January 6th, 2008
02:47 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: 'They will try to Swiftboat me'

Obama is running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

Obama is running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

EXETER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Barack Obama’s starting to talk about his fall campaign as a matter of when, not if – and so are some of his potential general election opponents.

Obama may be running neck-and-neck with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in most polls of New Hampshire’s Democratic voters, but "I know once I win this Democratic nomination that the folks on the other side will come after me with everything they've got,” he told an Exeter, New Hampshire crowd Saturday. “They will try to Swiftboat me," he said.

Obama was referring to the attacks faced by Sen. John Kerry after he captured the Democratic nomination in 2004.

Republican Mitt Romney, in a close race of his own in the Granite State’s GOP primary, is trying to use Obama’s momentum to make the case against rival John McCain. The former Massachusetts governor told voters this weekend that "It’s time for someone to stand up to Barack Obama, who I think has a good chance of becoming the nominee. He's running against two long serving senators who talk about their experience, and he blows them away.

"Are we going to do the same and put up another long serving senator as our nominee?"

Romney’s had one eye on his rivals, and another on Obama, for a while now - his campaign sent out press releases targeting the Illinois senator on taxes before he won Iowa’s Democratic caucuses.

–CNN's Jessica Yellin and Peter Hamby

soundoff (251 Responses)
  1. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    Just like Hillary is doing to him right now. If Obama survives Hillary's attack machine, he can survive the Republican attack machine. The Republicans aren't half as well funded as Clinton's.

    January 6, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. Kyle G. Columbia SC

    Barack Obama has clearly touched an American nerve in a way that seems bound to propel him to nomination by his party. There appears to be no anger in this man, motivated as he is by a powerful desire to help his fellow Americans to overcome the harm done to the society during the past seven years, and to restore the sort of opportunity that ordinary Americans have always believed they OUGHT to have, for themselves and their progeny. Hillary Clinton is, first of all, no Bill Clinton - and she strikes me as quite an angry person who carries an enemies list arraign in her head, most of it contained in her frontal lobe. I'm for Barack Obama.

    January 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. concerned citizen, Mesa, Arizona

    What are they just supposed to let him say what he wants about them and not respond. He seems to think know one can question him on anything because he has hope. Give us a break. Where is the media on questioning him on his policies? He sure is getting a free ride. Media leading American people like sheep. I hope someone has enough guts to vet him. Probaly no meida is brave enough.

    January 6, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Allan

    They are already "swift boating" Hillary because they want Obama to be the candidate. The country is not ready for a black president. It will be dificult to elect a woman, The "good old boys" will fight it tooth and nail. Look what a mess they have made of this country. we have gone from a respected country to the most hated during this administration. we need change and Hillary has the best chance to bring it about.

    January 6, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Jason, Chicago, IL

    She is already trying. Her politics of division will do little to unite the country. How is a person like Hillary Clinton going to draw Republicans to form a working majority?
    She's a disgusting individual who plays the gender card yet Obama won't use the even more substantial race card. She'll say anything to get elected. She "attacks" Obama for changing positions yet she changes campaign slogans as the wind blows. I have confidence that the N.H. voters won't fall for her act.

    January 6, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Lisa

    Hillary really disappoints me. Obama is giving hope to Americans who have been disenfranchised from the political process, people who thought that the politicians were representing big business, special interest groups but certainly not the little guy. Obama gave us hope that together all the people can take back our government and have our representatives represent "us" and tackle the issues that we are dealing with in our daily lives. And Hillary tells us that this is a false hope, and that she represents the best that we can expect? Was the Wright brothers' dream of flight, the women who fought for the right to vote, the slaves fighting for their freedom all had false hope? Were they considered overly ambitious for their time, unwilling to wait for change to happen at the speed of their oppressors? Hillary's message that hope is bad is a bad message for all people. I say if you don't dream it, it aint gonna happen. Obama – is the right person for the USA.

    January 6, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Lightning, Boston, MA

    Are we seeing the results of some internal polling here? Hmm...

    January 6, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. magellan

    No one knows who will earn the nomination in the end. But one thing is for sure. Obama's campaign is well organized and able to punch back fast when needed.

    Yesterday I got a postcard from the Clinton campaign that tried to raise questions about Obama's record on choice. The smear had already been debunked, but that didn't stop the Clinton campaign from trying it again.

    Here's a video I made with the postcard and an audio of the Obama response that was left on my answering machine just a few hours after the postcard arrived in the mail...


    January 6, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Ken, San Diego, CA

    If you give a speech saying you'll vote againt the Patriot Act and you don't, that's not change.

    if you say you're going to prevent members of congress to have lunch with lobbyists sitting down, but they can still have lunch standing up, that's not change.

    If you say you passed the Patients Bill of Rights, but you don't mention it never got signed into law, that's not change.

    If you rail against the special intersts...but you voted for Dick Cheney's energy bill, that's not change

    If you gave a speech - and a very good speech - against the war in Iraq in 2002 and then by 2004 you're saying you're not sure how you would have voted, and by 2005 six and seven you've voted for $300 billion for the war you said you're against, that's not change.

    January 6, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Josh

    Sen. Obama hails from the state of Illinois–known for its hard-knuckle political fights and dynasties! He knows how tofight-he knows what it takes and with the American people behind him, all things will be possible. American's want a real debate on the issues–not the past, but the future.

    This is a turning point in our nation's history where we can finally tell those who support the status-quo that their time is over and we want results that postively affect the lives of all Americans and not the pocket books of free-wilding special interest groups and coporations.

    I believe strongly in hope-because hope is what drives success. It is that inclination deep down in your soul that with hard work, dedication, and a dream you can achieve anything. To make a pledge to go to the moon, JFK had to have hope; for President Lincoln to bring the United States together as one, he had to have hope.-And through hope–we can bring change, because without it, all of our experience, all of our ideas, are nothing if we cannot inspire and engage the American people to take back their country and fight once again for what is possible!

    Obama 08

    January 6, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Patty D.

    Be prepared Obama. The Swiftboaters are ruthless and without pity. Karl Rove and his band of thugs will be relentless. Only Swiftboaters could make George Bush look good and John Kerry look bad. But now many people know who they are and what their agenda is. Will it be as effective in 2008 as it was in 2004? I hope not. But then again, be ready. They are terrified that 2008 will look like 2006 and their Republican status will be further diminished. Be prepared to strike back with a vengence, for I believe that when Kerry took the high road and didn't respond to their bogus charges, it cost him the election. Take heart and keep both eyes wide open.

    January 6, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Geri Sacramento

    Obama is so right. As soon as they uncover the lobbyists in his closet, they'll pump out Swiftboat ads at record pace. He has a record for voting "present " instead of "yes" or "no" on measures such as one to prohibit sex-related shops from opening near schools or places of worship, on a bill that would allow certain victims of sexual crimes to petition judges to seal court records relating to their cases (in this case he was the lone "present" vote on a bill that passed 58-0), and a bill to impose stricter standards for evidence a judge is permitted to consider in imposing a criminal sentence. Illinois records show that on 36 occasions, Obama was either the lone senator to vote "present" or part of a group of less than 6 to vote that way. This is only the tip of the iceberg; there is plenty more"Obama meat" for the Swiftboaters to feast on. Obama has been touting himself as a leader who will take a stand on tough issues, but his dismal record in Illinois says otherwise. As a junior US senator, he has done little to distinguish himself. Heck, the Swiftboaters can just use the facts, without lying and distorting them as they did with Kerry. Obama is all smoke and mirrors and, if Obama tells us he can stand up to the assault he will surely face if nominated, he's either lying or delusional.

    January 6, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Jeff, Nevada

    Don't worry, Mr. Obama. The GOP has made such a mockery of fair elections, that their integrity has been damaged for years to come. No one except Limbaugh/Coulter vermin, and a handful of lifetime Republicans are even listening. Republicans who have a soul have already abandoned the GOP and the numbers are beginning to show it.

    January 6, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. michael

    The media made Hillary the front runner before anybody voted in the primary. Now the media is making this nomination process “Change versus Experience”. We buy into this media game without asking ourselves what really do these candidates stand for, what have they accomplished, and where do they want to see us go.

    In my rational way of looking at things and perhaps in my reality world, this contest is about change and the agents of change.

    On the one hand, we have change, idealistic and theoretical, driven by empty words (false hope) and strong emotions but only temporary because it cannot stand the test of time. A change that will require four years on the job training to clean the mess of the current administration. A change that will take a second term in office before the agents can even begin implementing their ideas which has been lost in this discussion perhaps because they really don’t have one.

    On the other hand, we have change that can be put into effect right away. A change based on logical and rational thoughts and grounded on experience. A change that does not require on the job training. A change that can stand the test of time. A change you can feel, hear, see, smell, taste, and touch.

    President Bush was an outsider, an agent of change. He was elected 8 years ago with the help of the Supreme Court and re-elected 4 years ago. Exit polls showed that he was well liked, most people consider him to be their next door neighbor, he was the type they could hang out with, etc. With only the concept of change and no experience on foreign affairs amongst others, he surrounded himself with the best experienced advisers money can buy. What do we have today in return? A broken system: FBI/CIA abuses, Iraq war, Effects of Hurricane Katrina, Economic woes, Recession, etc.

    I know Obama and Edwards are not President Bush. I am sure they have different set of ideas and values. But I think it will be wrong to put the future of our country in the hands of someone without the first hand experience involved in the concept of change especially in today’s global dynamics of powers.

    January 6, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. Christian, Tampa FL

    While Obama must prepare to face the inevitable vicious attacks from the Republican machine, most likely focusing on his middle name of Hussein and other irrelevant issues, I think it's also true that America is tired of swiftboating and will not easily be swayed by negativity.

    January 6, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Chris, Middletown, CT

    The funny thing about the "swift boat" attacks – there was a guy in Texas...recently offered like 10 million to anyone who could prove the swift boat attacks were not true....(funny....nobody claimed the the prize)

    Anyway – I am a Republican who likes Obama....if my party isn't smart enough to elect the only moderate we have running (Giuliani) – then Obama will get my support – if the Democrats are dumb enough to elect Hillary (that "agent of change for the past 35 years" and the author of the SCHIP insurance for children....btw...neither of the aforementioned is true...but I guess the truth never mattered to Hillary supporters) – then I will vote for "anyone but Hillary" –

    I think Obama has a good shot...I wish he would temper his left wing rhetoric....and become another John F Kennedy – "ask not what your country can do for you...ask what you can do for your country" – every Democrat seems to have their hands out for the free money pot....

    January 6, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. nazirmo

    I don't think Hillary is playing any race card. Her husband and she liked African Americans. They have had good relations for donkey years. Bill even opened his office in Harlem. Both Clintons are at par black. Hillary had to come out swinging last night in the debate and she did quite well. One shining moment besides other she mentioned Obama's campaign chairman being a lobbyist and Obama who had a chance to say something just kept his lips sealed. Another observation. Edwards was clearly trying to align with Obama and gang up on Hillary. I also read somewhere that Richardson( camp ) who worked under Bill Clinton has struck up some deal with Obama. And what about that stupid moderator who had to raise the issue about Hillary's likeability factor- Hillary was a class by herself in her response. She was right in stating that under her husband's Presidency the economy showed a surplus , a balanced budget. Now there is talk of recession and loss of jobs. Words may inspire for Obama to gain momentum. But what is truly required is those good old days of the Clinton era ( I do not care about their personal lives ). Can they bring back and return those days when we felt good ? Feel Good because of better job opportunities and a better economy. The answer is YES. And Hillary Clinton is the best bet and in my opinion the right choice to lead the nation.

    January 6, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Bimmer

    Obama Weak for Fighting Terrorism

    As already debated in the Republican debate tonght in New Hampshire, the knock on Obama is his weakness on fighting terrorism. As a Canadain we rely on US to take the lead on fighting this threat, the greatest threat the US and the Western World is facing since the second World War.

    One decision and one commnet Obama made strengthen the arguments that he will be very soft on this critical threat, presumably because of his Muslim heritage.

    1. His deceision not to support Iraq war when all the intelligence indicated Iraq had WMD clearly showed his unwillingness to attack a Muslim country. Unless he had a private communication line with Saddam Hussein, he would have no way of knowing Iraq got rid of all of its WMD.

    2. His willingness to sit down with the the current Iranian President, who wants the destruction of Israel and the western world. unconditionally is an indication that Obama is sympathetic to the Islamic world and not to the western world.

    No amount of call for "change" and "hope" can hide the fact that Obama, if elected, will be very soft on terrorism and one issue the Repulican can will tear him apart on.

    January 6, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. seg

    Is there an issue that we should know about, Barack? Is there something to swiftboat Hillary or John E. about? Forget the "issues" for a moment . . . Who has the strongest ability to withstand this kind of crap attack?

    January 6, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Christine Atlanta, Ga.

    What ever happens in New Hampshire, this is a 50 state race.
    And the people in those other 48 states get to express their opinions before Obama is 'crowned'.

    Yes, Senator Obama has gotton the spotlight, the media and GOP, have seen to that.
    Now all Americans will decide who they want, we will not be told by the media who to vote for.

    January 6, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  21. Dan, Minneapolis, MN

    Why is there a worry about being "Swiftboated?" I am being told by mass media that the cult of Obama has appeal to voters representing all walks of life. I thought the mantra for this election is hope and change and everything else is irrelevant. Obama is the new God for the masses. He has emphatically stated that will change the culture of Washington where elected officials will govern in a state harmony freed from the clutches of powerful interest groups; he will change and bring accord in the world by bringing to the table political antagonists and ignoring cultural realities to the table to bring about global accord; and finally to bring and affect change to our lives so we can happily live forever. We are on the cusp to affirm the religion of Obama.

    January 6, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  22. Lisa

    Strange that Romney would want to talk about taxes – does he really want to have his tax problems in Utah to come back to haunt him? When he claimed to be a resident of Utah for 3 years to save $54,000 in taxes; but claimed to be a resident of MA at the same time so he would be eligible to run for governor.

    January 6, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. Dave

    I really like the Cubs analogy with Obama. Everyone except the Yankees fans would like to see the Cubs win, but they have to prove that we're not all going to be disappointed yet again. I think Obama may be the most capable of handling the Swiftboaters of all the Democratic candidates, and he's proving he can win. If he takes NH and SC, I think the Rove politics of yesterday may drown in their bitterness.

    But again, the Cubs haven't won in a long long time.

    I stand by my pick of a year ago, in the end I think Edwards will emerge from Super Tuesday in a strong position.

    January 6, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. Ito, Yokosuka Japan

    If Obama is swiftboated by anybody, he will be swiftboated by HRC. And to think there are a still a good number of Hillary Clinton supporters out there that believe she is a uniter.

    If HRC is nominated and subsequently elected, it will be four more years of blue -vs- red with the American people losing out yet again.

    Let's end the Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush dynasty with somebody not named Clinton or Bush. You think Bush is bad? OMG...Hillary will give you more the same. How many subtle jabs at Republicans do you need to be convinced?

    How about a recent comment by HRC in the last debate where she promised to overturn every Bush veto? Does that sound like a uniter? Saying you are a uniter and being a uniter are not one and the same. Saying you work hard for change and actually working hard for change are not the same. If she was going to change washington from the inside out, don't you think she would have done it by now, being so experienced (some 32 years) as she claims to be.

    HRC = Fraud

    January 6, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Clinton 2008

    Clinton gave a commanding performance once again! WON the debate!! Once again obama fumbled over words, refused to answer the questions, kept trying to attack Clinton, but he couldn’t get her, she in turn tore both Edwards and obama up. Having the first woman president is a huge change, with consequences across the country and the world. Agree with Hillary, it’s not about a speech you make obama. It is about working hard – we don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered. Obama does not have the national security experience and background to lead this nation," McCain said. Obama was extremely uncomfortable and out of his church element. It’s a true picture he cannot with stand the heat! He couldn’t keep up with Richardson on issues; He is lost when you put him next to any other candidate. Clinton stole the show! Outstanding performance. She is the only one that looked Presidential. Poor John Edwards, he is finished… appeared to try to be obamas best friend and then obama turned on him,(ha-ha). Richardson blew obama away. Obama was stumped at every question and would not answer, he kept trying to preach and it didn’t. We need a PRESIDENTIAL leader and that is clearly Hillary Clinton. FINALLY showing that obama is nothing more than a new preacher without substance. Clinton sealed my vote. Obama and Edwards are too inexperienced and childish for such a job.
    CLINTON 2008

    January 6, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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