February 29th, 2008
03:59 PM ET
12 years ago

Blitzer: Can Obama withstand GOP assault?

 Obama would face a tough general election race.

Obama would face a tough general election race.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama doesn't even have the Democratic nomination, and yet questions are already swirling over whether he could withstand the fierce assault he certainly would face from the Republicans in a general election. Whatever criticism he confronted during the Democratic primaries would likely be child’s play compared to what’s coming up.

That fear was reinforced by the front-page story in The New York Times entitled “For Obama, Taste of What a Long Battle Holds.” Adam Nagourney writes that Republican “opposition research” is gearing up for a battle against Obama. The suggestion is that they will use material from Obama’s past that Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates avoided.

“Some cases are simple let’s-go-to-the-video moments, like Mr. Obama’s statements that he would support giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens or would support raising taxes to shore up Social Security, lines of attack that Republicans are already employing,” Nagourney writes. Other material could be more explosive.

“He regularly goes out there and says he’s the person who can beat John McCain,” chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn is quoted as saying. “But the truth is, if he is ever in a general election, a lot of positions he took in 2003 and 2004 will come back to haunt him in a big way and a lot of the vetting that didn’t happen will happen. The independent and Republican support that he has had will evaporate really quickly.”

Clinton's camp is convinced that she could withstand a Republican assault in a general election campaign better than Obama. They have often pointed out that she has a lot more experience in this area – given the battles she’s faced over the years. Her supporters are especially anxious right now that voters in Texas and Ohio appreciate what could be in store for Obama before making up their minds. And that’s the case for the Superdelegates as well.

- Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. steve

    Where is the media coverage about NAFTA and Canada. Obama camp said they never contacted Canadian consulate about saying all the NAFTA withdrawal talk was all rhetoric. This to me shows Obama's credability. He says one thng in the Ohio debates threatening to pull out of NAFTA and his camp says the opposite view to Canadian Officials. Why isn't this reported. It's all over in the Canadian media.

    February 29, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Matthew in PA


    I just paid $3.13 per gallon at the gas pump today at an overall cost of $47.00 to fill up my sedan. In the meantime, oil companies are bringing in record profits. It is obvious that the Bush administration is allowing the American public to get fleeced by corporate america.

    If any voter in our country today has the stupidity to vote republican, they deserve to continue to get fleeced.

    On this subject alone, I think Barrack will do just fine.

    February 29, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Murry

    The Obama campaign is more about us than it is about him. We, the people, demand a better style of governing. We, the people, are tired of politicians fighting. We, the people, are tired of fear-mongering.
    So, yes, I believe that Obama can survive the GOP attack machine - not because he himself is particularly strong, but because we, as one voice, are screaming for change.

    February 29, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    I'm taking my chances on Senator Obama.

    What many Americans love about this candidate is that he is not the "typical" Washington political leader. Judging from the support he has received to date, I believe he will come through for those of us who are sick and tired of business as usual.

    While I believe the Clinton campaign has been very negative (which has turned off many voters), I'm praying that even more aggressive attacks by the McCain machine will backfire.

    Obama is a breath of fresh air. I'm behind him all the way!!

    February 29, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. United We Stand


    I see you have joined the Clinton brand of preying on the electorate based on fear of the unknown or some imaginery information that never existed.
    HRC tried and failed, what makes you sure that the Republicans will succeed where Hillary failed.
    We, Americans, are for the future and not politics of yesteryears.


    February 29, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Byron in CA

    It's a non important question because he's not going to win the nomination. The question here should be what dirty tricks will the Republicans use against Hillary who has proven in her campaign against obama that she's ready to do battle with them and win the White House in 2008 and 2012.

    February 29, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Daniel

    The problem isn't whether or not Barack Obama can withstand right-wing attacks because Americans have come to expect gutter, bottom of the barrel politics from Karl Rove and his band of minions. That's not news.

    The problem is whether or not the media can cease in its barrage of "non-stories" and actually report something of substance. Many of these media, sensationalized hit-jobs address nothing of substance.

    February 29, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. TC in Ohio

    Obama will be fine against a republican... it can't get any worse than the Bush administration.

    February 29, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Terry Wood

    You guys in the media create stories to save your jobs. Americans are tired of Republican policies. No matter what candidate the Democrats put up against the republicans the Dems will win. That is why the Clintons will lie, cheat and steal their way to the nomination. Hillary has to fulfill her super ego and Bill wants to run the country again. The Clinton News Network will help her win.

    February 29, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. chevy

    wolf why isnt anyone talking about where John McCain Was Born? I mean i did my research it seemed like this man shouldnt be allowed to run. He was born in Coco Solo was a United States Navy submarine base established in 1918 on the Atlantic Ocean (northwest) side of the Panama Canal Zone, near Colón, Panama. By the 1960s no vessels remained, only some support staff and housing.

    February 29, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Ardnuas

    YES HE CAN....... The Clintons have shown us they are WORST than Carl Rove and the Republicans........... We had no idea the Clintons were like this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Obama/Edwards08 Si Se Puede

    February 29, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. Jenny M

    The Republicans will do what the Democrats have failed to do. They will make fun of her claims of experience as "First Lady" - not a policy making position .

    February 29, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. Texas Democrat

    He may not have to worry about the Republicans, the Democrats are learning more about Obama and it is not flattering for an individual running on "Unity." This Democrat is voting for Hillary.

    Hillary Clinton has been to heck and back with the Republicans, so without doubt, she can take it! Her skeletons are out of the coffin and are walking zombies. Old News.

    But Obama has been protected. And if he were to get the Dem nom., he will never make it. Too many skeletons in his closet. Way too many.

    February 29, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  14. Stacy Clarks, Texas

    Obama has came LITERALLY FROM THE BOTTOM!!! No one thought he can get to senate...HE DID

    No one thought he could win because he is black...HE WON IN IOWA (majority white)

    no one though he could even hold a candle to Clintn...HE HAS BEAT HER 12 IN A ROW!!!

    and they are saying he can't hold his own against the republica...HE CAN, AND HE WILL!!!


    February 29, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    So far, he's holding his own. He's being attacked by Clinton, McCain, Huckabee and Bush. Of course the Republicans will go out of their way to dig up dirt on Obama, but what about ammo they would use against Clinton? So far, this year alone, there is a scandal surrounding Clinton regarding Kazakhstan and her tax returns. In fact, I think the Republicans will have substantially less to use against Obama than Clinton. If some earth shattering information was out there, don't you think the Clintons would have used it by now? It's not like their campaign has walked on eggshells around sensitive subjects.

    February 29, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. Barbara

    Race and Obama's middle name may have been off limits to Hillary, even though blacks now use the race card to pressure deligates to vote for Obama, but the GOP will not hesitate to use whatever it takes.
    Barbara, from N.C.

    February 29, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Bryan


    February 29, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. California Independent

    Who knows. But it sure is going to be fun watching prince changie getting smeared like he's been doing. I have an evil grin on my face just thinking about it.

    February 29, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. seektruth

    how about tax return ? why she risk losing voters who have question on her transparency? what she is hiding? where are records as first lady?

    February 29, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. delphine

    I totally agree with you. That's one of the reasons why Democrats should really choose Hillary and not Obama, because she has already been tested.
    Since 1992, the Republicans have accused the Clintons of being the incarnation of evil and have revealed everything about them : what else could they find ? With Hillary, there would be no surprising or shocking revelations. Contrary to Obama : they will find anything against him ; they will destroy him. And the guy has been so ambiguous and contradictory so often, that it will be very easy to attack him. He will be an ideal prey for his opponents.
    Democrats : you'd better be aware of that !

    February 29, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  21. Nancy, WI

    Mark Penn will probably help the GOP–what a piece of work.

    We stand behind Barack and we will be waiting for the GOP. They don't understand this is about America, not selfish, greedy, power hungry puppets.

    February 29, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. Seven

    She can't even beat Obama now... what makes her and Penn thank she is any better?

    He is taking on HRC, Bush and McCain... he will be FINE.

    February 29, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Sadie Lowman

    I feel it's spooky the way the media has clapped for Obama. They feel so important and intelligent and superior to everyone else they don't care if they only give Obama praise. The media are rich people and they know that Obama can't win against McCain. They really want McCain so they're blasting Clinton because they know McCain can't beat Hillary. Shame on you Media! You're an insult to the people of America. America needs Hillary to fix things after George Bush. Shame on you Media!

    February 29, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. Lee

    No he cant – and he will not even get my vote in the general if he gets the nomination.

    Now is the time to fix this economy and Hillary can do that.

    RISE UP Latinos and let us hear your voices. We are listening and Hillary is listening.

    RISE UP women for our rights – Show how strong women can be.

    February 29, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. Dusacre

    With a democrat friend like Hillary Clinton, who needs a republican opponent like John McCain?

    Obama will do very good.

    If you look or listen to McCain, you will easily notice that old age is taking toll over him. Today he said that he was a liberal republican before correcting himself. In the last few days, he said a few things and "corrected" himself on the spot. This is proof of an aging brain.

    February 29, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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