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. rn

    Why is it that the Media is spinning in favor of Hillary Clinton? Is it because she is a "player" and will protect the status quo better?

    February 20, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. Kelley

    Go Obama!!

    February 20, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Bob, Roxboro, NC

    "The fact is: no automatic delegate is required to cast a vote on the basis of anything other than his or her best judgment about who is the most qualified to be president."

    The above is a quote from HRC. I really get irritated when I see stuff like this! What do these college grads not understand about the meaning of the word "represent" ? I'm certain that Jefferson would vomit if he were alive today to see this.

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

    Average Joe: Stop the Shameless Self-Promotion

    I'm an regular CNN.com reader. I have to say that it gets really annoying reading headlines like "Blitzer: Don't count Hillary Clinton out," or "Dobbs: Kick Immigrants Out." Really, the headlines without the names are sufficient.

    February 20, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Debby

    Wolf, I hope your right about Hillary bouncing back. I had HOPE for 7 years that this current President would turn things around but he didn't. I don't need another 7 of HOPE without SOLUTIONS. Hillary 08

    February 20, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Joe

    I think it's funny that Clinton supporters are outraged that CNN (along with every other news channel covering the election) switched to Obama's speech in the middle of Hillary's speech. While it is common to show the entire concession speech of the losing candidate and the victory speech of the winning candidate, not once did Hillary even mention Wisconsin, thank her supporters there or congratulate Obama on his victory (which is the customary thing to do). When it became clear she wasn't going to do that, the speech ceased to be a concession speech and turned into a regular stump speech. CNN has no obligation to, nor should they, televise a stump speech. They did the right thing and switched to Obama who gave another great speech. I would call it a "victory" speech, but when it comes to Obama, what else could it be?

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Maryland

    Mr. Blitzer if we can't count her out than can you please let us know how She can stop Obama? I feel the only thing that can help her is if Obama falls from grace. Which can happen, but other than that she can't stop him. The momentum is too strong. I am a Obama supporter but I do believe he has a long, long way to go.

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Becky In Indiana

    Clinton needs to stop slinging mud if she wants a chance. The negative campaign is a turn off and will ensure Obama a democratic nomination. At this point, Clinton has a cliff to climb if she wants a chance at winning.

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. Kshama

    It's so nice to hear people say experience and substance is important. Unfortunately, I think it may be too late for Senator Clinton. The media bias towards Obama and the public's rapture with a "messiah" has all helped them fail to realize this election is really very important. Well everyone has a legacy and it will remain to be seen who was right and who was wrong should Obama go on to be President. I am quite sure the media will so crazy for Obama even when he sneezes and the American people will swoon and faint over him even if by chance he cannot accomplish all that he promised to accomplish within the 1st year of his Presidency. I know that no candidate can accomplish everything they promised but I still think Mrs Clinton is pragmatic and practical in her solutions for America. One thing is for sure, if Obama should become President he will then surely be part of an establishment which he is so clearly trying to distance himself from. It remains to be seen what MSNBC and CNN will cover if Obama cannot deliver on any of his promises if he should become President.

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. Cathleen Blome

    Yah! Yah! to that one!

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. Xavier, Washington, DC

    Look. If she wanted her whole speech broadcast, she should have won. Was it poor sportsmanship to step on her speech? Yeah, it was. But I suspect he was just sick of all the low blows she was throwing and decided to get some getback. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

    Also, what I just can't seem to understand is that so many Clinton supporters talk about Obama's lack of substance. His policies are similar to Clinton's. The main difference between the two is in style not substance. He doesn't talk policy on the stump where she does, but his website outlines all of his positions and issues.

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. harold riley, wilmington, DE

    Wolf, I am truly perplexed by the almost mesmerized adulation being shown for Obama. He says nothing and and Hillary and Mc Cain are right with they say words are nice but where is the substance. I have been a life long Democrat and for the first time in my life I will vote for a Republican (while I hold my nose) if Obama is the nominee. We need a president who has a plan and has the experience to deal with the multitude and magnitude of problems he or she would face in November, By the way I agree with you, do not count Hillary out!!!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Pete

    All the cable stations showed the rest of her speech. I did think Obama's was too long, but Clinton also came on late and it was clear that she was not even going to talk about the election, much less concede. Obama was the winner, and they were right to switch to him. I do wish he would have kept his speech to 20 minutes.

    Obama was in a stadium with 20k people, and his people had planned on him speaking on a certain schedule.

    Charlotte – most national polls show Obama winning against McCain, and show Hillary losing to him. I personally think that with all her negatives and the wide swath of scandals that she and Bill have been in, Hillary is unelectable.

    But I am shocked that someone would vote to extend Bush's disasterous presidency (which is McCain's plan) just to make a point.

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. doris

    In Obama's speech from Houston, Texas last night, he talked about slavery and the Martin Luther King march. But if the Clinton campaign just mentions the name Jesse Jackson they are hit by the media for playing the race card. So who do you really think is playing the race card? My opinion is the only real change Obama is wanting is the change from white president to black president.

    February 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. R. Telson

    Hmmm... Hard for me to buy this comparison between Bill and Hilary, Mr. Blitzer. Logic says that by now, the only way she could win is by cheating. Similar, but then again the comparison fails: last time Bill cheated, he had a good time!

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Elaine

    Clinton came back to win the 1996 presidential election because his opponent was Bob Dole. Hillary, for the nomination, is facing Barack Obama. Quite a difference in how the opponents stack up. Plus Bill had charisma and was a very good speaker. Hillary sounds like she is yelling – her voice grates on people and she definitely is not appealing to the eye.

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. LJM

    Can anyone tell me what is insightful about Wolf's post? Thanks for the history lesson Wolf, but what does this have to do with Clinton v. Obama. Clinton is done. Her message does not resonate even with those that are supposed to be her core supporters. The HRC campaign have been grasping at straws for months now, they can't articulate an attack on Obama that people accept.
    Polls show that people think he is most qualified to be commander in chief ... wasn't that the lynchpin of her argument.
    At this point she has to go negative to make up ground ... but what makes you think that going negative is going to work now.
    Don't be afraid to say it, Clinton lost.

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Nicholas

    CNN besides the everyday beatings that you give Hillary the least you could have done was played her speech to its entirety. Arent you supposed to present all the facts and let the voters decide????

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Keyahe

    It does seem to be consistent that Obama is hailed as the second coming and Clinton is treated very poorly. I have a gut feeling that if Obama gets the nomination the Republican Party will celebrate.....

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Charles, Austin

    There we go again with this crap. Talk about media bias. If Obama had lost 10 in a row, the MSM will have hit the nail on his coffin by the 5th loss. If Obama lost in SC, the race would have been over then. Now you tell me don't count them out? The only folks giving the clinton's a lifeline is the MSM. Fundamentally, they're biased in favor of the Clintons.

    Obama was written off last fall even before the first vote was cast. The reason being because Hillary had called him naive and irresponsible. The MSM piled on at that time. he had to claw his way back up.

    bottom line, this race is essentially over. If Hillary doesn't win both Ohio and TX decisively, this race is essentially over. Give me a break!

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Karen

    You have a title that says Hillary but discuss Bill, thus perpetuating your myth that she is nothing without her husband. Hardy har har....

    You got your wish and wiped her off the face of the map. Congrats.

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Mike

    I am a Hillary supporter but I want to congratulate Obama on a great campaign and his wins. He certainly has sparked and set a tone with many people.

    Obama is a good man but not there yet in experience. He has good writers and policy makers and everything looks good on paper. However what happens when he sits behind that big desk and everything comes at him at once? As Perot says the president often lives in a bubble and only knows reality as what his people feed him.

    We have two wars and a bad economy. It is the wrong time to place a man in office just because it makes history. We need strong, smart leadership. Hillary knows the job, she has seen it from Bill's administration for 8 years, she knows what to do. She has gone up against big pharma and knows the battle.

    Dont gamble your healthcare, jobs even lives away on what looks good. Go with what you know is the solution, Hillary.

    February 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. konni

    I also agree with both previous comments. CNN did cut out her speech and that was wrong and extremely biased. Whatever happened to objective journalism? If Obama gets the nomination I am definately voting for McCain. I too do not believe in sensationalism. Bush was elected by these same sensationalists and weve seen what became of that.

    February 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Ridiculous

    Wow, yes Bill may have come back in New Hampshire but we're WAY past that now (by the way, Hillary also "came back" in New Hampshire but that's old news). For her to be faltering now is a huge problem: not to mention it's almost mathematically impossible for her to make up the lost ground without a huge mistake by Obama. But it is kind of funny that Blitzer basically helps Obama here by outlining all the scandals that we have almost forgotten the Clintons have been through...

    And would you zealous supporters get real? What are the news agencies supposed to do when her speech is delayed and then the WINNER of the night's primary starts his? Just forget his speech? And was her speech "new"? It wasn't at all. And I don't care what anyone thinks about "substance" and "accomplishments": if you didn't spend so much time on CNN.com blogs spewing nonsense you could go to the candidate's websites and, in Barack Obama's case, read 64 PAGES worth of substance. Just because he gives a good speech doesn't mean he DOESN'T also have something to back it up. That's the point everyone seems to be missing here.

    February 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Isabella

    I agree with Wolf's comments. I am also dismayed at the lemming-like following that Obama has engendered. I have watched each debate and have seen his speeches numerous times on TV. Each week, he seems to become more arrogant. As a contrast to Hillary Clinton who speaks about her detailed specific plans, he seems to simply say the word "change" over and over as well as "they said we couldn't do it".(in "preachertalk"). There is absolutely no substance to this man and I cannot for the life of me see why anyone believes that he is fit to become the leader of the free world. Lest you think that I'm a Clinton democrat.. my final comment is that I'm a registered republican.

    February 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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