November 28th, 2007
11:18 AM ET
15 years ago

Commentary: Clinton camp has problems doing their math

Is Obama as unexperienced as the Clinton campaign claims?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - I just finished watching the Monday night piece on Sen. Barack Obama that aired on ABC’s Nightline. During the broadcast, anchor Terry Moran read a comment from the Clinton campaign that said if the junior senator from Illinois was elected president, he would have less experience than any president in the 20th century.

Here is what Deputy Communications Director Phil Singer wrote Tuesday after an Obama foreign policy speech:

"With the critical foreign policy challenges America faces in the world today, voters will decide whether Senator Obama, who served in the Illinois State Senate just three years ago and would have less experience than any President since World War II, has the strength and experience to be the next president. Sen. Clinton, who has traveled to 82 countries as a representative of the United States and serves on the Armed Services Committee, is ready to lead starting on Day One."


George W. Bush only held elected office for six years before becoming president. He was elected governor of Texas in 1994 and won the presidency – OK, liberal bloggers, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor – in 2000.

Obama is in his 11th year as an elected officeholder – eight years in the Illinois state senate, followed by three as a U.S. senator. Clinton is in her seventh year of elected office.

So the question has to be asked: Is the Clinton campaign struggling with their math, or hoping we all can't add?

If the Clinton camp is saying state experience doesn't matter, does that apply to Bush, who never served at the federal level prior to coming to the White House; President Jimmy Carter, who was governor of Georgia before residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; and even her husband, Bill Clinton, who was governor and attorney general of Arkansas before being elected in 1992?

I sent Singer an email asking for a clarification. I'll let you know if he gets back to me.

- CNN Contributor Roland Martin

soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. Katy7540, Cedar Rapids, IA

    Two weeks after Clinton accused other candidates of what she called "mudslinging" she has repeatedly slung negative accusations at Senator Obama. Of course Obama is going to defend himself!

    November 28, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. monica, rochester new york

    Oh, Rodney of Dallas TX, your fuzzy Clintonian math is old news. Everybody knows they just looked at 2 months to come up with that "missed 80% of votes" fake stat. If you really cared about being fair you would demand to see voting stats based on the entire year, which Obama's record was in line with the other candidates. Stop spreading your fuzzy math, it's not patriotic.

    November 28, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Dan, TX

    Experience is important for gaining wisdom and judgment. Some people learn from experience much better than others. Clearly it will take many more years before Clinton can be said to possess good judgment. Obama, though having less time in Washington, has proven he has much better judgment. We aren't electing a president to come up with all the options on their own. As our current president said in his own cute way, the president is the "decider". Obama is clearly going to be a better decider than Clinton.

    November 28, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  4. AJ, IL

    Singer won't get back to you Roland. You point out a simple but effective truth. When it comes to holding an elected public office, Hillary has one of the fewest years of experience for Democrats and Republicans. Phil Singer can't throw 8 years as First Lady as relevant experience without some type of documented backup. Most of us that remember Hillary's leadership in 1992/93 was for National Healthcare, which was a disaster. After that, Hillary was never offically appointed to anything else by Bill Clinton.

    Next thing we will hear is that Chelsea Clinton has experience to be President.

    November 28, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  5. bookwisewin

    Can someone tell me how traveling about the world on the taxpayer dime somehow constitutes "experience"?

    Clinton is a nutcase.

    November 28, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. Ron Nebraska

    FINALLY! After literally years of the media not even attempting to do their job of reporting fact to Americans, we finally have a story with some actual fact based information. I sure wish this trend would continue, but I'm not holding my breath.

    November 28, 2007 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. James, Forest Grove

    Response to Rodney Dallas TX.
    Of course you're real. My point is if Hillary is the front runner, as most the media states, then why is it that a majority of the comments are negative about her. Surely if her base is so large and active, then we'd see a larger volumne of commentors coming to her defense. The only place you'll see a majority base of commentors is on her front groups and campaign site. Face Reality bud, she's the Titanic and all but a few will go down with her.

    November 29, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Been there, seen that

    Not a probl;em with math, It's just a problem with the truth. The Clintons are unable to tell it for what it is.
    The truth never helps a Clinton, so they live in a different reality than the rest of the world. Where Smoking pot is not inhaling, where having sex isn't having sex if someone else is doing it to you, where campaign funds aren't taken, they are given freely and checked etc etc etc

    November 30, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. Sal Espino, Jr., Fort Worth, TX

    After reading several all of your comments, I must say that a majority of you missed the real point of the article. Martin made the important assertation that Clinton and Obama probably have the same amount of foreign policy experience. For you Clinton apologists, being First Lady does not bring about Foreign Policy Experience. This logic seems to tell me that if a woman marries a lawyer she will eventually gain enough experience to also be a lawyer. This simply isn't true. On a final note, I must defend Martin to you ignorant people that would attack him as being a apologist for Obama. The last time I checked, Obama was leading the polls in Iowa, and Clinton's lead was dropping.

    November 30, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  10. Roberta Avancena, Bar Harbor, Maine

    There is a huge difference between experience in the United States Senate and the Illinois State Senate. In the U.S. Senate, foreign dignataries from all over the world are always camped at the doorsteps of Senators and Members of Congress. There is a lot of interaction with the Executive Branch. I worked on Capitol Hill on the House side for many years and it is a real shame that more people don't understand what goes on up there.

    It is my deepest regret in watching this election that the average American understandably cannot know this.

    My own personal guess is that it will take Obama and/or Edwards at least several years if not the first full term to make the friendships and judgements about people you can trust both within the Congress and White House and among foreign dignataries all over the world.

    Bobbi, Bar Harbor, Maine

    December 5, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
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