January 16th, 2008
03:37 PM ET
15 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. Jake, ATL

    I think it's a mistake to think of the office of the Presidency as the Head of the Bureaucracy. I don't want another bureaucrat in the Office. The only way a bureaucrat would be effective in this current government if both the House and Senate were heavily Democratic. We need someone who can unite the country on common grounds. If Hillary thinks she can effectively run the government by running it HERSELF on HER terms, she's in for a BIG disappointment. It's already well-known that she's the most polarizing figure in the race.

    January 16, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. Mohammad, LA CA

    riiight,how does it help obama to let everyone know that he is messy and loses stuff? I mean so do I, but I don't go around telling people, right?

    January 16, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. Glenn, Cary, NC

    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.

    January 16, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Vincent, Tamaqua, Pa

    Hillary 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 16, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Lola

    Obama needs to respond more strongly to this latest attack.

    1) Bush was an operating officer of the Texas Rangers, and also had lots of experience governing a state and managing a budget. Clearly, the translation to a strong presidency didn't happen.

    2) Hillary has no executive or operating officer experience herself. Being First Lady of Arkansas and then First Lady of the US is not operating experience. Yes, she is a senator - so is Obama. Yes, she worked for children - he worked organizing communities and in the state senate. I think the "experience" argument is a wash.

    Obama's campaign needs to make these points clearly and often.

    January 16, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. concerned in iowa

    Give me a break Hillary! He's just being honest, you should try it sometime. If you think you can micro-manage the White House, good luck with that – it worked real well for Carter, didn't it?

    January 16, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Rob Mitchell

    Clinton, get over yourself. Obama's comments were made in jest. I hardly think he'd make a decision as big as war without reading everything he could, and communicating with dozens of advisors. You're a bright woman and you understand. Run a clean campaign and actually stick to your word. THAT's what people are looking for in this race, not more mudslinging about how well you think you can organize a desk.

    January 16, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Curious in Charleston, South Carolina


    You may have worked this question over last year but since most of us have only started paying attention in the past month, could you please help your readers understand precisely what it is that backs up Senator Clinton's claims of "having experience creating change"?

    I've spent time on Senator Clinton's website and can't, for the life of me, figure out what backs up her "experience creating change" claims.

    It seems as if everyone has just said, "yeah, she's been around for a long time" and "well, she was first lady in Arkansas and DC" so she must have experience. Yet, during her White House years, according to her own website, I see very little evidence of what SHE actually accomplished. In the New Hampshire debate, she pointed to Healthcare as the biggest example of "experience creating change" during the former Clinton Administration. Huh?

    That's not to diminish her role as "sounding board" for former President Clinton and maybe that's all the experience we need. That probably did give her tremendous perspective that the other candidates don't have.

    But, it seems to me that she's premised her candidacy on having all this experience "getting results" and there are few examples to back up the claim.

    Could you please start asking what she has actually accomplished (like perhaps in next week's debate)? Seems like this is the huge elephant in the room and that she has simply gotten a pass on it.

    January 16, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. James


    January 16, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  10. JACK ny, ny

    If anyone thinks organisational skills are not important then they either have never held any job or still haven't joined adult life. You need to be organized to get things done even if you stay home mom of two kids. Let alone trying to run a country alone.
    It is just little too pathetic reasons or excuses I am hearing from Obama supporters. More over the responses are immature with no thought process behind it.

    January 16, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Tom Davie

    Listen UP.

    Do you guys not get it ?

    CNN is trying to sell headlines. They cant make Obama look bad or we are 'racists' or part of the Hillary Machine.

    The cant keep quiet. Why? look how (lol) non exciting the Republican race is. Not much to flame about.

    The more the media uses every angle to attack Clinton, the more the voters get SICK of it as SPIN .

    As we painfully found out in NH, the SPIN causes people to reject that candiate as being artificially being propped up. It makes Obama look FAKE.

    CNN knows all this. You guys are naive to think all the lopsided SPIN on Obama is helping the guys cause. The ridiculous the headlines are , the more it actually helps Clinton.

    Think about it. After all the SUPER SPIN, why isnt Obama CRUSHING clinton ?

    January 16, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Nick

    Hillary does have a point. You do need to be organized enough to know what is going on in the bureaucracy. Obama is setting himself up to look like a figurehead ran by his staffers. It definately would not be a great idea considering the heat he will get by the Republican Candidate once the general election comes around, of course assuming he wins.

    January 16, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. Kilroy M. VT

    Next thing you know the Clintons will accuse Barack of not wearing the right color socks.
    If that doesn't shut down his candidacy, the Clintons will charge that Barack feeds his dog the wrong kind of dog food.
    If that doesn't bring Barack down to size, the Clintons will accuse him of having the wrong air presure in his tires.
    And so forth.
    What frustrates the Clintons and their people is that none of the dirty tricks they've used successfully in the past against others are working on Barack.
    Barack keeps takes the high road and you have to admire him for that. He's made of far better stuff than the Clintons.

    January 16, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. James D.

    HRC can not even let a "light" humorous moment slide without turning it into an attack. How can she sleep at night?

    Yet she continues to tout her so called superior experience and Obama's lack thereof. Time Magazine has this to say of Obama's experience vs Hillary's:

    Time Magazine:
    "Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton points to his resume as evidence that Obama is not ready for the White House. "He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she says dismissively.

    Obama's accomplishments are more substantial and varied than Clinton suggests. And he has a longer record in elected office than she does, as a second-term New York senator."


    Spin *THAT* Hillary.

    January 16, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. Amy, Kazoo

    So wait, now the candidates can't differentiate between themselves? Any differentiation from the Clinton camp is going to be seen as an attack by the "reporters" from CNN? and by the way, Candy, nice title. Maybe turn down the bias a little, hmm?

    January 16, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. Tina

    I thought they had a truce. Hillary attacked Barack about his management skills. She knows deep down that he is a better candidate than she and she can't find anything to knock him down. I am glad that Barack is a bigger person and he just seems to ignore what she says about him. That's right Barack, stay focused-stay smart! I believe liberal hillary clinton would be another george bush-the devil comes in many disguises.

    January 16, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  17. Ron, TX

    Obama isn't your average garden tomato. No squeezing necessary. He's ready to be picked.

    January 16, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  18. Dee Ward Mena, AR

    Well we all know that it doesn't matter what Hillary says, it is wrong, no matter what obama says it is right. She couldn't say the right thing if someone gave her a question and then told her the answer they wanted and she gave that answer. They would change what they wanted her answer to be and then say she is attacking obama. If they ask her what 2 + 2 is and she said 4, they would try to make it 5. We all know that If she opens her mouth and says good morning they would find a way to say she is attacking obama. Hey, get real, this is a race for the candidacy of the President of the United States. You have to try to tell people the differences between you and the other candidates and that is not attacking. That is stating the facts. So all of you who want to ATTACK Hillary everytime she opens her mouth, try doing the same to obama and the rest of the candidates. Let's be fair in our ATTACKING....

    January 16, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. Bastien Beauchamp (NYC)

    Obama has more talent than Hillary and is well supported.

    What we can notice though is that Hillary is playing bad politic tricks. Again. Talk about a change.

    January 16, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Bukky, Balt MD

    "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." I mean really it is that simple....

    Plus they are both lawyers.....If there are any Lawyer on the Blog you know there are Two type of lawyers:

    Disorganized but a genius non-theless and WINS when it counts. They sorround themselves with competent organized people <-- OBAMA

    Anal/OCD, intelligent but falls apart when things are not in order or when things fall into crisis mode. This is the partner that makes law clerks cry and 1st year associate look for goverment jobs <-- Hillary

    January 16, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. shaun

    This woman is absolutely ruthless. She follows the karl rove jr style of politics which is to bite off of every word you say, spin it and hope the american people are stupid enough to fall for it hook line and sinker so she can get the white house and claim the office that's "righhtfully hers". I feel as if Obama doesn't have the right to respond to any of her malicious attacks because if he does the press will make it seem as if he's the author of the bickering. If he stands up for himself it will be him that's characterized as being just like hillary, but what can you do if you decide to take the high road and not fire back with negative rethoric and still get trashed by the media? Hillary and her campaign crones know their out classed. They know Obama has sparked something in the american people that surpasses anything she could ever dream of sparking, and that is hope. Barack is the man that will restore our place in the world as an honest broker for peace, and will be able to unite congress allowing for real change to take place here and abroad. He's straight forward, with an inbreed quality to lead that's transparent. I really believe the world is watching this campaign, and they probably want even more than us for obama to be president. They need america, but if america continues to elect crookpot leaders who don't have a clue and can get nothing done, then the world will ignore us.

    The time is now....vote obama

    January 16, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. delise

    It was also big of barack not to counter-attack bill clinton for what he said. I guess they will try his wife next.

    January 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. Chris

    Ron: Hillary isn't suggesting micromanagement. A macromanagement style still involves some paper. She's pointing out the obvious that it's probably not a good idea as a presidential candidate to talk about how disorganized you are. That's very different from saying it's the President's job to do remedial paperwork. If you're a naturally disorganized person to the point where no one should even hand you a piece of paper that's at all important, that doesn't make you seem very presidential.

    It doesn't disqualify Obama at all, but what kind of a candidate says he's unable to keep track of any papers? Shouldn't a President have some managerial skills?

    January 16, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. mmtz texas

    I read the other comments and I have this to say. She's already proven she has the leadership skills, outlook, and direction of which our nation should be. She's already put in the effort and time into seeking her goals to a higher level then Obama. So yes even the little things like keeping yourself together is important. Even if it means filing a piece of paper away that holds the name to someone that can allow a major peace treaty in the middle east. So back off boys.

    January 16, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  25. Zen

    Hillary has a very good point. At any job managing those around you is the very first thing in doing things right. Eating up what ever those around you offer is not the answer. And what about the vision what does it mean.... Obama's thinking in governing by leaving managing and thus leadership on every issue is what our current president is doing.
    A good coach, a good leader, a good CEO are all well organized and good at managing.
    Sloppy at your desk means sloppy at your job.
    to Hillary

    January 16, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
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