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. Juanito, Washington, DC

    "Washington would call a [her cmpaign a]'textbook' campaign. But the problem is the textbook itself."

    That is classic.

    November 3, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Linda, Edmond, OK

    Go Obama!!!!

    November 3, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. Dave Savage

    If Hillary keeps showing that she can not stand up to Edwards and Obama, she sure won't stand up to Putin.

    Of course, she could play the female card and claim that she is a "victim" and that Putin is "piling on."

    November 3, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Mark Columbus, Ohio

    Slick Willy she ain't. She doesn't have the talent to dance around questions like her old man did. Bill Clinton: "What is is?".


    November 3, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Tony, Tulsa, OK

    Obama is doing the media's swift-boating bidding. Let's hope he doesn't do too much damage to Clinton's general election campaign. He's just benefiting from the fact that Tim Russert decided to go after Clinton and ask softball questions to everyone else. This all means little except that Clinton is the clear frontrunner and the other candidates are getting desperate. She's weathered stronger storms than this, and will come out on top.

    November 3, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Terri, Plantation, FL

    Obama has always talked about where he stands on issues. Moreso, he's actually DOING what he talks about. You won't actually find that out on CNN or even 30 second answers at debates. It takes some homework. I would think Americans would find that a more worthwhile endeavor than inane comments on blogs.

    I'm rather amused by the 'picking on Hillary' meme that even her campaign has dropped because it was rather pathetic to begin with, and hardly worthy of anyone seriously considering a leadership position. Candidates should always be expected to take a clear stand and be able to argue convincingly for it.

    At the debate, Hillary was held to account for much of her wavering on subjects. I thought she handled it well until the end. Her real weakness came afterwards when she tried to play the poor beat up girl card. If anyone's forgotten, she was the first to start the 'attack' mode with her 'naive and irresponsible' comments..then withdrew when support was shown for Obama's positions. Also, perhaps everyone has forgotten that Obama was 'piled up on' in a debate earlier. He joked that he prepared for the debate by riding the bumpercars at the fair, and then proceeded to strongly defend his positions .. which is what leaders do.

    Candidates had BETTER be held up to scrutiny now. Their positions should be very clear, and not twisted and spun to win elections. We've been played as a nation by Karl Rove style politics..and that's being repeated, unfortunately, by Mark Penn.

    All candidates vying for the highest office of this nation should have their entire record open and scrutinized by the electorate. In this, the media has been more of a hindrance than vehicle for honesty and unbiased information gathering.

    Stop letting sound-bites and political spin choose your leaders.

    This isn't a game, people. It may be for the pundits, but it better not be for the country, because if it is, we are losing. Badly.

    November 3, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. S Alexander

    The fact that Sen Obama, (along with Dodds and Biden) has missed nearly 80% of votes in the Senate gives them little right to bash Hillary.
    If these Senators are not responsible enought to handle the job they were elected to do and then attack Hillary for her least she shows up to vote why should we even consider voting for them.
    Frankly, I hope all the bashing rather than telling us their stand on th issue will come back to haunt them.

    November 3, 2007 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  8. Andrea, Pensacola FL

    The proof is in the FACTS that Mr. Obama IS Winning the Presidential Race:

    1. Mr. Obama continuosly draws huge crowds. Mr. Obama has the largest crowd turn out of ANY other candidate.

    2. Mr. Obama has riased more money – in total, than ANY other candidate.

    3. Mr. Obama has laid out his positions on where he stands on issues clearly and concisely.

    4. Mr. Obama has more Internet support - MySpace, Facebook, etc...

    5. Mr. Obama's web site receives more people to it.

    6. Mr. Obama has the largest on the ground grassroots campaign.

    Okay, now based on those FACT – whose winning? Mr. Obama is winning the race for the Presidency.

    You can NOT judge who is winning based on polls, those polls can be manipulated.

    Facts are facts, and speak wonders!

    President Obama - We Love You!

    Obama 2008, Obama 2012

    November 3, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. Hal, Lakeville, MN

    You guys want to hear a great speech – look up some from Ron Paul on You Tube! If you love this country – vote Ron Paul. Everyone else uses the Constitution for toilet paper!

    November 3, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. Travis Durango & Dane Delgado

    We very strongly support Mrs. Clinton's calculated answers and her poise. They demonstrate her careful forethought about her responses, they display meaningful examination of the issues, and they're such a relief after years of listening to our current president. Mr. Obama's naivete won't make him our next.

    November 3, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. TheRealist

    You can NOT judge who is winning based on polls, those polls can be manipulated.

    Facts are facts, and speak wonders!

    President Obama — We Love You!

    Obama 2008, Obama 2012
    Posted By Andrea, Pensacola FL : November 3, 2007 5:48 pm

    What's being manipulated is you and the other hero-worshiping, cult of personality followers like you who are living in a separate reality.
    The polls are what is driving your candidate's tactical change. Your post sounds like a fan letter to a teen heartthrob.
    You wouldn't know a fact if it jumped up and bit you, and it will.
    He trails by 10 in Ia.
    He's 20 down in NH
    He's 15 points behind in SC and falling.
    That's reality. It speaks whether you want it to or not...

    November 3, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  12. Evelyn, Glendale, CA

    Peggy Noonan of the Washington Post wrote about Hillary's trainwreck of a debate and her triple backflips to avoid answering questions

    November 3, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. brian

    First off I will not vote for either one, but maybe Obama should watch his mouth as he promises so much and if by chance(won't happen) gets elected he will just be another long line of Presidents who spouted off how they were going to do so much and did nothing of anything they promised to be elected, maybe Hillary is being a little more restrained in her comments and promises, as she does not want to be one of the long line of presidents who did nothing they promised(she won't be elected either)
    If America Really does their research they would see why they should not vote for either one no matter what color you happen to be

    Sorry but it has pretty much come down to vote for the least of the worst.

    They all lie, they all cheat, they all will rip us off, they all will never do what they promised to get elected, it is a plain fact and if you actually believe anyone of them, then you are not really looking at why these people are politicians and in power and why they want to be President, It sure is hell not for the betterment of this country or its people

    November 3, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  14. George P. Burdell, Sterling, Virginia

    One day, if we're fortunate, this man will be President – I think he understands in a very fundamental way both the principles of democracy and the principles of leadership that Senator Clinton's best sound bites have (to date) only dimly reflected. Keep it up, Sen. Obama!

    November 3, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. noBO

    keep on the spin buddy, your losing,Politics of hope down to tree roots all the way.your iran crap and hillary crap turns me off,and why dont you vote for the seat you were elected your lying,80% missed votes that is not right cheating Illnois,your not qualified to be prez. same ole blah blah blah.

    November 3, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Sayak, Anaheim Hills, CA

    "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."

    Ummm... excuse me? Have we been watching the same campaign? When has Mrs. Clinton NOT taken the opportunity to sling mud at her opponents (particularly Obama?) Snide, sometimes passive aggresive asides such as "Well, that doesn't seem very hopeful to me" and the whole "That answer was naive, he is a naive person, I would never have said that."

    Kinda sounds like personal attacks to me, personally.

    November 3, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  17. JimmieFromDayton

    Realist, if you think that polls numbers from corrupt pollsters is reality then you are living in a virtual reality. The majority will speak to you soon and it won't be through some polling company that works for Hillary, it'll be through election results. How's that for real facts?

    Obama 08!

    November 3, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  18. ObamaFTW Sunny South Florida

    i heart Obama
    Obama 2008!

    November 3, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  19. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    To all of you complaining that Hillary got "picked on", shut up! You are portraying the whimpy persona that Republicans have placed on Democrats. As Edwards says in his new video "have some guts to do what is right."

    The reason that Edwards and Obama have to list their differences with Hillary is to try to ensure that Democrats realize that Hillary really espouses the values of Republicans (pro-war, pro-lobbyist, pro-corporate control of america).

    November 3, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  20. Lky, Florida

    for the realist,
    yes, facts are facts.
    but polls are pretty much useless.
    as are your posts.

    November 3, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. Michael, Kansas City Kansas

    I figured I would add some historical and current content to the discussion. Polls released last week showed Obama trailing Clinton by 10%, 2%, 2.5%, and one showed him up by 1% – each with their respective margins of error. In 2004, Howard Dean III held over a ten percent lead in Iowa...and subsequently lost it. He held a 30% lead in New Hampshire (early polls showed). He lost New Hampshire as well. Most people will tell you that the polls, unless they are the actual caucus or primary, don't matter. That being said, who will have the harder time beating a Republican? Does it seem that Romney and Guiliani and Thompson want Hilary to run because of her inelectibility? (is that a word?)

    November 3, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Let look to the future not the past. Economically the 90's were good, but that was based on the false growth of Wall Street and Nafta. We are suffering from those effects now in the subprime lending mess and all the bad products coming from China. But the Clinton era failed the military by slashing it to the bones, and intelligence agency still had the group think of Sadaam having WMDs and Osama was a just a thorn not a major threat. So, yes there is a link between Bush and Clinton's policy that America can ill afford returning too. Obama 08!

    November 3, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  23. TheRealist

    for the realist,
    yes, facts are facts.
    but polls are pretty much useless.
    as are your posts.
    Posted By Lky, Florida : November 3, 2007 6:57 pm

    More hallucinations and nasty personal attacks from yet another supporter of the man who will bring us all together.
    Back in the reality-based community;
    20% is 20%, and all the crowds, charisma and wild eyed hero-worship in the world can't change that one CRUSHING fact.
    9 weeks to a rude awakening for those in a dream.

    November 3, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  24. Ben

    Thank you Senator Obama!

    I am with you 1000000%

    Let's move on from the Clinton/Bush era.

    It's time for a new America, one that the world will be happy to see again.

    November 3, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. Michelle Liu, Los Angeles California

    Bashing another opponent is an act of desperation as I see it... Obama is always waiting for Hilary to say something, anything, so he can attack it. If what Hilary does is so wrong, then what does he suggest? Republicans are most likely not going win, but I have to admit that Edwards has a pretty good chance.

    November 3, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
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