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. ben,iowa

    A little primer on Iowa caucus reality versus the crap you read from the poll. I will be caucusing for Biden he has alot more experience than Hillary and he will probably not have enough supporters to get a delegate to the county convention so i will go to the quorum of the candidate who will give one of us a seat at the county convention taking as many of Biden's supporters as I can with me.
    This is true politics and democracy folks. You meet with the people you see every day and you discuss issues and choose who you will support. It is based on reality and not some hate advertisment you watched before heading to the polling station and therefore it is nearly impossible to get a reading on true candidate support. PS. My home phone is turned off for a month before the caucuses.

    December 21, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. brenda,boston,ma

    Poll: Obama More Electable Than Clinton

    The new Gallup poll finds that Barack Obama would be a stronger Democratic nominee than Hillary Clinton. Either of them could win when matched up against three top Republicans, but Obama has stronger margins and is above 50% support for himself in all three cases:

    December 21, 2007 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Anonymous

    America will not vote for a black man for President. If Obama gets the nomination, the South will not vote for him.

    All of the polls about who is more electable is theory and not fact. At one point a majority of the voters in Tennessee said they'd vote for Harold Ford, but once they got into the voting booth, they did not.

    The same thing will happen with Obama.

    December 21, 2007 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. joe,boston,ma

    I picked Webb as Obama's ideal running mate months ago. Both aren't beholden to the Democratic Party, and both are united in making government work for us instead of against us. Webb adds his impressive credentials in the foreign policy area, and in my opinion puts most of the South into play.

    All indicators are pointing toward an Obama landslide in the general election if the Democratic base doesn't let the fearmongering of the Clintonistas keep them from playing the best hand we've had in many generations. As mentioned above, here's just another anecdote to add to the scores that have come before it:

    December 21, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Rachel, San Diego

    Let's count the challenges our new president will likely face: imminent recession, military exhaustion, war with no end-point in Iraq, nuclear threats, critical climate change, runaway immigration, inaccessible medical care, divided congress....Etc. Could someone please tell me, again: WHAT MAKES OBAMA QUALIFIED TO MANAGE THIS SET OF DIRE ISSUES ON THE WORLD-WIDE STAGE?? Hillary Clinton has proven, as a twice-elected Senator, that she is highly effective at reaching across the aisle to solve problems in a bi-partisan way. In a general election, her record, intelligence, and knowledge will be an effective antidote to whichever Replublican she faces. Obama going head-to-head in a general election? That is a SCARY THOUGHT.

    December 21, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Well, well, look at that, Mr. Clean is not so shiny anymore. Typical Obama attack, strike then hide the hand that holds the stone and cry foul when Clinton defends herself.

    Hey buddy, how about gathering under your belt some actual work experience before assuming that you're ready to lead the free world with just 2 years as a US senator?

    The "Audacity of Hope", yeah more like the audacity to think that you're ready to be president. Too funny!!!

    December 21, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. lee,mi

    Hillary's case is obvious and perfectly defensible. She's been involved in foreign policy for eight years in the White House (though in a sideways fashion as First Lady) and then seven years as a senator. Most of the Democratic Party's blue-chip foreign-policy advisers support her. Plus, she has Bill.

    Obama's argument is about more than identity. He was intelligent and prescient about the costs of the Iraq War. But he says that his judgment was formed by his experience as a boy with a Kenyan father–and later an Indonesian stepfather–who spent four years growing up in Indonesia, and who lived in the multicultural swirl of Hawaii.

    December 21, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. AJ, IL

    Obama is just stating what the polls have shown all through this year's presidential campaign. If Hillary can with a straight face go up against Obama on experience, he can go up against her on electability.

    Obama is stating only his opinion, he is stating the reality of polling. Hillary has the highest negative ratings of any Democratic candidate running for president. Instead of all the Obama-haters knocking him for pointing this out, the Hillary-supporters should be asking why does Hillary have high negative ratings? What can she do to improve her ratings?

    Like it or not, most Americans have one or two major issues in the presidential campaign that is important to them. It is the likability factor that guides most American in their voting. If people feel comfortable that Obama is open, honest, and trustworthy, these traits will go a long way to becoming president. If you look at the past eight presidential elections and the "newbies" to the Presidency (i.e. Bill Clinton, GW Bush, & GH Bush), they won based on how well liked they were. Because if you take a look at their campaign stumps on policies and promises, they achieved only a small portion what they talked about during their campaigns.

    Obama in '08!

    December 21, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. dmw, roeland park,ks

    Obama will not be elected President. America is not ready for a black President no matter how much Oprah tries to force that 'Obama is the one' down our throats. No Southern state will vote a majority for him. None. Do not kid yourselves into thinking something wonderful might happen and America is now color blind. Obama is not that powerful of a person. I actually find him boring and dull when I listen to his speeches. He also repackages everything Clinton, Dodd, Biden, Richardson and Edwards have put forth over the years.

    All of the polls are just asking a question of a small group of people or they are online questions where a person could vote numerous times. They are not scientific.

    The polls that say Obama is more electable is wishful thinking. The people that will actually vote, are not going to chose Obama in large percentages.

    I also find it interesting that he can go negative and it's alright; where are all of Obama supporters who complained about Hillary??

    December 21, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. daniel,newyork,ny

    I never thought I'd agree with Obama. I've spent my life acquiring formal expertise on foreign policy. I've got fancy degrees, have run research projects, taught in colleges and graduate schools, edited a foreign-affairs journal, advised politicians and businessmen, written columns and cover stories, and traveled hundreds of thousands of miles all over the world. I've never thought of my identity as any kind of qualification. I've never written an article that contains the phrase "As an Indian-American ..." or "As a person of color ..."

    But when I think about what is truly distinctive about the way I look at the world, about the advantage that I may have over others in understanding foreign affairs, it is that I know what it means not to be an American. I know intimately the attraction, the repulsion, the hopes, the disappointments that the other 95 percent of humanity feels when thinking about this country. I know it because for a good part of my life, I wasn't an American. I was the outsider, growing up 8,000 miles away from the centers of power, being shaped by forces over which my country had no control.

    Bottom line, He has all what is needed today as a president with foreign policy

    December 21, 2007 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. gerald,ks,mo

    This might sound like an argument about intangibles, but it's been embraced by hard-nosed businessmen. Fourteen CEOs of Fortune 100 companies are foreign-born, a number that has grown by leaps in the past decade. Some of these companies have explicitly said that they chose CEOs who could penetrate foreign cultures and markets. This understanding, mind you, comes not from extensive work experience in these countries. Executives like Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo have spent most of their professional lives in the United States. But they have a powerful feel for the world beyond America.

    December 21, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. wallette,san f,ca

    We're moving into a very new world, one in which countries from Brazil to South Africa to India and China are getting richer, stronger and prouder. For America to thrive, we will have to develop a much deeper, richer, more intuitive understanding of them and their peoples. There are many ways to attain this, but certainly being able to feel it in your bones is one powerful way. Trust me on this. As a Ph.D. in international relations, I know what I'm talking about.America needs someone who can resonate with other people right now. Obama has a universal upbringing...

    December 21, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. kerry,newton,iowa

    In my opinion, Edwards and Obama are almost running the same campaign except Obama rightly believes that bringing antagonists together to achieve change is better than trying to bludgeon them into acquiessence. Joe Biden is too valuable in the Senate and his experience and leadership there are irreplacable imo.

    I hope you can see the energy and momemtum creating a wonderful synergy around Obama which has the capability of not only transfroming the White House but likely Congress as well. Personally I think the Democratic leadership should be shunned for lack of success and newer leaders chosen to replace the old guard. Once Obama, if he does, secures the nomination, going after the Democrats in Congress will be next on the agenda. We cannot stand the kind of feckless leadership we've seen this year, and if the "O-mentum" does bring a tsunami of change, what better time to clean house and start fresh than in 2009!

    December 21, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. Ben ,nyc,ny

    The latest spin from the Clinton campaign is truly shocking to me. The whole line about there not being any "surprises" with her. That she is tested. I can't think of anything further from the truth. I live in NYC, and we all know that Bill hasn't suddenly turned into a saint in the last 8 years. We all know that on any day some new rumor (or truth!) could surface about him. I think what I dread most about the prospect of another Clinton Presidency, beyond that it will do nothing to heal the rift in this country between red and blue, is that we'll have to relive their familial psychodrama. For me personally, none of that really matters, but we lived through this before with the media and the republicans. As a democrat, I honestly can't believe we want to go through it again.

    December 21, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Dave, Evergreen CO

    Look at these two headlines from the CNN ticker posted the same day and try to tell me there isn’t a pro-Clinton bias at CNN:

    Obama hits Clinton on electability

    Clinton warns voters not to go light on foreign policy experience

    December 21, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Lynn, Reno, NV

    The USA Today/Gallup poll shows Obama and Clinton both at 32 percent. The week old CNN poll seems a bit out of whack or something. I know that this argument of Clintons that she is the most electable is wrong-headed. So many Democrats even dislike her, especially because of her dirty politics in this campaign, that they might not even vote for her. I'm getting there, as well, if she were the nominee. I would hope for a 3rd party candidate that I could look at realistically. She just says things like Bush, and hopes that by repeating them it sticks, but she has never convinced me that she could change people's minds about her. A "Likability Tour" doesn't help. When you have to have one of those at this late in the game, you know you are in trouble. It seems so phony.

    December 21, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. bianca,boston,ma

    No one is saying that Barack is the Second Coming, its just that no politician in our lifetime has energized and inspired people to CARE about making our government work the way it was invented to oh so long ago. He isn't perfect, nor should anyone expect him to be, but he's shown that his judgments far superior to those currently in charge as well as those supposedly keeping an eye on those in charge.

    December 21, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. charles,s.c

    One of the main reasons why Obama prosperity continues to grow is that the truly sentient Americans are demanding that adults take control of our government instead of kleptocrats who undermine all that America has stood for. There aren't many times when Americans come together and coalesce around a movement and an ideal. We need to embrace the opportunity and run with it as far as we can. Who knows, it may be the last time in our lifetimes that the chance comes, and don't we owe it to our children to show them that hope is a far more powerful force of change than fear? Obama is my choice....

    December 21, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Robb, New York

    " 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.”

    That's right, Obama. You tell them!

    December 21, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. kerry,boston,ma

    Obama has higher favorables.

    Hillary has the highest unfavorables ever seen.

    Obama has an added advantage because he won't be a senior citizen at the end of his first term the way Hillary would be if she won.

    Face facts... The Babies aint got that much Boom left in 'em.

    Time fer a new generation to take the helm.

    Bottom line is Spud thinks Barack Obama is a good man who is aware of the enormous responsibility of the job before him.

    Spud thinks he's trust-worthy.

    Spud doesn't say that a lot about pols.

    The GOPhers can only be trusted to lie.

    (Spud makes an exception fer Ron Paul, of course)

    Spud trusts Hill too.

    Spud trusts Hill to continue the Free Trade Acts that Bill started and to continue the unfortunate trends toward increased privitisation and Big Box thinking. ie Politics as Usual.

    Time fer the elctorate to unchain Barack Obama and let him loose on the ills that plague the country.

    "Change, Nothing stays the same Hit the ground running"

    Seniors don't even walk fast.

    Barack will hit the ground and leave skid marks.

    Obama '08.

    Be Well.

    December 21, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. RealTexan

    This is comical. Obama has NO CHANCE of winning the electoral college in the general election. An Obama nomination is a guarantee of another Republican Whitehouse.


    December 21, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Dan, TX

    Clinton says Obama is not electable.

    Obama says – the polls show you are not correct.

    How is Obama being negative?

    Fact Obama has NEVER been negative, he's pointed out that Clinton's attacks are false. How is Obama being negative.

    Fact. Obama gave detailed policy positions that show he is a vastly superior candidate to Clinton, that is why he has so much support.

    Fact. CNN doesn't report detailed policy positions, it reports things that might be controversial and therefore gain attention.

    Question: Do the American people prefer ignorance and partisanship to informed democracy? If you want information, go to the candidates' web sites and inform yourself. You WILL NOT get real information for the news media/entertainment industry.


    December 21, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    He is absolutely right on this point.

    He can get all Democrat votes, the majority of independents, and some Republicans who are not happy with their field of candidates (think its obvious that that is a pretty large group of folks right about now).

    She would get most Democrat votes, probably less than half the independents (because independents vote for who they think will be the best president and not who they feel has the best chance of getting elected), and NOT A SINGLE Republican vote (if you don't get this by now you never will).

    It's pretty straight forward logic from there.

    December 21, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. notoobama

    Illinois’ disabled veterans are at “rock bottom” — “dead last” — in benefits and claims processing of applications for disability. But Illinois’ veterans take a back seat because their junior senator is running for president. And that senator, Barack Obama, has missed an astonishing number of hearings and meetings of the Senate Veterans committee. ... ..

    But Obama has skipped 19 of 37 VA committee meetings in the 109th congress. Obama’s attendance record was the second worst of all Democrats on the committee. He attended just 18 of the committee’s 37 meetings in Washington D.C.

    ... .. On the campaign trail, Obama stresses the importance of providing “the best care” for veterans and their families: “Providing the best care for our service members, veterans and their families is one thing about this war we can still get right.”

    * But Sen. Obama has continually skipped hearings on the veterans budget. Chairman Craig opened a hearing Obama missed and said, “we will consider today … legislation touching on veterans insurance, housing, burial, compensation, and employee benefits.” Obama also missed all four committee hearings in a series that focused on the President’s proposed 2007 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ranking Senator Akaka noted during the hearings that “we must learn a lesson from last year’s budget crisis and do everything we can to ensure that veterans and their family members have access to health care and benefits they have earned.” (From the GPO on 6/23/05, 2/28/06, 3/2/06, 3/7/06, March 9, 2006.)
    This guy needs to be vetted,I pray for all those Vets,while this man votes present on important issues..i went listen to her radio show on the web..very interesting

    December 21, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Sorensen - Woodbury - CT

    Hypothetically, if the republicans
    could not vote for a republican, they
    would vote for Obama, not Clinton.
    Go figure!

    December 21, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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