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. Renee

    Obama, is stronger that the Republcans think The problem the Republican have is that they just know that they will beat Obama. Don't down play Obama.

    February 29, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  2. Hill Girl

    To eddie in New York....I am not sure I will vote for Barack instead of McCain. I have never voted Republican in my life but Senator Obama is jus too unknown for me to feel safe with him......I'm closer to your age and I am voting with my mind AND my wisdom. I've lived through Jimmy Carter – a smart man but not politically – and I don't want to take any chances. So, if the Democrats choose Senator Obama based on what he "says" he will do, I may have to go with wisdom and vote for the Republican whose record is known to me.

    February 29, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  3. John Adams

    Wow, here come the Hillary devotees – people as blind as she is to the fact that she cannot win the nomination at this point. If she weren't so blind to her own thirst for power, she would drop out of the race she will not win, and position herself for 2012.

    Also, watch the news cycle since Tuesday – I guess when you whine about not getting enough press, suddenly every article is about you. I guess CNN is becoming more "fair and balanced" everyday!

    February 29, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. Dean

    It's not about Obama. It's about the many supporters who own a piece of His Presidency and America. We will continue to have his back and beat back the Republicans.

    February 29, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. floridian

    So much still left to do before the convention ends and before the general election occurs - like picking a running mate, putting together a platform, several debates, and the continuous campaigning at a feverish pace. It will be a tough grind for both candidates, their Veeps and their spouses and almost anything can happen. So I truly believe that the American people will have a chance to see and hear the two (four?) of them in a variety of situations and circumstances. Hopefully we the people will throw off the hate and bigotry espoused in these posts and make wise choices based on what the candidates and their party can deliver. Our children and grandchildren deserve that and more!

    February 29, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Vig

    No he can't. But Hillary Clinton can. Go Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  7. Demetris Fisher

    Its funny that every one is counting Obama out so early. Couple of points:

    February 29, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. Ohio Voter

    Obama is the Democrats' best choice for beating McCain–and I think he will do that. The Clintons have a research team that is better than anything the Republicans oversee, and Hillary has come up with resoundingly silly attacks: He wrote a kindergarten essay saying he wanted to be President, he used words suggested by a close friend and campaign co-chair, he "denounced" rather than "rejected" Farrakhan....If there were better material, Hillary would use it.

    Obama withstands these attacks because he has an unusual political sense: He apologizes and/or defuses the situation. Most politiians (including Hillary Clinton and John McCain) go into full denial mode, which just gets them into trouble.

    As Hillary said, it's time for Dems to "get real"–she entered this race with a huge block of the American public opposed to her. During the primaries, she has only lost support–while Obama has been able to generate support from independents and new voters. HRC has a low ceiling on her support, while Obama has an undefined one. Get real, Dems–let's not lose the third election in a row by nominating Clinton.

    February 29, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  9. Sandy

    Wake up people the last 7 years have been terrible. Do you want another 4 years the same. Then vote for Obama or McCain. Hillary is the right person for the job. Remember when Bill Clinton was president we had GREAT TIMES. I had so much overtime at work and now I'm lucky if i get 40 hours. Go with what works. GO HILLARY !!!!!!! If not we are all going to be in BIG TROUBLE.

    February 29, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  10. Sherylanne

    Republicans are dancing in the streets with the chance Obama might become the Democratic nomination. They know he will never stand up in issues and debates. He will look even more inexperienced to handle this country than he did after the last debate.

    If it wasn't for the media pushing Obama, young inexperienced voters, the black voters (who don't want to accept the fact that his mother was white and so are the grandparents that raised him) (curious, we never hear about them) and the Rock Star revival speeches he would be nowhere.

    His fight for control of this country is far from over!

    February 29, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Sue

    I am a Clinton supporter and a lifelong Democrat. I know that she and Obama are not far apart on the issues but I just can't bring myself to support him if she loses the nomination. He makes lots of nice speeches and mostly says the right things but I don't think he is capable of following through on his promises. It seems like he is very good at running for office but has a history of not doing much once he gets there. Also, his cult like following scares me and I don't appreciate the way many of them have trashed Hillary Clinton.

    By the way, I also had my doubts about the War in Iraq, but I did not have access to the information that members of congress had at the time and I could not make a judgment call based on information that was not availble to me. I was in the same position as Barack Obama. He has no right to take the high road on this one because he wasn't a part of the decision making process.

    February 29, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  12. Mister Bill

    If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, can she select Bill as her vice presidential candidate?

    February 29, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  13. kathy ,Ma.

    Sorry that program is on now on C-SPAN2

    February 29, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. midge from ohio

    CORRINA Tell us why you believe in Obama, don't leave an empty statement. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's column "Elephant in the room" Obama voted, while in the Illinois Senate, to allow babies born ALIVE AND BREATHING in partial-birth abortions to be killed or thrown in the medical waste bin. Oh yea, I really want to vote for someone like that. Look up the article.

    February 29, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. yoshi927

    Clinton has, frankly, used every trick in the proverbial book. If there were things about his past to dig up, she would have done it. One thing you have to hand to her is that she's serious about her propaganda. This is just more of that.

    February 29, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  16. Patrick Peavy Plano,TX

    Quote"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."

    I am a huge Hillary supporter. But that isn't the point of this post. What I do want to know is in regards to the above mentioned quote-When did age discrimination become acceptable in a world where racial and gender discrimination isn't? I am really trying to grasp how that makes sense. Can someone please help me understand? Okay, enough sarcasm. I am just concerned that no one has a problem with slamming John McCain for his age when they would be pretty upset if someone denied employment to one of their grandparents.

    February 29, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  17. Jack, CA

    No, he cannot. The reason is that Clinton cannot do a lot of the attacks to fellow Democrats without being labeled as divisive and negative. But Republicans will have no mercy!!!

    February 29, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  18. Dave, Allentown,PA

    Considering the train wreck of an administration that McCain has backed too often, Obama should win easily. The Dems should remind the nation of McCain's "100 year war" attitude, what the Iraq War has done to our military and economy, the absence of any real energy policy, the absence of any real border security, no real sacrifice for most of the population during a time of war, the ridiculous tax cut for the wealthiest and the absolute corporate greed. And that's just for starters! But, if people can forget the above during the coming campaign, then they deserve four more years of Bush brought to you by one of his water boys!

    February 29, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  19. Steve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    I do believe that Senator Obama can hold his ground against the Republicans. They have already went after him . They preach about Obama's inexperience but he has prolly more experience than GW did when he took the oath of office. No, I think the Republicans would rather run against Senator Clinton to fire up all the Clinton haters and right wing looneys.. They will not be able to compete with the fundraising juggernaut that Obama already has.. and they know it.. Anyone see Dick Cheney lately?? Don't worry.. you won't..

    February 29, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. Dianna

    You Hillary folks and McCain folks need to get a grip!

    People who think that Republicans are going to slaughter him are wishing on a star. The folks who vote for Obama realize he has little experience in Washington and they vote for him anyway because they see his lack of experience in Washington as a selling point! People who have been in DC too long are not attractive candidates to many - look at Kerry... I had to hold my nose when I voted for that beige wallpaper.

    People will vote for Obama despite his lack of Washington experience and all of his sound bites that others believe will "get him in the end" are easily explained by Obama because (if you read his books you'll know) he truly reflects on all of his actions and his explanations are authentic, logical and ethically consistent.

    Obama '08!

    February 29, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  21. Damon

    Yes. I think everyone underestimates Obama and his partner in (Robin Hood) crime, David Axelrod. Clinton and McCain have been "campaigning" for a decade now. A year ago, Hillary Clinton thought she was a shoe-in for the democratic nomination then in comes Obama and tops both Clinton and McCain. Obama is no typical democrat. He won't make the same mistakes Kerry made 4 years ago. He represents an America who is seriously pissed off at and tired of Bush and the rest of the GOP. Since 2004, the left, the moderates, and the thinking right has mobalized strong intellectual militias, holding on all fronts unlike the visible, centralized, right-wing idealogical think tank.

    I also predict the signs of aging will throw John McCain out the bathwater.

    February 29, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. yodit


    February 29, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  23. Bill B.

    It is really depressing to read these comments and think that the folks writing them are supposed to be "educated Americans." You know, maybe the GOP and the Democrats just give us what we deserve for being ignorant. I am not a huge supporter of any of the candidates, but as of now I think Barack Obama at least seems to be inspiring a lot of people who normally don't participate to get involved. That should be a good thing. At this moment, though, after reading through all the above comments with their misspellings, wild theories and petty hatred of others, I can honestly say I am ashamed.

    February 29, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Hillary and Hillary Only

    No, he can't. Obama is weak and slow in tough decisions. Obama voted more than 100 "present" votes out of 1000 votes over the 4 years in Senate. He also missed out the most important foreign policy regarding Iran hearing.

    He doesn't have a good judgement either. How could he did know about Rezko after being friends for 20 years and also bought property from him less than 300,000 under market value in 2005 after Rezko was indicted in 2004. This is a very bad judgement. For the Iraq war, how wouldn't you know he may vote if he has responsibility. After all he voted the same side with hillary in Iraq war during his term as US Senate.

    Hillary can fight against Republicans. She fought with them in New York and also while she was a First Lady. She even worked with Republicans in some cases during her US Senate term. It is not late to vote for Hillary. If you count Florida and Michican, she still leads in the race. Hillary 2008.

    February 29, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  25. Closely Watching

    Actually, Michael In Cleveland, he did release his tax return and, quite frankly, it is the voters who are asking to see hers. If you read these comments from previous posts you will see that even some of her supporters have asked her to follow suit to prove to them that she has nothing to hide...and if that is the case then why hasn't she released them?

    It is important for people to know that the person who is promising to also bring about change is not getting her money from special interest groups or lobbyists. Much of this has stemmed from the fact that she lent her own campaign five million dollars, and if any of that came from such a group then she is beholden to them. And just a little research (homework) will enable you to see Senator Obama's returns.

    Obama '08

    February 29, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
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