June 20th, 2008
03:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: What's wrong with a politician who changes views?

Blitzer: Obama, McCain are at odds over tax policy.
Blitzer: Obama, McCain are at odds over tax policy.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - There’s nothing wrong with people changing their minds. We all do it – all the time. But as Luke Russert reminded us at his father’s funeral this week, politicians have a hard time admitting that they ever change their minds. They are apparently afraid that they will be accused of flip-flopping, which supposedly is bad for a politician.

Luke said that Tim Russert would also point out that the Americans are a very forgiving people. They will certainly accept politicians changing their minds as long as they are up front about it. What’s wrong with political leaders simply saying they’ve had a change of heart? “I used to think one way, but now think another.”

I was reminded of this when Barack Obama announced this week that he was opting out of the public financing of his general election campaign despite earlier expressing support for the public finance system. His decision certainly made financial sense, given that he could probably raise at least $300 million for the campaign compared to the roughly $85 million available in public financing.

In explaining his decision, Obama insisted the current presidential general election finance system was “broken,” something Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, a leader in campaign finance reform, denied. Would it have been so bad politically for Obama if he would have just said: “The country needs me in the White House and this decision will help make that happen. We can’t take any chances. As a result, I changed my mind”?


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Brandon Hillary Democrat for Mc Cain

    It will be funny to see bambi duck and cover from liberal positions this fall....
    He's being defined as we speak, he wont know what hit him.

    Hillary !!

    June 20, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. MLG

    Obama changes his mind more than McCain. I don't trust Obama. He will not get my vote. McCain 08

    June 20, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Kenneth M

    WHEN THINGS CHANGE SO SHOULD VIEWS. THE ABILITY TO RAISE MILLIONS BY THE HUNDREADS VIA TINY DONATIONS WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT HE COULD HAVE PREDICTED. IF THERE IS A LAW THAT SAYS HE CANT THAT WOULD BE ONE THING, BUT TO CUT OFF YOUR CASH TO MAKE THE OTHER GUY HAPPY WOULD BE FOOLISH.

    June 20, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. John Smith

    I guess Hillary and her "bitter" Clinton supporters need Obama (and supporters) more than Obama needs Hillary..

    Obama can win those battle-ground DEM states without the help of Hillary.

    Hillary needs the help of Obama to pay her sagging bills, loans etc. This is how terribly Hillary managed her campaign. I guess Hillary and her bitter followers need to beg Obama to come their help!!!

    Bottom line, call on McCain to help retire Hillary's debts, loans...!

    June 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Yvette

    I don't think there is anything wrong with a politician changes his views or admits that they were wrong, as long as the situation calls for it.

    I mean isn't the problem with Iraq that our leaders have refused to change their views and allow us to just sit there instead of pressing the Iraqis to handle some of the reform by begining a troop withdrawl?

    June 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Voter

    This simply goes to show that Obama is not to be trusted.
    Clearly the DNC bet on the wrong horse.

    June 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. all4lonnie

    Wolf you Nailed it. How came a politician cannot say they have had a change of heart. Be honest and Upfront with the American People. It is time for the truth and time for the politicians to be honest with us.

    June 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Petra, PA

    Wolf, I agree with you 100%. "I changed my mind' is not a crime. That is really what happened

    June 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. FrankSmith

    I guess Hillary and her "bitter" Clinton supporters need Obama (and supporters) more than Obama needs Hillary..

    Obama can win those battle-ground DEM states without the help of Hillary.

    Hillary needs the help of Obama to pay her sagging bills, loans etc. This is how terribly Hillary managed her campaign. I guess Hillary and her bitter followers need to beg Obama to come their help!!!

    Bottom line, call on McCain to help retire Hillary's debts, loans...!

    June 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Peter E

    There is nothing wrong with people who change their minds... as long as they're honest about it. If they admit that they got new information that made them change their minds, it's fine. But the current candidates are just plain dishonest. Kerry's flip-flops in 2004 look like straight-talk compared to what Obama and McCain are putting us through right now.

    June 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Chris H. Illinois

    I've got a great way to sum this up that proves that a politician changing their mind is a great thing. Let's pretend for a moment that there is a politician who's for putting babies on spikes. Horrifying I know, but stick with me...would you rather he keep that position so we can say "Ahh at least he's not a flip flopper" or would it not be better for him to change his mind after seeing evidence that putting babies on spikes is a bad idea? Personally I'd rather have a guy/girl who stands up and says, "I know I was for babies on spikes, but now...not so much. Looks like I made an error in judgment."

    In this country we are always about learning and taking in new ideas. If we didn't change out minds, then we'd still have blood letting as a form of healing the sick. Robert Bird and Strom Thurmand would both have stuck with the KKK rather then leaving the group.

    Come on people, fess up when you change your mind and explain why. As for the rest of us, we change our minds daily over if we should be milk or gas, so let the folks in government do the same. We're human for Christ sake, not demigods.

    June 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. suzy

    He signed and agreed to this months ago, and now he "CHANGE"s his mind...
    just as he said so many things along the campaign trail, and has now "CHANGE"d his mind...
    Is this the CHANGE we are supposed to believe in????
    At least he is keeping that promise to CHANGE all the stances he ran his primary campaign on...I'm sure many wish they could CHANGE the wool that's covering their eyes.
    As his good friend said – "he is a politician and says what a politician has to say". You can't CHANGE that statement.

    June 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Vote Nader

    The problem isn't that they change their mind. The problem is that most politicians change their mind for the wrong reasons. Or they really aren't changing their mind, they're lying to us.

    VotePact

    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    June 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. slax

    well, of course it's okay for obama to change his mind, but if anyone else does, they're flip-flopping. just like he accused mccain of today on his stance on offshore drilling.

    obama keeps calling mccain gas tax holiday a gimmick (i don't agree with the holiday either), but then why did obama vote for a gas tax holiday three times when he was in the state senate? the same state senate he only got into because he disqualified all of his opponents. talk about someone willing to do anything to win, just like he is now.

    June 20, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. Peter E

    Changing views based on new information is called learning. Changing views while pretending to be consistent is called lying. For further clarification on lying and examples of lies see: Obama, McCain, presidential campaign 2008.

    June 20, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. steven j stevens

    yep! now that they have their man in the run for president....they're going to make excuses and give him and open door to change his platform and time slots for leaving iraq and his new stance on not taking public funding after he a while back said he would....hillary clinton never would have gotten this kind of a free ride by the media...obama is slowly sheding his coat of many colors....

    June 20, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. WE NEED THE TRUTH

    Because what it really comes down to is you're Damm if you do and Damm if you don't.

    No matter which way he chose there are going to be haters on both sides of the fence.

    In the end Senator Obama did what was best for his campaign and that's the kind of leadership that in the end will do what's best for this country.

    June 20, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. BHO Not my candidate

    I think people are worried that he will change his mind about "CHANGE" ...

    June 20, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. Gold Canyon Gal, AZ

    It depends on when and how far the candidate goes. If the Obama campaign, going forward, has decided to ask the American people to trust his judgement, rather than his campaign promises, they will lose the voters that don't know him well enough or question his judgement in other areas they already know about...like all the questionable characters in his past, his 'present' votes in the IL senate, the remarks he's been caught making (i.e. bitter people that cling to God guns out of their frustrations). Voters trust people whose past record is known to them as a way of gauging how that candidate might make decisions in the future...Obama has no record to speak of. This dilema is all the more perplexing then, because experienced voters know better than to trust campaign promises that they know will meet hugh resistance in the Congress. Wil he just change his mind to suit himself and go whichever way the wind blows? Looks like it to me.

    June 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. Adam

    Makes sense, but when someone has millions of people that follow their original ideas, the people dont want to have to change their views (ironic I know) to continue supporting that person. Noone wants to change their views based on how that politician is feeling that morning.

    June 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. John Q Public

    I wish you would say this more on the air, Wolf-

    And honestly? A politician that admits when he or she is wrong and works towards correcting their mistakes? That's FAR more productive than going down with the ship on principle

    A concept totally lost on the war-crazed senator from Arizona

    June 20, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. slax

    well, obama used to his political advantange months, even a year ago, to differentiate himself from the "same old washington." and how he didn't want politics being affected by money and special interests. he even promised to use public financing. but of course, now that it benefits him...

    this man is so full of b.s. i don't want our tax payer money to pay for this stuff, but it's that or private interests. the point his he went back on his word. he didn't "change his mind" and realize that the public financing is a bad thing, he's just doing what benefits him the most.

    we see your true colors, obama.

    June 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. Beltway Insider

    Changing your mind is a necessary tool for intelligent people. So is admitting when you're wrong.

    America is ready for a politican with both of these qualities. Obama is the first one we've seen in a long time.

    June 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It seems like the candidate is just going with the political winds to be popular and win. The inconsistancy makes people worry that the candidate isn't going to stick to his or her guns and princples when the time is needed to do so.

    June 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. ALLBAMALLTHETIME

    He had GOOD reason to believe that Caney-Cane will engage in back-handed financial arson and he's staging a preemptive strike against his underhanded behuind. I think that it is foresight at its best!

    June 20, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7