January 18th, 2008
06:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama sharpens critique of Clinton in final hours before Nevada

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/18/art.obama0118nevada.ap.jpg caption="Obama is sharpening his critiques of Clinton."]RENO, Nevada (CNN) - Presenting himself Friday as the candidate who can make the correct decisions the first time around, Barack Obama cranked up his criticism of Hillary Clinton, hitting her on issues from the war in Iraq to the economy.

"Sen. Clinton has said she is ready to lead from day one," the Illinois senator said, "but it's important on day one to get it right, whether you're talking about war or you're talking about economic proposals."

Obama often tells crowds that he has the judgment needed to serve as president, and adds that he was against the war from the beginning.

At a Reno campaign stop Friday, he also said that his initial economic stimulus package was the right plan, since it included tax relief for middle-class Americans, while Clinton's did not.

"Today, five days after she released her plan, she said 'Well, you know what? We need a tax rebate,' because now apparently she agrees with me."

Obama said he was using that example to illustrate a larger problem that he called "political speak."

"It is easy to be for policies that help working families when its popular on the campaign trail, but the American people don't want a president whose plans change with the politics of the moment."

"This is what you learn in Washington from all those years of experience," Obama added. "It means that the American people are constantly having to sort out what do people really mean."

"It's why people mistrust our politics. And part of my job in this race is to restore people's sense that you say what you mean and you mean what you say."

–CNN Political Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Nevada
soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. Audrey in Alexandria, Virginia

    Obama's abiliies are proof he can be president.

    The fact that Senator Obama, a man who has climbed from being an unknown politcal figure to the hottest rival of Senator Hillary Clinton in such a short amount of time, says much about him and his abilities.

    For Hillary has been around national campaigning, and you would think she would have a greater edge. However, Obama has shown us he is capable and able to to contest and surpass his toughest rival, Hillary.

    This tells me Obama is intelligent, capable and able to climb fast in the political world. He is a fast learner. It is as if he holds within him a inner core that supports him throughout this campaign. It is an inner core of common sense to say the truth, He speaks and handles himself like no other modern day candidate. He answers and responds to the American public with creativity and inspiration.

    Hillary may have been exposed more to national politics but, it seems Obama's experiences have taught him what the American spirit is all about. For he knows how to hit the right cord of the American spirit. And a good president understands that – that it is the foundation to how he or she should run America.

    January 18, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  2. Stephy, Groton Connecticut

    Forget the "sharpen critique", I completely agree with him. We need someone who has judgment to get it right right on the spot. Hillary is too much of the: if I had knew this then I would do that differently. What will likely happens is that the country gets into these situations where it's almost impossible to get out. And bluntly apologizing won't make up for it.
    OBAMA '08

    January 18, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  3. For Mr. Obama

    Yeah right, Mr. Obama, you were against the war from the very beginning but you were in the Illinois senate then but you stated later on that you would not know how you would have voted for the war as a US senator. You probably would have noted "Present" only. Honestly, what is your position on the Iraq war and the economy? How would you deliver these changes that you are preaching? Bringing people together and talking about it is not enough. It seems that most of the people who are endorsing you are from the "status quo" group. They probably would not endorse Hillary because they know that she would act on implementing changes right away on the status quo. Hillary would be a better president during this difficult time because she is well-equipped and will deliver those changes that we desperately need. Hillary '08.

    January 18, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  4. stan pitts pa

    I ust know im not voting for H. R. Clinton.....

    January 18, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  5. Glenn Scott, Exeter, England

    I'm pretty sure Obama said that to mean the Republicans were the party of ideas but either didn't act on them or they were poor ideas. You need to read between the lines when deciphering Obama speak. He's crafty! He obviously didn't say it to praise them.

    January 18, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  6. sam madino

    Clinton News Network AKA CNN is at it again, trying to show Obama as the negative campaigner and Hillary as a saint.

    I wish Turner had never sold his news company, it use have integrity and journalism value. Now like FOX they all behind Hillary Clinton.

    January 18, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  7. Ottila

    I cannot believe that Obama is so proud of and touting his "judgment" when in fact he has shown poor judgment in the past.

    For example, he himself said that he made a "bone-headed mistake" when he approached Mr. Rezko - now under indictment by a grand jury - about a real estate deal, knowing at that time that Rezko was being investigated by the FBI.

    He also voted "PRESENT" close to 130 times on proposed bills in the Illinois Senate when he was a state senator, unable to "stand up" on crucial issues facing him and the citizens of Illinois.

    Obama is prone to overstatement and boastfullness in a subtle and sophisticated way, but someone who listens closely when he speaks during campaign rallies will notice that he is as close to Edwards on being a demagogue - someone who plays of people's emotions and pride and uses them to his own advantage.

    We cannot make the same mistake all over again in electing a president who is likeable, but who is untested and unprepared to be president.

    January 18, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  8. Ginny CA

    I should think that in the last few hours before the Nevada caucuses, Obama would be shouting out his message of change, hope, and dreams to everyone. It seems such a shame to waste all that free media time criticizing Hillary. Poor guy, he sounds worried and desperate.

    January 18, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  9. Dido

    Veronica, I think it's alright for you to support whom ever you wish to support. However, You owe it to yourself to find out details before you quote any one. The quote you're referring to is taken out of context, and you're misconstruing Obama's remark.

    Do you reseach. Don't believe every thing you read or hear.

    January 18, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. Lisa

    We are so over Obama; he's proving himself to be an empty suit to go along with his empty rhetoric. This is the guy who voted present 129 times while a state legislator; this is the guy that takes support from Excelon the company that supports nuclear power and dumping waste at Yucca Mountain; this is the guy that supported the Cheney energy bill; the guy who abhors 527's but sits silently by when they spew vile lies about his opponent; the guy who didn't seem to have a clue when it came to Bush's attempts to hamstring the next President in terms of withdrawing from Iraq; the guy who has rarely been able to pass legislation in the US Senate (most never left committee) and the guy who rarely if ever has been able to get bipartisan support for any of his bills; this is the guy that was roundly criticized for claiming his existing package of long-term tax relief would function as stimulus. I supported this guy, but no more. Go Hillary!

    January 18, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  11. Daniel

    Right on...Obama! You have a laundry list of things you can go on and on with. Use it!! You have to show you are a tough campaigner with grace. Hit her on her no record hard. Use the phrase, "She voted for the Bankrapcy bill but she was against it"...Status Quo? Right!!

    January 18, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  12. Tom Davie

    Hey guys. Just think.

    Once Obama can 'empty suit' his way to the democratic nomination, the sooner we can get back to bragging about how good the Clinton years were compared to this bush disaster.


    January 18, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  13. Emily, Atlanta, GA

    Oh yeah, Obama? Then why did you say you hold the same position as GWB regarding the war in Iraq? Did you mean what you say then too?
    And why did you say you were not planning to run for president in 2005 because you wanted to serve the people of Illinois first? Did you mean what you say then too?
    And why did you say you were running a clean campaign when you allowed your surrogates to twist Hillary's words and turn it into race?
    Now you seem to be denouncing experienced politicians, some of whom have served the American people all their lives, making it an excuse to break your promise to the people of Illinois to run for president.
    Some people are not as gullible as your adoring crowds.

    January 18, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  14. Craig in Madison

    On another page of this site, it's reported that Obama is calling on his supporters to stop attacks on his opponents, and here he is now humiliating those very opponents with a vicious smile on his face. So, Obama's trying to have it both ways....he's trying to come across as the most exalted peacemaker since MLK, while doing everything he can to knock his fellow peacemakers off the playing field. Obama is a dangerous phony....there's no other conclusion to arrive at. The evidence is right in front of our eyes.....now just as much as when that photo of him not saluting the flag hit the headlines. But we don't want to see him for what he is....and for what he isn't. We want to keep dreaming any pleasant dreams whispered in our ears (though these days Obama's doing more loud pontificating than anything else). If he's elected (God help us), he's going to go down in history as the emptiest blowhard in US history.....worse than Bush in many ways. It's clear to me Obama is making up all his shoddy tactics and flimsy notions as he goes.....and we Americans cannot even afford to dream away half of our present with him, much less all of our future.

    January 18, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  15. Venus

    Obama was speaking on a very specific instance, the Reagan '80 campaign, and where the country was at the time. I don't think he was calling himself Regan, nor do I think praise for a former President means you agree with his policies in total. GROW UP PEOPLE. The man has the balls to speak his mind, probably knowing how whacked out Dems would get at the mere mention of the name. This is exactly the crap we need to get beyond. Kudos to Obama! Someone dares to say what they think, on camera, during the primaries! Refreshing.

    January 18, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  16. Ross

    While Obama may say that, Veronica, he does not say what Hillary states. She essentially implies that Obama is saying he thinks those ideas were good ideas, but that was never Obama's point. He was merely recognizing that the republicans had been trying new things more so than democrats had been during that time period, and that may be the case. However, Obama never went so far as to say that he was in favor of those decisions and choices, while Hillary tries to infer that Obama would have been or is in favor of those actions.

    January 18, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  17. Dorian, Ca

    The primary campaign is nearly over in Nevada. Just a few hours to go. To wind it all up, I would think he'd just come out with some positive messages of his own. You know, just one last final push. Would be better to end it all on a positive note rather than looking like a sore-head.

    January 18, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  18. Marlene

    It's not a crime to state that your opposition has good ideas.

    But it should be a crime to constantly slimeball your way into trying to convince everyone that they were your own ideas. Give credit where it's due.

    Obama: Change is good...
    Clinton: Yeah, change! I'm the change agent!

    Obama: Package included tax relief.
    Clinton: Yeah, we need a tax rebate!

    Ow, the pain – she's always a step behind. And we don't need a chameleon who puts her husband up to doing the dirty work for her. Not another dysfunctional Clinton white house, thank you very much.

    We need Obama – a true thoughtful leader and visionary, who's always a step ahead.

    January 18, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  19. Permanent Resident

    I absolutely agree with s.positive's comment's but also think that so do many other people these days. For this country to stay competitive and successful, we need all of us to work hard and stay focused regardless of color.... political or racial..

    January 18, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  20. Mati

    Obama= Bread and circuses .. Soon he will give Americans only the circus.

    January 18, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. vote-wisely-not-blindly

    It is not wrong to state that your opposition has good ideas...But as a "concerned citizen", if the ideas were bad for our country, why is Obama calling them good? We are paying for Reagan's mistakes as well as Bush's. Republicans won on homophobic fear and making Democrats out to be evil...There are many religious and faithful Democrats who pray about their decisions in voting. I am a strong Democrat that is open to ideas from the Republican base. I will vote Republican if feel that person is the best choice; however, just because a person is well respected, charismatic in speach and leans towards people (or Republicans) for their "ideas" doesn't mean he's the person to follow or vote for...

    I'm sticking with Hillary and staying out of the immature dialogue...I just wish our country would rely more on themselves to research our candidates instead of depending on the media alone! Charismatic leaders have also been leaders in convincing people to drink kool-aid that wasn't good for them! Look at the voting records...you'll decide on Hillary. Obama needs more time based on my own research. He'll get there some day but Hillary has my vote today!

    Hillary '08
    Obama '16

    January 18, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  22. Rick, El Paso, Texas

    For those who continue to bash Obama shame on you. You are ill informed. Look at the issues, really look at them. Obama is a decent man who is our best hope for real change in this country. When compared to both Clinton and Edwards he has demonstrated the best judgement. You have to give him credit for not supporting this country going into Iraq. The others went along with Bush and you know what that has meant over the past 5 years. Obama is a passionate leader, he gives us hope for a brighter tomorrow.

    January 18, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  23. Tom, Boston MA

    hey, concerned citizen, you write:

    "Why have some guys refused to grow up? Is it a crime to state that your opposition has good ideas? No wonder the politics of old will sell for long because people hate the truth. For me, I will rather have the truth anyday even when it hurts."

    if your opposition has a better ideas than your team, what makes it your opposition? if your ideas and your opposition's ideas are interchangeable, what's the point of having you and your opposition as if they were two choices? much too complicated for you to grasp? you better be concerned, very concerned, about the future of this country even if you have no clue about what you're concerned....

    January 18, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  24. Steve, Chappaqua, N.Y.

    It's a shame that people have become so entrenched in party politics, I wouldn't care if this guy was a republican, an independent, or from the dinner party. He's the most interesting, inspiring, and intelligent politician I've seen in my lifetime. I hope he makes it, but I have my doubts. There are too many closed minded people in this country.

    January 19, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  25. PulSamsara

    Barack Obama is 100% Correct.

    Who are the defenders of the status quo ? Is that you ?
    Reagan did spawn a 'sea change' in American politics.
    Obama hopes to spawn a new 'sea change'. Change based on the ideals of unity – not division (and certainly not modeled after Reagan's ideas)
    How can anyone look at the state of modern politics and the outlook for our country guided by our current stautus quo – how can this 'sea change' of unified working government not make sense.
    Anyone who has paid any attention knows what Obama is speaking of about the Republican Party being guided by 'ideas' for the past 15 years... you don't have to subscribe to those ideas but they are, none the less, ideas. The same could be said of the Democratic party of the late 50's and into the 60's – Kennedy Idealism. Both of these movements ran their course and were watered down by time. That explains the state of the Democratic Party in the 70's and 80's. It also explains the 'washed out' state of the Republican Party today.
    - Why do 'we' resent being talked to as if we had the capacity for knowledge. That is how Barack Obama is speaking to America... as if 'we can' understand. Why would we sell ourselves short and believe that we are past our zenith... that we are a declining people. Come on people... Now is the time to show some strength of character.

    Hillary Clinton should do her part in making the Democratic Party a party of ideas again. She can start by voting for Barack Obama in November.

    Barack Obama for President of the UNITED States of America.

    January 19, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
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