March 19th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: Experience versus change

The experience v. change argument still rages.
The experience v. change argument still rages.

(CNN) - Experience versus change. That has been a constant refrain we’ve heard out on the campaign trail. Which is more important in this presidential election campaign?

Barack Obama beats Hillary Clinton and John McCain in our latest CNN-Opinion Research Corporation Poll when it comes who voters feel is the candidate best able to effect change. The American public, the poll shows, believes he can better change our political culture. In the same poll, however, he loses when it comes to experience. For one thing, both Clinton and McCain have been figures on the national political stage for far longer.

Obama is willing to address the issue directly – and in the process take a swipe at both McCain and Clinton.

“It is time to have a debate with John McCain about the future of our national security,” Obama said Wednesday. “And the way to win that debate is not to compete with John McCain over who has more experience in Washington because that’s a contest he will win. The way to win a debate with John McCain is not to talk, act and vote like him on national security because then we all lose.”

Obama’s surrogates have made the constant point in recent weeks and months that having a great deal of Washington experience is not always useful. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, they point out, had decades of Washington experience – going back to the 1960’s – which they say did not necessarily help them make better decisions during this Bush administration.

If Obama gets the Democratic presidential nomination and faces John McCain, you can expect to be hearing a lot more about change versus experience.

– Wolf Blitzer


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Carlos, NY

    Clinton has less years of political experience than Obama. Being the first lady does not count!

    March 19, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Dan (TX)

    While it's true that Hillary Clinton has been "on the political stage longer", it's important to realize that the majority of those years were as a non-elected official (i.e. spouse) with NO official duties.

    As senator, neither Obama nor Clinton have ANY experience to speak of while serving as elected public officials. Check the records.

    Your last statment about Obama vs. McCain is very true.

    March 19, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Tina

    I will not vote for Hillary Clinton, because of her experience as a first lady. She did not run the country her husband did, and she wants credit. We need change for our country, so therefore I will vote for Barrack Obama or won;t vote at all.

    March 19, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Linda

    Experience vs change? Dah, if everyone will be patient and allow these canidates to show you the way, there is a lot more to find out about. J McCain went to the middle-east and his tongue slipped in the wrong direction, B Obama sat in a pew for years listening to a hate preaching preacher, I'm sure Hillary is next. Let this process finish itself out. I'm sure there is more to come.

    March 19, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Liz

    Excuse me but the Obama campaign has stressed constantly not experience vs. change but EXPERIENCE vs. JUDGEMENT as you and your show know and have reported on continuously. Where was Obama's JUDGEMENT with Rezko & Where was Obama's JUDGEMENT with wright???????????? Obviously the only JUDGEMENT Obama has is BAD JUDGEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. DeeDee Eagan

    Experience makes voters feet secure and that is fine, but change takes courage and that just might be better.

    March 19, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. Jerry M

    Yes, Obama makes a persuasive argument about experience not being all it's cracked up to be. What he never talks about and nobody in the media ever challenges him on, is HOW he is going to bring about change in Washington without extensive experience of the way things work there.

    Whether Obama likes it or not, the 535 members of Congress all, to a greater or lesser degree, act in the selfish interests of themselves and their consituents. If he refuses to play the game of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours", he won't get anything done. I want to know how he aims to revolutionize Washington without the compliance of Congress.

    Everyone agrees Washington needs to change. Stop just repeating that mantra and tell us HOW you'll change it. Until then, Hillary gets my vote because she doesn't have her head in the clouds.

    March 19, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Ray, Atlanta Ga

    I grew up in a rural Georgia town, majority white population. I went to the largest baptist churches with my white friends on Sunday and listened to these pastors state that white people should date and marry white people, likewise with black people and all races. The pastors wrongly interpreted the scripture " each with their own kind". There was never any uproar over these statements, although many of those my age in high school disageed and I hope some of the adults who I did not discuss the sermon with, would disagree as well. Prominent people in the community belonged to those churches, they did not speak out against the pastor in any of these churches for their fallacy. Most of them still respected the pastor and recognized they were wrong. So do not tell me that there are not racist and divisive words in churches all over this land.

    March 19, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. tony

    YOU WOLF MUST BE ONE OF THE WORST NEWS ANCHORS AND BIAS IN AMERICA WE KNOW YOU WANT OBAMA TO WIN BUT AT LEAST TELL THE AMERICA PEOPLE WHO THIS GUY IS ALL ABOUT, THEY DESERVE TO KNOW A GUY THAT SAYS HE HAS JUDGEMENT TO LEAD AMERICA WHERE WAS HIS JUDGEMENT FOR 20YRS IN THAT CHURCH THAT PREACHS HATE TOWARDS AMERICA. he uses race when its benefits him. CNN WAKE UP AND TELL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THE NEWS THEY NEED TO KNOW

    March 19, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Ticket of Hope: OBAMA Al Gore

    The new released documents prove that we are not talking about Experience vs. Change. We are talking about old Washington's Business as Usual vs. Change.

    As Obama said: Experience ... What Experience????

    March 19, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. Karl Haye

    I believe Senator Obama has experience where it most counts: he has experience in thinking about and seriously grappling with the myriad complexities of living in an America that has already had radical change foisted upon it in the wake of 9/11. Reactive, conventional ideas and ideologies, based upon decades of jaded Washingtonian groupthink has hamstrung both Senators Clinton and McCain in ways that a large portion of the American people have both witnessed and reacted to;hence, the phenomena of the mantra, "change," and the oft -shouted mantra of truly American idealism–yes we can!

    March 19, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. Linda

    Experience is more important . Why again are you so against Sen Clinton? You have all tried to promote Obama, tried to suppress story about his minister, and all your so-called analysts are so busy advising Obama what to say. I have watched CNN for over a year, (every day) only report on negativety and positive for Obama. Jack Cafferty was disgusting yesterday (more so than usual) defending Obama's minister. Also, you always fail to report when the war started, Obama didn't VOTE one way or the other, so it's 20/20 after the fact. Sen. Clinton didn't vote for war but the resolution if needed after more investigation. How can Obama boast about judgement when you look at his minister??
    Linda-Canada

    March 19, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Justin

    Too be honest, I can live with any of the remaining candidates as long as Bush is out!

    When Mr. Cheney was given the result of a current poll done by CBS saying that two out of three people would like this war to end, he responded, "So". This one word more than sums up the Bush presidency to me and just how little they care about any of our thoughts.

    March 19, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. janice horton

    I would much rather elect a president with experience than one who personifies the "audacity of deception."

    March 19, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. matt

    How many of the reporters have asked the troops them selfs, what they think and/or know should happen with iraq, not the generals or any higher ups. Along with that, how many troops have deserted the military since the war as started?

    March 19, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. April

    Why doesn't someone at CNN expose The Clinton Chronicles, or the other film made by an ex Clinton supporter "Hillary Clinton: It's All A Big Lie"..? Doesn't CNN care if she gets elected or hasn't Bush done enough to ruin the reptuation of the USA?

    March 19, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Gene

    Wolf! give me change, washington experience is nonsense......

    March 19, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. CHERYL

    THE AUDACITY OF OBAMA!!!!!!!

    HOW IS THAT FOR A BOOK?

    GO HILARY!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Unite

    Obama,

    If you want to really unite this is a test for you. We want to see whether you are just a preacher or you will show it in action. Action speak louder than words.

    If you want to Unite as you say why are you ignoring the people of FL and MI.

    March 19, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. virginia nielsen

    BARACK OBAMA 2008-2016!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. vl

    Jeeze Wolf, that's a no-brainer! Experience, hands down. Sen. Obama has shown his inexperience and inability to tell the truth lately. Plus, I would never vote for someone that has "uncles" like his...... Anti-American. NO WAY, NOT EVER!! If he's on the ticket, McCain gets my vote.

    March 19, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Anne Potter

    Barak Obama does have experience. He has experience that is not that of mainstream politics. I do not think we should be down playing the idea of change. The change that Obama has brought to our country has enthused an entire generation of young people to become involved in our democracy. This is a kind of change that has inspired a generation of people to care about what is going on in thier country. The idea that people are so exicted to vote could bring about the best change of all. Winning in November!

    March 19, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Jacque

    Barak isn't about CHANGE – remember, he's about JUDGEMENT – BAD JUSDEMENT!

    The media failed to do their job and give unbiased reporting so I guess Barak will win the nomination – but everyone knows he will never win the Presidency. The Republicans aren’t afraid to talk about Barak’s BAD JUDGEMENT. The Republicans aren’t going to let him make this a RACE issue! (Amazing how Barak can use the race card to his advantage and the press just eats it up!)

    Barak, on the other hand, will loose the Election and go back to the Senate and continue to accomplish nothing.

    I, like millions of conservative Democrats, will VOTE REPUBLICAN before I let him and his lying, racist, anti-American friends have the keys to the White House!

    For the first time in my adult life, I’m ASHAMED to be a Democrat!

    March 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. JENN

    I HAVE BEEN WATCHING CNN AND YOU FOR A VERY LONG TIME. YOU ARE AN OUTSTANDING, WELL RESPECTED NEWSMAN WITH MANY IMPRESSIVE AWARDS AND YOU ARE ENTITILED TO YOUR COMMENTS.
    ARE YOU PRO OBAMA?
    JENN
    CALIFORNIA

    March 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Elena

    Get over it Wolf not everyone thinks Obama is the "great one" like CNN does.

    March 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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