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. Svanbasten, Atlanta

    No Sound person would count Hillary out just yet and the next 2 weeks will be very telling.

    Barring a huge mistake from Barack himself or his wife and surrogates, he is poised to take both Texas & Ohio to the shock & suprise of everyone.. – This will be a "Shock & Awe" moment.

    Stay tuned.

    February 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Honestlady

    @Charlotte....how do you know that Obama is not a person of substance? All he can do at this point is give speeches just like Hillary. He can only tell you what he believes and what he wants to do at this stage in the election process....he cannot act on these things until he becomes president.

    I just don't understand where people are coming to the conclusion that Obama is not a person of substance. Prove it!

    February 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Judith

    Pompous? He won the Wisconsin primary by 17 points! His speech was the more important of the two. She knew when he would be coming out to speak and she chose to speak into his speech. If anyone is owed an apology it's Barack Obama. Hillary should apologize, first for not being graceful enough to admit she lost and congratulate the winner during her speech, and secondly for taking up his time.

    Wolf, Hillary is NO Bill! He may have made his comeback well enough, but he had the likeability factor going for him. Hillary's negatives compared to Bill's are very high.

    February 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. ebp

    Thanks, Wolf, for reminding us of the sleezy Clinton years and their politics. Maybe Hillary should go back to Ark. and run for something since she IS a carpetbagger.

    February 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. John

    Bill's comeback in 1992 was due in large part to a sizable block of voters that Hillary just simply do not have.

    February 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    Talk about being pompous! Hillary Clinton went into this race believing it was a sure thing.

    Fortunately, not all Americans agree.

    As for me, if Clinton wins the nomination through her negative attacks, I'll not vote Democrat for the first time in my life.

    February 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. Nathan

    I agree we shouldn't count Hillary out in the sense that she's still around to do plenty of damage to Obama.

    I have to question when Blitzer says "Obama has won ten contests in a row — almost all of them by significant margins." His worst showing was a win by 17 percent.

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Frank


    Senator's Clinton and Obama have both announced that they will commence a phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq within the first year of their presidency.

    During tomorrow nights debate, would you and Campbell Brown please ask Senator's Clinton and Obama what their plans are for redeploying our troops to Afghanistan in order to continue the fight against Al Qaeda; what will be the level of troop involvement in Afghanistan in terms of actual numbers; and how they believe that redeployment will affect Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and Israel, and what they anticipate the perception of the people in those countries will be towards the United States following the redeployment?

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. JohnS

    Shane from NY wrote, and I like these comments:

    "Ok Obama was involved in the Senate's drive for improved border security and immigration reform. In 2005, he co-sponsored the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" introduced by Sen. John McCain(interesting right). I'm just starting, he was also involved in adding three amendments to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act in 2006.

    There was "Lugar-Obama" which expands the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and anti-personnel mines. There was the "Coburn-Obama Transparency Act" which provided oversight for our government website and where funds were being allocated(keeping them honest).

    He is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which focused on trying to curb wmd's. Obama worked with Russ Feingold to eliminate gifts of travel on corporate jets by lobbyists to members of Congress and require disclosure of bundled campaign contributions under the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act". Sounds like he is just talking about fighting lobbyist.

    He also introduced the "Iraq War De-Escalation Act" to put a cap on our troops. He sponsored 2008 Defense Authorization Act which provided safeguards for our disabled veterans(he cares about our troops). So I think we can stop talking about his experience now. Seems like he did a lot in Congress

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. jeannette

    The media is generating a lot of Obama's support. You're being unfair like cutting Hillary's speech while allowing Obama the opportunity to exercise his "verbal diarrhea" just as he always does. I think he's all talk and no substance and John McCain will beat him in November. I believe he has gotten where he is by so much emphasis on him by the media. People better wake up and take note.

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Adam, Los Angeles

    Rad article, Wolf! I'm glad you reminded us of all the scandals surrounding the Clintons. That really make wish I had voted for her now....NOT!

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. Alan

    Charlotte, reagan democrates left the party a long time ago and betrayed us; go ahead and make my day; I am Obama all the way to the white house.

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Alex I

    Great points, Wolf. But, that's President Clinton's record...his comeback. Senator Clinton has yet to run how her own merits; she's a modern day carpet bagger and reminds me of a whiny, old mom who won't shut up. Boy, I'm starting to sound like Cafferty!

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

    Apology to Clinton? She lost! She should have take that time to congrtulate Obama, but instead she totally ignored the fact that she got blown out in Wisconsin, didn't even mention it, and proceeded to make her regular stump speech. Sorry, Obama won, he gets priority.

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. Teresa C

    Thank You Wolf! Is it so hard or so bad to give Hillary a bit of good exposure? Her voters really get upset when we watch the media always beaming on Obama. I am one of her supporters and I have watched CNN more than ever since this political campaigne has started. I like CNN but hey you guys have to consider us viewers who do still carry hope for her. Personality and character doesn't keep our country safe and in good economics. It is experience, wisdom, and powerfull back up that gets the job done right. Now is not the time for all the great talk of change, we need some one who will do what they say, not say what they will do. Nothing against Barak, just need more experience.

    February 20, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. James

    Right on jimF!!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. What?

    To jimf, CNN doesn't but Fox covered this. They had reports that Obama got wind of Clinton's speech so decided to cut her off. His camp was not happy he had to say some of this as it was to be for the debate.

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Arshad

    She has a formidable Clinton machine, built over 20 years. True. The only problem is that machine is failing to show up or the machine has lost the sharpness or became rusty.

    If Obama lost 10 primaries/caucuses in a row, the media would have written him off. For Clinton, even after 10 straight loss, CNN is waiting the machine to start somewhere.

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Jorge

    With all respect to Wolf Blitzer... we all know how much you personally like Hillary Clinton but please let your personal preferences out of your journalistic job!!! We all know that CNN anchors can get out of their way to attack Obama, last example is Lou Dobbs, who after saying on the air that Bill Clinton was personally calling him to support Hillary, he is now attacking Barack and Michelle every time he has... Come on... where are not dumb! we know how to conect the dots... I feel sorry for Lou's viewers!

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. Adam, Los Angeles

    Rad article, Wolf! I'm glad you reminded us of all the scandals surrounding the Clintons. That really makes me wish i had voted for her now...NOT!

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. Honestlady

    @JimF....why should anyone apologize for cutting Hillary off during her speech? I believe i've seen them do this before...not directly to Mrs. Clinton but cutting off the person who is giving the speech in order to hear the 'winner's' speech. Barack was the winner of the night, he was preparing to give his speech, and it's only right that CNN would turn the camera's to him to give the winner the spotlight.

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. James

    If Obama wins, what will happen to all the Democrats who voted for HILLARY in CA, NY & NJ? Will they support Obama? I don't think so! At least if Hillary wins, these big blue states will back her up. I need someone who brings substance to the table- GO HILLARY!

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Angela. Miami

    Well I understand that CNN is bias for Obama for a while now, it's not new.

    I think is unproffesional from their part.

    February 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Felicia

    Re: Clintons possible "comeback" – they did not have the forces to deal with now that they had a few years ago.

    Barack Obama and the spirtual changes taken place in America are going to be too much for them to overcome. The Clintons style of politics are not acceptable any longer. America needs Obama more than he needs it.

    February 20, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. DD, New York

    Thank you Wolf, for coming up with some thing of a positive for Hillary. I think she can do it. God bless us all!

    February 20, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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