May 16th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
10 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. Dawn

    Imagine the audacity of the Bush administration signaling that Obama might be too weak to handle the terrorists, when it is 100% their fault that all of the terrorists are gunning for the United States in the first place! Obama will be the president who will show the good judgement to talk when talk might help and to act when action is necessary. Threatening every enemy and acting like the United States has the final word on everything really only pisses people off. Obama has said again and again, he will not sit down with terrorist groups such as Hamas, but he will sit down with the heads of states. Since when is sitting down and talking the same as giving them what they want? Come on!

    May 16, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Carrie Goodeagle Hayden, Idaho

    The republicans are losers, Huckabee, the so-called preacher, preacher of what "violence," and his idiotic jokes about guns. Let him tell it to Jesus on Judgement Day.

    May 16, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Letha

    Maybe the better question would be for CNN to find out why Obama has been anointed by the press as our new messiah. He is an inexperienced sweet talker and we have all see those people before. We can all say Bush! I for one am getting sick of the retro ’60s drool by the way left liberals and CNN’s playing the game with them.

    May 16, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. Chuck, Democrats United We Stand

    Wolf, it is good to see Obama come right back at McCain and soon to be EX Pres Bush. I think that has always been in him, but he has tried to keep it down while campaigning against a democrat. Every one has that fight in them, and it is great to see he is able to fire back with out having to worry about hurting a fellow democrat or the party.

    May 16, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Bobbi

    Obama handed Bush the "fear card" on a silver platter thanks to his being so naive an inexperienced. Go, Hillary, go!

    May 16, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. Lisa

    DNC please do not select Obama as the nominee. He is clearly not ready to become President!!!

    May 16, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. nancy

    If Hillary is not the candidate then I will not vote for the 1st time ever!
    GO HILLARY-It is time for a strong, capable woman running this country.

    May 16, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. Uncle Sam

    Did you hear that electing Sen. Obama would be a Bush third term? Hey, it makes about as much sense as when it is pinned on Sen. McCain. Apparently, Obama is also a warmonger. And senile. Allegedly.

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 16, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. Paul

    Being from Europe.. It is about time
    that a possible american president would sit down and
    talk/negotiate with enemies!

    It seems your "great" president bush is a coward!! He hides
    behind the misfortunate Amercian army, hides behind the thousands
    of bombs he has dropped on unsuspecting innocent poeple..
    and hides behind his pathetic allies in Saudi Arabia!

    Europe for Obama

    May 16, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Nick - Arlington, VA

    Clinton was clearly not a speech per se...and he writes his the rac speech in Philly...or the speech at the '04 convention....stop hating...if your a democrat get on the train cause we can't have McCain in the White House.

    May 16, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. Clear Thinking Indepedent Voter

    It would seem that despite all the labels of fighter that have been placed on other candidates (mentioning no names) , Mr. Obama does not shy away from defending his principles.

    He picks his battles .... I like that in a President.

    May 16, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. Mark

    I am a democrat and proud to be so. I strongly disagree with many, many of the President’s opinions and policies!

    With that said, I have to be honest. I watched the entire President’s speech yesterday. I did not hear anything in the speech that was directly criticizing any democrat. In fact, his message was no different than it has been in the past.

    It amazes me and disappoints me that many of my party’s leaders would take offense to the fact that we shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists and that shouldn’t have direct high level talks with the leader of Iran. The Iran leader believes that the holocaust was fiction invented by Israel and America.

    When I heard of the speech, I was thinking of how history has proved that you can’t have high level talks with terrorists and such. I think the President was referring to countries around the world. Pakistan for instance has a cease fire with Al Qaeda. The leader of that country made a deal to appease them so that the can stay in power.

    In this case, I believe that we should give the President the benefit of the doubt. We all know the President has no problem critizing use Democrats. Lol If he really was referring to a specific party or politician, we wouldn’t have a problem doing so.

    May 16, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. nancy

    Go Hillary! We need a capable woman running this country.

    May 16, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. lyn

    CNN you need stop your madness – Some of these comments need not to be aired. We as black people know CNN is for the Clintons, but these disrespect remarks from some are very offendsive to black race. The people have spoken and they want change. If Obama is the people chose then let it be their chose. I Know it is going to casue some problem to have a black president for the first time and bring out all the racist people trying to said evil things about Obama becasue he is black, but enough is enough and time for all the haters to just move on. It is going to happen a black man in the Whiteman House.

    May 16, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  15. Anna

    It is long past time to define weakness.
    Bush and McCain are very, very weak people. Emotionally weak, intellectually weak and spiritually weak. They no how to do nothing but destroy, fight and kill. That is weakness.
    It is going to take an intelligence, a strength beyond bane methods of destruction and shock and awe to bring down the concepts and methods of terrorism.

    May 16, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  16. Paris

    Wolf, GOP is stating the facts and policy differences between McCain and Obama.
    It is a fact that Hamas is in favor of Obama. Is it not?
    It is a fact that Obama said he would meet with Ahmadinejad
    (a presidential meeting) with no preconditions. Is it not?
    GOP is only highlighted the differences, they are not attacking Obama.
    This is the same policy that didn’t work during Carter administration and unfortunately democrats didn’t learn from it.
    Negotiations through NGO’s is very different than a presidential meeting. If Obama had the experience, judgment and the knowledge required of the Middle East he would know that this kind of statement and or meeting would be ammunition for the propaganda machine of the Iranian government.
    Just last week Ahmadinejad said “ we have brought America to its knees”.

    May 16, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. Yes we can!

    They just dont get it, every attack that has came against Obama has only strengthened him. The more hillary attacked the more superdelegates came to his side. the more the republicans attack him, is an attack on democratics and now you see entire congress coming to his defense as well....republicans tried tying three local candidates in chicago, louisanna & mississippi to obama and rev wright in heavy republican districts and all three democratics won,,,you all just dont get it...the more you attack the more success obama will have and everyone connected with him will be blessed and those that rise up against him will be cast down,,,,the bible states "no weapon that is formed against you, will prosper" just wont work......Obama 2008/2012

    May 16, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. fred

    Mike – Texas, Man do you have that right. Obama can't even speak without someone writing it for him.

    Obama speaking on his own:
    ummm... ummm ...I am Barack obama...umm.... umm.... and I am running umm.... umm ....for president... umm umm Howard Dean umm umm is helping me out !!

    May 16, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Neutral

    The problem of Obambi, he has the notion, the world revolves around him. Appeasement speech of Bush in Israel has NOTHING to do with him, Bush was referring to former President Jimmy Carter who wanted to have a meeting with HAMAS in spite of the fact State Department told him not to do it.

    Obama once again committed another blunder, same blunder he committed about news of Novak. This what happen when a man who thinks he's the presumptive nominee shoot off his mouth without checking if his brain is loaded, he is showing how uninformed he is.

    May 16, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |

    Marty-you hit the nail on the head!! These democrats want to kill americans by letting these jihadists endanger our people! McCain will kill them all!!! Obama and hillary would have tea with them! You are going in the right direction-vote McCain, not Obama. Stop all the anti-christian abortions and homosexual marriages. McCain will!!!!!!!

    McCain Huckabee 08'!!!

    May 16, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. PhilT

    Hopefully no one needs to attack Mike Huckabee, an ordained minister, for the ridiculous comment he made in front of the NRA about someone pointing a gun at Barck Obama. He should immediately apologize on his own.

    I thought Huckabee was a man of conscience, and even appreciated his stand up comedian schtick at times, but this is clearly beneath a "man of God".

    Is this what the race is going to boil down to? How would he feel if tomorrow someone actually attempted to shoot Barack Obama?

    The GOP is stooping to levels below anything in the past, because these are desperate time for th "Grand Old Party".

    Say goodbye boys, it's over for you in a big way in November!

    Phil T.

    May 16, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Robb, New York

    Obama's retort of that so-called president's remarks were right on the money. We Americans have to stand up to bullies like Bush. The man has been a miserable failure from the start and a joke of a president right to the end. He has accumulated his power on fear, the most un-American way to lead this country. America is a better nation than to have to suffer fools and bullies like George W. Bush. He, his soulless, heartless vice president, and the rest of his lot should be impeached and tried for treason, but I guess we'll have to settle for the 22nd Amendment's limitations and Bush's obligation to leave on Jan. 20, 2009.

    May 16, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. JDG

    How can you support a party who's only agenda is to raise taxes, point in the direction of the welfare office and attempt to TALK our enemies to death. How quick we forget about September 11th, as if it was another day in paradise. Oh, and our economy, get real, it has cycles just like our weather conditions and believe me the Republican party has nothing to do with Mother Nature. This country was founded on backbone, intestial fortitude and not politically correct casual debate. This country continues to need hard leadership who won't buckle under by cheap criticism.

    May 16, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Dee

    You can't change the campaigning methods much. They are imbedded. So Senator Obama must play some by the established methods. A jab attempted to land and a quick right jab back immediately landing to the opponent's mouth.
    America loves fights in the ring and on the stump more so than bowling or playing pool.
    I really think Senator Obama has been holding back and the time has come for us to see the future President at work.

    May 16, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Haley Rodman Clemson

    Obama's "brilliant" counter-attack was pretty weak. He addressed a crowd of his supporters and basically told them that he was right and that they are wrong. He also called them fearmongers and said that Bush and McCain are trying to trick them. History and common-sense are on the side of Bush, all Obama has is the notion that our sworn enemies will warm up to us if we just give them a little attention and some quality time. Perhaps we should call him Momma Obama.

    Obama thinks he is something entirely new and that he defies all logic. He's not. He's another Jimmy Carter.

    May 16, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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