May 16th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: Obama's learned - 'attack right back'

Blitzer: Obama hit back a day after Bush's speech.
Blitzer: Obama hit back a day after Bush's speech.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama came out swinging against both President Bush and John McCain. At issue: the allegation that those who are willing to sit down with terrorists are no different than those who sought to appease Adolph Hitler in the lead-up to World War II. A day after President Bush’s speech in Jerusalem, Obama gave a tough speech of his own defending his record and then followed up with a lengthy news conference.

Obama’s political strategy is clearly designed to prevent the accusation from gaining credibility. Republicans have successfully raised questions about Democrats national security credibility over the years. Obama and his supporters who fanned out across the television networks want to make sure that those charges don’t have time to resonate.

I remember covering the 1988 presidential race between then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Mike Dukakis. The Democratic nominee was branded as weak on national security. He was ridiculed for wearing a helmet while on a tank. The picture clearly made him look silly. Even though he had emerged from the Democratic convention that summer way ahead of Bush in the national polls, he eventually lost the election in November.

Many Democrats learned an important lesson in the process. Once attacked, attack right back and don’t wait. Bill Clinton learned that lesson in 1992. It’s seems Obama has learned that lesson as well.


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (209 Responses)
  1. Jamaal Kansas

    Yes every Attack we will Counter Attack Obama 08 you will not discredit this Hard working american we will Not be Deprived of another Great President!

    May 16, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Billy From Fla

    It's great to attack back, but Obama has nothing to attack back with.

    This is just the beginning for Obama and I think he will cave under the
    pressure.The Republicians are literally going to destroy him.

    I hope the Democrats have Hillary on the side lines to pick up
    and run with the ball to goal post.

    May 16, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. mt

    it took him 2 days, this is no swing, this is slow motion.

    May 16, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Dennis

    He had to do it. The attack was aimed at him. President Bush meant to target Senator Obama, and Senator McCain left no doubt about it. Failing to respond to these attacks doomed both Gore and Kerry. A topic such as national security required a response. It is just too important. Furthermore, Senator Obama's remarks were at least reflected the truth while President Bush's remarks were designed simply to instill fear in the voters. His remarks analogizing Democrats to Nazi appeasers was particulary out of line.

    May 16, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. CHICANO ART, ARIZONA

    Obama is weak on terror. In fact Obama is weak period. I think his whining about being picked on by a President that he rails against daily is pathetic. He wants to have the debate or not. You discuss the issues you don't fight the premise of having a debate as old politics. These are current issues. I support Hillary, but in the event the democrats are stupid enough to nominate Barrack I will be joining the McCain team because I do not trust Obama and his far left backers.

    May 16, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. steve

    what happened to all that hogwash about new politics and change?

    nobama is such a transparent stereotypical politician without substance

    May 16, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    Yep. Take a cue from the GOP book, hit 'em right back. About time we had a Democrat candidate who didn't wuss out when somebody calls him a bad name.

    I hope he goes at them on the offensive, forget attacking back. He darn well has plenty of ammunition to use after the fiasco of the last 7 years of GOB rule.

    May 16, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Doug

    Whoever the nominee is, I hope they take this lesson to heart. Don't just attack back, but attack first. Press the attack, don't let up, don't give McCain room to breathe. Keep on him about how bad the country is after 8 years of Republican rule, and about how McCain really is nothing more than Bush's 3rd term.

    May 16, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. H. Eugenia DeCelle

    It is my thinking that no President of the USA should sit down and talk with leaders who condone and support terrorism, without pre-conditions. If indeed this War On Terror is real, it is unthinkable.
    That said, covert discussions can and are happening thru intermediaries.

    Thank you

    May 16, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. proud army and navy mom

    this is why i trust Sen Obama with the safety of our soliders. His intelligence and patriotism is evident in every thing he says and does. I believe he will bring our troops home as safely as possible. He is kind yet strong. He listens but is not swayed by the bullcrap from the Republicans.

    May 16, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. Dina

    It's not that hard to refute the type of low-life and unethical ignorance that has had it's grip on this county for the last eight years as evidenced by Bush the Buffoon and his new sidekick John "Is A Clown" McCain.

    May 16, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. KJ in Ohio

    Barack is playing with the big fellas now. After all the talk about the President being "dishonest and not telling the truth" in regards to Iraq, his skin seems a little thin when it gets fired back.

    May 16, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    The point is that he is able to learn from his mistakes.

    Did Hillary learn that using the kitchen sink strategy will cost her superdelegates? Nope! And it cost her the nomination.

    Did Bush learn that cowboy diplomacy doesn't work? Nope. He's still doing it.

    Did Bill Clinton learn to keep his pants on? Hell no.

    May 16, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Not that big of a LOTR fan but I went for it.

    Thanks be to Hillary. She forged in fires of Mount Doom one candidate to beat them all!

    May 16, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Kenneth M

    WHAT BUSH AND MCCAIN DO NOT REALIZE IS THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER IF BUSH WAS TALKING ABOUT OBAMA, HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE POLICY THAT OBAMA SUPPORTS. BUSH, WHO HAS FAILED AT EVERY POLICY HE HAS EVER HAD EVEN WITH CONTROLE OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE SHOULD NOT BE TALKING ABOUT POLICY. HE STINKS AND ONLY 28% OF THE PEOPLE CANNOT SMELL IT. OBAMA DOES NOT HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL BUSH SPEAKS TO HIM BEFORE HE SAYS ANYTHING. AND BY THE WAY, NOTICE HILLARY IS OFF THE FRONT PAGE? SHE IS STILL RUNNING, BUT NOBODY KNOWS WHERE. LOL. AND HUCK NEEDS TO TRADE HIS H FOR AN F.

    May 16, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. mike

    the republicans are going to destroy him (Obama)?? with what their success with the "war on terror", or the "war on gay marriage"??

    May 16, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Debby

    Wolf, it doesn't matter if Obama came out swinging he made the statement in the debate, which does make the Dems. look weak in foreign policy once again. This comment by Bush wouldn't have even been out there if Hillary was the nominee.

    May 16, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. charles

    bush lied he did play golf.

    May 16, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Temitayo Gidado

    YES WE CAN ATTACK THAT IDIOT CALLED BUSH. YES IDIOT.

    May 16, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. Docb

    Obama seems to be have a great appreciation for history...he promised last year he would not be 'swiftboated' and has been true to form when the attacks have come both sides.
    McCain has not a leg to stand on in the day of a President with a 27% approval rating and a war that is very unpopular with the voter.

    Go Obama.

    May 16, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. MARTY MCCLAIN

    I REMEMBER – 1941 – WE WERE TALKING TO THE JAPANESE-
    IN WASHINGTON- THEIR PLANES HAD ALREADY LEFT JAPAN
    HEADED FOR HAWAII. WE WERE NOT READY FOR WAR – AND IT TOOK US AWHILE. BY THE WAY I AM A DEMOCRATE

    GO HILLARY

    May 16, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. mitchell from arkansaw

    obama's campaign has just been amazing.record numbers of new voters,a large base of independent supporters,many crossover republican voters.the organization put the clinton 'machine' to shame.record donations by record numbers of donors,without special interests and pac money.meeting challenges by opponents,directly,and with truth,while keeping his integrity intact.by the way wolf,i'm listening to your interview with mitt,and he is the epitome of elitist arrogance,and knows very little about foreign policy.he is lame.

    May 16, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. PCS / North Carolina

    If the GOP do the "Swiftboating", "Karl roving" or any "race hate" this time around they will learn a lesson. The " Race hate" did not work in NC or MI, it is not going to work. Good bye "Rush", O'Reily", Sean Hannity, and Ann the Hate mongers and Race baiters.

    May 16, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Janice Hough

    One huge difference in this Democratic Primary is that when Obama has been attacked, sometimes justifiably, sometimes not, he has fought back, and he has learned from his mistakes.

    Unfortunately for the Clinton campaign, she has fought back, but she has mostly just gotten defensive about her mistakes.

    May 16, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. KE

    Bye bye Carl Rove era.

    Have we all lost sight of the forest for the trees in the past eight years?
    Perpaps the Mountaineers have seen it better than anybody this election year, hope so. The media didn't recognize it. They were too busy with ther math and mind made up already.

    Bye bye Carl Rove era.

    And come Kentucky and Oregon, this race is not yet over. You can almost see people going to the polls in record numbers, listening to their inner voice instead of all the other noises.

    One of my older friends who never voted before said he is going to vote in November for the first time in his life.

    May 16, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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