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. Charle

    If experience and/or years in Washington are all that counts, why not immediately appoint Dick Cheney the next president of the USA? He's been there from the moment I started to pay attention to USA politics somewhere in the eighties. On the other hand, with all the experience and Washington saffiness bundled into the Bush administration, why then have they made such a mess of both your domestic and international politics? With all HRC's expercience, why is she trailing Obama? Why didn't she get her campaign right from day one? The US have turned bad under her watch, what has she done to prevent this from happening? She had herr shot on universal health care in the nineties. Fifteen years later, the richest country in the world provides her citizens healh care that is worse than in many poor countries.
    Clinton and McCain are actually saying to an incredible number of voters in the USA that they are brainless fools, following an unexperienced preacher without substance. He's all hat, no cattle. What does that actually say about them? If a fast majority of voters, not to mention the millions of people around the world, prefers to follow that "words magician" with is empty rhetoric, have all these people suddenly lost their minds or should we by now conclude that Clinton did a poor job convincing the electorate that she is the right person to lead the US and the world?
    the more they try to disqualify Barack Obama, the more it becomes an embarresment for themself. With all your experience and all HRC's experience and superior qualities, still she loses from a freshman? It's not just words, it's the message and more importantly, it's the messenger. How I wish I were an American today, so I could join those millions who opt for change. Yes I'm inspired by Barack Obama, for what he stands for and mostly for the way he got so many to be positive again.I'm fired up and ready to join this inexperienced Illinois senator in hisquest for a better USA AND a better world. All the way from Amsterdam Netherlands!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. aware

    Thanks Wolf!

    I hate to see media madness and money buying another arrogant, ego driven nominee and possible president. I also hate watching and hearing social misogyny putting its evil stamp on this election.

    I could not in good conscience vote for Barack if he became the nominee. It would be worse than just exchanging the far right for the far left. Obamamania is becoming frightening. It is moving ever closer to mindless cult status.

    I pray that Americans will wake up in time. There is only one candidate well prepared for the presidency in 08.

    However, if Hillary is not the nominee, I will vote for John McCain.

    Hillary the HOPE of 08 🙂

    February 20, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. Nigel

    Since 1980 we have had a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. It is time for a change. My strong preference is McCain but I would take Obama over Clinton any day of the week ending in "y"

    February 20, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. Diane

    I think most candidates can be a little pompous at times but Barack is the least pompous, any of the time and there is no doubt in my mind, that he is the most sincere.
    If people are afraid to vote for him and want to go with whoever seems to be 'safe,' then they may well be afraid of change and they can expect more of the same. Time is running out for the american empire but Barack can save the nation.
    The world has no doubt that things in the US need to change.
    The US needs to heal foreign ties, not inflame them, as other governments have and will continue to do, if the wrong person is chosen, once again. Barack Obama can heal world relationships with peace and make the change needed together, with the american people (that is if they believe in themselves as much as he believes in them.)

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Grif

    It seems to me, that [eople are just voting to torment the system...

    Who Care's! We can't possibly be any worse off.... But they can! As Obama say's 'we can'. And they will if he is elected, and then "we can". Turns into a 'Can of Worms'. Then whose to blaim....

    We Didn't!!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. IsaacH

    I still haven't given up on Hillary, I think she would make a great President. At least a president that would care about the people that make up the backbone of this nation and not the economic traitors that the Bush administration seems to polly coddle. And while Im on the subject of backbones, if the men in this country would grow one and give the true reasons why they are not voting for a women running for President, instead of some political correct reason. Maybe it would really go to show we really haven't came that far in the equal rights arena. As an example – I had a guy ( friend ) stop over and ask whom I was voting for nominee for President, and I said Hillary. He remarked he wouldn't vote for anyone that didn't have any testicals ( He used the other more diffenative term for testicals, lol.) thanks for hearing my 2 cents on the matter. Hillary all the way.

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. Tom

    This is the first time I get involved with politics. I knew how crazy politics will get at Washington and many of us simply accept that politics are dirty. Hop is the only things we have to fix the system and Barack Obama is the best candidate to lead this change.

    I don't think Hillary Clinton's experience means anything unless her experience, action and solutions can translate into great policies and results that will benefit us and our countries in the long run.

    If I want to evaluate candidates based on experience, we can simply look at how Hillary Clinton managed her campaign. Poor judgment on character, lack of strategic insight and long term thinking, poor execution on plans and her strong sense of entitlement have been the major causes of her downfall in this primary season.

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Brenda

    I love this.. Bill did this, so don't count Hillary out; Bill did that, so don't count Hillary out. Who is running for president here?

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Nicole

    I fully support Obama, his message of hope and change is just what America needs. Clinton's negative ads and harsh words back fired yesterday and I am glad. If her message was truly strong and full of substance, she wouldn’t have to dig in Obama’s back yard. She may have more experience, but she also has more mistakes, more ethical issues, and more things that will be throw in her face by the Republicans if she runs against McCain.

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. darrellj

    Sorry, there should be no appology for what CNN or Obama did. Hillary is acting like a sore loser. Question for Charlotte: As a Reagan Democrat, you would vote for Hillary before McCain?

    Hillary is going to stop at nothing to win this nomination, even if it means tearing apart the Democratic party. This 527 group that some of her supporters have put together, is only going to be more fuel to the fire during the general election if Obama wins. Fuel for McCain, who as far as I'm concerned, is just like Bush. At this point, you will help the Republicans will the general without donating to their campaign.

    Hillary should try to win this nomination the BEST WAY not the WORST WAY that she can. Sending out negative ads as much as she has been, is a Karl Rove move.

    For those who don't think that Barack Obama has any accomplishments or substance. Go to his website. Look him up on Wikipedia. Look him up on Google for the Illinois State Senate or the US Senate and READ ABOUT HIS POSITIONS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

    I have done this concerning Hillary, & Barack and that is why I am not voting for Hillary. At least, some of you should have the sense to do the same thing for Obama.

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. Scott

    I think Obama does not have the experiance to run the country. We have had a BAD president for the last 7 years, We need someone that can get us (United States of America) out of the mess that Bush has put us in and Obama is not that person. I believe Hilary Clinton is the one person running for office that has the Experience to get this country back on track. We need someone that can deal with all the other countrys and get us back in there good graces and we need someone that will get this countrys economy back on track. If Obama wins the nomination, i will have to vote for McCain and hope that Hillary will run again in 4 yrs. We have to remember if Obama wins and we don't (democrats) like him after 4 yrs, We can't change our minds, Cause Hillary can not run against him because he would be a sitting president, so that would be 8 yrs before we could only hope that Clinton would run. Clinton not only is the one with the Experiance but her husband Bill can help her any way she may want. After Bush, it will take an Ex-president and Experianced woman to get the USA going again.

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. scott

    Barak Obama is pompous? That's a awfully terrible view. Considering his age and experience, he has done tons of positive things for the people that support him. I might be only be twenty two years old, but at least this candidate can relate to my generation's experiences. The way he speaks motivates me and inspires the people around me. I believe in his ideas. I believe this country needs a fresh approach. You FOGIES need an entirely new way of thinking. Barak Obama is the future–prepare for a brand new style of federal government–one that gets things done.

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. TB

    Excuse Jim and Charlotte...

    With all due respect it is the sore loser Hillary Clinton that owes Obama an apology. If we watched the same CNN at the bottom of the screen it said Obama is set to come out and give his speech, when in fact Hillary moved hers up as an attempt to bully Obama just as she's been trying to do all along, therefore it is her who owes him the apology and not the other way around. She is a very deceitful and woman...have any of her supporters noticed how NO STATES EVER MATTER EXCEPT FOR THE ONES SHE WINS??? Mr Obama has run a remarkable campaign and he owes Hillary Clinton no such apology! Good day!

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. MarknDC

    Are you sure you want to project Bill Clinton's comebacks onto Hillary? Hasn't this campaign been about her being her own candidate? I was a Hillary supporter until I saw her trot into Florida and declare victory even though the candidates said they wouldn't do so and I found it depressing to see Bill make the comments about Jesse Jackson in South Carolina, and now I find it conniving to see Hillary trying to find a way to add Florida and Michigan votes to her tally even though the Democrats said they wouldn't. And now she is going negative in her ads. Seems like she becomes more and more Bush-like the more desperate she becomes. Obama may not have a ton of experience, but if the experience he lacks is Washinton backstabbing and conniving then I'll support him all the way.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. NJvoter

    jimf said....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.
    I agree with you jimf...something is up.....Jack Cafferty was licking his lips today talking about Obama and let it be known that he thought Hillary Clinton was blown out of the race. He should be ashamed of himself! Wolf Blitzer tries to be unbiased most times but that is not enough.
    I think most of CNN's spin and double talk is geared toward showing Obama as the winner but they do not talk about any of the issues....and they are not showing Clinton in the best light...CNN is undermining her for some reason....hmmm...what could it be?
    They're taking orders from somewhere....
    It's clear that they have a lot to learn about being a newsteam...they're all about ratings. Well, here is something for them...We should BOYCOTT CNN'S SPONSORS until they learn to be unbiased and report on the news like journalists instead of pundits.

    This may or may not get posted .....but don't think that I'm the only person who feels this way....many of us out here know what's what and how the corporate media works....
    e-mail goes swiftly and this will be e-mailed to many many people tonight.


    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. mary

    I just saw the news and the united states is in for a down fall
    we are in inflation now and they expect to have heavy employment
    do you Think Obama can help this problem I think not
    President Clinton got out this mess when he was president Obama
    is another George Bush He wantn't to prove he is black
    and he can win which would make the Black people very happy
    he makes to many promisese and he will not keep them.
    I am voting for McCain if he nomanated at least I can trust him.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. GoranT

    I agree with Obama advisers who feel their guy has a considerable lead, one that is not easy to overcome due to the proportional system employed by the democrats in the primary. And I really don´t understand the almost mythical reverence attributed to Clinton by the press. I mean had Obama lost the last 10 races, this would be a locked deal for Hillary and Obama would be just a memory as exotic as his name was just a few months ago. But I suppose everyone, even the Clinton camp, understand very well that Hillary is on the losing end of this game. So the real question isn´t if she can bounce back. It´s more a question of when is she going to quit and play Mitt Romney. I don´t like her at all and believe she´ll stay in it until the last superdelegate on her speed dial will be gone. So I wholeheartedly recommend it to her to call it a day, because being beaten silly by Obama from now on till the end of the race makes him look superhuman and her irrelevant. And neither of them is neither of that.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Mark Peach

    Odd viewing this kind of commentary from outside the US – in South Africa to be exact. You say don't count her out, but then proceed to tell us all about Bill's survival – not hers! I would argue that her negativity ratings demonstrate that she has not, in fact, recovered from all the 90's nonsense. I would further argue that the 90's were a very different time, with different issues and pressures to which Americans responded differently. I can't quite understand this myopic preoccupation with that era. That was then, this is now.
    And I see no mention in your commentary about things that would possibly have adied Bill, back then, like a rival who couldn't stay on his feet, and perhaps a deficient policy framework. You have to do better Wolf, to earn our respect.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. John

    I do not really know what the substance of Sen Hillary is?Both have similar policies ,he just outsmarted her by his great appealing oratory skill.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. Edward

    For years I have watched CNN because they generally tell us what the news is or they give us a summery of what someone stands for and you could always say it was unbiased. Boy have I been wrong. CNN has performed a sensational job of destroying Hillary Clinton. Not that I don't like Obama but last nights switch from Hillary to Obama was the ultimate test of WHO THEIR MASTER IS journalism. For months now the only break she has gotten has come from FOX. The network that I had considered to be the most despicable of all networks. If it wasn't Republican they didn't give it a good word. Now that McCain is their standard bearer they have loosened up a bit and have reported items of news concerning Hillary without trying to destroy her. Wolfe and Jack have without a doubt singlehandedly destroyed Hillary Clinton. They have slanted every political comment toward Obama. They have given Obama three times as much coverage as they have Obama and they have always patted Obama on the back while spanking Hillary. Wolfe has now become Wolfe Bullitzer and Jack you have me as viewer. It is easy to see where you expect the sensationalism to come from in the next few years. First black in the White House has become a target of CNN. That will generate great news stories. I WON'T BE WATCHING (cnn). Thanks for becoming my used to be heros of independant reporting. I think I will be watching UNfair and UNbalanced reporting from FOX. At least I can always take just the Opposite viewpoint and be nearly right.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Kevin

    Clinton's speech wasn't exactly fresh, and she was the loser in the contest, so I think it was entirely appropriate to cut to Sen. Obama. Further, CNN presented the rest of her speech later, so no harm done, really. It isn't as if one can't catch the endless repeats. Obama did in fact include more and new specific information in his speech (though I agree it was actually a little too long). I don't see how he was "pompous," however; he didn't say one directly negative thing about Sen. Clinton that I can recall. Obama, like any candidate, simply can't win with some people. He gets a bad rap for being "too inspirational," even as he continues to beef up the substance of his message. If inspiration isn't your thing, then by all means vote for Sen. McCain; his speeches are so dry and boring and business-as-usual there is practically a visible pall of dust hanging over his head. I, like many Democrats (including, by most reports, alot of the so-called "Regan Democrats"), would be satisfied with either Clinton or Obama as the nominee. Whichever of them wins the nomination, there will be a Democrat in the White House next year. Finally, and not soon enough! If we don't change course RIGHT NOW, we are pretty much up the proverbial creek.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. margaret ralph of Seattle Washington

    About 2 weeks ago I went to hear Hillary Clinton speak here in Washington State and the following day, I heard Barrack Obama.

    Hillary Clinton was beyond a doubt the more thorough, the more expereinced and the most 'brutally honest' democratic candidate.

    Hillary spoke in DEPTH of the tasks involved in order for her plans to work.
    Hillary Clinton is the ONLY candidate, republican or democrat to talk to the people about the SACRIFICES we will need to make .

    Obama does speak eloquently but I witnessed for myself that Obama is not ready; he wears the 'MASK of a Bargainer' and also the 'MASK OF Challenger' [From "A Bound Man" by Steele]....he may win the democratic election but Obama will not be able to deliver not until he accepts himself.

    Stop 'dissing Hillary' it gets really OLD'.

    If Obama wins, I will vote for McCain.

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Kevin

    i agree also, i think she'll win texas and ohioand then penn. she will then be the frontrunner againand it will be for good

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. Indiana Bob

    I would also vote for McCain if Obama wins. I am a lifelong Democrat, but I want a president with experience and a track record of getting things done, not pie-in-the-sky idealism coming from someone who sounds like he is leading a revival meeting. It is more like an Obama cult, rather than a political movement. Change what? Yes we can what? What is his track record? What has he actually accomplished? I don't agree with McCain on a lot of issues, but I would rather have his experience than that of a two year senator. We are talking about the next President of the United States!!

    Hopefully Hillary can still come back. Go Hillary!! The country needs you!!

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  25. Philip, NY

    For example, 1. “Do you prefer diamonds or pearls? is not something I, as a voter, want to hear you asking a candidate.

    2. How come Hillary Clinton was allowed to freely advertise at the Las Vegas debate.?

    **Do you personally or CNN as a network endorsed Hillary Clinton???

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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