October 30th, 2007
03:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Clinton could face fire at tonight's debate

Clinton is likely to be in the center of fire at tonight's debate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic presidential hopefuls all face off tonight in Philadelphia, but the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns are already taking shots at each other.

While the senator from New York is far ahead of her rivals in all the national polls, there are expectations that Obama, D-Illinois, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards will step up their attacks on Clinton in tonight’s debate.

“Obama has raised the expectations for the debate, and that may not altogether be a good thing,” says CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger, adding that “he has signaled very strongly that he intends to be sharper in his criticism of Hillary Clinton, so all eyes will be on him."

The question is whether he can execute it well enough to keep Clinton from complaining that he’s "gone negative"—a notion, she says, that would "undermine the ‘hopeful’ politics of his campaign.”

But in what’s known as a pre-buttal, Clinton Campaign chief strategist Mark Penn said in an e-mail to reporters that “considering that both Sens. Obama and Edwards made their names by pledging to be positive, the last thing one would have expected was for either of them to go out and announce with pride that they were now going to go negative on a fellow Democrat.”

The Obama campaign quickly responded, with chief strategist David Axelrod telling Borger that “it’s the height of disingenuousness, for these people, who a run hardened political machine, to turn around and profess that any legitimate exchange is out of bounds.”

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Kim, Sacramento, CA

    I don't know where anyone ever got the idea that Obama is going to go "negative". How is pointing out fundamental differences going negative? What Obama has done, and I anticipate will continue to do (as he well should), is point out where he stands/how he has voted/what he has-does support versus where Mrs. Clinton is. For example: It is fact when Senator Obama says that he was against the Iraq war from the start and Senator Clinton was not. That's not negative it's the truth.

    October 30, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Tonya, Houston, TX

    Rodney said: "Is that how they are going to run the country if they win."

    Bush did it! Name a bigger bully than our president!

    October 30, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Ramon Gutt, Alexandria, VA

    Ohhhhhh that Hillary!

    October 30, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Cory, Portland Oregon

    I say Hillary should make Obama her running mate! I just love the fact that our next president is going to be a women or black. I bet the republicans haven't been this scared in a long long time!

    October 30, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Two of the three candidates pictured above cannot win 50% of the popular vote or enough electorals to win. Mark Penn knows this.

    October 30, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. P Brown, OKC, OK

    Hey Rodney, no one is talking bad about Hill. That's been the problem all along. It's about time the other candidates start questioning her about the things she says and has promised. Has anyone called her a bad name? If not, they are not attacking. I think calling someone naive and irresponsible is more like a "personal" attack. She is not above criticism. I just hope the Clinton News Network (CNN) doesn't spin the criticms as meanspirited towards this helpless female.

    October 30, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. monica, rochester new york

    Rodney, no answer to the question on why is every challenge to HRC viewed as an "Attack"? Is she suppose to get a free pass. HRC has called Obama names publicly, no HRC supporters spoke up to complain about her attack mode. Obama has spoken very respectfully about HRC, but HRC does not return the courtesy. Confronting each other on issues, positions, values and philosophies is part of the process. Why are you against that?

    October 30, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. John Adkisson, Sacramento, California

    The Clinton campaign's tactic of refusing to respond to criticism is a throwback to the tactics of the White House in the 90's. Be evasive on substance; lie if you have to; raise irrelevant points always– do anything but level with people.

    The "politics of hope" as outlined in Obama's book has nothing to do with avoiding the discussion of tough issues, or pointing out where other candidates are behaving in a false manner. The "politics of hope" means leading with honesty and building bridges between disparate groups –something Clinton will never do.

    By never responding to the issues raised, but always attacking the messenger - Hillary Clinton has exposed the blueprint of her Presidency - it will be the same blueprint for quasi-Republican policies and avoidance of substance.

    Integrity in a public official includes facing issues without name calling. Obama has not engaged in name calling - he has exposed fundamental differences in the candidates.

    I am deeply depressed that I might have to vote for Clinton in the general election simply to avoid a candidate even more to the right. But it is not too late. Let's get this right in the primaries!

    October 30, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |


    Are you really that dumb? It's a headline.... doesn't mean anything.

    October 30, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Matt, Chicago

    It's sad, but it won't matter. Hardly anyone watches. People are more concerned about haircuts, lapel pins, and the sexual views of gospel singers.
    you know – BS that doesn't matter.

    Also, though I can't say this for Edwards, Obama has not "attacked" Hillary. Disagreement and differentiation should be encouraged.

    The constant superficial pandering of Hillary + "Rudy McRomney" should not be rewarded...but it will be.

    October 30, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. Sue, Midland, MI

    Obviously, they can't talk about their own ideas, so they bash Hillary. The public is really tired of negativity, folks. Tell us what YOU will do, what YOUR vision is for the country, and let Hillary express hers. The Republican candidates are doing the same thing. There are some might scared pols out there. Run, Hillary, Run!

    October 30, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. David, Frisco Texas

    It's just common sense that with Clinton so far ahead in the polls, any other Democrat who wants the nomination has to point out her weaknesses and go after her on those if they expect to stay in the game. As a life-long Democrat, I don't care about a love-fest among the candidates. If I were one of the candidates running against Hillary I would be doing what I could to stop her momentum and make sure that Democratic voters question her electability in the general election.

    October 30, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Mark Columbus, Ohio

    I wouldn't be surprised if the Obama and Edwards camps talked to each other and agreed to start blasting away at Hillary. They gotta do something and unfortunately, the "positive" campaigning isn't going to get them anywhere. They have to start showing Clinton's weaknesses or they are finished.


    October 30, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Kim, Iowa

    You go get yours Obama. Too bad the Clinton campaign can't handle debating the issues and call distinguishing yourself, "attacking." Nice try. She and her campaign should know the difference by now, so naive.

    October 30, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. M. Meyer LaCrosse, WI

    Isn't it far more disengenuous of the Obama campaign party to continue using the very same mudslinging, fact spinning, negativity and finger pointing tactics as the Bush administration, only to spin it to the public as a 'legititmate exchange'.

    As a citizen who takes the safety, security and health of this country very seriously, I am curious; If our political candidates aren't able to back up their declarations of integrity and vision by their own voting history and professional accomplishments, WITHOUT pointing fingers at others, are they really qualified to be running for a political office at all?

    October 30, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. Gary , Richmond, VA

    There's not one debate that I've known of that bad words havent been thrown. This is only what we are suppose to suspect. Hilary would do the same.

    Go Obama. Your our guy

    October 30, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Monte Brown, New York, NY

    Hillary has got this. She is tough, and she need not worry too much about Edwards or Obama. She has already been on the ropes by the right wingers who are known for hate, lies and demagoguery. There isn't an issue that either Edwards or Obama can bring to Hillary of which Hillary won't give the most comprehensive answer. Edwards and Obama are desparate. They need to support Hillary now. She is more qualified than the two of them. After tonight, I hope Obama and Edwards wakes up and join the winning team so that we can all take on the reactionaries effectively. Hillary Clinton is READY TO LEAD.

    October 30, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Taylor- Philadelphia, PA

    How does one talk about differences without talking about what makes them different? That is not mud-slinging or negative. Grow UP!

    She did vote for Iraq, she did vote for the resolution against Iran, she hasn't been clear on what she plans to do about Social Security. Why shouldn't people pay into SS on the money made over $97K ? It is a fair question.

    As he said this is an election not a cornation. Tough issues and differences have to be discussed and made clear.

    Negative politics would be discussions regarding her cheating husband, or why is it scandal seems to follow them. It has been said where there is smoke there is usually fire. Barack hasn't and won't go there, because he can talk clearly about the issues.

    October 30, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Michael, Houston, TX

    Chris Mathews of Hardball said it best. If you think its right that we should be in Iraq but that the execution of the war needs to change, vote for Hillary.

    If you think the war is wrong and we need to leave, vote for Obama.

    Clinton is Bush/Cheney lite.

    October 30, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. Jim Bremer

    Another funny difference between Obama and Hillary –

    You know this Hillary Rodham Clinton ? People make funny wordplays on her name – like Billary, Shrillary etc. No one minds – it's all part of the Great American habit of caricaturing public personalities. No big deal.

    NOW let's talk about Obama 🙂

    Obama's full name is Barak Hussein Obama. If you DARE make a nickname for Obama, such as replacing a single strategic letter – you get Barak Hussein OSAMA.
    You're done for. Obama/Osama minions will come out of the woodwork, enraged that you dared to desecrate their sacred idol. You will be called anything from racist to bigot to much worse.

    Question – Why is the Obama campaign so sensitive about association with Osama ? Is it just the connotation of Obama, given his infamous middle name Hussein ? Or is there a more sinister deeper connection ? What are you trying to hide?

    October 30, 2007 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    That was a perfect response from the Obama team. Afterall, it was Hillary who called Obama "naive & inexperienced"

    October 30, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. JR, OHIO

    I don'[t understand why people call it going "negative". Facts are facts. Hillary clinton is a good politican, but I don't think she is best for the country. Remeber people thought George Bush was a good politicain and look what that got us.

    October 30, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. Iowa

    Time to take out the gloves. I'de hate to be Hilary.

    And Rodney... its time Mrs. Bill shows what she's got. No one has challenged her at this point. Shes status quo.

    If you were so confident in your girl, this wouldnt bother you one bit.

    October 30, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  24. Joeley Reno, Nevada

    Edwards and Obama's rhetoric is going to come back and bite em.

    John Edwards needs to cool his jets. He's beginning to remind me of Tom (the Hammer) Delay and believe me, that's not a pretty picture.

    Hillary is the front runner for good reason. She's the best candidate for the job.

    She will kick Republican booty.


    October 30, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. Terrie, Decherd, TN

    They will turn negative......it never fails.

    Personally, I don't care who wins or is the nominee.........as long as Bush is finally gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 30, 2007 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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