McCain's Shevardnadze Shift

John McCain's views on former Georgia president Eduard Shevardnadze, a reform-minded architect of the Soviet Union's glasnost policy in the 80s, have done a startling 180.

Speaking about Georgia, McCain told a town hall in Las Cruces, New Mexico on Wednesday: "They had a corrupt government headed by a guy named Shevardnadze, who you may remember from the days of the Cold War. And they had a peaceful revolution and they took over, and they were putting democracy and freedom and human rights, and they were prospering."

In November 1999, the same John McCain described  Shevardnadze as "one the great men in the history of the world" during a GOP debate at Arizona State University. 

Why the change?

The extreme rhetorical shift -- while certainly attributable to McCain's increasingly tough talk on all things Caucuses -- has just as much to do with Shevardnadze's stunning fall from the post-Cold War Pantheon.

Although he was never personally implicated in fraud, his family enriched themselves during his troubled time at the country's helm and he was accused of trying to rig a 2003 election before peacefully handing over power to a coalition led by current president Mikheil Saakashvili.