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. sandi

    there is too much controversy and scandal in clinton's history to make her a viable candidate. no one can trust her and she is in a constant state of suspended anger. she took money from lobbyists. how can anyone trust her enough to make her a president? it's not possible.

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Carolyn

    Sorry Wolf, Hillary is now just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. north carolina

    well, cnn that was bill this time is her wife running she is done

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

    I agree that the media is gaga for Obama. If they won't vet him, then it is up to Hillary to point out what everyone has overlooked with all the hype.

    Could Obama BE any more conceited? I don't think so!

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. bonnie foster

    I feel that way about Hillary Clinton. I could absolutely never vote for her! John McCain has my vote if Clinton is the candidate. I believe in inspiration. In my lifetime people like Martin Luther King Jr., John and Bobby Kennedy, Billy Graham, Pope John Paul have inspired people all over the world with their messages. They have created real change in the hearts and souls of people. There is no great difference in the democratic candidates and what they plan to do for this country. The change will come through someone who can actually inspire the people and the leaders to come together and get it done. Hillary Clinton is incapable of inspiration.

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Brian Shuman

    If you're a strong enough politician to achieve your legislative agenda, you should be a strong enough politician to win an election. The two are not exclusive. Even Bush, who surmounted tremendous negatives to attain the presidency (to our nation's great misfortune), has been able to lower taxes, roll back environmental standards and start a disastrous war. Where were Hillary and McCain while Bush's awful policies rolled through the senate? They were biding their time, being good soldiers and waiting for their moments in the sun. And now they claim the mantle of experience. But if Hillary can't convince her base to support her, how can she win over her enemies in meaningful fights in the future?

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. bob


    where were you and the rest of your cnn "news" reporter these

    past two months...its only been about obama...

    i think you might too late now..any hope hillary had is

    gone thanks to you and the media...and with the serious

    issues our country faces...if this young man gets elected

    i hold the media partially to blame for whatever dangers we face

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Larry Buchas, New Britain, CT

    I find it amusing anyone would compare Barack with George W Bush. Senator Obama has written two books. This sitting President can't complete a sentence.

    This is nothing more than sour grapes for Clinton supporters. It's not all her fault. She would be the best candidate any other year. But Barack is a political steamroller.

    How about this "inexperienced" upstart outperforming the powerful Clinton machine in limited time?

    Barack Obama is the new leader of the Democratic Party. And we're all better off for it!

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Gaynelle Derr

    Thank you Wolf! I am NOT a rabid Clinton supporter. As a matter of fact until a few days ago considered that Obama might be the better candidate. Then, I began to really listen. First of all, I am a lowly high school teacher, and even I know, as do my students what plagerism really is! I would fail any student who lifted as much as 1 complete sentence without proper citation, not to mention what I would do if they lifted paragraphs. This is a concern in that it does speak to the character of the person, doesn't it?

    Then I began to feel less inthralled with the Obama "movement" as I realized that TOO much chemistry in one place politically, especially without being vetted, is actually NOT a good thing.

    So, today I am frightened that we are accepting too much and asking too little...and I admit, though I have been following CNN all this season, I am growing tired of their Obama LOVE.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. nathan

    It seems that dems are on the track of electing obama for the race. This will only ensure another 4 years of republican president. Every democrat who voted for obama is going to regret in november.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Sue

    Obama has had a great deal of help in this election process from CNN and other news media. Your favoring of Obama over Clinton has done serious damage to your network's reputation and the Democratic Party because many of Hillary's supporters will not back Obama if he is the Democratic nominee.

    Hillary would have a chance to come back and beat Obama if CNN was more balanced in their coverage. Your political commentators are a joke. They are falling all over themselves rushing to praise the Great Obama.

    Good luck in November. If he's the nominee, McCain will crush him.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. Dr. Sam

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

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. jason

    Have any of the people buying into the Clinton spin of "solutions, not speeches" looked into Obama's positions? Just because he gives a good speech does not mean he lacks substance. He's merely using what is effective for the electorate. If you look at the policy positions, they're essentially the same as Clinton' (which is why she's limited to making this "solutions not speeches" attempt.)
    Inspiration is not a negative and will serve Obama well in November when he runs against another generationally-challenged candidate who spews the same old lines that got us to where we are now. While McCain has more experience than Obama, so do Cheney and Rumsfeld. Finally, there was a time when we had an inexperienced candidate who only served for 2 years in Congress and was ridiculed for his lack of experience. He also gave a good speech and eventually won. His name was Abraham Lincoln. So it might not turn out so bad. Or we could just keep electing the same type of candidate over and over ...

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. Dem in Ohio

    It is about time somebody said something positive about Hillary. The media is selecting the nomination for us with all this Obama publicity. It is a shame. As you know, people go with the flow and who is winning and you know it. Try it, build Hillary up and see what happens. No? Then there is a plan.

    Hillary 08.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Terry

    With all respect jimF CNN does not need to make an apology to anyone. Hillary Clinton knows exactly what she is doing when she chooses to ignore wins by Barack Obama. She pulls the same stunt every single time...she refuses to publicly congratulate him when she knows she is on television. The reason she is on television is because the news stations expect these candidates to comment on the win or loss which ever applies to them. As soon as it was clear she was not going to comment on that night's election Barack Obama had every right to make his comments when ever he pleased. She was the only candidate of the night who did not comment, so really there was absolutely no reason for her to even be on CNN at that time.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. Mike

    Seriously.... CNN is suppose to be more professional than that. Just being biased against one side. Not everyone in America favors OBAMA. We would like a news company atleast like NBC with "balls" to apologize to the Clintons. Sickens me badly, how could you CNN.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Jen, California

    I'm voting for John McCain, but I wouldn't say that Obama is being pompous at all. If anything, he's shown a lot of restraint in not presuming that he'll win; that's he the nominee. Isn't this what got Hillary Clinton in trouble to begin with? I feel bad for her that she's had little to cheer about in the past month or so, but seriously, we all know that she had believed that this would be wrapped up by now. The fact that it's not, that's why we have been seeing this shift in her message (which Jeffrey Toobin is correct, has changed many times in a short while, in an attempt to see what will work/what won't); why her camp now wants to include Florida and Michigan; why they're now looking towards June (in hopes that they don't get rolled over by March). I mean, I don't think CNN is bias for Obama or against Clinton. As a Republican, I feel it's a bit biased for the Dems coverage, but that's another post...

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. DJ Schaefer

    I agree with jimF's statement above. I believe cutting from Clinton to Obama was a glaring lack of impartiality.

    My personal belief is Obama is all talk and flash. Flash and trash in fact. Clinton has substance. I am hoping that this becomes clearer before people make a terrible mistake.

    I (and MANY) of my friends will vote for McCain if Obama is the candidate. Please America recognize that the future is Hillary!

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. Kevin

    I find it particularly curious that cable networks have continued to urge Hillary Clinton on even though it is patently obvious she is being palpably rejected by the electorate. With every primary or caucus she loses, the media continues to speak of a last stand for the embattled former First Lady. Had Barack Obama lost 10 contests in a row, they would be discussing right now why he doesn't drop out and allow the likely nominee to focus on November.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. bo

    Thank you CNN for cutting the boring speach. (speach that only full of jealousy,dividing and power hungry). I love barak Obama speach.
    No politician ever did anything good for me so far. Atleast Obama speach inspired me. I know neither hillary nor obama change my finances. Only i can change my finances. but i love the speech atleast.
    its entertaining.

    February 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Myrna

    Hillary should step down,, and make room for Obama.. I am from Wisconsin, and he won by 58 Percent.. That speaks Volumes ! Charlotte, Who really cares what Wolf or Any One on Cnn Thinks, the fact of the Matter remains;; The Voters are sick and tired of Hillary and her underhanded schemes to get into the White house, Plain and Simple.. The American People will Not Put up with it ! CNN owes No Apology to Senator Clinton, Period! Senator Clinton Owes a BIG apology to Sen Obama, if nothing else !! Obama will get the Nomination , Plain and Simple.. Obama Suporter in Wisconsin

    February 20, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Daniel

    This is pretty ridiculous. Where has Clinton's "formidable political machine" helped so far? Has it helped her lose by double digit margins in many many states? Has it helped her lose her base to Obama? Will it help her sway the undecided superdelegates? The point is, this election is not about formidable political machines, it's about powerful American leaders. That's exactly what Obama is.

    February 20, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. procrastinator

    Come on. The news wants to talk about the winners. Nobody gives what the loser has to say. It's a harsh reality, but don't confuse it with media bias. Think back when Clinton won NH; that was all over CNN.

    February 20, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. marlene schroeder

    Don't you think that constantly describing Senator Clinton's supporters as 'dopey, dumpy and old' is a sure fire way to drive voters to obama's side of the campaign... any ad-man will tell you that the ' come with us, we are cool' ad campaign does work to sway buyers, and voters...

    February 20, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. Fubara David-West

    This is an insigtful article. However, please stop calling General Musharaff an ally of the United States in the war on terror . States are allies, not presidents, not dictators. The fact that American officials tend to forget the difference is one of the explanations for such foreign policy disasters as the Iran bebacle after the Shah, the Iraq foreign policy cul de sac, which developed as American officials courted an "alliance" with Sadam Hussein, and the developing uncertainty about the fate of American relations with Pakistan after Musharraf.

    Fubara David-West

    February 20, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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