November 4th, 2007
08:06 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama turns the page on Clinton

Sen. Barack Obama criticized Clinton Saturday morning in South Carolina.

SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (CNN) - In what was billed as a definitional speech by his campaign, Sen. Barack Obama Saturday accused Sen. Hillary Clinton of "vague, calculated answers" in the most recent Democratic presidential debate and vowed that he will "turn the page" in Washington.

"Much has been said about the exchanges between Senator Clinton and myself this week," Obama said. "Now, understand that Hillary Clinton is a colleague and a friend. She's also a skilled politician, and she’s run what Washington would call a 'textbook' campaign. But the problem is the textbook itself."

Obama, who was interrupted several times by applause and standing ovations in an auditorium at Converse College in Spartanburg, displayed an energy he sometimes lacks on the stump while playing to the enthusiasm of the audience.

"It's a textbook that's all about winning elections, but says nothing about how to bring the country together to solve problems," Obama said. "As we saw in the debate last week, it encourages vague, calculated answers to suit the politics of the moment, instead of clear, consistent principles about how you would lead America."

Though much of the speech was devoted to issues like climate change, Iraq, social security and torture, Obama's speech today was crafted as a follow-up to the much-discussed debate, in which Clinton was assailed by the other Democrats for what they said was her inability to give a definitive answer to questions.

Obama finalized the speech with his aides shortly before appearing on stage.

"I don't believe we can bring about real change if all we do is change our positions based on what's popular or politically convenient," Obama said, in a clear reference to Clinton.

Obama's criticisms, while forceful, were less direct than those of fellow candidate John Edwards, who blasted Clinton on Friday morning for "double talk" in the debate. Edwards said Clinton was not being "straight and honest" with viewers of the debate.

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- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. Leo, VA

    What questions was Obama addressed at the debate, which questions did he answer and how? We didn't hear much about this topic. The debate showed a bunch of men who don't manage raising their ranking in the poll accusing the female candidate of 'vague calculated answers'. At least she answered!

    Meanwhile, Obama gives us lessons about political textbooks and how his principles (politics of hope sounds more like an ideology and what is more vague than that..) will change the country.

    November 3, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Harlon Fitsimmons, Lincoln, Nebraska

    Where are the articles about Gravel and Kucinich? Why is it all Clinton, Obama, Edwards? Even the debates, when Gravel was still allowed in the debates, every question is directed at one of those three. All three of them answer questions vaguely. The people of this country deserve to be well informed about every candidate in the race and it is the job of the media to do this.

    November 3, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Esther,Manchester, NH

    I really liked the way he handled himself in the last debate. I have been holding for long for this guy to show me he can lead this nation and here I am now with my vote for hime.
    I am an African American, and I am pleased to see Obama to have convinced me this time around....

    Obama 08! You got my vote!

    November 3, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Hillary, despite being mercilessly attacked from all fronts (including the moderators) did not resort to bashing her fellow Democrats. There's plenty that she could have said against each one of them since none are pure as the driven snow. Instead, she chose to stand her ground but did not resort to the low tactics of some of them (particularly Edwards). Kudos to Richardson for being disgusted by their behavior.

    When are politicians going to realize that people don not like it when candidates resort to bashing those in their own party? It damages whoever gets the nomination and goes to the general election.

    November 3, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Eric, Provincetown, MA

    Obama is not "slinging mud". He is talking about all the most important issues. Honesty and openness are two of them. If you want the same old corporate culture, secrecy and corruption, put the Clintons back in the White House.

    November 3, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Veronica Bloom, Jacksonville, FL

    I agree with Marie VanDyke. Obama, along with Edwards, are hitting below the belt. Obama has LOST my vote.

    What HIllary said was simply a truth, and Obama used the same strategy when he spoke at Howard University and said that poeople like MLK paved a way for him to be running as president.

    The more they bash on Hillary, the more her ratings will go up! THe women's vote is what counts this election, not to mention the percentage of Republican women that will vote for Hillary if she wins the nomiation.

    November 3, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Marko, Portland, OR

    Obama knows he's already out of the race. I'm glad Hillary stumbled though. I'm behind her 120% all the way 'til her last day in office. All the "boys" are now lashing out at her in what looks like a circus of defensive empty oratory. And, actually, looks really bad. The strategy they are taking on now is very bad for themselves. That goes to show the little experience they have.

    We have to win and we have to play to win. Hillary knows how to win and even better, when she's elected President she will know from day one what to do. She cares more than Edwards and Barack Hussain Obama about the real issues affecting America and I betcha' everything she can raly a strong army to defeat anyone anytime.

    It's time for that Tsunami Tuesday to happen. Tsunami Hillary 2008.

    Sad for them, she's picking someone out of the race to be her ballot partner and run for Vice President. They know it, they are mad!! Tom Visalk for Veez!!! 2008 Love ya' Hill

    November 3, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Hillary's caculated answers show she's thinking before she talks. She's not about to discuss complex intelligence operations just to make the "Tancredos" and "Dobbs" feel better about their bigotted views. I appreciate the fact that she can keep this highly secret security agenda to herself in the face of such ignorance. Even if Lou Dobbs was let in on this he'd be so stupid as to blurt it out and ruin it's intent. Go Hill!

    November 3, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    Hillary is going to be tortured for this for the duration of the race. She lacks the ability to dance around issues like Bill, and if she doesn't start taking some real positions (not like the position she took this week on driver's licenses for illegal aliens!) she will be over and done with in no time.

    Make no mistake, this was exactly what Obama and Edwards needed to get back in this race and it will be interesting to see if Hillary can recover. My bet; if Obama runs his campaign the right way he could take over.

    If she were to recover she would have an extremely difficult time dealing with the illegal immigration position in a general election.

    Shockingly bad performance by Hillary in the Philly debate.

    November 3, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Axel, RKDA, California

    Will someone PLEASE tell Barack Obama that whining is SO undignified?

    Thank you.

    November 3, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. sirus,fairfax,va

    Can not wait to see painting that white house black this time around. It will be history in the making......

    November 3, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Brian Tampa

    What a wind bag. Rudy did in the mob cleaned up NY and lead during 9/11. Those are tangible actions. Hillary married Bill and Obama made a nice speech at the '04 convention. I'll take Rudy!

    PS Just because someone doesn't agree with you does not make them blind sheep or dumb. I read this all the time from Obama posts. If you really think this country will rally behind him you are the ones who are blind. One third of the people are going to hate whoever wins.

    November 3, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. docrock lewisville tx

    Typical Democratic stunt,kneecap your Primary Opponent,and give fodder to the Opposition.Smart! Try just once to run on your own merit,instead of playing Karl politics.Geez people,it aint Brain Surgery!

    November 3, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. matt

    Looks like Obama is finally taking hold of a golden opportunity. It's rare when Hillary stumbles in a conventional debate, but she did on Tuesday.

    November 3, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Jim Bremer

    I laugh when I see these Obama groupies scripting their own version of reality.

    Fact is, Obama can give any number of sophomoric speeches but it will not overcome his fundamental inelectability.

    Even if he does get nominated, the Republicans will tear him limb to limb. Imagine a vicious campaign unleashed by Romney that goes "Barack Hussein Osama"

    The ultimate goal of the Obama groupies is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for the Democrats. Come to think of it, I wonder how many of the Obama groupies are actually undercover Republican activists.

    November 3, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Ken, San Diego, CA

    I want a "skilled politician" who can win back the White House, who is smart, and who will govern from the center - not the far left or the far right. The only candidate that fits this discription (with due respect to Obama) is Hillary Clinton.

    November 3, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. berry, nashua,nh

    Jim Bremer,
    It will take kids alot time to understand it doesn't matter who is campaining but the campaign of hate and negative or error is not welcome this time around!!

    November 3, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Our world is changing all around us which has puts us on notice that change is not an option. The U.S. is borrowing money from China strengthening their economy while they are becoming an oil rich country. The U.S. is beginning to look like an experiment lab for other countries to learn from as well as capitalize.

    November 3, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. sussy, NYC,Ny

    I think this time we don't need to cry if some is really liberal but I would think character matters and what they are going to do as president and that I am getting convinced that with good advice Obama can unite people in united states and do great in the eyes of the world leaders.

    November 3, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Christian, Tampa FL

    He's absolutely right. There's nothing different about Clinton's campaign; she brings with her the same Washington spirit of power that has been around for decades.

    We know it's the time for serious change. Hillary can be a good president in the normal sense; she is a skilled politician. But we need someone who is going to try and fundamentally alter the face of Washington, because we are living in a nation where public confidence in the federal government has all but collapsed.

    November 3, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Richmond, Virginia

    Clintons have no concept of truth. This has been a consistent shadow over their public personae. Everything is about expediency and message manipulation. People are sick of it!

    November 3, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Silverspoon, lilburn, GA

    America was founded on IDEALS, that have been lost by shallow politics of left and right who thrive on familiarity

    Obama understands this

    "This election and this moment are too important to settle for what we already know. The time has come to reach for what we know is possible".

    You can fight to go back to the glorious days of the 90s, but the rest of the world has grabbed the American ideals and are running away with it. Can America afford to squander its future?

    November 3, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. colony14 author, Mt Prospect, Illinois

    Clinton isn't the only candidate with "vague, calculated answers." I don't recall Obama or Edwards being very specific about anything either, other than the usual hints that they will confiscate income from the producers to give to the parasites. They're all leading us on a path to collectivism and socialism, and I want nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, I'm outnumbered by those who want something for nothing, so I'm taking my money and retiring to another country before what I've worked so hard to accumulate can be confiscated.

    November 3, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Karen,ny

    Ellenville..Lou Dobbs is not stupid, in fact he is alot more intelligent now than you will ever be. That is why he has an hour show on CNN. End of Story.

    November 3, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Colin, New York, NY

    Great speech! A better politics is in the winds. Obama will never get 100% of the vote (geez, George Bush is still polling at, say what? there). The negative comments here are so typical. Why does Hilliary want to be President again? Because she is next in line in a dynasty? What?...

    Barack Obama is exactly the type of leadership the USA desperately needs at this time in our history. And the majority of Americans across party lines will take up the baton with him to work together to set right was has been so wrong with America's purpose for far too long (and definitely the last 6 years) in our country. Clinton is still too much of a polarizer (not entirely her fault), Thompson and Gulliani are polarizing politicians (entirely their own faults), and all the Republicans (except Ron Paul) are determined to go down with a sinking ship having ditched their life rafts for the hope of their Iraq war (what an oxymoron, and the majority of Americans wisely do not want this war anymore), Edwards may have gotten a little bounce lately, but he will not shake a slick salesman image which voters have been allured before and who are quite weary at this time in our history. Barack Obama is the agent of chance we can believe. Hitch your wagon with Barack Obama, America's rising son and be very, very proud of your country again.

    November 3, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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