December 18th, 2007
05:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Johnson: It's no time for a 'rookie'

Magic Johnson hit the campaign trail in Iowa Tuesday.

(CNN) - Basketball legend Magic Johnson hit the Hawkeye State campaign trail on behalf of Hillary Clinton Wednesday - and appeared to take a thinly-veiled shot at the New York senator's chief rival, Barack Obama.

"You don't want somebody in there that is young or a rookie at politics," Johnson said at a rally in Davenport, Iowa. "We want somebody in there that knows what they're doing, because this job is so huge."

The Clinton campaign has long sought to portray Obama, first elected to the Senate in 2004, as too inexperienced to be President of the United States. In response, Obama has cited his experience as a community organizer and Illinois state senator, and said his lack of Washington experience makes him better able to bring about change.

Asked at a separate campaign stop Tuesday why he decided to support Clinton over Obama, Johnson again cited the New York Democrat's experience.

"Thirty years experience right here," he said with Clinton at his side. "This country right now needs a leader with experience, because this is not going to be an easy job, this is not going to be an easy job. And the only person in this race on either side that has the experience, the knowledge, the wherewithal, the work ethic, is Sen. Clinton.”

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. jack,dalla,tx

    Magic, as much I love you, for heavenly sake, Obama is 46 years old. If I may remember is almost the same time Clinton became a president. Are you a real American citizen. oooh wait, these are your friends. I hope they give you a position in the white house....

    December 18, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. Brian,WI

    Iowans are not stupid. Thank God they can make their own choices without Magic johnson.

    December 18, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. Ken, San Diego, CA

    The fact of the matter is, most (if not all) newly elected presidents enter into the White House overwhelmed of the task to which they are now contracted to take. Typically (and you can check my history on this one), it takes a GOOD president at least a year to get grounded and to have the infrastructure (staff) working in a methodical and organized fashion. Rarely, therefore, are newly elected presidents "good" presidents during the first year (or second year, for that matter). And rarely, does anything of consequence get done during that first year - call it a "grace period". In fact (let's be honest), even Bill Clinton was not really a good president until he began his 2nd year. With that said, in this day and age (with Iraq, with global climate issues, with the U.S.'s world standing - or lack thereof), we CAN NOT afford to have a 1-year grace period for our newly elected president. There is ONLY one candidate that could possibly have everything rolling on day one (I know this is a cliche, but it's true), and that's Hillary. She is the only one that truly knows how the White House works. This type of experience trumps all else (including Joe Biden's wonderful national/international experience). The combination of Hillary's national and international experience coupled with her experience and understanding of the White House, its function, and its infrastructure sets her apart from ALL other candidates.

    December 18, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  4. steny,wyoiming

    CNN is back to bombading us with this crap of Clintons. I am sick and tired and tired sick of these cooperate misguiding cloud back in washing.

    December 18, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. Rosie, NYC, NY

    Great! A std-riden disaster endorsing a couple of std-ridden political disasters. Just what this country needs!

    December 18, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  6. Walt, Belton, TX

    The question is: "How many illegitimate children are these two men responsible for?"

    December 18, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  7. Ed

    What's kind of funny is the fact that when Magic was a rookie he played all 5 positions in the games that counted especially in the championship. Maybe a rookie isn't too bad at all.

    December 18, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Matt, Boulder Colorado

    I find it ironic that Magic, who as a rookie in the NBA took the Lakers to the Finals, was an all-star, and played as well as or better than most veterans (at least that's my recollection), would categorically dismiss a "rookie" for president. What would the Lakers season been like had he not be allowed to play as a rookie? Putting aside any preference for Barak or Hillary, I don't think Magic thought very hard about that analogy.

    December 18, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. Steve, Pennsylvania

    So seven years as an elected official (less than Obama) and a couple terms as first lady adds up to "thirty years of experience"? Looks like Magic isn't such a wizard at math.

    His comment about the only person in the race with the experience, knowledge, wherewithal, and work ethic being Hillary is also laughable. Has this guy even heard of any candidates other than the top three in each race?

    December 18, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  10. Judith Beale, Atlanta, GA

    All Presidents at one time or another were "rookies" just like Mr Johnson.

    Ms Malveaux should ask white people why they are not supporting a certain white candidate. it is insulting to ask a black person, why they are not supporting Sen. Obama. Black people have a "right" to support any candidate they want. We do not have a "herd" mentality. Thank you very much.

    December 18, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  11. Dave, KS KS

    Hillary, Work Ethics, and Experience ?
    Is he on drugs?
    If we really want Experience, lets track down the descendents of Lincoln, or George Washington – if soley being related equals experience.

    December 18, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. jh, watertown, ny

    Magic Johnson is 100% correct. You will not trust a medical student to do your open heart surgery either. So, why trust a 2-year junior senator from Illinois?

    December 18, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. Biggdawg

    CNN please just concede that you are out to undermine Hillary's campaign. You go out of your way to find something negative in everything Hillary supporters say.

    Last month some guy in Texas who'd contributed to Hillary was indicted on some irrelevant charge, but you led with the banner "Hillary Clinton Supporter Indicted". Last week two Illinois Obama contributors were indicted on corruption charges. What did you post? Nothing.

    December 18, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  14. LQ Rochester MN

    And the reason why I would respect his opinion is.........?

    December 18, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  15. Biggdawg

    Oh. And CNN. You conveniently chose to lead with a banner that included the Magic's phrase "rookie". Why then when Chris Rock intro'ed Obama last month by referring to Hillary as "that white lady" didn't you include that in the banner of the article you wrote on Obama's visit to the Apollo?

    December 18, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  16. Mike, Portland

    Uh, last I heard, Hillary Clinton has only been elected to one term, so she hardly has "thirty years experience." Unless poor Magic thinks we are voting for Bill Clinton again.

    December 18, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  17. Skeptical Sam, Sarasota,FL

    "...You don't want somebody in there that is young or a rookie at politics," Johnson said at a rally in Davenport, Iowa. "We want somebody in there that knows what they're doing, because this job is so huge."

    Remind me again, which Clinton is running for president?

    December 18, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. james, newport, KY

    What the heck does Magic "Aids" Johnson know about politics? Is this the only black person the Clintons can find to counter Oprah? Please. No contest.
    The Clintons have hit desperation mode...watch out!!!

    December 18, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  19. barbara,lowell,ma

    DES MOINES-The Clinton campaign has come up with a counter-programming move to drag press attention away from the Obama/Oprah rallies in Iowa previous Saturday, by finally bringing on the stump magic johnson.
    Just think...on a day when Obama has Oprah Winfrey helping him the all important undecided female voters, there will be three generations of Clinton presidency
    The debut of magic who own in New York, has been anticipated for a long time. She is appearing with her grandmother, Dorothy Rodham at three stops in Iowa. Former President Bill Clinton is in trashing Obama.
    Just think...on a day when Obama has Oprah Winfrey helping him the all important undecided female voters, there will be three generations of Clinton women on a stage.
    magic is not planning to speak. A campaign staffer, aware that this is Oprah day, said magic is suddenly appearing because "She wanted to spin it!

    December 18, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  20. Cathy,boston,ma

    Cnn is really doing this without appearing as if they are dong it. I am sick of this media twist! Now the focus is not on Obama or Edward.
    I am happy non of these people will determine the way I vote!

    December 18, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  21. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    Good for you magic, now go and play basketball

    December 18, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. shannon NY

    this is getting ridiculous, how can Hillary and others in her campaign continue to say she has 30 years experience without backing it up? the only position she has been elected to so far is senator so where exactly is the rest of the experience coming from? and don't tell me it comes from living in the same house as a politician.

    December 18, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  23. Mark, NC

    Didn't Magic WIN the NBA championship his ROOKIE YEAR??!!! Maybe someone should tell the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron was not ready.

    December 18, 2007 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  24. Evan,Poria,Arizona

    This must surely come as a shock to Mr. Johnson, who was photographed visiting Baltimore to promote his "Know Your Money" program for minority professionals just days after this "news story" allegedly broke on September 18, 2003. A photo taken on September 22 shows a happy, healthy-looking retired basketball star.

    It's unknown where the claim that Magic Johnson is in a coma originated, but no such item has been posted on the CNN Website, nor has any other news outlet carried such a story.

    Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, but thanks to AIDS-inhibiting drugs the virus has remained dormant in his body and he has never exhibited full-blown symptoms of the disease.

    December 18, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  25. Jane, Chicago, Illinois

    I do not understand why Senator Obama is any less experienced than Bill Clinton was when he became president after being Govenor of Arkansas. Being a U.S. Senator from Illinois is terrific and deep political experience. Why can't people wake up to this?

    December 18, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
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