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. Kirby Alexander

    JIM & CHARLOTTE youd rather be lead into a 1,000 year war in iraq and recession than vote for a logical thinker & leader ? You two and those like u are the reason America's reputation and economy are in the toilet. But dont worry ... smart logical voters like myself will save you from yourself and elect OBama so he can improve the futures of our children. USA !!! USA !!! USA !!!

    February 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Lisa S

    It is nice to hear something somewhat positive about Hillary Clinton. The press and news media has been so negative. Adding to the feeding frenzy of the Obama hype. It is a little tenuous right now – but I would not count Hillary out either. Thanks.

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. Cheryl

    No No No. If the tables were turned and Obama had lost 10 races in a row there wouldn't even be a discussion of a come back. The media pile on for Obama to get out now would be so intense.

    Yesterday is was Ohio and Texas. This morning it is now West Virginia and other states that will save her delegate losses. Do the math people.

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. John Bailo

    Hillary Clinton lived by the machine, and is now dying by the machine. She has no native popularity. She had zero experience coming to the New York Senatorial post. She was a candidate of conveyance for those who wanted access to power. They used her to get in and they thought they needed her to win the Presidency. Obama did the opposite. He took his message from the ground up, and made the machine listen. The machine knows what's best for it, and most of all it wants to win. The machine just dropped Hillary like a hot potato...

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Kal

    You speak of the "Clintons" as if Hillary and Bill were running together. Do people of the United States want a president whose strength is having an ex-president for a husband? Is this Bill Clinton's way to get a third term?

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. CM

    I marvel that literally every available article and analysis written since last night continues to talk about "what Clinton needs to do to come back" or "not to count her out". I've never been a conspiracy theorist, but it looks an awful lot like encouragement for Clinton voters. Can we get one story about what Obama needs to do to keep winning states by blowout margins, to win the nomination? Can we get some analysis or comment about how he has run a vastly superior campaign to that of Clinton, while not engaging in ridculous accusations (plagarism) negative attacks ("why won't he debate me?") or misleading advertising ("She's worked the night shift, too.")
    BTW – in '96 Clinton was up against Bob Dole, who was seen as another ancient white man (are you listening John McCain) looking to bring us back to the past – no one wanted that and Clinton won rather easily. As to Hillary's senate campaign – she ran as the wife of the popular former president, at a time when many democrats were still furious at the theft of the 2000 presidential election. She also ran in a state that reliably votes democratic, AND she ran against Rick Lazio, not exactly the greatest candidate we've seen here in the Empire State...

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Ernest

    Not that his come back kid Wolf was New Hampshire. We are way past New Hampshire this season. Yes, mathematically she can return to a dead heat or slightly ahead.

    I believe though that the Wisconsin victory that was much larger than the pendents predicted. I predict Hillary is through. But it's so close if I were her, I would not quit till the very end.

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. david

    ok lets test this Blitzer theory on March 4 at 8 p.m eastern. I think election is won with mind not with machine. ok let's see how clinton machine works in the days to come. I think this machine didnt work for 25 states that Obama won. How would it work for just two states? i think she is out. anyway Blitzer will not accept it but i am sure he will announce Obama as the projected winner on March 4 at around 8.30 p.m. eastern.

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. John

    Wolf is still in love with Hillary and wants to see her as President.

    She can do nothing wrong in Wolf's eyes.

    What about unbiased reporting?????

    February 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. Barack Oprah

    Obama will win to be the worst president in the US history.
    I don't want to miss that.

    GO OBAMA!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Craig Love

    CNN, as every other source of media, is driven by ratings, not loose forms of etiquette. To suggest that CNN should apologize for switching to Obama's speech is about as silly as suggesting that criticizing the president should be considered treason.

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Mr. B.

    From Illinois:

    Finally......., someone calling it as it is, plain & simple !

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Verni

    Hey Charlotte,

    Go to Obama's web-site if you want "substance".

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. ROB

    Apology for clinton???? Are you crazy .. he won.. you earn tv time.. you just don't get it. when the patriots lost the superbowl did we focus on them.. we payed attention to the giant's. He planned to come out after he won.. he had 20,000 people waiting. CNN is is doing a great job covering the election. If hillary wins... then we should pay attention to her.. did anyone see ron paul speak yesterday.. come hilary.. if u win u win.. but if u lose do it with pride and admit defeat.. that goes to the hillary supporters as well !!!

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. Richard

    Because Obama has a command of the language and is talented at inspiring people to follow him, does not mean he has no facts behind his positions. He clearly is not just a pretty face – read his book. Or watch him debate. There are facts and substance there. It is easy these days to fall into the trap of false choices spewed out by the media and the political candidates. I believe all three candidates have well thought out positions on the issues. The question for us as Americans is determine which is best, in our view, for this country. Yes, too often in this day and age a pretty face means an empty head. But not this time. Invest some time in exploring the possibility.

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. JF

    You cannot fault the networks for cutting away from Clinton's speech last night. She was the loser and Obama the winner, what were the networks supposed to do?

    The "lengthy" argument holds absolutely no water – you think CNN got a copy of his speech before he went on stage and knew that it was going to be 45 minutes long?

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. kelly

    wolf blitzer.. are you an unbiased newsman or analyst? ... you can't be both... your reporting has clearly favored hillary from the beginning.

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. PeterO

    It is nearly impossible for her to catch Obama, and even if she does and somehow pulls out the nomination, then the dems would be handing victory to McCain. Hillary does not have the ability to pull in enough independents and moderate republicans. Leaving the republicans in charge for another four to eight years would be criminal. The party needs to begin uniting around who can beat McCain..... and that, without doubt, is Obama.

    February 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. mary ward

    I agree that CNN was a bit rude cutting off Hillary's speech. I don't need another cheer leader in my life. I need a can-do person. As you are speaking now in regards to senior voters. I am voting early for Hillary. Speeches by Obama are getting very tiring. Same old stuff and saying nothing.

    February 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. George in Chicago

    Nobody wanted to hear Hillary's speech. She's got nothing going for her at this point. Obama is where the democratic party is going. His speech is what matters, not something the loser whines about, or hearing her lunatic claims that she'll still pull this off.
    CNN was absolutely correct in going to Obama's speech. They shouldn't have bothered with Hillary in the first place.

    February 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. goofus

    The problem with all this "comeback kid" narrative is that while it certainly applies to Bill, that does not necessarily translate to Hillary. Bill had the charm and charisma to recover from set backs. Hillary seems to do worse when encountering problems. For example, bringing in Williams and going very negative actually hurt her worse in Wisconsin. She can't let her white knuckle grip off the process, and thus can't roll with the punches.

    February 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. doug

    Why did Hilary fail to use her experiece to vote against the war? With 35 years of experience and still couldnt make a reasonable judgement.Remeber Bush is well experienced.So Hilary should not even mention her experience...

    February 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. Sante, Canada

    Dear Americans,
    I am watching very careful your politics for the last 30 years.
    I can not understand you.
    Now you are DESPREAD and you are grabbing the "change".
    Simple, you have $10 in your pocket, how you are going to spend $20? By borrowing from China?!!
    America and the world has a big economical and political challenges rite now. It is YOU to chose.

    Your dilemma is: new and very , very fogy / trust me on it; I still couldn't understand Obama, unless he leads the country to Socialism/
    or to restore your economy and international political power by choosing the known , experienced and respected?

    Heal you wounds first. If he has something to give to his country and the world will come, you are too yang any how. Help now to heal the country, do not walk over the one how has serve very , very well to America. why he is so eager? I like dreaming, dreaming is good and leads you ahead, but the question is "Is he the one?"

    Hello, once you did a huge mistake: you vote for Bush-twice. Seven yours ago, he was the One. Think , what did you do to yourself and the entire world with your irrational choice. Or my be you do not care that Russia and China are laughing . My be you deserve to suffer a little bit more, but we Canadians care.

    February 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. mike

    Hillary has been losing and to date has to acknowlege that. Why should Obama let her have free air time? Letting her drone on and on without even the courtesy of mentioning her loss would be a stupid tactical move.

    February 20, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Caroline

    i think 2 weeks is plenty of time for Hillary to get her message across and for people to see the Obama campaign for what it is...i personally am tired of the same speech which is partly not his. change and hope okay great change what hope for what??? Hillary is talking about getting stuff done and Obama is talking about how great what he is doing is. the republicans will tare him apart in November, McCain is already doing it and its already working !!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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