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. Saleem

    Does anyone else think Obama is disrespectful when he makes reference to the same old politics? The people before him have worked hard to bring the country to a state where a woman and a black man are seen as viable contenders for the presidency. McCain almost gave his life for his country. The Clintons have been a champion of civil rights.

    February 20, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Be Good

    It is indeed wise to not count the Clintons out yet. My hope is that they will exit gracefully and help build up the Democratic Party for November. My fear is that they will selfishly drag the party down with them. I think Senator Clinton fully expected this primary to be a coronation and has not yet adapted to the reality that a stronger Democratic candidate emerged.

    February 20, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. A. Harrison

    I smell the media wanting more news ratings.

    But their right!

    HILLARY 2008!

    I Just about lost all respect for Obama.

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. Gilbert

    Sen Obama is decent and brilliant politician, but I have a lingering doubt that his relative inexperience and youth would be his weakness against the Sen. Mcain who will appear more statesman-like and a lion in political arena especially if or when national security and terrorism would be the main concern. His latest and ongoing attacks are just prelude to more stinging attacks. And what would become of Sen. Clinton's supporters? Would most of them eventually support Sen Obama if he is the nominee? Whomever will be the presidential nominee, it will pose some serious problem for the democrat to win on November.

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Fran

    Seems folks don't like her slinging mud?? She just slings facts!! Obama is actually the one slinging mud. After all He did start it and then he cries wolf! Sorry Wolf, not you. But he does whine a lot. He said she is trying to take his delegate?? What is he trying to do to her?? How dumb does he think America is? Well, hopefully people will wake up. Because he is the one that the republicans want to run against and not Hillary. Because she would be a lot tougher to beat. Go Hillary!!

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Brenda Jody

    Mr. Blitzer,
    My recent comments of CNN's prejudice against the Clintons does not apply to you but to some of your colleagues. Thank you for your unbiased reporting.

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. concerned

    Yes, CNN and all the "news" stations are responsible for helping Obama create this lead of his with all the Hype and positive AND DISTORTED press they gave to him. My God, it has been close, and all this ‘talk’ about his momentum, really is that news you should be talking about over and over again!!!...tell me is that what we need in a commander in chief, someone who has momentum, don't you think maybe you all should be talking over and over again about other more important issues concerning his abilities, record, and character.

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. curtis stevens


    my friend


    OVER and O U T!

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. David, CA

    The problem for Mrs. Clinton is that there's nothing to "bounce back" from. She hasn't suffered from scandals or impropriety. Rather, she has suffered from slow and agonizing attrition of her supporters to the Obama camp. She has been consistent in her message and in her appeal to voters, but it just isn't enough to overcome Obama.

    The only way she can stop the attrition is if Obama starts to lose his luster – but that's not enough to win the nomination.
    The only way she can reverse the trend is if some scandal erupts from the Obama camp – but that's not enough to win the nomination.
    The only way she can blow out the remaining contests by a significant enough margin to be competitive running up to the convention is if Obama self-destructs.

    So really, at this point, it's all in Obama's court. All Hillary can do is maintain her stature and cross her fingers.

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  10. Wilson

    Those of you still buying the line that Obama lacks substance obviously have not tried to learn anything. His campaign website clearly lays out his platform on about a dozen different topics, ranging from foreign policy to health care to education. Do some homework, people.
    And just what is a "Reagan Democrat"? Does that mean you believe in Democratic principles, but you really want decades more of this war and an absurdly conservative Supreme Court for the next 35+ years? Because that's what you're voting for in John McCain.

    February 20, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  11. Robert

    The saddest thing is that Obama is not eligible. I am a democrat, but if Obama wins the nomination, I am not voting for him. McCain, here I come.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. pmet

    Wolf –
    All of the things you mentioned regarding the many Clinton scandals and their subsequent bounce-back are all true. Two things, however. Number one, the scandals all involved Bill who was a more likeable, affable guy. Hillary is not. Two, Hillary's way of dealing with losing primarys, caucuses, voting groups, etc. has been to deny their importance, not congraulate her opponent, and go negative. On top of that, she now is trying to go after Obama's pledged delegates. I know you know the two of them personally and hold them in some esteem, but look at them the way the average american sees them: maniuplative, secretive, divisive, and having an incredible amount of baggage. The american people are saying loud and clear that they are ready for someone new. We think we have found that person in Barack Obama and we believe the only way she can come back is to poach pledged delegates, strong arm superdelegates and basically steal the nomination. She will then fracture the democratic party, fracture the spirit of the american people and LOSE the general election in a landslide.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  13. jp/michigan

    Hillary would have be too good a President for the Democratic Party ,. they want someone they can manipulate in the White House . They have the perfect choice in Obama he does nothing without using other people . His speeches, slogans, platform even his books are slight fabrication according to friend mentioned in the books. He is a #1 opportunist whose ego out shines any achievements he may have. He has been running for some type of position in politics since Harvard, on the backs of others.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. Mary

    Thank you Wolf. It is so nice to finally see some positive reporting
    on Hillary. I was afraid to read the article because I am so used
    to her getting bashed.
    I sincerely hope that she finds a way to turn this around (without it
    getting terribly ugly). An awful lot of Americans believe that she is
    the most qualified candidate and I am one of them. Whoever wins this thing will have to figure out how to make peace with the other half
    of this divided party.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. Bill, Covington,LA

    The Blitzer of all people know obama is out in ffront because he along with the rest of the media put him there. Now it's time for them to turn back and champion the clinton woman.
    And in November when the decision will be made, let's see who they can give the win to.
    I won't be voting for either of them.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Smith

    Clinton the COME BACK GIRL!

    Come on back and rule the country! Let's have some more FUN TIMES! w/your family rollicking around, covering up, basking in FAME and FORTUNE..

    build monuments to Woodstock! healthcare industry in bed w/you.

    Think TEXAS is gonna vote for THAT?

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Tameka

    Yeah I love how Obama's campaign says he is far far far out front when he's fewer than 70 delegates ahead. Even if he wins 70% of the remaining elected delegates, he will not have enough to win on the first ballot at the convention. I would not count Clinton out yet. There are plenty of months for people to realize he is vaporware.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Ricky

    I'm sorry, but this whole "comeback kid" thing needs to stop. I don't understand how someone can "comeback" when they were supposed to roll right through these primaries into the general election, stumble in the beginning after losing Iowa, regain the lead after New Hampshire, and then fall behind again after Super Tuesday. It is also ridiculous to think that she is somehow more prone to making a "comeback" because she has the same surname as Bill Clinton. That's like saying Obama shares the same name as his father, so he is prone to walking out on his wife and kids. This type of thinking needs to stop and people need to focus on the actual issue at hand. The Clinton campaign had a poor strategy from the beginning, and it is starting to show. A comeback on her part will have nothing to do with her supposed propensity for making comebacks, but rather a slip and falter on Obama's side.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. enomisa

    The nominee for the democratic party should be selected by voters registered with the democratic party.
    Independents and republicans should not be able to sway the vote in the party primary.
    At the general election, they can choose to vote for our nominee or some other candidate of their choice.
    Many many life long democrats are unhappy about how independents and republicans have co-opted our primary and negated our votes for the democratic nominee.
    Expect a defection from the democratic party.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. Democrat for Big Mac

    Michelle Obama says "for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country"


    So much for the next 1st lady

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. James ( Independent )

    Wolf ,

    You just don't "get it" , The American people no longer want or need the kind of politics that Clinton / McCain have to offer.

    February 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. PCS / North Carolina

    circuswors wrote February 20th, 2008 5:11 pm ET
    "He outright betrays MLK's work on civil rights!"

    Are you sure ? I thought it was Hillary who tried to make a mockery out of MLK's work, while she was campaigning in SC.

    February 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. dale in indiana

    rosalind.. how right you are.

    February 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. Carol

    This Democratic race is getting scary. With the mess Bush has left this country in and the world, do we need someone like Obama
    who has never been there or done that.? I would really like to see
    the press start treating him like the grown up he wants to be and get tough, put him to the test. Stop letting him off the hook. Do you really think he can handle McCain? let alone the toughest job on the planet right now.

    February 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. Fem,

    I am suprised that Sen. Clinton is doing everyhting possible and impossible to get this nomination. for God sake, if the people say they do not want you, why can't you quetly go and rest. She is going after Barack like a wounded lioness as if they are not in the same party. Let me ask this question, does she think she doesn't have dirty stuff that Barack can pull out? She should please accept the reality and try to concentrate on her senete job, may be she can win another term.

    What a sour looser

    February 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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