January 16th, 2008
03:37 PM ET
14 years ago

Crowley: Clinton's latest attack on Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.clinton1.ap.jpg
caption="Clinton is taking aim at Obama’s management ability."]
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) - The Clinton campaign continued its new line of attack on Barack Obama Wednesday, based on his recent campaign trail admissions that he isn't a details-oriented "chief operating officer."

At an event in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton warned a group of Nevada voters that if a president does not manage the government bureacracy then "it will manage you."

Obama has made several recent statements highlighting his inexperience in running a bureaucracy, and his lack of organizational skills.

"I ask my staff never to hand me paper until two seconds before I need it, because I will lose it," he said in the Democratic debate Tuesday night. "And my desk in my office doesn't look good. I've got to have somebody around me who is keeping track of that stuff.”

The Illinois senator added that those qualities were not as important in a president as the ability to bring Americans together to make progress on issues stymied for years by partisan struggles.

Clinton challenged Obama's view of the role of a president in last night's debate, and her campaign continues to push the issue in e-mails.

In her comments today, she argued that the Bush era through a "mismanaged war" and the failure to react quickly to Hurricane Katrina has proved that "government by advisor" doesnt work. The country needs, said Clinton, "a hands-on manager."

There is nothing in Clinton's resume suggesting experience in managing a big bureaucracy. Her time heading the Clinton administration's health care reform effort was marked by criticism of her hands-on management style.

The Obama campaign immediately fought back. “Hillary Clinton may believe this is a race for who would make the best Chief of Staff, but Barack Obama believes this country is looking for a president who has the leadership, vision and ability to bring people of differing views together around a common agenda for change,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

The New York senator's remarks Wednesday came in a roundtable discussion on the 25-year-battle over using a site in Nevada's Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear waste. Clinton promised Nevada voters that as president, she will take the Yucca issue off the table "once and for all."

–CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Nevada
soundoff (367 Responses)
  1. marie

    Clinton's voice cracks when answering a question in NH and it gets spun as a major emotional breakdown.

    Clinton addresses Obama's statement regarding his organization skills and it makes headlines as an attack.

    If you really wish to analyze something – try to figure out what Rove is doing. He makes headlines stating how Obama can beat Hillary, He then comes out giving info to Hillary on what she should do and now he is making headlines on what the Republicans need to do to beat the Dems. Interesting.

    January 17, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  2. Walt, Belton, TX


    You make an excellent case! Just the facts. Great article and great thoughts! Thank you.

    January 17, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  3. Susuviri

    WOW! Hillary is digging herself into a bigger hole. I think that Obama is smart by remaining above the frivolous argument that Hillary is trying to pick! She has done so much damage to her image that come Nevada primary, no amount of tears will wash away her sins. Just keep smiling Obama camp! This is actually good news. Hillary supporters, beware! You think that Obama is not going after HIllary because he can't? Well the bad news is because he WON'T and that makes him a better man in the eyes of the voters.

    January 17, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  4. Anonymous

    " we are in a recession because went into Iraq and paid trillion of dollars based on a lie that hillary agreed upon."

    That's part of it. But another reason our economy is in the state it is in has to do with the Clintons.

    1) Bill Clinton enacted NAFTA, the so called "free-trade agreement" which has cost the US millions of Jobs.

    2) Bill Clinton expanded the H-1 and L-1 visa programs to bring millions more workers to the US, mainly from India and China, but also from countries like Russia, Pakitan, and even Vietnam. These workers have taken millions of good paying middle class away from Americans, and mainly in the areas of high-tech, computers, telecommunications, and technology.

    3) Both Clintons favored outsourcing. Bill Clinton allowed and encouraged the outsourcing of millions of jobs during his presidency. Hillaryas Senator of Ny brought the #1 outsourcer of US jobs to India (TATA Consulting, look it up) into Buffalo, NY. They outsource $4 billion worth of US jobs annually, and they employ 10 people in NY.

    Combine this with the massive inflow of illegal immigrants taking low paying unskilled jobs, such as construction, and you can see why our economy is in the tank. Alot of people want to blame Bush, and much of it is his fault, but the Clintons also share much of the blame. After all, a Clinton or a Bush has been president for the past 20 years. Many kids have grown up seeing no other name as president.

    January 17, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  5. ABC

    HRC is actually right about her biggest weakness is that she cares too much (for NOT BE ELECTED the PRESIDENT of USA) !

    ABC 08!

    January 17, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  6. Retha

    Hillary did a great job! I think that obama will be just like bush and we don't need this for the next four years. Obama makes for a good preacher.

    January 17, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. Black Man, Philly PA

    This crap is getting so ridiculous. I can't wait for it to be over. Hopefully, it's not Clinton.

    January 17, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  8. Mary

    I just wonder if Tamika would make the same statement if Barack were white.

    January 17, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  9. cyrille

    –Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he wrote the Declaration of independance

    - Martin Luther King was 26 when he led the Montgommery Bus boycott

    - Cesar Chavez was 35 when he co-founded the United Farm Workers

    - Mother Theresa was 38 when she heeded the call to help people in poverty

    Now it took CLINTON her so called 35 years of experience to find her voice ( all just as first Lady of Arkansas and D.C with no security clearance to take part to meeting )

    Now again tell me why B.O is too young or inexperience to be President again?


    January 17, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  10. cyrille



    Common´ Hillary say something now...since that´s ur hobby well spent with your lobby.

    January 17, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  11. cas

    Get real OBAMA fans. He will never win the Presidency in white America. Only the Republicans wants him to win to win as Democratic Nominee. If Obama wins the nomination, brace yourself for another term of republican President and Republican controlled congress. Obama will bring down with him all the Senators and Congressman running in the Democratic ticket. It's not the right time yet. Go for Vice Presidents position first. CLINTON/POWELL ticket would be awesome!!!

    January 17, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  12. Obama-man

    Compare the "organizational requirements" of a President to that of a CEO of a large successful corporation. How many CEOs get involved in the day-to-day operation of "the office"? Not many I'd imagine. And I can't imagine Bill Gates walking around making sure that all of his employees are getting their work done.

    Hillary is picking nits . . . anything to fill the air with negativity regarding her opponents. She will not get my vote. Ever.

    January 17, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  13. Black Man, Philly PA

    Glenn, Cary, NC January 16, 2008 5:44 pm ET

    To put it simply, the opposite of experience is not change, it's inexperience. I would have welcomed the opportunity to vote for Barack Obama eight or twelve years from now, assuming he worked hard to get ready for the job; but, as of now, he isn't prepared. All of us who though we knew everything when we were 20 or 30 or 40 and who are able to look back on those days realize how foolish we were. It frightens me that Obama claims credit for some special brand of wisdom that doesn't depend on knowledge or achievement. Wisdom doesn't suddenly sprout like a weed in a man's soul, it grows slowly over time like a garden. Young Mr. Obama has a lot of gardening ahead of him.
    Question Glenn: Should Obama spend 8 years in the White House as a spouse? Will that satisfy your requirement for experience and hard work?

    January 17, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Theo


    Be careful, because a "breath of fresh air" can quickly turn into pollution.

    January 17, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  15. marie

    The 35 years experience thing continues to be brought up by some and is a valid question. What I feel is important to recognize is that during this time Hillary has had to overcome many people’s negative opinion of her and Bill and yet she continues to serve our country as a Senator. No one if honest, likes to go to work everyday and find it necessary to deal with co-workers who might not like them for whatever reason. She has demonstrated she has the ability to work effectively with even her enemies. If this isn’t an important quality for our next president I don’t know what is. It is unfortunate, but obvious, America is currently not on everyone’s best friend list.

    January 17, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  16. GingerT

    As a previous poster said, I'm sick of her commenting on every little think Barrack says. If he sneezed she would say, "He sneezed. He's always sick. We need a president who will be healthy. I will be that president. For 35 years I have never been sick or missed a day." This is getting exhausting.

    January 17, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  17. Lynn

    I'm getting pretty tired of people, including Hillary Clinton, saying Obama is similar to Bush because both are "nice guys" who had little experience when running for president. That is utterly ridiculous. I don't see any of Bush's problems as stemming from a lack of experience or from being disorganized. Bush seems to be extremely organized and schedule-driven, and he had experience as governor of Texas. Neither experience nor organization was a factor in his biggest problem, which was (is) that he is a stubborn man who absolutely must get his own way at all costs. Bush came into office aching for a fight against Iraq, and that he was in it to make big business (particularly big oil) even bigger. He had a plan and he followed it. He might have said prior to being elected that he would be a "uniter, not a divider," but he NEVER tried to unite anyone once he got into office. With Bush, it was and is his way or the highway. He was fortunate enough to be able to rely on the nation's coming together after 9/11 to push things he otherwise never would have gotten. Then he took all the goodwill this country had and totally crapped on it. Inexperience is not what caused him to do that.

    Frankly, unless HRC can tell us exactly what the heck she did while Bill was governor and president, I don't see how she can possibly rely on her "experience" as first lady to pad her resume. She has a term and a half of experience in the Senate and she has used that for nothing other than as a springboard toward the presidency. Obama has done more in his short time in the Senate than HRC has done during her entire "35 years" of experience.

    I wish to God someone would question her about exactly what her experience is. But nobody in the press has the cajones to do that and I don't understand why. It's a completely valid question. As for her "hands-on" management skills, if her statement that she voted to authorize the war in Iraq because she (a) didn't take the time to read the intelligence reports, and (b) thought it was instead a bill allowing investigators to get back into Iraq (which I don't believe for a minute because even I, a non-Senator, knew exactly what the vote was about, as did all Americans), then I've seen enough of her management skills, or lack thereof. She has no right to criticize Obama on this point. But she can't win by relying on her own record, so on she'll go, attacking, attacking, attacking. And unfortunately it'll probably work.

    January 17, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. Pat

    Okay, let me get this straight, Obama says "I ask my staff never to hand me paper until two seconds before I need it, because I will lose it," he said in the Democratic debate Tuesday night. "And my desk in my office doesn't look good. I've got to have somebody around me who is keeping track of that stuff.” And after having said this you are bashing Clinton for stating the obvious? If the shoe were on the other foot, you would all be extolling Obama for putting Clinton in her place.

    I personally would not want a President who doesn't know what is going on until "two seconds" before it happens. Don't we already have one of those in office now? Does anyone remember the 8 minute wait while George W sat in that classroom after being told that the US was being attacked? AND then the additional 20 minutes it took for his writers to come up with something for him to say – althought brilliantly written it should not have taken almost 30 minutes from the time he heard the news until he spoke America about what was going on. Whatever about the amount of time it took to react to Katrina? Not only that but we also have had to stand by for the past 7 years by while George W's staff (Rove, Cheney) took care of things while he did whatever it was he did and look where that has left us.

    The President is supposed to be a leader we can to look to for guidance and I don't see how we can do that with someone who isn't organized. I'm sorry Sen Obama but you lost a lot of cool points with me on this one. I think I may have to knock you from the number 2 position to number 4 on my list of people I would vote for. I'm sure that means nothing to him or to the Obama supporters on this board but it means something to me.

    Oh, and one last thing, for the record, the TRUCE was regarding race issues. As the saying goes folks, "Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game" because they are ALL playing the game. Some of you are hating the player, I choose to hate the way the game is being played.

    January 17, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  19. fietts

    So the litmus test for being POTUS is how tidy one's desk is...Darn shame she could not find the time to read the reports about Iraq's capabilities before she voted for the war.

    OBAMA's looking better every day.

    January 17, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  20. Rick

    "There is nothing in Clinton's resume suggesting experience in managing a big bureaucracy. Her time heading the Clinton administration's health care reform effort was marked by criticism of her hands-on management style."

    A little biased, Candy?

    January 17, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  21. Kosi

    Please present both sides of the debate CNN. Obama's rebuttal to Clinton was that he was not implying an inability to manage the government bureaucracy. He believes that the president needs to be a good manager of people and ideas. Identify five good/great managers in your work environment and check out their work space. I could guarantee that it probably looks a little unorganized from first glance and/or they have a personal assistant telling them where to go and how to get there.

    Personally I think of the presidency as the CEO. He/She needs to be able to set a vision for the country and manage a team of experts in their relative specialties. The president is not the expert but the hirer/manager of qualified persons.

    Who do you think will be able to bring together a diverse group of thinkers? Not just diverse in how they look, but diversity of thought. I think we all know the answer to that question.

    January 17, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. Bonnie

    Hillary holding herself out as an efficient master of "details" – Spare me.

    Hillary is so clueless she

    – thinks Bill Clinton has been a faithful spouse

    – couldn't find those billing records in the white House

    – DID NOT BOTHER to read the classified briefing materials before authorizing Bush to go to war in Iraq.

    Go Obama ! ! !

    January 17, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  23. Dave

    Can a HRC supporter please tell me what legislation has she drafted that became law or was even voted on? Can you give me her voting record on key American issues, whether if she voted yes or no, and give her reasons for her vote?

    I didn't think so. I have been asking this same question for 2 weeks now and no one has even attempted to answer my question.

    January 17, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Jill, Austin, TX

    Everyone is making valid points. Looking at the facts regarding management styles, we have a problem with both candidates. Having lived in Austin, TX and seeing Bush through the White House, I can tell you that only listening to advisors and political consultants (Rove) on which to base your decisions do not work. Bush has admitted many times that he never reads any reports and only requests his advisors to give him a summary. That is how he based his decisions. No critical thinking whatsoever.
    As for Hilary, we also know that micromanagement does not work. If you make all the decisions without any input from other experts, you have a high risk of also making a lot of poor decisions (not to mention that this is how our economy has failed in many ways and how dictatorships form).
    What we need is someone who not only has full understanding of the issues and be able to base his/her decisions on unbiased facts but also one who can lead and unite people not only in our country but throughout the world. Who does that really leave us with?
    I am not endorsing any one at this point and am doing my best to wade through the facts and determine which one of the candidates will best serve our country. I hope that each of you will do the same. Forget the rhetoric. Use critical thinking in making your decision.

    January 17, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  25. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Clintonista's, again you need to be reminded that Bill Clinton is not running for President and he will not be "her" vice President or part of "her" cabinet. .

    The subject here is organization skills of the two CANDIDATES and one has the guts to admit that he sometimes is disorganized and the other one jumps all over it as it appears that he is showing a crack in his armor.

    She AS USUAL does not really answer the question, but offers a lame "I care too much", just like after "caring" about people from Iowa for months and then TRASHING them after they saw right through your BS.

    A real brief and small segment of her organizational skills:

    One must ask, why did she NOT read the NIE report BEFORE making the BIGGEST decison a politician can make?

    She now says that she had "people brief her on the report", whom exactly?

    If she is so hands on as she makes it seem, why did she not vet an $850,000 bundler (Hsu) or the asian dishwashers who were giving up 10 percent of the yearly salary while living at PHONY addresses?

    Why did it take so long for the Rose law firm papers to show up on a nightstand (after two years) covered with HER fingerprints?

    Here's what the New York Times reported on March 17, 1992: "Hillary Clinton said today that she did not earn 'a penny' from state business conducted by her Little Rock law firm and that she never intervened with state regulators on behalf of a failed Arkansas savings and loan association. . . "

    Records will show that she did, in fact, represent Madison before the state securities department. After the revelation, she says, "For goodness sakes, you can't be a lawyer if you don't represent banks."

    Number of times Hillary Clinton says "I don't recall" or its equivalent in a statement to a House investigating committee: 50. Number of paragraphs in this statement: 42.

    Doesn't sound too organized to me, sounds more like a lying, conniving politician that will do and say ANYTHING to gain power.

    It is really as simple as ABC.

    January 17, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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