September 5th, 2007
09:31 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: 'In elective office longer' than Clinton, Edwards

(CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to turn the tables on his chief party rivals Wednesday when questioned about his experience.

At a backyard event in Sac City, Iowa, Obama claimed he had more relevant experience than his main opponents. Responding to a question from a voter, he said, "I find it amusing, the whole experience argument, because I've been in public service for over two decades now. I've been in elective office longer than John Edwards or Hillary Clinton. I've passed more bills, I'm sure, than either of them."

Continuing the theme he's hit hard on the trail, the Illinois Democrat told the crowd, "What people seem to mean when they say that I don't have enough experience is I haven't been in Washington as long as they have. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think that's necessarily a criteria for gauging experience."

–CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. xtina chicago IL

    Im reading Obama's vagueness about "experience" in this post, at the same time on foxnews Rudolph Giuliani is explaining his record in reducing gun crime as Mayor by 75 percent. So, don't just say you have had success and experiencem, Senator Obama, tell us specifically have you done to qualify you. Taxes in IL are climbing with not much to show for it, so I'd really like to know what you've done.

    September 5, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  2. ST from JC

    I am so happy that Senator Obama is starting to point out the fact that he has held an elective office longer than Hillary. Of course Hillary would like for people to believe that she has more experience than Senator Obama. I believe she states 35 years which include 8/9 as wife of governor of AR, 8 years as first lady and 8 years as elected official. Not sure where the other 10 years come from.

    So tell me how does this account for experience. Let's be honest Hillary would not be a senator or even in the running for president if her husband was not Bill Clinton.

    September 5, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  3. Amber, Phoenix, Arizona

    Of course, just like Obama to draw away attention from himself and be less than modest because that's the way he works. He has next to no expierence, and shows it with his less than vague views upon certain issues.

    September 5, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  4. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    First off, Obama just recently passed the first ethics reform bill, which he co-authored, in the twelve years of Republican congress. He co-authored the bill. Was Hillary Clinton the other co-author? Absolutely not.

    Throughout his time in the Senate, Obama has been outspoken about his thoughts on corruption and the war, while Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were playing it safe, grumbling here and there, but never as clearly and precisely as Obama has.

    His incredible ability to communicate, to make logical and comprehensible arguments, is exactly why HE WILL be the one to pass healthcare reform.

    I watched Hillary hold numerous town hall meetings in the 90s in support of her healthcare plan. She was stiff and she was bogged down by details so confusing that eventually, one simply had to tune out or risk their head exploding.

    This would not happen to Obama. He would be able to make things comprehensible in a way that the HMOs and big business overall wouldn't be able to shoot down as they did Clinton.

    Clinton didn't fight back hard enough for her health plan, she wasn't witty, she wasn't wise enough. she also came off as arrogant at the time.

    Obama would truly bring the parties involved together and inspire the American people in a way that would prevent the right from drowning healthcare reform with a sea of negative publicity.

    Lets never forget that so much of politics is an ability to convey big ideas and have people buy into them. Obama is the greatest master of this ability I have ever seen in politics, hands down. I dare say that it is weak to compare him to JFK because he is EVEN SHARPER.

    The dude is a finely tuned instrument waiting to be be picked up by the American people who are tired of at least sixteen years of blunt trauma.

    Let's cut through the crap for a change and actually elect a real leader for once.

    Obama 08

    September 5, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. Adam, Plano, TX

    its sad that people ignore these facts.

    September 5, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  6. NN, New York

    very true, I've been waiting for this statement for a long time!

    September 5, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. Michael James - Illinois

    Once again, Barack is right!

    Wake up, people!! Barack Obama is a superior candidate to Hillary Clinton in every way, including “experience” if you just compare their respective records.

    What documented legislative successes has Clinton had? Why is she hiding her records from her first lady days yet claiming that same time period as part of her experience? If she is so “strong,” why has she not come out with a health care plan or written an op-ed about a controversial topic such as Cuba or refused to take the PAC money as Barack Obama has done? Why will she not publicly state what her foreign policy will be as Barack Obama has done? Why will she not release her list of earmarks as Barack Obama has done?

    Point after point, policy after policy, experience after experience, Barack Obama is a vastly better candidate with the experience, strength and character to be a great president (and without all the baggage).

    September 5, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  8. Ernie, Provincetown, MA

    By selectively abridging Obama's position, CNN has distorted it. Barack has said that Washington experience may be what washington likes but Washington experience is not what the country needs. Look what Washington experience has given us.

    September 5, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  9. walters, A MD

    Obama is right, being in ILLinois senate from 1997-2003 and US senate from 2004 till present unlike Hillary who has been in the us senate from 2000-present and Edward one term senator from North carolina. So to think that you have more experience because u were the first lady don't translate legislative experience if that is the case Laura Bush should also be president. Considering other forms of experience, or being part of the national scene then Obama too has been the first Black president of the Harvard law review, Constitutional proffessor and civil rights lawyer, community organiser just to name a few, or Why is Edward's experience never question or running for vp makes u automatically experience? You don't need to be around Washington for years to impact a complete change. If we can agreed that US senate experience is what that matter then the votes u cast is what should really count. They didn't have the right Judgement couple with all the senators who spent almost 20 yrs in the senate and could not have the right Judgement and created the worst foreign policy disaster in US history. Better be smart and sound in your judgement than cowards with no convictions who just follow the flow.
    Obama 2008.

    September 5, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Nitpicking: criteria is plural, criterion is singular.

    September 5, 2007 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |


    September 6, 2007 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  12. Ben, Erie, PA

    I personally think it is a strong characteristic of Mr. Obama having NOT been in Washington as long as some of the democratic contenders. Politicians in the US take their positions for granted, and forget that their actions reflect on their characters as much as those from popular actors and entertainers. With power, the average citizen expects that individual to carry him/herself with the relevant level of dignity and professionalism. Mr. Obama represents the only candidate that is part of a new generation, a yonger generation that has not been corrupted by the out-dated political practices that litter Capital Hill (becomming slaves to lobbyists, basing foreign policy on a "Cold War" mentality, ignoring congressional oversight, etc.). Whether he is young or not is irrelevant; the United States needs a change, and needs someone different and willing to put the Nation back "on track", and I'm sorry but no one "with experience" is capable of doing that!

    September 6, 2007 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  13. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    Sure, Senator Obama, sure. But, the experience is in the legislative branches at the state and federal levels. That branch has little opportunity for leadership and you did not lead or accomplish much of anything. So, you actually equal Clinton and Edwards in experience, all three having zero executive experience.

    September 6, 2007 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  14. Seam, Philly PA

    Thanks for clearing up the whole "experience" argument Barack. You are absolutely on point.

    September 6, 2007 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Does serving on student council count as relevant experience?

    September 6, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  16. Loyda, WDC


    cry me a river, Obama....your experience is in the class-room...STAY there....

    September 6, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. Ryan, Provo,UT

    Did you read the article before commenting Loyda? He's been in elective office longer that either Hillary or Edwards! As far as his previous profession, I'd much rather have a former professor in the white house than a former lawyer (Clinton and Edwards).

    September 6, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Does being married to an ex president qualify one to President. Then Obama's experience in the state legislature and senate is well enough. Obama has more elected office experience than Hillary, John, Abe Lincoln and Kennedy. And none of the top three candidates have executive experience expect for Hillary's try at healthcare reform and we know where that went-nowwhere.

    September 6, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |


    September 6, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. Pinckneyville, IL

    I have lived in IL all of my life. Obama did nothing for IL while he was in the Senate here. Actually, the years that Obama was in the IL Senate is when our state started having all of the financial trouble that we've been dealing with the last 8 or 10 years.

    Go Edwards!

    September 6, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. Jason, Vineland NJ

    Obama does have more experience in elected office. He's been on the US Senate for 1 term, and was on the state senate for 2 terms!

    Clinton has only been NY Senator for 2 terms (First Lady isn't much experience nor is it an elected office), and Edwards has been a South Carolina Senator for only 2 terms.

    Obama is simply less experience in Washington DC, not in politics. Not to mention his other experience...

    September 6, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |