January 14th, 2008
09:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Stunned by readers' response

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/14/art.wolfb1.cnn.jpg caption="CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - I must say I was stunned by the amazing reaction to my request Friday for suggested questions for the upcoming Democratic Presidential debate that CNN is co-sponsoring with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina next Monday night, January 21. So far, we have received some 2,000 comments. I am not surprised that almost all of them were serious and well-informed.

I have always had high confidence in our CNN viewers. I know you are smart because you wouldn’t be watching The Situation Room and all of our other CNN political coverage if you weren’t. There are simply too many other options available to all of you - ranging from sitcoms, to sports, to silly talk shows. Our viewers are intelligent and that certainly came through with your comments. You can take a look at them yourself. If you take the time, you too will be impressed.

Let me assure you that our team is going through all of these suggested questions, and we will select some of them for the debate. We will also use your ideas to formulate some other questions. You’ve raised serious issues and Suzanne Malveaux, Joe Johns and I are taking them very seriously. This has been a great opportunity for us to know what is on your minds, and we are grateful to you for the help.

Throughout my journalistic career, I have always cherished the fact that I am blessed with a front-row seat to history. I have the opportunity and privilege to ask important newsmakers tough and important questions. In the process, I see myself as our viewers’ representative. You might not have that chance, but I do - and I take it very seriously.

By the way, if you'd like to see some of the questions already asked, you can read them by clicking here. Thanks again.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (662 Responses)
  1. Gordon Hellwig

    One more question:

    For Hillary; How much money have you received from the Insurance companies so far and is this tax free so far or do you owe it back in favors when you rewrite the insurance policies? Will you answer this question or go around it like many others when she says, "the real question that should be asked is" and forget about the question asked.

    It would be interesting to see her reaction to this question.

    January 15, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  2. Tristan Penton

    To: CNN

    I formally request the removal of all of my comments.

    I never thought that a double standard was so alive. I know I must sound unprofessional typing in caps and sending off my feelings and concerns so unabashedly and transparently without regard for how people may take them, but that's not the point of truth.

    People say comments based on their truths and facts are facts are facts. As far as I am concerned, Obama is a celebrity selling me a pack of lies in cleverly packaged speeches.

    So many other things to worry about and Obama wants to pin MLK and LBJ on Clinton for a very beautiful response to how activism and legislation work together.

    I used to be a word processor for law firms through college, working nights and I learned how to type, literally, over 115 wpm and so I have this skill and this ability to type what I feel and think quickly.

    My message to Obama: I'm not stupid Obama. I know what you are doing.

    CNN, please remove my comments.

    Thank you.

    January 15, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  3. Jim Cochran

    Of every candidate who has appeared in a church in connection with his or her campaign, ask: "Should any of the churches in which you've recently spoken, or appeared, be penalized by the IRS for engaging in partisan political activity? Why or why not?" Be sure to clearly say, 'partisan political activity'.

    Of every candidate, ask: "Do you think that Muslims throughout the Middle East will develop a more favorable view of the West if they see their Iraqi neighbors steadily advance toward internal peace, democracy, and economic strength?"

    Ask: "Do you think every government in the Middle East should publicly state that Israel has a right to exist?"

    Ask: "Name three unfair features in the current tax code."

    Ask: "Do you support a legal difference between killing a baby by means of a partial birth abortion the day before it would have been born, and killing it the day after? Why or why not? "

    To CNN's writers: Not every issue is clear-cut, but if you truly take your role as journalists seriously, as Mr. Blitzer says he does, then ask REAL questions about each issue, not some diluted version which is only 25% on-target, allowing for a 75% blah-blah response. You want ratings? Show some courage!

    Consider what Peggy Noonan wrote in her WSJ Opinion column on Nov 30, 2007:

    I will never forget that breathtaking moment when, in the CNN/YouTube debate earlier this fall, the woman from Ohio held up a picture and said, "Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama, Mr. Edwards, this is a human fetus. Given a few more months, it will be a baby you could hold in your arms. You all say you're 'for the children'. I would ask you to look America in the eye and tell us how you can support laws to end this life. Thank you."

    They were momentarily nonplussed, then awkwardly struggled to answer, to regain lost high ground. One of them, John Edwards I think, finally criticized the woman for being "manipulative," using "hot images" and indulging in "the politics of personal destruction". The woman then stood in the audience for her follow up. "I beg your pardon, but the literal politics of personal destruction–of destroying a person–is what you stand for."

    Oh, I wish I weren't about to say, "Wait, that didn't happen." For of course it did not. Who of our media masters would allow a question so piercing on such a painful and politically incorrect subject?

    Thank you.

    January 15, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  4. Calvin Marion

    This question is for Hillary Clinton, since you (Your husband) say that you are not a racist, and I don't particularly believe you are; T=But the fact that you said that you are not a racist leads me to ask this burning question. Did you support the Civil Rights legislation that King and others forced President Johnson to sign. And if you did why were you a stanch supporter of a president that was against that legislation.

    January 15, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  5. stevefallon

    This question is directed toward Senators Clinton and Obama.

    With all the talk about race and gender, progressive ideals and lofty principles, there has been little attention paid to the meat-and-potatoes issues that affect all Americans. What are your specific proposals for dealing with what will likely be the largest federal deficit in history when you take office? Will you ask Congress to enact legislation that makes public and transparent the investment portofolios of Wall Street "hedge funds," since it is now more than evident that these hedge funds used blocks of sub-prime mortgage loans as collateral for leveraging other investments, constructing a "house of cards" in the financial sectors which now threatens the stability of the entire economy, while ordinary Americans lose their homes by the millions?

    January 15, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  6. Andrea

    I am astounded that the race element is so strong when there are so many other problems facing the nation and the world. If Obama is half white and half black, why isn't he running as a white person? Why does the black half count for more? Because his skin is darker? If his skin happened to be white, could he still run as a black person, would the black community accept him running as a black candidate? Could he run as a white person with darker skin? For God's sake, it is insane to focus on race. Half, more than half? of the world isn't white. Many leaders aren't white. In America, it has already been shown in Iowa that race isn't the end-all and be-all, so why go on about it, create more problems . . . because it is a great divider, a way to gain more votes. So much for bringing change to Washington. It looks to me like it is going to be a more divisive place already. Is race going to be the main concern when economics are discussed in Washington? "Oh, well, you don't agree with my plan because you are racist." It could go on and on being an issue of convenience, a way to win points and favor with "others." Isn't America supposed to be a country of Americans, not this side and that? Other countries have had and have female leaders. I thought America was supposed to be a beacon of light for other countries. It seems like you are stuck in the back woods while the much of the world is farther ahead.

    Even "Evan Almighty" ran a campaign "Change the World." It is easy to have slogans, but how can one implement the changes when it comes down to brass tacks, that is the thing. One has to have knowledge and experience, etc. A goody two shoes in Washington will have to wake up to reality, unless, of course, he or she is a Jesus-like figure and can work miracles. Additionally, what is the deal with the religion card.? Where is the separation between church and state? Can one be a generic spiritualist and win? A Buddhist? A Daoist? Perhaps that is more what Obama is, anyway, having seen various levels while on drugs – but he couldn't really say that and win, most likely, vying for Christians' votes as he is. So much for freedom of speech, thought, and religion in America. Mitt Romney is Mormon, though, so who knows.

    What, I would like to know, makes Obama feel he can lead a country – lead the military, government, the people, and interact with other countries of the world – without actually going through more steps to get there? Is that wise thinking? Is it delusional, psychopathic on some level? Is he like the Pied Piper who feels he can, with melodious words, lead people blindly to a feel good tomorrow?

    There seems to be a little of the book "The Secret" involved in this. If one believes something strongly enough, it will happen. Oprah also touted that book and backs Obama. People seem to be believing it. Ask the people of New Orleans if positive thinking is helping them overall. Education, awareness, action, interaction, all kinds of things are required to gain the enlightenment needed to deal with many situations. There are, for instance, Bikers who think they are aware, and then there are the Bikers who oversee the Bikers. One has to have a bit of Biker awareness at the highest level to be able to deal with many other countries' tactics – but perhaps there is some of that in many politicians no matter how they coat their words, otherwise they wouldn't be running – and so effectively, for instance playing the change get along card when aware that with enough power, they will have things their way, anyway, not necessarily as a result of others' teamwork, etc., at the end of the day – more a my way or the highway kind of thinking – kind of a we will get along, but this is how we will do it way.

    Ref. drug use. Perhaps it gave Obama a sense of enlightenment, an awareness of various levels he feels he can apply to politics and the world. Should he win, perhaps he should immediately pardon anyone arrested for drug use, particularly under the three strikes law. If he can be President after doing a little "blow" perhaps those in jail could be anything if they were just given something, starting with a pardon.

    January 15, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |

    Question to All Canidates:

    Who among you will faithfully commit during the first one hundred days in office to restore ALL consitutional rights that have been withdrawn and/or suspended by the Bush Administration for all citizens of this once great land? Whomever it may be, that person is the canidate I pledge to fully support.

    January 15, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  8. star555

    Are the republicans also being asked tough questions? I would certainly like that to happen. They all need to take responsibility to try and get this country working for U.S. citizens and their families. I will be watching closely on both sides.

    January 15, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  9. Nuke

    Excessive increases in the total compensation of not-for-profit hospital executives, is what I am talking about.

    Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital is a small 30 bed not-for-profit hospital located in Hamilton, Montana.

    According to the American Hospital Directory, net patient revenue for 2006 came in at a little over $27 million.

    John Bartos is the President and CEO of this hospital which is located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley.

    In 2005 he received $197,336 in total compensation.

    In 2006, that amount jumped to $242,178.

    That is excessive increases in the total compensation of a not-for-profit hospital executive.

    Tyler Memorial Hospital is a small not-for-profit hospital located in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania.

    According to the American Hospital Directory, in 2006, this 60 bed hospital had just over $27 million in net patient revenue.

    In 2005, they gave their President and CEO William M. Milligan $214,507 in total compensation.

    12 months later, they increased that amount by almost $50,000, bringing his total compensation for that year to $263,418.

    Why is health care costing more and more?

    The answers can be found in part by looking at the increases in total compensation of not only the executives of huge not-for-profit healthcare systems, but in the increases of the executives of small town not-for-profit hospitals.

    January 15, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  10. Nuke

    Michelle Obama a pay hike of almost $200,000 a year within weeks after he was sworn in , The Obama campaign sent out e-mails yesterday to supporters, touting the Senator's new health care plan.

    It even provided a link to a Website that includes a video of the Senator speaking, and highlights the story of an insured couple in Iowa who are facing bankruptcy because of high health insurance premiums.

    The e-mail contains the following quote from the Senator.

    "We are not a country that rewards hard work and perseverance with bankruptcies and foreclosures."


    In 2003, the hospital where Michelle Obama works as a highly paid vice-president spent $4,395,713 on collection agency fees.

    In 2004, the hospital spent $5,098,369 on collection agency fees.

    In 2005, her hospital spent $5,280,545 on collection agency fees.

    What else is there to say?

    January 15, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  11. Nuke

    Greg Hinz at Crain's Chicago Business reported last night that Michelle Obama is not quitting work at The University of Chicago Hospitals, as reported by the Washington Post last week.

    Both the hospital and her husband's campaign offered a clarification by saying, she was cutting her workload back to 20%, and that she will receive 20% of her previous compensation.

    Crain's reported that "Ms. Obama was paid $273, 618 by U of C last year, according to the 2006 income return filed by her and her husband".

    However a campaign spokesman said "Ms. Obama's base salary actually is $212,180, and that she now is being paid 20% of the base."

    1. That's too cute by a half, the $273,618 was her total compensation, the $212,180 was her base salary. Will she be getting no retirement benefits?

    Will she get no severance pay if the heat gets too much?

    2. Even taking the lower figure, based on a year, she will receive $42,436 in base salary.

    According to a 2006 survey by Allied Physicians, Inc., "Staff RNs working in the United States average a median base salary of $41,642."

    So the wife of the man who talks about showing justice to working people, will be making more part time, than the average Staff Registered Nurse makes full time.

    Don't even get me started on what orderlies and nurses aides make full time.

    How will we know that she will actually earn her pay?

    Well, the campaign spokesman told Greg Hinz of Crain's that, "even when on the campaign trail on behalf of her husband, Ms. Obama remains in touch with work via cell phone and BlackBerry, and occasionally works from home."

    Combine this, with the Obama's arrogant defense of what her company did to low pay Hispanic workers in LaJunta, Colorado, and it's becoming pretty clear that like not-for-profit hospitals, the Obamas have put profit over mission.

    What a commercial this will make at the proper time.

    One last note, how ironic that last week was National Nurses Week, a week that coincides with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

    Excessive executive compensation at not-for-profit hospitals has possibly opened a new chapter, (especially since this is happening in Chicago), titled, ghost pay rolling?

    January 15, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  12. C.M.

    To Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards:

    The cry for change lately has been so overwhelming that I've considered mailing both of your campaigns thesauruses. Now that I know you're all fired up for implementing change, I would like to know how you most significantly intend to alter our nation. Looking forward now, is there anything new you'd like to tell the people? I'm sure we could all use a change of pace... and remember, play nice!

    To Mr. Obama:

    I heard you recently paid off your college loans; congratulations on doing so. The subject of college loans brings up two subjects I would like to hear you elaborate more on. How do you plan to improve American education, such that American minds will no longer see the map of the world and see only a void? Can we, in four years' time, bring the state of American education to being #1 in the world? This question relies heavily on the quality of our education, and with it, the cost of an education. How do you plan on making the costs of education reasonable, when already families are bending over backwards across the nation, at the hands of inflation, the rise of gas prices, and the looming inevitability of the loss of jobs?

    -c.m., IL

    January 15, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  13. Shirley

    To all candidates,

    What will you do to lock the Social Security fund up to save it from shameless raiding to pay for everything from a bridge to nowhere to war.

    January 15, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  14. Keith

    Wolf, you want a real question for the real candidate.

    My question is for Mr. Obama.

    He got elected to US senate 2 years ago. Half the time, he has been campaigning for the current election. He talks passionately about change and gives stump speeches. Does he understand that presidents does n't make the bills but the congress and the senate. How can a black president manouver through the congress and senate that is almost entirely white and get the work done?

    January 15, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  15. dave walker

    Question for ALL of the candidates; When and if elected,will you realize,and act as such,that you were elected by the American people to represent them and not corporate America? The last seven years were a national disgrace and nothing but a slap in the face to the average Americans who are now suffering for the Bush regime.

    January 15, 2008 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  16. Tanny

    I understand media trying to keep the fighting between two factions ( Hillary & Obama ) at the front page for their own good. What I'll like to know is when they will focus on John Edwards who is the only candidate with specifics on how to handle the job creation and take the economy of this great nation to the next step. Maybe job creation gimmick of John Edwards doesn't bring the ratings???

    January 15, 2008 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  17. Katherine

    For Hillary Clinton: There have been allegations of voter suppression tactics and legal maneuverings by your campaign to disrupt the legal and legitimate GOTV efforts your opponents. Much of the media coverage of the past week has centered on negative statements from your campaign.

    Will you denounce voter suppression as a tactic and pledge that your campaign will not engage in it?

    January 15, 2008 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  18. michael, grand prairie tx.

    Charlie Rangal accused Barack of playing the race card today and called him dumb and stupid.
    Barack Obama never commented on Clinton's remark, Rep Clyburn did. His high profile in the Dem party made his comments potent. Obama had nothing to do with that.Clyburn D-SC. interviewed with the NYT's on his on. Now i feel its his responsibilty to come out and let America know that he's not Dumb or Stupid.It's obvious that what Charlie's saying is that any one who who was offemded by her comments are dumb and stupid This was not a mistake by Hillary, these people are gutter politicians who will do just about anything to regain the power that they feel belongs to them. Please don't fall for the hype-its not the first time this tactic has been used.I feel that she's accepted a defeat in SC. So why not take Obama down on the one issue he's strongest on(swiftboat)lets make him seem divisive like us, See first they try and convince you(american people) there better for the country, but you(american people) dont fall for it, so know we'll make him look like us.DIVISIVE. We Want Fall For It Hill/Bill.

    January 15, 2008 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  19. Scott

    Regarding the Economy:
    The Fed lends money to banks at very low rates of less than 6%. The banks in turn lend this money to consumers at astronomically high rates of up to 33%. Why is there no regulation or cap on these rates to protect the consumers from these predatory practices. It seems that our economy is being fueled by consumer spending of these borrowed funds. People can barely pay their minimum balances and are being forced into bankruptcy. What would any of the candidates bring to the table to address these issues?

    Regarding the Iraq Invasion and Occupation:
    Without the backing of the United Nations or a congressional declaration of war, it seems that our invasion of Iraq has been a wholly illegal endeavor. with almost 4000 dead and 30,000 wounded American military personnel, over 700 billion in mostly wasted taxpayer funds, and countless Iraq dead, wounded and devastated intrastructure in the midst of a now more unstable Mid-East region, what would any of the candidates do to mitigate the debacle of Mr. Bush's military misadventure(s)?

    In follow-up, what of the foundering mission in Afganistan?

    Regarding Immigration:
    Illegal immigration is a serious economic (with both positive and negative aspects for america) and security issue. What would any of the candidates bring to the table to address this issue.

    Regarding Health Care:
    Every american deserves access to quality primary medical care. With an ever-increasing number of uninsured americans and the massive influence of the influential and profit-driven american health care industry (consisting of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and to an extent, hospital and physician organizations), what would any of candidates do to assure the availability of quality health-care to all americans?

    In follow-up, please understand that I have practiced emergency medicine for twelve years. The emergency department is not an avenue for primary health care. Access through an emergency department does not provide access to the same quality of medical care for the un- and underinsured. I daily see the catastrophic consequences that the profit-driven, private insurance dominated system has wrought. The system is broken and needs to be overhauled. Forget the double-talk and give some thoughtful ideas that work. We in the trenches have some ideas, but unfortunately don't have the milions required to get elected to congress.

    Thanks for your time and we'll see you in November.

    January 15, 2008 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  20. Kevin Raffi

    I am surprised that you guys at CNN don't talk enough about RON PAUL. He is the only candidate who raised money without lobists, without big corporations that support war like Boeing, and without any religious affiliation. RON PAUL IS A TRUELY AMERICAN CANDIDATE FOR AMERICANS BY AMERICANS.
    He speaks the truth and makes sense.
    Please don't make the same mistake as FOX NEWS. I personally have boycotted FOX and so have my friends and family because FOX NEWS excluded Ron Paul in New Hampshire debate. AMERICAN CONSUMERS HAVE GOOD AND LONG MEMORIES SO DON'T DO THE SAME MISTAKE AS FOX NEWS.
    Thank you.

    January 15, 2008 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  21. Brandon from New York

    My question is simple: "Hillary, how do you intend to convince Americans that your campaign seeks change, when it's your husband whom you've forced into the limelight recently? Should the voters interpret this as a nostalgic attempt to relive the nineties or as a desperate campaign tactic to restore yourself to front-runner status?"

    January 15, 2008 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  22. Kevin Raffi

    My question is for all candidates: They lauh and make fun of Dr. RON PAUL. But please tell us what specific thing is laughable?!!
    He wants to eliminate IRS, and people ask: Eliminating IRS will eliminate government income, how would we replace that income? This is a stupid question and the answer is we won't replace it, we will just eliminate government. Many studies have shown that the cost of running the IRS is eating up half of the money it brings in!!! and that only IRS...we shoudl get back to the Constitution...if individual States want to have taxes..fine they can have them. But look at the map of the US, the richest states and the states that are growing the fastest interm of economic developments and income ARE STATES THAT HAVE LESS TAXES.

    January 15, 2008 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  23. Hursman

    I wonder if John Edwards message isn't getting out there because of a bias to the Clinton and Obama camps in the media. Is it me or do some democrats might have feelings of guilt if they don't vote for one of the first ever black man or woman ever to run for President. John Edwards is the only one with economic plans in writing. Plans to help the middle class, poor, and get big corporations out of politics. He is the best candidate for me.

    January 15, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  24. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    Question on Education: Why are American students still only going to school 185 days a year and only 8 hours a day when students in Asia and Europe go 220 to 235 days a year for several more hours than American students. And how are you going to change the attitude of students about learning the 3 R's and Science instead of music and drama being the students majors? Also why is school choice and merit pay for teachers who go above and beyond so bad?

    January 15, 2008 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  25. jyfranca

    my question to sen.Clinton.You have been telling us from number of years that Bush uses fear (terrorism) to divide Americans and winning election.Why do you use Economy (recession) to fear voters to elect you?

    January 15, 2008 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
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