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. emkay

    Even though Hillary Clinton is strong on substance, She has never convinced common man as strong as Obama. Obama seems to present himself as a decent politician, who is cut above the rest. I havent seen him display strong leadership skills either.

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Charles Hamm

    I think that Wolf is wrong. Sen. Clinton hurt her chances by her husbands interference and temper. Plus a lot of Republicans would love to have Sen. John McCain run against Sen. Obama rather than Sen. Clinton. So, where it is allowed I believe some Republicans will cross over and vote for Sen. Obama. I also don't count out the Al Gore effect. I don't think he's gone just yet. The Democrat convention should be very, very interesting this time.

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Charlotte, you lost all credibility by saying we just had a cheerleader for 8 years. Are you insane, if there is anyone that's an antithesis of a cheerleader it's George Bush.

    Comparing the two is ridiculous bordering on insanity. You could not find two more distinctive polar opposites.

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. Jorge Sanchez

    All Wolf......dont be that way. Dont worry Obama wont let up. Thats for sure. Thanks for the 2cents though

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. Nell

    Yes,I strongly agree and urge CNN to apology openly to Senator Hillary Clinton.It was very rude to interrupt her speech and swifted the channel to Obama rally.

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Manuel

    I don't understand why Obama is being criticized for his ability to give speeches. Are you only a policy wonk if you cannot give a flowery speech?

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Ricardo

    I want solutions for my family, my community and my country!

    Latinos in Penssylvania with Hillary!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. N Galella

    Sen. Obama's campaign has relied heavily on the idea of change, and that the fact he is a relatively new politician who is not deeply involved in the iron triangle, which makes him the embodiment of change. In order for Sen. Clinton to combat this, she must fight the American sentiment that the Clinton's are too political and represent bureachracy. A good way to do this is for her campaign to focus on her previous contributions in the fight against unethical practices in government which ultimately disenfranchise the voter and chip away at popular soveriegnty (her work on investigating Nixon's Watergate scandal, which have some parallels to the corruption in the current Bush administration). It is imperative that the Clinton campaign paint a picture of her which represents her history of fighting for the "little guy" and equal treatment under the law (no bill of attainder). I also believe that Sen. Obama's voting history while in the senate should be brought up. Sen. Obama has a history of merely voting present, instead of yea or nea. While he is an extremely eloquent and inspiring speaker, if he becomes president, (according to Barber's theory of presidential personality), he is likely to continue this behavior during his presidency which will make it difficult for him to deliver on his promises.

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. ann

    I agree with Charlotte. Loved Reagan. Consider my self a Democrat but if Obama is the nominee, will vote for McCain.

    February 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Sastry

    But Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton who has a warm personality and can delivery speeches better.

    February 20, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. Vincent

    Those are excellent examples of Bill's resilience, with a small footnote about Hilary's failed health care plan. However, I see no evidence of a similarity between Hilary and Bill in terms of resilience or political style.

    Hilary is a deliberate problem solver; Bill is a charismatic and persuasive leader. As a couple, their strength was that their many differences support each other. As opposed to what Mr. Blitzer would have you believe, being married does not mean you are identical. In fact, Bill's shadow was a detriment in South Carolina, as opposed to the support Hilary helped Bill garner among female voters.

    If you want to see some direct proof, I urge you to watch video from her speech last night (2/19) where she looks tired, her voice sounds hoarse, and her message is unchanged. Now compare that to Obama's upbeat and high energy speech the same night. She didn't even acknowledge defeat in the last 3 contests, let alone adapt to it. In contrast, Obama seems to grow stronger every time Hilary attacks him.

    Blitzer proves that Hilary is married to someone who is resilient, not nearly the same thing as Obama's proven resilience.

    February 20, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. EllenH

    Thanks for your thoughts. Gives me hope. I worry about this country
    being led by someone like Obama who is little more that a
    motivational speaker. We're in enough trouble
    already. Give us someone with experience.

    February 20, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Vincent

    If things keep going as they have been, Obama has this nomination. He just received 50,000 new donations in the past DAY.

    February 20, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Nick IL

    I voted for Hillary because she will be the best, and yes tested, Democratic canidate in the general election.
    My real comment is for women voters. When poll results show 85% or more african americans behind Obama, and white male voters 2 to 1 for Obama, clearly choosing the male canidate, where are the independent working women who want to progress womens rights and equality? Please understand the stakes, there couldn't be a more qualified canidate than Hillary Clinton.

    February 20, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. RB-Florida

    I don’t have anything against Hillary Clinton; but if she becomes the nominee I will make sure that all my friends and I vote for McCain

    February 20, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. stone

    I'm not a big fan of Hilary but I have to admit that the coverage of Obama has been a joke. The left-wing media loves this guy, maybe more than they loved Bill Clinton. Barack Obama is perhaps the least qualified presidential candidate ever to get this far. He's a good person, there's no doubt about that, but is he the best person in the US to be our president? What has he done? Can someone name the amazing part of his background that answers this question?

    February 20, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. DS


    "Hillary is no Bill Clinton;" your commentary here seems to suggest such. She has a meaner spirit than Bill and quite frankly, hasn't said anything new or impressive to give her the nod. What should be said is that we are witnessing one of the biggest upsets in political history with Obama's impressive run. Unfortunately, with that said, he will not be the one to beat McCain in November...McCain can only beat himself.

    February 20, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. rachel

    I think it's hilarious that people are talking in the comments on this website (and on the Obama and Clinton websites) about voting for McCain if Obama gets the nomination.

    Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Good luck with that.

    February 20, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. Krissy

    Hillary needs to apologize for starting her speech late. Obama started his speech at the scheduled time, should he have kept 20,000 people in the auditorium waiting? She was rude for trying to force him to change times.

    Obama is more than a cheerleader, and if you would actually look at his policy ideas you would see that. His plans are very clearly laid out on his website...his ideas and how to impliment them.

    February 20, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. Sam

    The media is so wishy washy and that is why you can not count out Clinton. The media keeps slanting minor statements just for ratings.

    February 20, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Dr. Sam

    WHAT Hillary would lead to re-boot her flagging campaign? Wolf. You are already doing it–in many subtle but sometimes not so subtle ways.

    February 20, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Francisco Xavier Torres

    Come on Wolf, you can't be that blind. All your comeback kid comments reflected on Bill, not Hillary. Last I checked, Bill was not up for re-election. Not to mention that in all those other instances, the spouse was viewed as helpful resource and not a liability (ex. Bill in South Carolina and injecting race into the debate). Also, Bill's presence raises the notion of who would really be in charge if Hillary won; she couldn't control Bill in the primaries so who is to say she could control him once he is back in the White House? (and this is coming from someone who really likes Bill Clinton) Hillary cannot face the same challenges that Bill did and still persevere, to put it bluntly with no pun intended, her platform/image just does not have the stones. Her candidacy does not have the aura that Bill's did and thats partly due to her and partly due to other circumstances beyond her control. She became senator in NY because of Bill's petticoats and now will lose the presidency despite his pull. March 4th will be game set match for Obama whether or not the Hillary campaign wants to admit it. If she loses either she should immediately withdraw and let the Obama focus on McCain.

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Basho

    Wolf, I think you are right. People should not count out Hillary Clinton just yet. I also noticed that much of your column was actually devoted to the past election comebacks of President Clinton. You do know, he isn't running this time, don't you? Seriously, I watch the Situation Room every day, and think you do a fine job. In a still more serious vein, I don't see how you could have let Mary Matalin get away with saying that “global warming is a scientific hoax”? Does she have a Ph.D. in climate studies, or did she get this from the Bible? I believe we are all entitled to our opinions, political, religious, and otherwise, but not when they are paraded as fact by public figures. Public figures need to be held accountable for what they say, as well as what they do. Religious beliefs or a few fringe scientific dissenters funded by big coal and oil are not a credible basis for deciding scientific claims about nature. We must rely on the consensus of experts, and in this case, they are unanimous. Do Republicans think that rockets and missile shield technology are based on a “scientific hoax”? Global warming confronts us with the most serious national security threat the US has faced since the end of the Cold War. And it is one we cannot arm ourselves against. The limited coverage of climate crisis on news shows seems obscene when Sen. Obama gets taken to task all day Monday for the pseudo-event of Wordgate, while blatant absurdities like Mary Matlin’s statement go unremarked. Dictators and demagogues have always known that if a lie is repeated often enough, people start to believe it. The thing most lacking in modern journalism, in my opinion, is a lack of critical perspective. Thank god you have Jack Cafferty to keep things real.

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. George from Minneapolis

    The delegates from Florida and Michigan will be seated. AFTER the nominee has been determined.

    Its laughable that Hillary is trying to go against the will of the people to try and steal the nomination. Who does she think she is, George Bush ??

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. Renee

    Please give me some insight. You'd rather vote for John McCain than Obama, because you BELIEVE him over Obama. I'm not fooled, I think most politicians will say anything to get your vote, most of it is BS. At least if I know I'm going to be lied to, I'd like to feel good about what they're saying. You'd rather have 4 more years of the Republicans, because America has been so PROSPOROUS these last 8 years? Give me a break, I'd vote for Obama, or Clinton before I would EVER, EVER, give my vote to a conservative, who wants to tap my phone, spend my tax dollars on a war I don't believe in, and tell me as a woman what I should do with my own body. Wake up, stop keeping American in the dark ages, that's the problem. "People" want to keep this image of America as it was supposed to be, and not wanting to accept the country is changing for better or worse it's changing. I want a president whose realistic about the change and wants to move to the next chapter in history, and it is NOT John McCain!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17