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. Dickson Abimbola

    DICKSON Chicago Illinois

    In my view, I think the media are having good time with what is going on with the campaign, and are not ready to do their journalism work by vigorously digging into the background of these candidates who are running for the oval office for the sake of our belovest Country. Any one running for the president of United States at this crucial time when our Country is at war must be taking very seriously. The media must do the people's work by trying to find out what factor(s) will determine his/her principle as matter of action in relevance to their past records not talk. Talk is cheap.
    Senator Obama is a senator from my State of Illinois, and as an immigrant, I value his opportunity and hard work for doing something very unique for all blacks and by giving all immigrant children the hope for the future, but my point here is deeper than personal feelings for his echo of change. The man ran for a senate race couple of years ago, and rumour have him linked with a convicted lobiest friend that since encountered his relationship with Obama and donated for his campaign. And not a single press think this information is an important issue for a candidate running for an oval office to respond to, in his word. As a state senator, he never take position on issues, and sure his records and his past need to be in microscope like other candidates in the race from both party. Many a time media have challenged the policy of Gov. Mike Huckabee including the tax issue and ex-convicted commutation. Gov. Romney has been dug many times about his policy as Governor, so also is Senator Clinton and senator McCain. I think the press purposely have giving Senator Obama a free pass to answer to his records and other important vital issues that voters must know about him. The media are igniting this race for their goodies, rather than doing what is right for this nation.
    Fact, we the people are looking up to your investigation on these candidates. During the cold war, American were saying we need leader that is capable of defending this nation against outside enemies, and the media make it a priority to open up to voters what each of the candidates background revealed, which allowed voters to make powerful and senseful decision. American People see media as their mouth piece and hope, they belief in their powerf of revelation of our leaders inconsistencies. Why not now, we are living in a more dangerious world now than during the cold war. Those years we knew our enemy, now we hardly can pin-point these enemies that hate America so much, and want to do us harm so bad for no good reason. This is why the media must put these candidates records out to and their background must be in microscope for us to see inother to make good decision about who must be the next world leader. If it reveals that what either of these candidates were stood for is contrary from their campaign slogan, and if there were agenda that is out there, it should come out quickly for evaluation of credibily by the American people, before it is too late.
    It is time that our media need to go to work for the people for the love of our belovest Country. This is not a sport, it is the basic fundamental of democracy in action. God bless America.

    January 6, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. mark

    Stephen, you are absolutely right! All the haters out there will propel Obama not only to the democratic nomination but to the presidency as well. Dave, there will be a large turnout, in favor of Obama. Large corporations have been running this country for far too long! Our political figures have continued to accept large donations from these companies, who outsource american jobs overseas. I am happy to see someone who refuses to accept money from the entities who have been sucking this country dry like leeches! After having the idiot Bush in office for the last 8 years should be "AN WAKENING" for America. Hillary is experienced..an experienced crook...who takes money from large corporations. How could she be an agent of change...give me a break! Then she had the nerve to get on national tv after losing in Iowa and say that Iowa has never been really good at choosing the next president. I wonder how her Iowan supporters felt after that speech?

    January 6, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. Stop the Iraq war NOW

    faceless, don't think for one minute that I work for "Hillary's office". (Hey, that might be a good idea, though). I could turn the tables and say that most of the Obama bloggers were told to get on tonight and blog positively for Obama.

    Hillary will win the nomination in the long run. If not, we're all in trouble. The Right wing will get the upper hand. Wait till the Southern States' primaries and the redneck Republicans there.

    Hillary will win the nomination on Super Tuesday.

    January 6, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. Andy, New York, New York

    John Kerry was Swiftboated because the Democrats turned against front-runner Howard Dean in favor of Kerry because of Kerry's military experience that could have been used to match up against Bush's military stance as Commander in Chief leading the fight against our enemies.

    Had the Democrats stuck with Howard Dean, it might have been a somewhat different picture. Once Kerry won the nomination, he was doomed by his past actions which came back to haunt him.

    Obama does not have Kerry's sordid past, except that which he already confessed to. And America likes an honest person who can make people believe in him or her. America cannot believe in Hillary. She is a walking and talking liar.

    January 6, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Steve J

    I don't know if you realize it or not, but their has been a Clinton or Bush in the White House for the past 20 years, and if you look at what has happened to America over that time period you will see the development of the division that exists today. If you hear HRC talk about the republicans and independents like they are lepers. They are all people who have a stake and share in the success of this nation. That is what Obama means when he talks about change, HRC can go on to win the election, but I guarantee you that we will be stuck in the same partisan politics that has bogged down DC for the past 20 years. No matter how much we want to deny it, true change means for America means unity not experience. If experience were the biggest factor, then GWB should be great as president. Since he is the only one with the experience, but as we all know that is not the case. I remember a time when Ross Perot was running for president because he wanted to change politics in DC. and he had no public service at all. Yet somehow people want to discount the service of senator Obama. Please open your eyes and see that the act of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and somehow expecting DIFFERENT results. Its time for a new agenda and a new mindset to enter Washington not another member of the Clinton-Bush Dynasty. ------ Obama 08-----

    January 6, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. David R

    There is a strong pattern among these responses: verbatim passages from pro-Hillary talking points, almost all negative about Obama, and most of it distorted or exaggerated or flat-out false - and pro-Obama posts saying how totally tired of that crap more and more Americans are becoming... sort of a Dialogue of the Deaf.... This is not to say that vicious lies aren't powerful and scary.... the Swiftboat scum actually persuaded some people to vote for PRO-WAR DRAFT DODGERS (W and Cheney) by questioning whether one of Kerry's three Purple Hearts was awarded on a trumped-up basis.... The real "gamble" of supporting/nominating Obama is the belief that finally a sufficient majority will see through vicious dishonesty.... Is it too much to hope for this? To be honest, I don't really know.... Maybe that's the "hope" or "false hope" we're talking about..... finding out whether there is such a thing as "common" decency.....

    January 6, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  7. smart

    Who truly represents America? Hillary!!! Obama comes from a mixed black and white family, his mom is a white, and his dad is a black. Yes, I read an article that claimed Obama represents the black because he chose a black wife. But, his black origin is so different from his wife’s. Yes, he decides to choose a black wife, because his white mum abandoned him early, because he felt being abandoned by the white. If Freud says childhood affects adulthood, how would you expect him having healthy feelings to represent America, where most middle class are white?

    January 6, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  8. phd

    Globalization makes foreign policy never so important and sophisticated. Assuming Obama and Hillary are both smart, Hillary who has more political experience definitely is no doubt a better candidate. She not only has a president husband, who has a proven track record, but she herself has congress experience. So domestically, she knows Washington inside and out to get bills passed fast. Obama, he will spend all his years in Washington just to learn all these!!! Internationally, Hillary is not only experienced but sophisticated. She knows how to handle China, North Korea, and Middle East. But Obama, who says he will talk with North Korea right away? Who says he will ban all Chinese imports? We all know things are more complicated than that.
    Change! Change! Yes, we all crave for changes from Bush Administration. But change for better or for worse? Do we need a change that throws away the baby with the bath water? When you have a candidate with a proven track record and a candidate with no experience, choosing the latter is not only unwise, but irresponsible.

    January 6, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. Marti, FL

    Obama should not worry about the sad shape of the Republican Party, and this is coming from a former Republican who is truly disappointed in what that party has become. Obama could ward off their attacks by continuing to bring them to the table in his efforts to work with them, not against them. That would help increase his appeal amongst the many Republicans who already like Obama, giving him a great opportunity for crossover votes. Heck, Obama could even consider an Independent (Bloomberg) or Republican (Hagel) VP to embrace the whole idea of Unity 08. It would make any swift boat ads at that point look desperate and further demonstrate he can walk the walk.

    Obama 08!

    January 6, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. Dee

    everyone can fight it out on the internet or use the internet as a tool to search the senate records of the candidates yourselves. i was an obama supporter until i looked deeper into the records of all the candidates. He wowed me with his speech at the DNC when Kerry was nominated, and he certainly has charisma and i for awhile hopped on his freight training that is gaining speed and momentum but i want more in a candidate then what i found in his record; not just his votes but what his bills and resolutions have been that he's introduced. Edwards seems to hang around to jump on the front runners coat tails for a possible vp shot since his State's voters gave him the boot (guess he wasn't doing the job for them), and Hillary certainly has her critics that love to hate her. i've read statements about hillary seeming angry and yet edward's anger is labeled as passion; i've listened to obama attack hillary and if she counters by going on the offense people don't like her or they cry foul. they paint her as heartless and yet the senate record of bills she's introduced and followed through with are many and indicate that she does have a heart and has gotten bills passed that are beneficial to us all. With Huckabee we WOULD get the status qua that we have now and Mitt seems to change states to live in like his stance on the issues. so who will be the president – at this point it's anyones guess – all i know is that i hopped off the freight train before it crashes while in the oval office, i think edwards uses peoples anger at their own lot in life to gain support for his own personal agenda not the american peoples and huckabee would most likely pray if there is a world crisis – that is if he knows about it. Undecided in PA – most likely Hillary for her record and experience, but not commited yet

    January 6, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. mkolb

    Sen. Obama has no idea what swift-boating is! If he did, he wouldn't be so facile about it. He's appears to be a fine man and he makes spectacular speeches, but there is so little known politically about him that I fear he will be absolutely torn apart by the VRWC. They are cornered and so doubly dangerous.

    If nominated, I'm fairly certain he'll win but be very damaged by the fight. I think the campaign will be so nasty that the House and Senate seats and governorships will be much more in question.

    And keep in mind that John McCain has the original swiftboat money backer with him.

    January 6, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  12. lilarose

    I am a Democrat and believe in my party's platform, first and foremost.

    I will vote for whichever Democratic candidate wins the nomination. I like all of them and trust them.

    I do believe Obama can become president. He has parents both black and white. I have family both black and white. They are regular folks, just like Obama. Let's get over the race stuff, folks!

    Also, I believe that we are far more sophisticated now and can see the "swiftboaters" for what they are: bullies.

    And bullies are cowards.

    January 6, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    "Obama voted for the patriot act, but offered a specific list of amendments along with it. Check it out for yourself, don't just follow blindly what hill says"

    I did.. and I still don't understand how any American could support a candidate who voted even for the revised edition of the Patriot Act. I am not a one issue voter, but in this case, voting to remove some of the basic civil liberties is in itself, enough for me to never support such a candidate.

    I just don't understand how any AMERICAN can be ok with the Patriot Act, or supporters of the Act.

    January 6, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  14. Reality

    To Michelle: I know plenty who work in the pharma industry - and there are plenty of former or current substance abusers in your midst - the reality is that your local school does have former potheads and the reality is that your babysitter has done a lot that you would not aprrove of, apparently, but the REALITY is that this doesn't matter - he was president of Harvard Law Review for christ's sake - long after he had finished experimenting with drugs as a teenager - moralizing America - whether from the left or the right - is the big problem - let's get back to the focus of politics - Economics - and how our economy relates to the welfare of our fellow citizens - think of the focus of FDR - his background could never explain what he did - and it didn't matter - he focused on what he had to do to help out his fellow citizens - it is not a personality contest - it is not about "values" - Bush joked and joshed his way into the power but if anyone was paying attention they would have seen the crowd of people surrounding him - his path in power was predictable and even spelled out in 1997 when the neocons published what they would do - don't look at Obama's personality - look at the people that surround him - the future administration and bureau heads - this is what creates change -

    January 6, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  15. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    Oh and btw, I won't vote for Clinton or McCain either. They both voted for the Patriot Act.

    Ron Paul appears to be the only supporter of our civil liberties.

    January 6, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. phil rand

    Has anyone considered a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket??
    Also, are any of the candidates on either ticket willing to speak seriously about global warming? The only voice we hear isn't even a candidate and is refusing to endorse anyone!! (so far)

    January 6, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. Karen

    I-reporter: one who submits photos or videos for others to experience for themselves.
    I-pundit: one who regurgitates what the political pundits are saying and then presenting presents it as original thought. Recognized by the use of words such as hope, change, experience and most often... hate. Contains an abundunce of exclamation points, caps, @#! expletives and missspellllinggs to indicate fact. I don't expect to hear any i-pundits in response to this...

    Categories are general and info is a limited as he has not been in office long but here goes:
    Obama – foreign policy, war and security: voting record variable. Votes for some military expenditures but not others. Opposed to fence which some view a security issue. Voted against Biden amendment 383 to develop regulations regarding the transportation of high hazardous materials. He was against timetables (see June 21 floor statement). Had a hard time with the word on a different occasions we need not a timetable, .... but a timeframe (Nov 22,05 CFR). Committed to reducing combat troops. 2013 not a deadline.

    Obama – jobs, economy, middle class. Supports comprehensive immigration reform. The impact on job displacement, housing, depressed wages are known. Read both sides of the issue. The impact of the costs of illegal immigration are known. Read both sides of the issue. Voted for Class Action Fairness (benefiting corps, could leave some consumers with no legal recourse in class action lawsuits 02/05 vote 9. Voted against credit charge cap of 30% (to protect consumers) 03/05 vote 20. Voted against legislation protecting laws that provide safeguards from unfair foreign trade 09/05 vote 232.

    Obama uniter who can reach across the aisle. Votes with his party 96.4%. Some of the items above are also issues on which his views differed from his party. 02/05 and 03/05 votes covered the class action and credit issues. 06/05 vote 136 for Griffith who didn't take the Utah bar and has issues with parts of title IX (gender equity in education), finds tests 'morally wrong" (read Leahy). Also supported Kavanaugh 05/06 vote 158. 10/05 vote 253 against curtailing waste under DoD travel system.

    Obama is new, change, ethics : I'm not sure what info is relevant. Here's where the i-pundits will come in. I listed the votes on which his is different from his party. You evaluate if that gives an indication of the change he would bring. He might be running a Bush style campaign (review Bush's campaigns), he gives great Kennedy/King speeches, and has quite a few Clinton advisors. Ethics reform was passed (as the debate showed, they now must stand up to be dined). Lobbying is no longer considered lobbying when is done as polical fundraising. When earmarks were sought for review, there was a loophole that didn't require disclosure.

    37.6 missed vote rate. Has made it back during campaigning on occasion (mostly cloture votes) renewable fuels, consumer prot., alien rights and Iraq. Voted in line with the party.

    Please blog any corrections. The stuff is dull and confusing. If anyone else wants to slog through votes to try and get a picture, please post. Sorry it's dry, it's politics. Sorry it's limited. Reviewing his speeches is another option, but he wanders and you miss out on the charisma without his voice.

    January 6, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  18. McLovin

    Obama is not perfect, but the Hillary backers have a seriously short memory.

    Let us remember,

    REALITY CHECK:: Her husband was rebuffed by th eUS supreme court for trying to expand presidential powers

    REALITY CHECK: Mrs. Clinton gave false statements to the Independent counsel during Travel Gate.

    REALITY CHECK: Her husband pardoning her brother after being found guilty of tax evasion and money laundering.

    REALITY CHECK: She and her husband sold the Lincoln bedroom to the highest bidder.

    REALITY CHECK: The only experience she has is seven years... is as Senator of New York. If she would like to count her husbands record, you mus t take the good with the bad and include the disastrous appointments she supposedly helped counsel on.

    REALITY CHECK:: She take s more PAC money and corporate special interest money than anyone.

    REALITY CHECK:: She change her position on the NY driver license issue three times in two weeks

    There is a lot more if we want to thin slice her supposed record.

    January 6, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  19. Peachy

    I'm still trying to figure out how democrats have succeeded over and over again to shoot eachother in the foot by 'swiftboating'.
    How great would it be if candidates could simply place their effort on what they stand for, rather than trying to cut eachother's throat. Maybe that way they would actually get to the point where the best man can win, instead of causing America to fall for yet another embarrasment.
    I would love to have Hillary and Obama run together in the end. I think this would actually be a great combination.
    Can we start working together for this change?

    January 6, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  20. pepkoka

    As a Massachusuttisian (?), I would say that most people in this state feel toward Mitt Romney as a young woman feels toward a rake the morning after she has made a bad decision: he's a sweet-talker, but a user.

    January 6, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  21. Pat


    If you want to know why people aren't voting for her, maybe its because every time she's criticized by her fellow Democrats(which is part of the process when you're running for president and not class president of Wellesley) she complains that they're being mean to her cause she's a girl. Or maybe its becuase when she was goling down in Iowa she complained that the caucus process "is hard for women" (her words) or maybe its becuase she voted for the Iraq war and now says things like, "I never would have taken us to war in Iraq" with a straight face, or maybe its because she thinks that she's owed the presidency because its her turn. Or maybe because her "qualifications" for the job include being married to the president. Or maybe because she responded to losing Iowa by saying that, "I'm the most vetted, investigated, and by golly, the most innocent" person running for president. Or maybe you could read your own post; its an excellent argument for voting for Barak Obama or John Edwards.

    January 6, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. twila

    Hope is for the hopeless! Voting for Obama....I guess we get what we deserved.
    More Republicans rule...

    January 6, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  23. Scott

    I think that change is good after 8 bad years under Bush tenure. But you all need to think if Obama without any office experience is ready to be president and able to deal with all kind of stress and demand of change everyday from American, political and lobbyist?? Obama is not that experience to deal with many issues. What we really need is an experience person who want change because they would be able to deal with many issues.

    I think that Obama is not ready to be president until he has some experience in office first. He does not know how to do the budget. Budget is most important job that many American really depend. You better start think hard who do you want in office unexperience or experience.

    January 6, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  24. Lisa H

    How sad that people dont think a CURRENT Sen. on his 3rd term doesnt have any experience. If all the ney-sayers would just be honest about their RACISM, their comments could be better understood.

    January 6, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. Scott

    Obama does not know how to budget a big budget or deal with many pressure that it will fall on his lap on first day from American, military, cabients, and Congress. Lobbyist also will push for some kind of laws or something. Do not be surprised if he just fall apart and can't handle all of the stress. Also he has two young kids and can you think how will they feel when their dad never been there due to many meetings, travel and etc. It will be very stress on them too to deal with this.

    Obama would need to have big office experience in senators for short time or being governor for some state to understand how to run state before able to run the big country with biggest budget and etc. So be sure to think is Obama able to deal with all of this and his family too

    January 6, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
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