NPR: John McCain often joked that when he looked into former Russian President Vladimir Putin's soul, he didn't see — as President Bush did — a man he could do business with, but rather an ex-KGB officer consolidating power.
"It's a KGB-like operation," McCain said of Putin's approach, "gradual, steady, persistent, successful."
Though Russia has a new president, Dmitry Medvedev, McCain has kept up his tough line, accusing the Russian government of silencing political dissent at home, using energy as a weapon abroad and launching a cyber war against Estonia.
McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, said in a speech in Los Angeles in March that NATO should not stand for such actions, nor should the Group of Eight.
"We should start by ensuring the G-8 — the group of eight highly industrialized states — becomes again a club of leading market democracies," McCain said. "It should include Brazil and India, but exclude Russia."
McCain has talked about kicking Russia out of the G-8 for several years now. Susan Rice, a top foreign policy adviser to Democrat Barack Obama, says speeches like that show McCain is stuck in a Cold War mind-set, trying to demonize Russia.
"John McCain really has a static — I would even argue retro — mid-late 20th century national security orientation, which is ill suited to the challenges we face," Rice said, adding that she sees some contradictions within the McCain campaign.
That retro-ness doesn't seem to be flying with the younger generation either:
CNN: At a town hall meeting in Ohio this month, a student told McCain that Republicans were a dying breed on his campus.
"I understand the challenge I have, and I understand that this election is really all about the people of your generation," McCain said.
Many young Republicans said Sen. Barack Obama, the 46-year-old junior senator from Illinois, is inspiring voters their age, but McCain, the 71-year-old Arizona senator who has been in office since the early '80s, is not.
Eric Pearlmutter, a member of the Young Republicans at the University of Southern California, said the roaring enthusiasm that follows Obama is missing among conservatives his age.
"We try to get people out to our college Republican meetings, but ... we can't seem to draw the same kind of vocal support," he said.
And when is McCain, who is speaking right now about the dangers of smoking at the Livestrong event, going to stop saying "my friends." It's just not right.