELD, MICH.) - John McCain continued to narrow his campaign's message this week on the ongoing conflict between the countries of Russia and Georgia as increasing media attention focuses on the events in the region.

Speaking at a fundraiser in Michigan today, McCain made reference, as he has in the past several days, to his contact with Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili and his visits to Georgia in past years.

"I've been on the phone with the president of Georgia, President Saakashvili. President Saakashvili has undergone and his nation a great trauma and we all know that the Russians have really used as an excuse some minor conflict that was on the border between Georgia and South Ossetia," said McCain.

At the same time, the McCain campaign has called for humanitarian and economic assistance for the United States and suggested international and domestic responses, which the Bush Administration has later mirrored, giving McCain the appearance that he is involved in dictating and mitigating United States policy with the countries involved.

"The president has announced that we will be dispatching humanitarian aid. I think that's very important. It canceled exercises that were planned with Russia. He has articulated what I have advocated, at least referred to what I have advocated and that is that Russia should not be a member of the G8 if they are going to continue this kind of behavior."

Meanwhile, with Barack Obama vacationing in Hawaii but still making statements intermittently on the matter, McCain's campaign has managed to glide along with the media focus away from matters in Iraq and is using this conflict to promote an image of McCain as experienced in foreign policy matters and aggressive on national defense.

"I think the events of the last few days show that there are many places in the world where we don't necessarily anticipate this kind of conflicts breaking out and it does require a steady hand on the tiller and an experienced one," said McCain as he prepared to visit a plant that produces commercial and military aircraft parts.

"I've been to Georgia several times, and the lesson here is one which is large than a tiny country. The lesson here is that we are seeing and we've seen a number of other indications of it, a reemergence of Russia as a major player particularly in the region. I don't think it means we're gonna reignite the Cold War, and I don't think that we're gonna have kind of situation but I do believe that we need to stand as courageously as we can on behalf of this little country."

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