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. adam

    Mrs. Carville implied that you are not a fan of Obama's. It is interesting that there is a mounting Obama backlash among the press that exactly reflects the Clinton talking points that it is empty style vs. substance. However, the real reason HIllary has a chance has nothing to do with substance but because she and the former President rival Karl Rove's ability to go negative.

    Since tomorrow night's debate is perhaps Hillary's last chance to take a shot at Obama and derail his candidacy, I expect her to go very negative. I predict that she will look for an opportunity to employ a withering quip such as "Are those your words, Sen Obama, or did you steal them? With you we can never tell..." If it works, it will be similar to Lloyd Bentsen's remark to Dan Quayle: "JFK was a friend of mine and you're no JFK..."

    But ,if Obama is nimble, he'll have a comeback such as Reagan's "There you go again..."

    February 20, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. PCS / North Carolina

    Charlotte wrote February 20th, 2008 4:07 pm ET
    " I'm not fooled by a cheer leader"

    Do you know, the "fairy tale", "Slum lord", "king Obama", "Hot air" "Obama supporters are sheep / pathetic ", and "Rock star" is not going to work, and "Cheer leader" is not going to work either, not this time. Personal TV attacks ads in WI did not help Hillary.

    Shame on anyone who personally attacks a person or a candidate, simply because they want "their" side to win. I mean, sure, anonymity on the Internet brings out courage in many. However, is that really courage? What does all this say about America? Come on folks! Wake up! Dont let a political race, in which well-off people jostle for control, tear us apart. We are UNITED States of America.

    February 20, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. geno

    Wow, Wolfe, what insight! It's not over yet, don't count her out, etc. What about some lunacy like that for Huckabee? After all, it's not over there, either. Nothing is more gratuitous than for a commentator to speculate wisely that 'it's not over yet." You're better than that, Wolfe.

    February 20, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Adam, Plano, TX

    sorry wolf, i think you're out of your mind. charlotte, you obviously don't vote on any kind of principles, or you'd never vote for McCain.

    February 20, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Democracy

    to JimF and Charlotte, sorry folks, but all the media, not only CNN cut her out... every single media did that, simply because he won and the attention is usually on the winnners.

    February 20, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. OBAMA 4 President

    Well, the rest of the country does not agree with you, they have said it repeatedly this month, like ten (10) times! This die-hard mentality used to work in the 20th century, but you have to admit the landscape has changed.

    I predicted before the Potomac primaries, that Hillary would start to lose, and I predict again that she won't have another win till she bows out of this race.

    Come fall, and McCain will be subjected to the same treatment as Hillary ending this argument about gender discrimination. It is the future versus the past, no question. Americans are engaged, have bought Obama's message, are throwing money at him, and excusing him of any mistakes. How can he lose?

    Any smart person will reconcile themselves with the fact that Obama will win whether you like it or not. This is what we dislike about the old folks, the are always obstinate and always going against the flow. It is sooo tiresome!!

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. CT Gary

    Thank you, Wolf...for reminding all of those who have not yet jumped on the Obama wagon just why they should do so.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. jiml

    I see that CNN is know trying to make it as if there not counting out Hillary Clinton why I must say for rating? Where were they before the race even started up Obama's behind kissing every inch of it .

    Please give us a break what happened to the real News it has been more on yourselves than the news, and all of you have done it so why is our country screwed up look at yourselves for not speaking up for the truth instead of pandering to the candidate that will give you a great tax break.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Elizabeth Sisco

    Has anyone asked Senator Obama why he considers it trivial to use another's words without attribution. Is this not just "the same old thing"? I keep hearing TV pundits and friends say, "They all do it." Today it seems that, anything goes so long as you don't get caught. If I were a college student considering buying a term paper I would be hard pressed not to consider Obama's answer a go -ahead for choosing the easy way.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. jgr


    CNN doesn't need to apologize for cutting from Clinton's speech to Obama's speech.

    Obama's speech was schedule for the time it started, while Clinton's campaign moved up their speech to start earlier that they had scheduled in what most would obviously call a calculated move to remove viewers from Obama's speech. She did not talk about the elections at all in her speech.

    Why should they not cut to Obama's speech when they had already given her the chance to start talking about something meaningful about the actual contests. She never did, so it is easy to see why they decided to cut to Obama's speech.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Phil

    I think readers must take Mr. Blitzer's comments with a grain of salt. Mr. Blitzer is notorious for the softball questions he lobs across the plate when Mrs. Clinton is at bat. Given these softball questions, it is no wonder why Mr. Blitzer is so entrenched in the Mrs. Clinton camp. I, like most other people, either turn the channel when Mr. Blitzer appears on CNN or quickly navigate to another website with more reputable reporting when I see a posting by Mr. Blitzer. Unfortunately, this is one of those sorrowful instances where an allegedly independent reporter is so wrought with patent bias that he does his profession, his employer and his readers/viewers a true disservice.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. To Jim

    All cable networks, and all 24/7 news networks Cut to Obama. Hillary started her yawn fest late. Who needs more nodding to the clapping after the Aflack duck is finished? Yes Obama is spewing repetitive BS, what politician doesnt.

    Id like Hillary to apologize for her 8 years in my state. That will never happen. Jobs are down, taxes are up and counties are facing higher and higher deficits. Buffalo NY and Erie county is bankrupt. Luckily in three months, im doing, as hundreds of thousands of western NYs have been doing, leaving the state.

    Dont make the only next option to leave the nation.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Calvin Aguillard

    Optimism is a good thing if your trying to hold on to the past. However, I think everybody hears the roars of the train thats coming down the track. Its just a formality at this point, Americans are speaking out loud and clear. It is very facetious on your part to think that Hilary has the juice to pull this off. Ten and 0. Every where Obama goes, people convert. I think America is finally tired of the good old boy network and they are speaking out at the polls. Wolf, you might have to be politically correct because of your status at the syndicate, but millions of Americans are going to prove everybody wrong. The stats will be skewed causing you guys to go back and recalculate everytime the polls open from here on out. Billery is first, next will be our POW who is another political empty barrel making alot of noise just like Bush. With the number of Demo's showing up at the polls now, wait till the general election. Rep's don't have the numbers and they will have to resort to dirty underhanded tactics that will hurt them in a long run. Check

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Katy Hill Prescott Az.

    Please count Hillary out. She is demonstrating the basic UGLY AMERICAN quality with her every tirade.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. NY Dem

    People. SHE BEGAN HER SPEECH LATER THAN SCHEDULED. Are the news stations supposed to postpone everything because her campaign fails to adhere to a simple time frame?

    If she had started her speech on time, her speech would have been heard in its entirety.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. dennis

    look folks. after 8 years of bush we are in trouble. we need hilary to pull us out of this mess, not obama the talker.

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Praetorian, Ft. Myers, FL

    The disarray in the Democratic party is the one shining star in all of this drama.

    The economically devastating multitude of new social programs both of these guys are pushing–is wrong.

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. Margaret D

    Yes. Wolf–but the nation is tired of the Clintons and their endless comebacks. We are tired of the melodrama of the Clintons. Hillary is not ready for Day One, in spite of what she says. Her campaign strategy has proven that. The Clinton machine has been a disaster so far–their strategy was to present her as inevitable–which failed. They didn't take Obama seriously–which was arrogant and unwise. They overspent, which makes me doubt that we can trust her with the nation's finances. The Clinton team thought the primaries would be over on Super Tuesday. They had no post-Super Tuesday strategy. She has copied Obama's change theme, in her speech following the Potomac Primaries, she practically repeated his speeches verbatim. She has changed her theme several times–not it's "Solutions for America." She's gone from Mark Penn's tough lady, to the sympathetic, "I've found my voice" Hillary, to the wife of the race-baiting ex-President in S. Carolina, to the millionaire who loaned her campaign 50 million while claiming to be the blue-collar candidate. She doesn't seem to know who she is or what her campaign is all about. She has managed her campaign as she handled her health care reform efforst–badly. She is a great team player, but she lacks leadership skills. Trying to destroy Obama won't help her. The voting public has eyes, ears and intelligence. She has asked is to review her resume and evaluate her–and our conclusions are clear: 10 straight wins for Obama. Hillary is the kind of student who studies hard, learns everything, can repeat what she's learned, but is not an inspired student. Diligent? Yes. Intelligent? Yes. But a leader? No. She lacks the quality that separates intelligence from brilliance, that separates competence from excellence. That separates a good president from a great president. Right now, we need a great president, one who brings us together to face our challenges; not one who again and again microtrends us to death and exploits our differences. Hillary is divisive and her campaign's attempts to diminish Obama won't work. She is proving herself to be a petty, meanspirited woman who cannot even acknowlege her opponents victories and congratulate him. Rather than being a good example for young women, she is an example of bad sportsmanship and generally bad manners. You are still living in the ether of the Clinton's–but the nation has moved on. They had their moment in the White House. Time has not stood still since then–the nation hasn't been holding its breath waiting for the Clintons to return. We are in a new millennium. Obama represents the present and the future. The Clintons and their legendary machine represent the past. They are a typewriter and we are all using laptops. The Clintons have stayed at the dance too long. For the sake of their reputations, I hope they suspend their campaign with dignity and grace before they destroy the Democratic Pary by prolonging the race for the nomination–and lose the respect of the Party and the nation.

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. Randy - Denver

    With all respect I think Ms. Clinton should apologize to Mr. Obama and all the news companies for delaying her STUMP speech until it was almost time for Mr. Obama's acceptance speech.

    Prior to the polls closing Mr. Obama stated, very precisely when he was going to make his speech, Ms. Clinton DELAYED the start of her speech apparently so that the news would either ignore him or cut her, either way she would look like the winner. Her speech had NOTHING to do about the breaking news, the results of thee Wisconson primary, it was simply another STUMP SPEECH. so the news did what they should have done, they cut from A STANDARD NEWS ITEM (STUMP SPEECH) TO A BREAKING NEWS ITEM. But I guess you Clintonistas would rather sit and read a book to children about Goats then interrupt a banal thing for real news

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. Kareem from Hampton, Va.

    Jimf is CNN needs to apologize so does every other news show! They ALL cut her off! Not because they are biased it was because her speech started late...AGAIN!

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  21. j.p. Boutros

    Wolf, it took a few lines to put it all in but thanks for reminding us.

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. Patrick Anthony Drake

    Commence the debates. Henceforth substance gains the advantage.

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  23. Duke Logan

    Hillary is no Bill Clinton by a mile. I know "it ain't over til it's over", but the fat lady is warming up.

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. Independent

    As a Clinton fan, Wolf, you did yourself a disservice hosting the primary debates that you hosted. You came out as weak and unintelligent in the way you posed questions to Hillary. As a citizen you are certainly expected to take sides. Still, it was a poor reflection on you that it took an ABC reporter to press Clinton to explain how she intended to mandate her healthcare plan - just a few days after you hosted a debate and avoided asking her for an explanation.

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. nancy

    With all due respect, Obama was the winner last night and thus his speech should have been the one televised. You certainly didn't see any network switch over to Mike Huckabee, who lost by nearly the same margin as Clinton did. Further, why should Obama have waited since it was obvious that she wasn't going to acknowledge the loss or even thank the voters that did come out for her, and then just start bashing her opponent. Come on folks, talk about being pompous!

    February 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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