July 25th, 2007
06:30 PM ET
7 years ago

Analysis: Blood on the floor already in Clinton vs. Obama spat

The Clinton and Obama campaigns are clashing over the meaning of one of Obama’s answers.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The spat between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is really about calling attention to your opponent's weakness.

In politics, just like in prizefighting, you look for your opponent's weakness and pound away at it. In the debate this week, Obama portrayed himself as new and different - the total opposite of George W. Bush. "The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous," Obama said in the CNN/You Tube debate on Monday.

Clinton portrayed herself as experienced and knowledgeable. "You don't promise a meeting until you know the intentions. I don't want to be used for propaganda," she said.

She was going for Obama's weakness - his lack of experience. She kept hammering away at it the next day. "I thought that was very irresponsible and, frankly, naïve to say you would commit to meeting with Chavez and Castro or others within the first year," she said.

Obama came back punching at Clinton's weakness. "If there is anything irresponsible and naïve it was to authorize George Bush to send 160,000 young American men and women into Iraq apparently without knowing how they where going to get out," Obama said.

Her weakness? That she's cautious and calculating. And perhaps too willing to compromise with people like President Bush.

Actually, it was not Obama but John Edwards who used the "T word." "Do you believe that compromise - triangulation - will bring about big change? I don't," Edwards said in the debate.

Remember, it's a fight for the world heavyweight championship. So there's bound to be some trash talk. "Senator Obama gave an answer that he is regretting today," Clinton said.

Obama’s response: You want to talk about regrets, lady? Or as the Illinois senator put it, "Do you want to talk about irresponsibilities? Look at the vote to authorize George Bush to send our troops into Iraq without an exit plan."

Here we are, only a couple of rounds into this fight, and there's already blood on the floor.

–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Jerry R. Reynolds, Kalispell, MT

    I am not a supporter of Obama but you have to admire this guys stones. The guy is different and maybe that is why I admire him as a person. He is unwilling to select an answer provided simply because it is the only option on a test. Much like me, he is trying to break the walls of the establishment so they can be rebuilt correctly. Ever try to get soap scum of your bath tub without Ajax or soft scrub? He is at least is a man that’s willing to do something, right or wrong to have real impact. That you cannot under estimate, ever!

    Jerry R. Reynolds

    July 25, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. axbinder

    Hey Bill Schfat***d,
    when u talk about democrat or republican candidates, u should not frame uh words to favor your "annointed" candidate.
    We listners arent morons.
    And that Cougar and Dobbs saying HRC could wrap it up? Wake up people.

    July 25, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  3. Marie Post, Saugerties, New York

    Senator Clinton has the advantage of being a woman surrounded by gentlemen who were brought up you don't attack women, verbally or otherwise. They don't "gutter fight" she's smart, dresses very feminine. If she wore a business suit , she would appear "cold" as was once said in the beginning of this campaign. It would be to her advantage to show more independence, not needing the public support of her husband. Senator Obama should not let the "inexperience" remarks shake him. Some of us want the fresh outlook and real change. On the fence between the two.

    July 25, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  4. Carr, Manhattan KS

    To be POTUS, one would think that experience would trump all other areas. Hillary is obviously the most experienced of the candidates and Obama or Edwards would do well to run on the same ticket w/ her. Her answers are on target and show that to lead you have to look into all areas/ aspects of the situation, you cannot rule w/ your emotions.

    July 25, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  5. Glenn,B'ham,Al

    Clinton realizes that the democratic party is more conservative than before the last elections. Obama & Edwards are right when they say no change is going to come from her. This two (1) party system is tiresome.

    July 25, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  6. DJ, Los Angeles

    It's obvious and ridiculous for Clinton to say you have to know what to talk about before having a meeting.

    Obama has it right...punishing Chavez or others by not having diplomatic relations does not work.

    Clinton has it wrong. She has served only slightly longer than Obama in the Senate and hardly has any ground to stand on claiming she is more experienced. Besides

    If it wasn't for Bill, she would not have been elected in the first place.

    This is shaping up to be quite a battle. Go Obama!

    July 25, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  7. Jan, Evergreen, CO

    Clinton was a bobbing head doll with all of her fellow candidates when they were answering questions. Except for Barack Obama. I think she feels threatened by Obama and she is showing her weakness.

    July 26, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  8. Ryan, Oak Hiil WV

    I watched the CNN/YouTube Debate. I thought Senator Obama's answer was characteristic of an unprepared, inexperienced politician. I all for change after Bush but I'd rather have an intelligent president running the country. I was suprised with Senator Clinton's response. I thought it showed careful planning as a commander-in-chief needs. Using every diplomatic way possible is a much smarter way to deal with dangerous foreign leaders. Obama would be subjecting America and Americans to propaganda purposes while out meeting with Chavez and Castro. Hillary is right to use all possible diplomatic ways possible before meeting with a dangerous leader.

    July 26, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  9. Alex, Las Vegas, NV

    After reading the transcript of the question and responses by both candidates regarding foreign policy during the recent You Tube debates, I have affirmed my support of Senator Obama and maintain my respect for Senator Clinton. Although I can empathize with Hillary's caution, Barack's response articulated a clear departure of the non-engagement foreign policy approach propagated in the post-cold war era. We need a wholesale paradigm shift in our foreign policy and Barack's point of view represents the change we so desperately need at home and abroad.

    Throughout the campaign, I encourage all Obama supporters to consistently and vigorously question the positions and statements made by the Senator in order to reaffirm or qualify our support for Barack. I believe this honest discourse will differentiate our campaign and crystallize our personal messages of support as we take our caucus mobilization to the streets.

    July 26, 2007 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  10. One_American

    Hillary and Obama have a spat and call each other "irresponsible and naive."

    Finally – they are both right about something.

    July 26, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  11. Manou, New York

    glad someone is standing up to the Clinton political machinary. this woman is cold and calculating. i am a independent leaning democratic, but i've got to say that if hillary becomes the nominee for the democratic party, i will become a happy republican. she was the same person not long ago talking about the need to talk to "bad people". I am so glad barack is not timid, but willing to state the facts and lay out his vision for this country. 28 yrs of two families. Gosh, thats enough. Are there no other americans smart enough to lead?

    July 26, 2007 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  12. hoopsknowitall

    Sure seems to me as if this bickering will end up as counter-productive. The last thing America wants right now more arguing, and this "rivalry" could very well cost the Democrats a victory in 2008.

    Both would be wise to mute their affection, or lack thereof, of each other.

    July 26, 2007 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  13. Carrington Ward

    It's worth examining Clinton's stance in light of American diplomatic history, but there's another angle - why did she take the risk of going negative? It is to be expected that there'd be a lot of sniping from surrogates and netroots, but why did she risk front-runner status and a direct Obama counterpunch by a direct, personal attack?

    It's puzzling, I believe; she has a lot to lose, and not all that much to gain by engaging Obama directly. But engage him she did. Was it because she was angered by his earlier comment - "[the time to ask about our exit strategy was five years ago]." If her response was off the cuff and made in anger, this is, to say the least, a concern...

    July 26, 2007 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  14. youcube43

    suggesting that a meeting without agenda, to start retracing the track set by the Bushie neocons is mising the point. whoever is elected better be immediately restarting diplomacy with all. The friends who are left and all enemies. Always get as close to your enemy as possible.......

    July 26, 2007 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  15. Matt Houston, Texas

    Hillary Clinton is such a joke. You want to see why so many people dislike her. Look at this exchange. Shes already trying to twist words because she knows that her upside is no where near that of Obama. This just reaffirms the superiority of Obama over her. I will vote for him, but I will never vote for her.

    July 26, 2007 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  16. Matt, Austin, Texas

    What a biased article. Her weakness is being cautious and calculating, while his weakness is (supposed) inexperience? I wonder who the Clinton News Network supports…

    The question was directed to Senator Obama, and the question asked if he’d be WILLING to meet with dictators in his first year as president. Hillary took “willing” to mean “committed” (I hope I don’t have to point out what’s logically wrong with that assumption) because either she didn’t pay attention to the question, his answer, or simply because she was desperately trying to pick a fight.

    In any case, Obama had a great answer to the question. Is he going to completely rule out a meeting with a dictator in his first year as president? No. Refusing to meet with dictators doesn’t hurt them, it hurts us; it hampers our ability to understand what the conflict is and how we can keep things from getting unnecessarily violent, and it keeps diplomacy as a thriving option for resolving an issue. Refusing to meet with dictators in the first year of a term because you think it’ll hurt their feelings and make them reach out to us, Mrs. Clinton, is not what’s going to bring about the changes that America needs.

    Obama represents hope for America. Hillary represents the kind of business politics that has corrupted this country.

    July 26, 2007 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  17. Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    If Obama was naive about anything, it was the notion that Clinton would miss an opportunity to tear into him at the right moment. Obama and Clinton are the top contenders for their party's nomination for the presidency. The top contender for years, Clinton has expected to snatch up the nomination without much of a fight, but Obama has poppped up, out of the blue – like a modern JFK – and Clinton is his only real competition.

    Clinton needs to position herself as more experienced, by comparison with Obama, because – truth be told – neither of them are that experienced, compared to others, including Joe Biden who has been a top-ranking Senator for a lot longer than both Clinton and Obama combined.

    Obama, on the other hand, has to do more than simply settle in for second place. As Spiro T. Agnew famously stated, "The vice-presidency of the United States isn't worth a warm bucket of spit." If he's going to take on Clinton, Obama needs to take the gloves off – and now is as good a time as any.

    July 26, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Wallace Young, Alabama

    On Monday night Senator Obama showed his lack of experience. He is not ready to serve this country as our president. I do believe Senator Obama has a bright future in the party, but he should continue to serve in the Senate, or if Senator Clinton is elected accept a high level cabinet position. He should be ready by 2016. I would also like to see more substance from Sen. Obama. The buzz around him is that he will unify the nation. How do we know that, when we really don't know what he's all about.

    July 26, 2007 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. lavelle

    I think the war vote is way more serious then a "IF" Hillary was already put to the test and she failed. Obama said from day one he would have voted no on the war in Iraq. And Hillary has yet to say she made a mistake with her vote....And she has the nerve to talk about someone regretting something? The polls are flawed and I think Hillary made a big mistake, I think this backfired on her and more people will support Obama. The money and the poll numbers dont add up....we Obama supporters werent born yesterday

    July 26, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Sue, Midland, MI

    Wallace "the buzz about him is that he will unify the nation"...please, the Great Unifier is already in the White House, isn't he? I like Obama, I think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion. Neither answer was wrong. Clinton is trying to point out her differences to Obama-and yes, altho they have similar time spent in the Senate, she was in the White House for 8 years, and she certainly wasn't knitting in the back parlor. I believe that she would be a strong President who would take on the job more quickly. Obama has a nice presence, and is very very intelligent, but he IS less experienced politically, and face it, politics IS Washington. Do we want someone who will hit the ground running, or take 2 years to get up to speed. At the rate Bush is running this country into the ground (do you know we are not allowed to protest now, and that he wants the power over all branches of government???) we need experience and smarts.

    July 26, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Steve, Lyons, Colorado

    HOOPSKNOWITALL: Sure seems to me as if this bickering will end up as counter-productive. The last thing America wants right now more arguing, and this “rivalry” could very well cost the Democrats a victory in 2008.

    ME: Um...no. The fight between Obama and Clinton is the real battle for the presidency. No Republican can win next year, no way, no how.

    Enjoy the battle, but don't get silly. Open debate is needed, and is exactly what the Repubs have decided not to do. People are sick of fascists, and the Republicans have nothing to offer but Guilianni and Thompson.

    Flip-flopping Romney has zero chance, tho I do hope the Repubs nominate him.

    For those of you questioning Hillary's capabilities? This is a smart woman. She's a bit too conservative for me on the Iraq war, but let's not stick our heads up our butts: Hillary is for national health care, will support a woman's right to choose, will IMMEDIATELY get rid of stupid Bush "executive" orders for things like "faith-based" (or, "discriminatory") charities.

    I like Obama too; I'm still deciding, tho the Repubs have revealed their absolute terror at Hillary winning the election – with Undersecretary and Himmler imitator of Defense Dumbo issuing that scared little boy memo attacking her – and for that reason, I lean just a hair more towards Clinton this week.

    Debate is necessary. If the Dems were being sweet with each other, I'd want to smack 'em silly. I WANT to hear every negative, perceived or false, about each Dem candidate to help me decide.

    July 26, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. steve, Lyons, Colorado

    If it wasn’t for Bill, she would not have been elected in the first place.

    What a stupid statement. If it wasn't for Bush Sr. saving Idiot Boy from an indictment from the SEC for insider trading, we wouldn've have the first corporate fascist running this country.

    What's your point?

    July 26, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    I'm an interested bystander in this fracas...I don't support either candidate and I believe both are unelectable for very different reasons.

    However, from the perspective of someone who doesn't have a dog in this fight (sorry, Michael Vick), when I watched the debate the other night, I thought it was clear that Clinton's response was more "presidential" and that Obama's facial expression and body language reflected his recognition of the fact that he wished he had said what she said.

    They both said the same thing, just in different ways.

    July 26, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Nikki Lin

    Why does everyone keep arguing about who supported the decision to go to war. I seem to remember the majority of Americans being united in the decision to go to war. I don't support either candidate but considering Obama wasn't even a senator at the time, it is a mute point. Anyone can point the finger and say "I would've done it differently"

    July 26, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Little Rock, Arkansas

    For those of you who miss Bill Clinton, are you ready to see him as "First Man"? Bill was good for this country, and good for a laugh once in a while. What makes you think though that Mrs. Clinton is ready to do a better job that he did? You know she was actually in charge, right? So what if Obama isn't a serious politicial player? I'm ready for someone in charge that sees beyond the Beltway and makes a difference. Our country is better than 28 years of Bush and Clinton. Come on, Obama!

    July 26, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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