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Nets Tout Warren's Wider Agenda; CBS: Conservatives 'Went Nuts' --8/18/2008


1. Nets Tout Warren's Wider Agenda; CBS: Conservatives 'Went Nuts'
John McCain finally received some positive coverage Friday night from the broadcast networks as Barack Obama's vacation ended -- a couple of sentences on ABC and CBS about how he raised $27 million in July, the most ever. Then those newscasts, and NBC's, ran full stories trumpeting evangelist Rick Warren's Saturday "Civil Forum on the Presidency" featuring McCain and Obama, with CBS and NBC stressing his rejection of past narrow conservative interests as both pegged their stories to conservative push back against the fear McCain will pick a "pro-choice" VP. Taking up McCain's consideration of Tom Ridge, CBS's Bob Schieffer asserted "religious conservatives...just went nuts." NBC's Andrea Mitchell contrasted McCain's "rocky relationship with the religious right" with how Obama is "reaching out by softening the party's platform on abortion." On Warren, CBS reporter Ben Tracy trumpeted how Warren "doesn't want to talk about just abortion and gay marriage, but also poverty and disease." NBC's Mitchell recalled that in 2004, 80 percent of evangelicals "voted for George Bush over John Kerry," but "this year they could be less predictably Republican" and "that's because Rick Warren says many younger evangelicals define social issues broadly -- to include global warming, human rights, poverty, not just abortion."

2. Washington Post Ombudsman: '3 to 1' Obama Front Page Advantage
Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell reviewed how many stories the newspaper put on the front page about John McCain and Barcak Obama over the past ten weeks and discovered a wide gap in favor of Obama, a "disparity," she declared, "so wide that it doesn't look good." Howell, the Washington Bureau chief and editor of Newhouse News from 1990 until 2005, outlined in her weekly Sunday column what she determined: "Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good."

3. CNN: McCain Trying to Make Voters Think Obama Is Anti-Christ
Correspondent David Mattingly's report on Friday's 9 AM EDT hour Newsroom program on CNN promoted the accusation by Barack Obama supporters that a popular McCain Internet advertisement, known as "The One" ad, drops hints that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee might be the Anti-Christ. Mattingly used two soundbites from proponents of this idea, and none from people who disagree with the idea the ad makes that point. Mattingly introduced his report with two clips from the ad and stated: "When you listen to this John McCain ad, it might sound like Barack Obama has a messiah complex." He then explained that while "[t]he McCain campaign says it's all in good fun...not everyone's laughing. Some Democrats say the ad, which appears only on the Internet, is infused with hidden messages to evangelical Christians -- messages that Barack Obama isn't the messiah at all."

4. In 2000, Dan Rather Chided Cheney and Championed Gore-Lieberman
With this year's vice presidential picks expected any day now, time to go into the MRC archive for a look back to 2000 when Dan Rather's left-wing tilt still got air time on a major network. When George W. Bush named Dick Cheney, Rather introduced the Tuesday, July 25, 2000 CBS Evening News story by relaying the derisive and negative Democratic spin against the GOP ticket: "Democrats were quick to portray the ticket as quote 'two Texas oilmen' because Cheney was chief of a big Dallas-based oil supply conglomerate. They also blast Cheney's voting record in Congress as again quote, 'outside the American mainstream' because of Cheney's votes against the Equal Rights for Women Amendment." But two weeks later, his glowing Tuesday, August 8, 2000 set up of the Gore-Lieberman pairing forwarded the Democratic ticket's boasts about themselves: "In their first joint appearance they gave a preview of the Gore-Lieberman fight-back, come-back strategy. Their message: They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America."

5. Stephanopoulos: Russia Just Reacting to 'Aggressive' West
On Sunday's This Week on ABC, host George Stephanopoulos seemed to buy into the idea that Georgia provoked war with Russia as he asked guest Mitt Romney: "Didn't President Saakashvili of Georgia bring some of this on himself by going into South Ossetia?" After Romney informed viewers that Georgian troops were deployed in response to violent attacks by South Ossetians, the ABC host followed up by asking Romney to respond to charges that the push, presumably by the United States, to expand NATO and build a missile defense system was perceived by Vladimir Putin as "belligerent and aggressive." Stephanopoulos: "How do you respond to the argument that by pushing for Georgia to be in NATO, by pushing for Ukraine to be in NATO, by putting a missile defense system in Czechoslovakia, this was seen as belligerent and aggressive by Putin and kind of brought him in?"


Nets Tout Warren's Wider Agenda; CBS:
Conservatives 'Went Nuts'

John McCain finally received some positive coverage Friday night from the broadcast networks as Barack Obama's vacation ended -- a couple of sentences on ABC and CBS about how he raised $27 million in July, the most ever. Then those newscasts, and NBC's, ran full stories trumpeting evangelist Rick Warren's Saturday "Civil Forum on the Presidency" featuring McCain and Obama, with CBS and NBC stressing his rejection of past narrow conservative interests as both pegged their stories to conservative push back against the fear McCain will pick a "pro-choice" VP. Taking up McCain's consideration of Tom Ridge, CBS's Bob Schieffer asserted "religious conservatives...just went nuts." NBC's Andrea Mitchell contrasted McCain's "rocky relationship with the religious right" with how Obama is "reaching out by softening the party's platform on abortion."

On Warren, CBS reporter Ben Tracy trumpeted "Warren's attempt to redefine evangelicals by breaking with the politics of the past" and how Warren "doesn't want to talk about just abortion and gay marriage, but also poverty and disease." NBC's Mitchell recalled that in 2004, 80 percent of evangelicals "voted for George Bush over John Kerry," but "this year they could be less predictably Republican" and "that's because Rick Warren says many younger evangelicals define social issues broadly -- to include global warming, human rights, poverty, not just abortion." She then featured a soundbite from Warren: "I call myself whole life, which means I don't just believe in that little girl before she's born but I believe that it's important to care about after she's born, whether she's poor, whether she's educated."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

As evidence of how Obama is "reaching out by softening the party's platform on abortion," Mitchell provided rare media mention of a 1992 Democratic litmus test: "He's invited anti-abortion Senator Bob Casey to speak in Denver. Bill Clinton kept Casey's father, then Pennsylvania Governor, from speaking at the 1992 convention for his anti-abortion views."

"Liberal" uttered just once. In all of the Friday night campaign coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC, the "conservative" and "religious right" labels were applied repeatedly, but only ABC's Jake Tapper, on ABC's World News, issued a "liberal" tag: "But false rumors Obama's a Muslim, his controversial former pastor, and his liberal views on abortion and other issues, complicate Obama's efforts to win over evangelical voters."

(CNN, FNC and MSNBC provided live coverage Saturday night of the "Civil Forum on the Presidency" from the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.)

Last week's CyberAlert items detailing ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscast coverage during the week Obama was vacationing in Hawaii:

For Monday night: "Obama on Vacation, Yet Earns More and Better Coverage than McCain," go to: www.mrc.org

For Tuesday night: "Weekday #2: No Media Benefit for McCain from Obama's Vacation," check: www.mrc.org

For Wednesday night, "CBS Scolds McCain: 'Respect Takes a Backseat to Ridicule,'" see: www.mediaresearch.org

For Thursday night, "CBS's Expert: Obama's Site 'Clean,' McCain's 'Cluttered' w/ 'Chaos,'" go to: www.mediaresearch.org

From Friday night, August 15:

# ABC's World News:

ANCHOR KATE SNOW: John McCain's campaign says he has had his best fundraising month since locking up the Republican nomination. McCain took in $27 million in July, the fifth-straight month his contributions have grown. The Obama campaign hasn't released its July fundraising numbers just yet...

....

JAKE TAPPER: McCain has also had a rocky relationship in the past with some conservative Christian leaders. And he's not doing as well in the polls with evangelicals as he would like. Barack Obama seems more comfortable talking about religion.
OBAMA: I came to see my faith both as being a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community.
TAPPER: But false rumors Obama's a Muslim, his controversial former pastor, and his liberal views on abortion and other issues, complicate Obama's efforts to win over evangelical voters....Popular pastor Rick Warren says Saturday's forum will give both candidates an opportunity to open their hearts.


# CBS Evening News:

ANCHOR HARRY SMITH: In the presidential race, Republican John McCain continues to rake in donations. Today he reported raising more than $27 million in July, his best month yet.
But the real news from the McCain campaign this week comes from a comment he made to The Weekly Standard. Speaking about potential running mates, Senator McCain said former Homeland Security Secretary and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge is "one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro choice and I don't think that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out." Bob Schieffer is our chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation. He joins with us some perspective. Bob, religious conservatives I can't imagine are very happy about that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, if John McCain, Harry, was trying to run this out to sort of market test it to see how it sat with religious conservatives, I think he found today there was not much of a market out there for this. Basically they just went nuts. Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said if McCain put a pro-choice person on the ticket with him, he thought that a lot of conservatives, especially evangelicals, will simply stay home. You also got to remember evangelicals kind of suspect John McCain. He's never been all that popular, that's not where his strength is. Remember the run in he had with Jerry Falwell in 2000. So I think if McCain was trying to see how this played, he found out today it does not play very well with a very large part of the Republican base.

....

BEN TRACY: His 23,000-member Saddleback Church sprawls over 120 acres in California's Orange County. It's ground zero in Warren's attempt to redefine evangelicals by breaking with the politics of the past....Warren says he doesn't want to talk about just abortion and gay marriage, but also poverty and disease.


# NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS, IN BEIJING: And now we turn to politics back home and the issue specifically of faith. Both Barack Obama and John McCain will appear this weekend at a forum hosted by one of the most high-profile evangelicals in America. But today, even before that event, one contentious issue was front and center. That report from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Campaign sources say both former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Senator Joe Lieberman, a nominal Democrat, are on John McCain's short list for Vice President. Both support abortion rights. Conservative leaders say McCain could be tempting political fate.
MIKE HUCKABEE: I hope that Senator McCain selects a pro-life running mate.
MITCHELL: McCain has tried to reassure conservatives.
JOHN McCAIN: I have a long record of advocacy for and voting for the rights of the unborn.
MITCHELL: But he's had a rocky relationship with the religious right, giving Barack Obama an opening. So tomorrow night McCain and Obama will both speak at Pastor Rick Warren's California mega church.
RICK WARREN: My goal is to say, look at these leaders, not just for their values, look at their vision.
MITCHELL: Obama is also reaching out by softening the party's platform on abortion.
BARACK OBAMA: Those who have opposed abortion get a sense that I'm listening to them and respect their positions.
MITCHELL: And he's invited anti-abortion Senator Bob Casey to speak in Denver. Bill Clinton kept Casey's father, then Pennsylvania Governor, from speaking at the 1992 convention for his anti-abortion views. Why are faith voters important? They comprise one-fifth of all registered voters. In 2004, eight out of ten voted for George Bush over John Kerry. This year they could be less predictably Republican. That's because Rick Warren says many younger evangelicals define social issues broadly -- to include global warming, human rights, poverty, not just abortion.
WARREN: I call myself whole life, which means I don't just believe in that little girl before she's born but I believe that it's important to care about after she's born, whether she's poor, whether she's educated.
MITCHELL: For the candidates, not just a matter of faith but votes. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.

Washington Post Ombudsman: '3 to 1' Obama
Front Page Advantage

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell reviewed how many stories the newspaper put on the front page about John McCain and Barcak Obama over the past ten weeks and discovered a wide gap in favor of Obama, a "disparity," she declared, "so wide that it doesn't look good." Howell, the Washington Bureau chief and editor of Newhouse News from 1990 until 2005, outlined in her weekly Sunday column what she determined: "Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good."

Specifically, "in overall political stories from June 4 to Friday, Obama dominated by 142 to 96. Obama has been featured in 35 stories on Page 1; McCain has been featured in 13, with three Page 1 references with photos to stories on inside pages." That "dovetails with Obama's dominance in photos, which I pointed out two weeks ago. At that time, it was 122 for Obama and 78 for McCain."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

She also recalled Obama's dominance during his overseas trip: "When Obama traveled to the Middle East and Europe, the coverage dwarfed that of McCain -- six Page 1 stories from July 19 to July 27, plus an earlier front-page story announcing the trip. McCain managed one Page 1 story and one Page 1 reference; the July 25 story said he might pick a vice presidential candidate soon, but that didn't happen."

For Howell's August 17 column: "Obama's Edge in the Coverage Race," go to: www.washingtonpost.com

CNN: McCain Trying to Make Voters Think
Obama Is Anti-Christ

Correspondent David Mattingly's report on Friday's 9 AM EDT hour Newsroom program on CNN promoted the accusation by Barack Obama supporters that a popular McCain Internet advertisement, known as "The One" ad, drops hints that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee might be the Anti-Christ. Mattingly used two soundbites from proponents of this idea, and none from people who disagree with the idea the ad makes that point.

Mattingly introduced his report with two clips from the ad and stated: "When you listen to this John McCain ad, it might sound like Barack Obama has a messiah complex." He then explained that while "[t]he McCain campaign says it's all in good fun...not everyone's laughing. Some Democrats say the ad, which appears only on the Internet, is infused with hidden messages to evangelical Christians -- messages that Barack Obama isn't the messiah at all."

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The report's first soundbite featured Steven Waldman, the CEO of Beliefnet.com, who made the following accusation about the ad: "It reenforces things that they've been hearing around the Internet, that maybe Barack Obama is, in fact, the Antichrist." Before Waldman co-founded Beliefnet, he was the National Editor for U.S. News and World Report and was a national correspondent for Newsweek magazine. He is also an occasional blogger on The Huffington Post.

Steven Waldman's page on Beliefnet.com: www.beliefnet.com

Waldman's Huffington Post page: www.huffingtonpost.com

Before he worked for U.S. News and World Report, Waldman worked for the Clinton administration promoting AmeriCorps, as the March 18, 1997 CyberAlert noted: www.mediaresearch.org

Earlier this month, Waldman posted on his blog about the McCain ad's supposed hint about Obama, and posted a memo from a Democratic consulting agency called the Eleison Group, whose website he linked to in the post. One of the four consultants for the Eleison Group is Eric Sapp, whom Mattingly featured in the second soundbite. Sapp accused the McCain campaign of using the politics of fear: "Going back to the classic Republican playbook of playing to these people's fears, trying to, you know, send a message to these folks that you really need to be careful. You really need to worry about this guy. He literally could be a cosmic anti-Christ figure, and for a lot of people, that may sound strange to believe, but there is a significant part of the community that will take this stuff very seriously."
August 6 blog post by Waldman, "McCain Ad Suggesting Obama Is the Anti-Christ?:" blog.beliefnet.com

Mattingly then described how Sapp "argues the McCain ad borrows ideas and visual imagery from the blockbuster 'Left Behind' series. The books weave a tale of a modern-day anti-Christ, a young political leader who rises to power with a message of peace and unity, and leads a world religion that proclaims we are God." The correspondent then played Obama's infamous "We are the ones we've been waiting for" line, stating that it "sounds a lot like" the story in the "Left Behind" books.

The only other soundbite in Mattingly's report was from Jerry Jenkins, the co-author of the "Left Behind" series, who denied Obama is the Antichrist. One might guess that might have been an attempt at balance in the report.

CNN wasn't the first mainstream media outlet to forward this accusation about the McCain ad. ABC's Kate Snow did a segment about it which featured Sapp on the August 13 edition of Good Morning America, and Time magazine's Amy Sullivan wrote about it earlier this month as well.

August 13, 2008 NewsBusters.org item on Snow by Justin McCarthy, "GMA Features Partisan Labeling McCain Ad 'Anti-Christ':" newsbusters.org

August 13, 2008 NewsBusters.org item on Sullivan by Tim Graham, "Time Accuses McCain of Evil 'Antichrist' Ad Against Obama:" newsbusters.org

The full transcript of David Mattingly's report, which aired 46 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour of Friday's Newsroom program:

HEIDI COLLINS: Just a joke or playing into fear? A campaign ad is causing a buzz on the Internet. CNN's David Mattingly with the story.
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER, from McCain Internet ad: Can you see the light?
DAVE MATTINGLY: When you listen to this John McCain ad, it might sound like Barack Obama has a messiah complex.
BARACK OBAMA (from McCain ad): You will experience an epiphany, and you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack.
MATTINGLY: The McCain campaign says it's all in good fun.
CHARLTON HESTON (as Moses from 'The Ten Commandments,' as featured in the McCain ad): Behold his mighty hand.
MATTINGLY: But not everyone's laughing. Some Democrats say the ad, which appears only on the Internet, is infused with hidden messages to evangelical Christians -- messages that Barack Obama isn't the messiah at all.
STEVEN WALDMAN, CEO, BELIEFNET.COM: It reenforces things that they've been hearing around the Internet, that maybe Barack Obama is, in fact, the Antichrist.
MATTINGLY: The ad has been viewed 1.2 million times on YouTube. A Google search for Obama and Anti-Christ returns an incredible 900,000 hits. One website is completely dedicated to the question, is Obama the Antichrist? 73% in the site's online polls say either yes or maybe. Could the McCain ad be saying the same thing?
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER (from McCain ad): That in 2008, the world will be blessed. They will call him 'The One.'
MATTINGLY: Critics accused [the] McCain campaign of trying to tap into biblical prophesy, to stir evangelical voters, a group McCain has had difficulty reaching.
ERIC SAPP, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Going back to the classic Republican playbook of playing to these people's fears, trying to, you know, send a message to these folks that you really need to be careful. You really need to worry about this guy. He literally could be a cosmic anti-Christ figure, and for a lot of people, that may sound strange to believe, but there is a significant part of the community that will take this stuff very seriously.
MATTINGLY: Democratic faith issues consultant Eric Sapp argues the McCain ad borrows ideas and visual imagery from the blockbuster 'Left Behind' series. The books weave a tale of a modern-day anti-Christ, a young political leader who rises to power with a message of peace and unity, and leads a world religion that proclaims we are God. That sounds a lot like this Obama clip used in the ad.
OBAMA: We are the ones we've been waiting for.
MATTINGLY: The McCain campaign says it's just having some fun, with what it calls Obama's tendency to get carried away with audacious statements. But since the release of the ad, Obama anti-Christ Internet traffic is up. Even the authors of the 'Left Behind' books felt they had to speak out because they're seeing that question more and more often. Do they think Obama is the Antichrist? And each time they say the answer is no way.
JERRY JENKINS, CO-AUTHOR, 'LEFT BEHIND': The Antichrist will not be somebody who is suspected of being the Anti-Christ by anybody. If half the country thinks that one of the candidates is the Antichrist, he's not the Antichrist.
MATTINGLY: A spokesman for the McCain campaign calls the ad 'light-hearted.' One website takes the joke a little further, selling T-shirts and mugs showing the Obama symbol with a pair of horns. We're not sure how the candidate feels about that. We received no reply from the Obama campaign. David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.

In 2000, Dan Rather Chided Cheney and
Championed Gore-Lieberman

With this year's vice presidential picks expected any day now, time to go into the MRC archive for a look back to 2000 when Dan Rather's left-wing tilt still got air time on a major network.

When George W. Bush named Dick Cheney, Rather introduced the Tuesday, July 25, 2000 CBS Evening News story by relaying the derisive and negative Democratic spin against the GOP ticket:

In the presidential campaign, the official announcement and first photo-op today of Republican George Bush and his running mate Richard Cheney. Democrats were quick to portray the ticket as quote 'two Texas oilmen' because Cheney was chief of a big Dallas-based oil supply conglomerate. They also blast Cheney's voting record in Congress as again quote, 'outside the American mainstream' because of Cheney's votes against the Equal Rights for Women Amendment, against a woman's right to choose abortion -- against abortion as Cheney prefers to put it -- and Cheney's votes against gun control. Republicans see it all differently, most of them hailing Bush's choice and Cheney's experience.

But two weeks later, his glowing Tuesday, August 8, 2000 set up of the Gore-Lieberman pairing forwarded the Democratic ticket's boasts about themselves which included a sly dig at Bush-Cheney:

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore officially introduced his history-making running mate today, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. History-making because Lieberman is of Jewish heritage and faith. The two started running right away. In their first joint appearance they gave a preview of the Gore-Lieberman fight-back, come-back strategy. Their message: They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday morning, with video and audio rendered by the MRC's Kristime Lawrence, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]

As I observed at the time in the August 9, 2000 MRC CyberAlert: "Bias doesn't get much more obvious or easy to see than this."

The contrasting video clips will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert.

Stephanopoulos: Russia Just Reacting
to 'Aggressive' West

On Sunday's This Week on ABC, host George Stephanopoulos seemed to buy into the idea that Georgia provoked war with Russia as he asked guest Mitt Romney: "Didn't President Saakashvili of Georgia bring some of this on himself by going into South Ossetia?" After Romney informed viewers that Georgian troops were deployed in response to violent attacks by South Ossetians, the ABC host followed up by asking Romney to respond to charges that the push, presumably by the United States, to expand NATO and build a missile defense system was perceived by Vladimir Putin as "belligerent and aggressive." Stephanopoulos: "How do you respond to the argument that by pushing for Georgia to be in NATO, by pushing for Ukraine to be in NATO, by putting a missile defense system in Czechoslovakia, this was seen as belligerent and aggressive by Putin and kind of brought him in?"

The exchange came as the ABC host interviewed Romney and former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. While Stephanopoulos focused on the subject of the policy differences between John McCain and Barack Obama on Georgia, the ABC host asked of Romney: "Governor Romney, Senator McCain said this week, '€˜We are all Georgians now,' but didn't President Saakashvili of Georgia bring some of this on himself by going into South Ossetia?"

After Romney credited President Saakashvili with Georgia "becoming a democracy and standing up for the principles of freedom," Stephanopoulos clarified: "But what about his military action in South Ossetia?"

Romney conveyed to viewers that the Georgian president was responding to violent attacks from separatists in South Ossetia: "Well, certainly when his truckload of policemen is attacked by South Ossetians and blown up, you have a responsibility as a government to protect citizens, as he had communities being attacked with rockets that were coming from South Ossetia, and so he, of course, took action to protect his nation. The Russians have been looking for an excuse to be able to punish either the Ukraine or Georgia or to flex their muscles in the Caucasus, and this is something they've been anticipating for some time."

Stephanopoulos followed up: "How do you respond to the argument that by pushing for Georgia to be in NATO, by pushing for Ukraine to be in NATO, by putting a missile defense system in Czechoslovakia, this was seen as belligerent and aggressive by Putin and kind of brought him in?"

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the Sunday, August 17, This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, Senator McCain said this week, "We are all Georgians now," but didn't President Saakashvili of Georgia bring some of this on himself by going into South Ossetia?
MITT ROMNEY: If you mean by becoming a democracy and standing up for the principles of freedom, did he bring it on himself? I would have certainly hoped that that not have been considered a-
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what about his military action in South Ossetia?
ROMNEY: Well, certainly when his truckload of policemen is attacked by South Ossetians and blown up, you have a responsibility as a government to protect citizens, as he had communities being attacked with rockets that were coming from South Ossetia, and so he, of course, took action to protect his nation. The Russians have been looking for an excuse to be able to punish either the Ukraine or Georgia or to flex their muscles in the Caucasus, and this is something they've been anticipating for some time. And that's why I think it's been so important that, frankly, President Clinton listened to John McCain and changed his course back in the 90s and said, "You know what, we are going to let the former Soviet satellite states become part of NATO." This is something John McCain has fought for. He's been in, not only in South Ossetia, John McCain has, but also in Georgia time and again. This shows one more time that, in a dangerous and troubled world, it's helpful to have a leader of your nation that knows these places, knows the people, understands the setting, and John McCain didn't have to search around to figure out what to say what was going on. He knew what it was.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to the argument that by pushing for Georgia to be in NATO, by pushing for Ukraine to be in NATO, by putting a missile defense system in Czechoslovakia, this was seen as belligerent and aggressive by Putin and kind of brought him in?
ROMNEY: Well, there's no question that Putin, with his authoritarian bent, everything from what he's done to the business community in Russia to what he's done to the media in Russia, and former employees in Russia, that he has the ambitions of the old Soviet Union, to a certain degree. He's certainly more in that direction than Gorbachev or leaders that are looking for a more democratic state.

-- Brent Baker