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. Gary, Toronto, Canada

    Why is it that John Edwards is frequently overlooked in the battle for press coverage between Obama and Clinton? Edwards is the most electable vs. all Republican candidates in polling by a large margin.

    December 21, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Jessica, El Paso, TX

    The head-to-head polls mean nothing. What is more telling about who is more electable or not is who fares better in the swings states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. Remember, only 270 electoral votes are needed to win. Hillary does really well in these states against all the Repubs. These are states that Kerry lost by 15, 20 points. Obama, on the other hand, does HORRIBLY in these states, not only against the Repubs, but Hillary creams him too. This points to HUGE problems for him in the general. I am sorry, but if this guy is the nominee, democrats can kiss the White House good-bye. What are you Obama people thinking????????????

    December 21, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. maggie,md

    hillary failed health care reform in 1993. but what was obama doing at the time? oh thats right, he was a college professor. even in hillary's failures, the experience she gained still counts. i don't know if you're familiar with the concept "learning from your mistakes"

    and John M., you're right that experience does not guarantee against making mistakes, as you pointed out with bush. but it does reduce the possibility of making mistakes, no matter what profession you're in. if you were flying across the ocean, would you rather do it with a pilot with 10 hours of flying experience, or one with 100? i think the answer's pretty obvious.

    December 21, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. David, CP, MD

    There is a reason Obama looks electable – he has not yet been slammed by the Republican party. If he got the nomination, the attacks would begin nonstop. Obama is either duplicitous or naive – or both – to ignore that political reality.

    December 21, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Ayyub, Richmond, Va.

    Obami is running scared now. Wasn't he the same guy claiming to win the election. what a loser.

    Posted By john, NY,NY : December 21, 2007 9:56 am

    No, Hillary is. Watch some political shows once and a while and everyone on them, but on CNN, will agree it seems Hillary trying to kill Obama's momentum and is so desparate she'll even give her support to John Edwards to stop Obama.

    December 21, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Robert,oregon

    Jeff, I agree with you.Having a pilot with more experience does make a huge difference. But if we look at it objectively, what good is a pilot who has a hundred hours of experience, if every time the pilot lands the passanger/s have to use the emergency exit? It is one thing to have experience, but it is another thing to have passion. All the experience in the world will not amount to a hill of beans, if the pilot does not have the passion to drive him or motivate him to fullfill his obligation with a sense of pride and decency. Therefore, the choice is obvious. Obama '08.

    December 21, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. Ben, Nashville, TN

    Barack Obama's got SOUL POWER!!!

    December 21, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Reggie, Germany

    Hillary supporters always talk about her EXPERIENCE and I must admit I've always tried to figure out why Hillary thinks she has all this experience.

    Well now I know!!! It's because she's delusional!!

    Hillary secretly believes she was president already!!! Don't believe me? Check her interview with Candy Crowly ,

    Or go to:

    and select the video from her speech at Council Bluff Iowa with Bob Kerry and listen to her again make the statement. It occurs while she is talking about health care. These are just two instances, there are more.

    Did I miss something?? When was she elected the first time?? These statement really concern me. Said once maybe you say ohh O.K., but repeatedly?? Sounds almost Nixonian

    Why are CNN and the other MSM not talking about this?? HEY CANDY WHY AREN'T YOU????

    You guys print in great detail this shameless plug from Bill but refuse to report statements made by Hillary which if made by any other candidate would be front page news for days, i.e. Kucinich and U.F.O's.

    Well what planet was Hillary on when she became president the first time???

    Hmmmmmm maybe thats why Bill thinks she such a genius. Must be where those 35 years of experience came from too.

    December 21, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Ray, Ogden UT

    I really have to wonder when people are going to let the issues of race and gender die. When you look at the issues themselves, their legislative records, and the way that they intend to handle issues, I think Obama's a great choice, and probably the most electable candidate in years.

    He doesn't point to specific things he's done because that's bragging and I would abstain for yet another election if he did.

    However, calling self-defense "mudslinging" or even implying that this is a direct attack on Hillary seems to fly in the face of reason. He could be talking about almost any of them, himself included, but the interesting part is that there are more who are anti-Clinton than there are anti-Obama. It has more to do with who's against than who's in favor of, particularly because the "who's in favor" vote is tied at the moment.

    Obama's lack of experience in the White House is a great asset, in my opinion, because that means that he's less susceptible to the corrupt political structures that already exist. Barack Obama has shown great resilience in this regard.

    Fox News (aka Faux Noise) lost my attention almost four years ago when my local station reported that a woman had gone missing and compared this twentysomething victim to kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart. Ms. Smart came from a privileged background in a wealthy neighborhood and a crazy religious zealot took her at gunpoint. This woman's disappearance later turned out to be a murder, and they once again tried to compare her to Elizabeth Smart (who was returned alive and in reasonable physical health). I haven't trusted them since. Not to mention, Fox has consistently attacked Obama and tried to raise Clinton's standing, as though they're on her campaign. I'd trust Gallup before I'd trust Faux Noise, and I have serious questions about the capacity of Faux to be impartial.

    As far as doing things differently, he has. However, he also has to do what's necessary to prevent the attempts at kneecapping. Taking the high ground isn't always an option. He would have learned that in debates in the Harvard School of Law.

    I have no faith in the Clinton Administration. I voted them into office in 1992, but they did not earn my vote in 1996: I actually abstained. I also abstained in the 2000 and 2004 elections for the same reason. The question of electability is clear to be: Obama is not only electable, he's the first candidate in 4 elections I've felt is so.

    December 21, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. gerald,ks,mo

    John: It seems to me that you are willing to accept the lies and deception going on in the Hillery campaign. And it’s finding. Please keep them within the confines of the lies and deception department. I was once like you, until I began to dig for the truth myself. It wasn't hard to do either. With the use of the WWW, I was able to find the info needed to make a constructive decision. My advice to those willing to believe the unfounded truths on the net, dig a little deeper, before you come to these sites with the untruths, as they say! “The truth will set you free”.

    December 21, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. fred,nashua,NH

    Experience? Barack has more years of service in elected office than Hillary. Maybe some will discount that fact because it included his years in the Illinois legislature, but he got out there on his own and learned the ropes. As Maureen Dowd recently pointed out, everything Hillary accomplished after getting into Yale Law School came about because of her marriage to Bill Clinton. It's a fascinating debate above about whether Hillary's years as first lady count as experience. Some people point out her failures and say they count against her. Others say the failures are a positive because she must have learned from them. But has she? What is the evidence that she has learned integrity, truthtelling, or an ability to embrace differences with respect and persuasive persistence? I haven't seen any. Michael Moore's movie "Sicko" has a devastating clip of Hillary testifying before Congress about her health care program. She was unbelievably arrogant and insulting when she should have been courting those who differed from her. I think that is the real Hillary, and her anger and hostility at what she perceived to be the right-wing conspiracy directed against her have only pushed her farther and farther out on a limb of divisiveness. It's time to break with that pattern and to choose a president who will sit down with difficult and challenging adversaries, to speak confidently and firmly about the differences in an honest effort to narrow them. This explains Hillary's and Barack's differences in foreign policy: he will speak with our enemies and she won't. There's little chance to turn enemies around by perpetuating the Bush-and-Clinton mindset.

    December 21, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. J.S

    For the man who cries that Senator Clinton is throwing mud on him needs to stop smoking so much pot and remember he and Edwards are the ones who started mudslinging and get praise from the medis . When Senator Clinton responds all you Obama people start screeming foul. Is that what there going to screem about the Republicans FOUL. Come on Senator Obama is slaming Senator Clinton as much if not more . nHe is just a poor inexperienced little boy who needs to go back to Illinois and do the job he was elected to do. Not just vote Present but stand up for your believes do not hide behind the political curtain and then call foul when some one else does. Now what we need is the Democrats stand behind the sure thing. Clinton/Obama 2008. Obama 2016-2024

    December 21, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. fred,nashua,NH

    thanks "progressive people"!!!!

    whites,blacks,asians & hispanics.....

    whether you are republican, independent or democratic!!!!!

    i . like you am supporting OBAMA, because i am tired of the "EXPERIENCED POLITICO'S in WASH.,D.C."!!!!

    "neo-con repukes & undemocratic demorats"!!!

    who are "BOUGHT & PAID FOR BY LOBBYIST"!!!



    December 21, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Ok I dont care what people say Barack Obama CANNOT win the General Election the Republicans will attack him worst than they did John Kerry in 2004. The Only way i see Barack Obama in the White House in 2009 is as Hillary Clinton's Vice President

    December 21, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. Andrew, Concord NH

    Posted By Ray, Ogden UT : December 21, 2007 12:32 pm

    ^^^^ His post was right on the money. Couldn't agree more. Obama would make a fine president.

    December 21, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. John Smith

    How can anyone say that CNN promotes Hillary? Have you people ever watched Chris Matthews on CNN. He slices her up for a full 1 hour each and every night. Its discusting!

    December 21, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. stan pitts pa

    Electability is really up for debate. I think that someone has a chance if they make a good show of it with good policies and charisma. That is most of the time; there are factors that will shoot down a candidate no matter how good they are in everything else.

    I am waiting to hear about the Clinton's campaign to say how they are getting the negative numbers down of those that would never vote for her. I am also waiting to hear from the Obama campaign for more why people should believe that he and his limited executive experience is better than any of the Republicans who do have it (that would be Giulinai, Romney, or Huckabee).

    Posted By S. B. Stein E.B. NJ : December 21, 2007 9:39 am

    simple answer, he has some of the best political minds working for him, folks who once worked for bill clinton and have now defected to the obama camp, also he intends to reach across the aisle to some republicans to work for the common good of america, what more can you ask?

    December 21, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Carolyn Essex, Las Vegas, NV

    Certainly people will continue to run after their dreams for President of the U.S. but this dream belongs to Senator Barack Obama...

    December 21, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. bob schulman, marina del rey, ca

    I was a registered Republican for most of my adult life, but, starting with the present administration's meddling in the Terry Schiavo affair and continuing thereafter, have decided to vote this time for the best qualified candidates, regardless of party affiliation.

    The problem I have, which is one I share with many other voters, is that none of the present candidates is worthy of holding office. So, that leaves me with the choice of either staying at home on Election Day, or voting for the best candidate out of a sorry lot of under-qualified people.

    For this reason, I will vote for Obama. Hilary ("Hilarious") Clinton is strident and divisive. Republicans like Huckabee are downright frightening, and promise more of the same enthusiastic lunacy we've lived with for the past eight years. So, while Obama has but two years of experience, and none in the foreign policy arena, he is smart enough to grow into the job – and quickly.

    It is unbelieveable that this nation cannot offer its citizens any better choices than this group of mediocre candidates.

    December 21, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Jeff Mobile, AL

    You Clintonistas that keep calling Obama a cry baby: look at yourselves in the mirror.

    You forget so quickly of Hillary's staged cry fest.

    I would be on of the 47% that will never vote for Clinton. Ever.

    December 21, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Ralston,vt

    You know- each time I listen to Barack Obama answers- We can see there is something special about that man! He is so honest and that's so desperately needed in our next leader

    December 21, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. obama supporter,american

    Casual voters who want very badly to believe Bill Clinton was truly a great President will toss their votes to Hillary Clinton for the obvious reasons. Too bad for Clinton that there are too few casual voters. Barack is right and the voters will bear that out!

    December 21, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Meks, Florida

    Robert, Oregon:

    The question is simple and you never answered it. Even with your out-of-place scenario of using emergency exits with each landing, most people will still fly or not fly at all with the pilot who had 100 hours than the pilot with 10 hours who nobody knows if they will be alive to even use the emergency exit. Wise up. Do not be blinded by media barrage of negativity on Sen Clinton. Have you met her? Have you spoken with her for a minute or maybe 10 mins? How do you know Sen Obama? From the pages of liberal media? What do you really know about him? To put you in order, have you observed that 99.99% of the polls this week have shown Sen Clinton surging ahead? Where do you see the surge in the media? They are hiding and surpressing the fact. It does not take long for voters to discover the coverage is biased and tilted against her. If i could see it so will others as it continues. You are free to support whoever you choose but there is only one fact no matter what your opinion is – Sen Obama is the making of the media and doe not possess half of the qualities being hyped. Review all the debates and it is plain obvious he does not have what it takes to be a president. The liberal media are doing his work for him. Will it be enough for him to get the nomination? Maybe, Maybe not. But for sure he will NEVER be elected president. With the entire southern state out of his reach, which state did Kerry or Al Gore lose will he win. You folks are plain funny. The polls are looking at popular vote and not electoral vote. He will NEVER win Florida, the two state we had lost in two past elections and lost the election. Beware of the liberal media!!! They are just against Sen Clinton and do not care about the Democratic party, if we win or lose the general election. In summary, i am not interested in whoever you support, i am only asking to look very well before you leap. leave liberal media BS, they are most hit piece journalist. Whoever wins our primaries, i will support though i will prefer Sen Clinton to win because she's the only democratic candidate that can win Florida. My measure of electability is not popular vote but rather electoral votes.

    December 21, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. stan pitts pa

    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.


    Posted By RealTexan : December 21, 2007 11:57 am

    wow its seems hrcs attack dogs are back, well just so you know americans are sick of the status quo, hillary is unelactable, americans can relate to obama as he is neither black or white (seriously) he is highly educated and with more elected experience on his resume he know hows to win when the odds are against him, his meaage resonates with the average american youth, (who by the way are the future of this country) he connects with the average joe and the wealthy upper class, he intends to reach across party lines to have the best folks working for him, cha-ching i just donated to his campaign again...God bless America!

    December 21, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Shannon, Nashville, TN

    I know of many conservative Republican voters that are ready for a new type of politics. They are not only voting for Obama but are also campaigning and fundraising. These are thoughtful Americans that know we have to get rid of the same old same old and get inspired to come together.

    December 21, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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