February 20th, 2008
03:18 PM ET
10 years ago

Blitzer: Don't count Hillary Clinton out

The Clintons have bounced back before

The Clintons have bounced back before

(CNN) - The political momentum is clearly with Barack Obama. He has been impressive. But don’t count Hillary Clinton out yet - she has a formidable political machine and lots of ardent supporters.

Obama has won ten contests in a row - almost all of them by significant margins. But Clinton still has time to come back between now and March 4, when there are major contests in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island. There is no doubt she is facing an uphill struggle, but it would be premature to say it’s over.

I say that as a reporter who has seen Bill and Hillary Clinton bounce back before. During the 1992 Democratic presidential campaign, he was considered politically dead after the Gennifer Flowers scandal erupted. But he overcame that and became “the comeback kid” in New Hampshire.

Her political viability was undermined dramatically when her disastrous health care initiative collapsed after he became president in 1993.

Some pundits began calling him a lame-duck in 1994 when the Democrats lost their majority in the House and Senate. But he came back to defeat Bob Dole in 1996 and won a second term.

Then, there were all the other scandals during his eight years in the White House, including Whitewater, Travelgate, Monica Lewinsky and impeachment. Some suggested he would have to resign. I was CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent then, and I remember those days vividly.

But Bill Clinton survived and even thrived. His job approval rating during his final year in the White House was in the mid-60s. President Bush’s right now is in the low-30s. And Hillary Clinton sailed to victory over Republican congressman Rick Lazio in 2000 in the New York Senate race - even though she had never really lived in New York, and many accused her of being a carpet-bagger.

In short, I think it’s fair to say she’s in serious political trouble right now. But given the Clintons’ history, it would be a mistake to say her quest for the presidency is over. If she manages to win in Texas and Ohio - and that still is possible - she will go on to Pennsylvania on April 22, and this roller coaster political season will continue.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (410 Responses)
  1. Tom, Austin TX

    Wait, so Hillary Clinton gets credit for Bill's coming back in 1992 and 1996? My wife graduated from an Ivy league college, can I put that on my resume?

    February 20, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. nic

    Wolf has been adamantly supporting Clinton all year...

    February 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. jimF

    With all respect, I believe CNN needs to make a prominent, visible apology for Sen. Clinton and her team for the treatment shown by cutting out in the middle of her speech to present Sen. Obama's lenghty, not new speech. Combine that with language used by many CNN commentators and it forms a pattern.

    February 20, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. Charlotte

    I agree, I think Obama is being a little pompous. He may very well win the nomination, I do not believe he will win in November. I want a person of substance, not pretty speeches. I am a Reagan democrat who will vote for McCain if Obama is the democrats nominee. I'm not fooled by a cheer leader, we just had one of those for 8 years.

    February 20, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Juan Jimenez

    Yes, count Hillary out. She and the other half of the "Dynamic Rollover Duo," Rep. Pelosi, can _both_ be counted out. It is insulting for Clinton to call herself the candidate for change when she has had plenty of opportunities to vote for change, but has instead rolled over like a little doggie every time Bush and the repukeblicans give the slightest pushback. Good bye, Hillary. The dust from Obama's campaign is now obscuring the view. I think I'll look to the future.

    February 20, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. MJ

    Most of this history is about Bill Clinton, not Hillary Clinton. Notwithstanding the carpet-bagging allegation, Hillary Clinton has never faced serious opposition for any elected position.

    February 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. Flip-flopping fan of Wolf

    Not a bad piece at all Wolf. There is much more fairness and balance in this article that I have seen in virtually any CNN election article. I'm loving you again. Obama may be flexing his muscles and smiling broadly for the camera, but at the end of the day the Clintons are loved by many. People haven't forgotten her contributions, particularly on child heathcare and even immigration. Many also recognize her as an authority in foreign relations. It is an uphill battle for her, but hardly over at this point.

    February 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. sabine

    The only way she can get out of trouble is to continue to hurl dirty tricks at Senator Obama. She is trying to win this race by any means necessary and she is willing to tear her opponent down in the process. I dont want her to "bounce back" she has shown her true colors. She is an evil woman and she is only interested in the position of US PRESIDENT for the fame and not the responsibilities that comes with it. Obama is for the people and I hate to see her try to rip him apart. It makes her look bad. I hope Obama asks about her not releasing her taxes at the debate tomorrow. Im sure her campaign staf has her prepped to side step it somehow.

    February 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Aris Karakalos

    Dear Wolf:
    I don't think your argument to "not count Clinton out" holds any water. To say Hillary's campaign is not out simply because her HUSBAND's political career was full of comebacks makes no real sense. In fact, it is likely to backfire against her - people want change, not another another Clinton merely for Clinton's sake.

    February 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. Patty

    Thank you Wolf Blitzer. I agree with you 100% and hope Hillary does make it. We need the change of a woman in the White House and she is it.

    February 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. Frankie

    THANKS WOLF: February's primaries are gone. March is HILLARY's month!!!! She is the most qualified candidate for president and people will make a mistake if she will not be given a chance to prove that. Obama can inspire but he cannot lead!!!! He needs more experience to solve the problems that we have right now.

    I have never doubted HILLARY's persistence to win this race! She has the tested brand name and that is her advantage. If course, she can fight with her experience and expertise. She has put alot of energy & commitment to this campaign that is very admirable!!!!! The Texans & Ohians including voters from RI & VT will see this & support her!

    February 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. justin

    the only reason she is still alive is b/c of bill clinton and his political machine. if obama had lost in 10 straight contests by double-digit margins, the clintons and the media would be clamoring for him to step down and concede.

    the double standard is ridiculous.

    February 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. Irishspacemonk

    Wolf, for someone who comes across as a pretty intelligent guy, I'm surprised by your suggestion this isn't really over. The comeback's you speak of are irrelevant. First, Bill Clinton's NH comeback was early in the game. We've already have had more than half the country speak now, and the majority are saying no to another Clinton candidacy. Second, your other bounce backs for Clinton are meaningless, because they are in fact coming back to haunt her. The fact she didn't get rid of Bill long ago is diminishing her campaign.

    February 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. JMP


    This is not New Hampshire in 1992 - a race Bill actually lost, you will recall - nor is it New Hampshire in 2008 - a race Hillary won by a very narrow margin in terms of both the raw vote and in pleged delegates. Narrow victories (much less losses that are "moral victories") don't help Hillary Clinton now. She needs blowout victories to merely just pull even with Barack Obama. The unavoidable reality here is that Obama is going to be the democratic nominee, barring a remarkable game-changing development (or a very unlikely hijacking of the process by the superdelegates - a turn of events that appears very unlikely now).

    To use a football analogy, Senator Clinton is down by two touchdowns and there are less that two minutes on the clock. She needs (1) a length of the field TD drive, (2) a successful onsides kick, and (3) a second TD drive, all against a defense against which points have been hard for her to put on the board throughout the entire game. It may be possible, but at this point Don Meredith would probably be singing "Turn out the lights, the party's over . . ."

    February 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Our future president

    Wolf, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for not trashing the Clintons like all the rest of the media. It's very disheartening and sad watching all the media so biased against the Cllintons. You have given me "HOPE" knowing that there are still some fair and balanced reporters in our country. You have my greatest respect!!! I am sure half of the voters in this democratic elections who voted for Hillary feel the same way. THANK YOU!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    Wolf...this is EXACTLY why I will not support Hillary Clinton...we do NOT need this again for the next 8 years! Enough is enough.

    February 20, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Damion K. Miles

    The one contributing factor to all of Bill Clinton's "combacks" was this – HE HAD THE SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE! It is becoming increasingly obvious that Barack Obama has the support of the people as well. The people like Bill Clinton, Hillary, not so much. Of all the scandals Bill went through, all of them were, for a lack of a better term, extacurricular activities. None of them were because of his job performance. Hillary is losing her grip on the demographic that could her the most and her grip on the reality that she is going to lose this nomination. Obama in 08!!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. Nick

    Does Mr. Blitzer work for CNN or the Clinton campaign ?

    February 20, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Danny U

    Is Wolf moderating tomorrow's debate? Based on what I just read, I foresee some more softballs lobbed to Senator Clinton. Nice job, Wolf, aiding and abetting the Clintonian ripping apart of the Democratic party with your unrealistic drivel. Hillary has to take somewhere around 58% of the remaining pledged delegates to draw even. For once the Clintons should consider somebody other than themselves. She wants to give America a voice yet would drown out the wishes of voters by stealing the election via poaching pledged delegates and strong-arming superdelegates??? Cut me a break ~ this is the biggest fairytale I've ever seen.

    February 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. chelsea

    Thank you Wolf for at least mentioning the scandals of those days....support for any candidate aside someone really needs to remind people why they should vote for anyone but her.....The Clinton scandals list is long very very long...............

    February 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Ron C

    Wolf after openly biased against Hillary, now trying to keep the ball rolling! Why? The media needs the hype of the race otherwise their viewership tails off. Obama / McCain with 9 months to go is just not as compelling as Obama / Hillary. The Media Elite is here at work again. They crowned their man OBAMA a bit too soon apparently.
    IKE cautioned that the military indusrial complex was in danger of taking over our democracy – now its the media.

    February 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Ilse Leiker

    Wolf, you're right, but she needs to win BIG in Texas and Ohio – like 60-40 and I don't think that's gonna happen.

    February 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Tracy

    Waht does Bill Clinton's political career have to do with Hillary Clinton's political career? Come on!!!!! Who is running for President... Bill or Hillary? Let's focus on whether Hillary can make a come back on her own now, not based on Bill's past performance.

    February 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. Moshe Levin

    We in Israel had a lady Prime Minister who ran this nation during very difficult times including a war. If anyone thinks a woman leader cannot be tough, think of Golda. If Hillary is anything like Golda, the U.S. will have a great President. So far all of Obama's rhetoric has been words, words, words. He calls for change but I'd like to hear him say specifically change to what!! And what is he going to change? The constitution?

    February 20, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. TEXAS Mike

    Thanks for reminding me how horrible the Clintons really are.

    February 20, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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