December 21st, 2007
09:19 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama hits Clinton on electability

Obama hit Clinton on her electablity Thursday.

(CNN) - Barack Obama took direct aim Thursday night at Hillary Clinton’s claim that she is the most electable Democrat in the presidential field, telling a New Hampshire crowd that the argument that “is being pushed, by the way, by a candidate who starts off with a 47 percent disapproval ratings.”

The remarks come days after a new Gallup survey found that Obama fared better than Clinton in head-to-head match-ups with the leading Republican candidates.

“I’m not going to mention names, but I mean the notion that a viability or an electability argument is being made by somebody who starts off with almost half the country not being able to vote for them doesn’t make sense,” the Illinois senator told a Portsmouth audience, according to a report in Foster’s Daily Democrat.

“For whatever reason I keep on defying this notion that somehow the American people are not ready for me. That just is not borne out,” he said.

Obama’s campaign has grown more aggressive in recent days, sending out press releases and mailers that directly take on senator’s chief rivals for the Democratic nomination.

Obama and Clinton were tied in the Granite State, but the New York senator has opened up a double-digit lead among primary voters there in the latest CNN poll, released this week, in large part because of major gains among older voters.

Last week, Bill Shaheen, Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign co-chairman, resigned after telling a reporter that she was more electable because Obama’s youthful drug use would be a target for Republicans in a general election contest.

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. Matthew Sutton, Central Point, Oregon

    Double Digit lead? According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll Hillary and Obama are locked in a dead heat in New Hampshire, 32% each.

    December 21, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. mary,des moines,iowa

    I think one of the interesting things to watch going forward is how Cnn end up catching up with Obama's campaign. Although they know he is the most electable and motivates alot of people, in many cases it appears that Obama is actually just like Chris describes: serious, calm, often somewhat casual.

    Of course, that has generally worked for Obama–people often seem to get the impression that he is serious, thoughtful, sincere, not talking down to them, and not trying to pander. But as I noted, it will be interesting to see if people like Chris try to hold him to a different set of expectations.

    Not that I expect it to matter–by the time they are voting people will undoubtedly end up seeing enough of Obama to form their own opinions, for good or ill.

    December 21, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. Concerned, Atlanta, GA

    Mr. Obama:

    Where have you been, George Bush has stood in front of the American people with no experience and basically left us without a voice and he was elected for a second term by the same people who may not find Hillary electable.

    Hillary is very electable and if she becomes the nominee, the American people will have a choice between a Republican and Democrat. Luckily for the Democrats the economy is in dire need of a boost and it will be the Democrats that people trust with regaining a balanced budget and helping the working middle class and poor.

    It bothers me Mr. Obama as a minority that you have allowed your advisors to brainwash you into believeing this electability issue. But that's why I am not voting for you because your inexperience will make you a PUPPET for the people you hire to tell you in selective facts, what you should do and think.

    December 21, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. jenny,greensboro,North carolina

    I wonder if videos of these speeches will be up on youtube so people can draw their own conclusions. Obama doesn't tend to pepper his talks with canned applause lines, and he has a sober, calm demeanor. If the "old rules" of politics were still in full force, it would be a poor speaking style. But I don't think those rules hold any more after the spin control and stupidity put out by this administration and the media. A large bloc of people, particularly younger people, want something more direct, genuine, and intelligent.

    It's good to hear that Hillary is acting more "feisty." The competition is good for her. Maybe someday she'll even say something that hasn't been carefully focus-grouped first.

    December 21, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Dave, Evergreen CO

    It's about time. Democrats really need to pay attention. Clinton will not bring the country together and a general election campaign between her and any of the Republicans will be one of the more polarizing in the nations history.

    December 21, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. jeane,newyork

    So, Rebecca, do you work for the Clintons and not for a sorta non biased paper?
    Your constant cheerleading for Clinton leads to read your column less and less as I cannot trust what I'm reading is actual unbiased commentary or if it more licking of Hillary's boots.
    Careful, cause being a clintonista may not work out so well for you when Obama is up there in Jan. 09 taking the oath of office.

    December 21, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Rick, Maryland

    Obama talk's about Hillary Clinton's
    negative number's and yet he has to
    go negative to try to gain ground on
    If he get's the nomination, ha ha, look
    for 4 to 8 more year's of a Republication White House, people would
    be stupid to put a Negative Child in
    charge of this country.

    December 21, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  8. cotney,burington,ma

    Throughout the speech, Obama sought to contrast the political deadlock in Washington and what Hillary has and doesn't with his belief that the country is ready to find a new governing paradigm. "There has always been a generation who stepped up and said 'yes we can,'" said Obama. "Today is our time."

    Obama is not Hitting hillary what Cnn want us to think, he has kept his focus on issues. That is why I a voting for him..

    December 21, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Daniel, NY

    That's absurd - recent polls from red states like Kansas show Hillary is very competitive, which should assuage any doubt people have of her electability.

    December 21, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. Francine, Tampa, FL

    Gotta be honest, I am a sinner – I hate George W Bush. However, my hatred, distrust, stomach-turning feelings regarding W is NOTHING compared to the hatred, distrust, spit-spewing feelings that my Republican friends, neighbors and inlaws have for the Clinton name. Nothing.

    HRC promises nothing but the continued hatred that separates our families, our Congress, our nation and this world. No to Hillary, I don't support a divider. Obama, I see as a uniter, and maybe my inlaws favoring me again.

    December 21, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. amy R, Iowa

    Hillary Clinton has far too many negatives too many negatives to win the general election. People need to wake up and realize what we need right now to win this thing is Barack Obama.

    December 21, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. naomi,bosotn,mass

    As polarizing as Hillary

    I hate the media!

    December 21, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Yvette, Bowie MD

    In case you missed it, not only is Gallup showing that Obama easily beats all Republican contenders, Zogby released an identical result yesterday, so no matter how much CNN promotes Hillary, the people are once again proving that they are smarter.

    December 21, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. Monte Brown, New York, NY

    If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, by golly I think it’s a duck. Obama sounds a lot like a Republican. It is becoming clearer and clearer each day that voting for Hillary just makes more sense. What Hillary said about Obama, and his lack of foreign policy experience, is fair and just. Instead of challenging her assessment Obama is doing exactly what the right wingers do when they can’t win on the issues; they appeal to peoples emotions. Obama is being demagogic.

    Emperor Bush is the right wing’s life buoy. If he didn’t have that veto power public opinion of the Democrats would be significantly different today. Likewise, if the right wing haters, liars and demagogues were not in Hillary’s grill for 15 years she’d be far ahead of her rivals in the polls.

    Americans will choose Hillary because Americans are tired of the politics and the pettiness. The eight years under Bill Clinton were the best 8 years in the history of America. We can’t deny this. Twenty-two million jobs were created and poverty was in the fastest decline. Why do you think Alan Greenspan called Bill a clever chameleon? He didn’t get the name for nothing. Obama doesn’t have anything on the Clintons. Obama has charm, yes. He speaks well and he’s got deep campaign pockets. All of that should not be a part of the job description for president. We are looking for an effective LEADER; one that will make policies that will bring forth the CHANGE WE NEED.

    Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate, the most experienced candidate and she’s READY TO LEAD ON DAY ONE.

    December 21, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  15. richard,pa

    ...who has not run in a national campaign before. HRC is a none quantity. For most of the other candidates, all the public knows is what they have been telling about themselves. There is not much they can tells us about HRC that will move her numbers in either direction. Most of the others have nowhere to go but down.
    CNN has been having a tough time getting negative comments about Obama because there is no much to pick on....

    December 21, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. vicky,boston,ma

    Hillary's poll numbers go down. That's what happened in the early primary states and that's what will happen in the rest of the nation.

    December 21, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. Scott, Royal Oak, MI

    I'm so sick of people calling Obama a hypocrite for responding to the negative attacks Hillary puts forth. As he has essentially said, the "politics of hope" does not mean laying down and playing dead while your opponent attempts to smear you with propaganda and factually-skewed allegations.

    I'm VERY GLAD Obama pointed out Hillary's EXTREMELY HIGH disapproval ratings. She is a very polarizing individual about whom many have strong negative opinions about. I was driving the other day and saw a "Anyone but Hillary" bumper sticker. Though I don't echo the sentiment that "anyone" would be better that Hillary, it is a reminder of just how unlikeable she is to many people.

    Wake up everybody, nominating Hillary is GIVING THE ELECTION TO THE REPUBLICANS. I firmly believe that Obama is a uniter who is able to transcend race, which is TRULY the only question mark on his electability. Of course, Hillary won't explicitly SAY that, but this is exactly what she's trying to plant in peoples minds. Disgusting

    December 21, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. joe,ny,ny

    Claiming the high ground

    Obama's campaign, also, seems to have noticed that he's the only one in Iowa without a 527.

    From the latest faux-informal fundraising e-mail to supporters:

    Right now groups supporting Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are flooding Iowa and the other early states with millions of dollars in paid ads, phone calls, and mailings.

    Some of it is negative and even deceptive, and a lot of it is paid for by huge, unregulated contributions from special interests.

    Taking on these groups isn't just a matter of setting the record straight about me or my positions.

    It's about proving that a new kind of campaign — funded by ordinary people who want something better for all of us — can defeat the same tired, old political textbook that so many Americans just don't trust anymore.

    One (perhaps minor, because it's not in Iowa, and not doing negative media) impediment to this argument: The pro-Obama group Vote Hope in California.

    Obama is drawing contrast no hitting on Hillary!

    December 21, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  19. Todd, Alexandria, VA

    I was an Obama supporter but now he is my hero. Hillary unites the Republican party, while dividing America over a continuation of the Bush/Clinton dynasty.

    Obama has the best combination of intellect, character, judgment and natural ability that can bring people together to change the status quo and move our country forward and out of the ditch we are in.

    December 21, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Edward,kansas,mo

    Clinton, Nedra Pickler reports, reworks her stump speech to question Obama's experience:

    It is tempting any time things seem quieter for a minute on the international front to think that we don't need a president who is up to speed on foreign affairs and military matters," Clinton said.

    "Well, that's the kind of logic that got us George Bush in the first place," she said to laughter from her friendly audience at a high school auditorium. "Experience in foreign affairs is critical for ending the war in Iraq, averting war in Iran, negotiating a Middle East peace and dealing with North Korea."

    And Obama spokesman Bill Burton plays what the campaign still thinks is their trump card: Iraq to draw contrast.

    While Senator Clinton takes a break from her ‘likeability tour’ to go back on the attack, Senator Obama, the only major candidate who opposed both the Iraq war and the rush to war in Iran, will continue to demonstrate why he has the judgment to turn the page on the Bush-Cheney foreign policy.

    So is this hitting on Hillary?

    December 21, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. Jonah, Boston MA

    "so what serious stuff did obama say? poor obama, he says serious things and folks are only thinking, gosh, how does his ass look like? the "serious stuff"? is the news.their style of delivery is known to everyone. we the readers deserve to get more for our buck!"
    -Barbara, Lowell MA

    Could somebody please tell me what the hell this comment is supposed to mean? Is this written in the secret language that twins use to speak to each other?

    December 21, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. Hope

    Beware of Hill Clintons Internet Thugs on major political sites. They are all over the web spewing attacks and intimidating folks. Its scary

    & For Heavens sake what experience does Hillary Clinton Have? She claims 35 years of experience doing what? Being Bill's "perfect" wife for 10 years as 1st lady of Arkansas, his "perfect" wife in the white house for another 8.

    If this is experiences, America brace your self for LAURA BUSH 2012, Chelsea Clinton 2020

    LAURA BUSH's Qualification:

    1. Bush 41's Daugther in law......10yrs experience

    2. First Lady of Texas...... 8yrs of experience

    3. 1st lady to Bush 43.......8yrs

    Boy, years and years of experience and she's even nicer.


    December 21, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. Jonah, Boston MA

    "Obama talk's about Hillary Clinton's
    negative number's and yet he has to
    go negative to try to gain ground on
    If he get's the nomination, ha ha, look
    for 4 to 8 more year's of a Republication White House, people would
    be stupid to put a Negative Child in
    charge of this country."
    -Rick, Maryland

    Do you know how to use an apostrophe? What is a Negative Child? And why did you capitalize it?

    These message boards are a shrine to illiteracy.

    December 21, 2007 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  24. micheal,fairfax,va

    Dirty tricks time

    This is about the time when you'd expect the volume of curious telephone calls and negative mail to start ramping up in Iowa, with a final wave coming in the days before the caucus, when it's too late for backlash.

    And sure enough, the first (mild) wave appears to be on its way.

    CNN is reporting negatives on Obama when he remind voters why they should elect him and reporting fluff with the clintons. We need balanced reporting!

    December 21, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. jerry,worcester,ma

    There have been a lot of misleading tactics and tricks in the last few weeks, but we've just never seen anything like this before. Either they are trying to trick people, or they've realized that on health care, John Edwards is the candidate who speaks honestly about what it really costs and what will be required to have truly universal coverage. He has led the debate on health care with the strongest, boldest plan that covers everyone and is paid for by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

    It's fine to have an honest debate about policy, but Iowans deserve better than planted questions and campaign fliers designed to fool them from Clintons political machines.

    December 21, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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