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. Jake, California

    Obama for president....

    Take Nevada Boy, and Clinton will be severely crippled cuz she sure can't win South Carolina.

    January 19, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  2. Bethany, St. Louis MO

    GO OBAMA!!

    oh, hey, veronica...remember the time Hillary worked for Barry Goldwater....one of the biggest, strongest Republicans who didn't support the civil rights act....Clinton most certainly CAN and WILL be accused of not being a Democrat!

    January 19, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  3. Curtis

    I am an undecided but I must say Clinton fans strike me as incredibly immature. They defend what she says and her stances no matter what, I mean clearly some of these tactics she's been taking lately are causing a lot of division and controversy which is what she needs trailing in the polls. Are Clinton supporters turning a blind eye because they want what they are comfortable with, or are their brains simply bought and sold by the democratic party?

    January 19, 2008 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  4. c martin

    I think many people who comment read the first paragraph of any reporter....hear drive by media and then makes comments on this thing. Wake up and start getting your information then just what someone wants to read and hear it. Get the facts about Obama. Go find what he said about Reagon....(nowhere did he say Praises to him) Really listen to what our Former President ( candidate too) and Hillary and say.....wow we really need them back in the White House....maybe she can cry again...oooops she is doing it, but talking thru it.

    Obama 08

    January 19, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  5. John Wood

    Do we still remember once up a time there was a "hope" and "uniter" Obama?

    Anyone still can meaningfully talk about his "movement"?

    I am sure he can unite some republicans and Hillary haters to become one-day democrats to vote for him Jan 19, and can divide his own democratic party even more effeciently.

    January 19, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  6. Jay

    The man says it like it is. Why do people want to repeat the last twenty years over and over again. Like a mouse that goes for the cheese and gets zapped instead. For some reason we just don't seem to want to learn and just keep getting zapped.

    For the last twenty years.... Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush. If you keep doing the same thing over and over and it doesn't work then you have to change what you are doing.

    This man is a different path, one that can unite us as a nation again but only if we are smart and brave enough to realize it.

    S, WI you are so naive, the Dem's are already divided between the young free thinking generation and the Clinton "Romantics" who think they are going to resurrect the 90's. It's a pipe dream the 90's are never coming back and Hillary sure enough is not going to get us there.

    The party became divided back in '04 when we had the chance to boot Bush, but Clinton would not endorse John Kerry because of her own selfish desires for power.

    She put her own greed for the presidency before what was best for the country. If she sold us out in '04 she will do it again.

    January 19, 2008 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  7. JohnS

    Unfortunalety, some "idiots" who write that all that Obama says is "change" and "hope" are completely out of touch with the positions of the different candidates.

    Take as an example, Obama called for immediate "rebate" in his "ECONOMIC policy, not yet read by such idiots. Well, what did Hillary and President Bush say recently, both said EXACTLY what Obama had articulated in his response to the current economic crises. Go, read the facts!!!

    Of course, we continue to "day dream" that Hillary is Bill Clinton and that she, and only she can bring back the economic successes of the past.

    Well, what about this logic: Bill Clinton is Bill; he will certainly engage more Interns in the White House as a "stay home" husband. Why should we expect Bill to change? Why should we hope that Hillary will no longer anger Republicans and Independents? "Hope" and "change" are the keys to what we would like to be; not the same old dynasty roles while expecting "different results."

    January 19, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  8. Alma

    The truth is that if Hillary happens to make another "guts" decision wrong, she can send us to another terrible war, this time with Iran, which she has already agreed with President Bush. So, sometimes reasoning and patience is needed rather than action, and so far , we do not know that she has it. The war in Iraq that she supported has caused thousands of dead people, and by supporting the republican government, she is also responsible for those deaths. Doing and acting due to impatience is rarely the right choice for leading a country.

    January 19, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  9. DJ

    With less than 10 hours to go before the Nevada caucus. I have this great vision. I might be wrong but I see this happening. Obama is going to win Nevada, it’s not going to be because of the powerful union, although that will help. It’s going to be a win because Independents and republicans’ are going to cross party lines which will tilt this in Osama’s favor. It is same day registration and too many people dislike here than like her. I know Hilary might be winning among old school democrats, but the independent factor and the republications might give Obama the edge he needs. I feel this is my heart. I might be wrong but I give it a 99.9% chance. I being study politics here lately and I think I might got this one right. Let's hope and pray I'm Right.

    This message is being posted at 3.11 am Est. Jan 19,2008

    Also Note, most polls only focus likely democrat votes, not the other parties.

    January 19, 2008 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  10. nophonycandidates

    Hillary seems to have forgotten that Ronald Reagan was one of her favorite candidates. Taken from a press release on her website:

    "But no president can do it alone. She must break recent tradition, cast cronyism aside and fill her cabinet with the best people, not only the best Democrats, but the best Republicans as well.. We’re confident she will do that. Her list of favorite presidents – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, George H.W. Bush and Reagan – demonstrates how she thinks. As expected, Bill Clinton was also included on the aforementioned list."

    What a phony! She even likes Bush #1. She will now accuse Obama of stealing her idea. Spin this one Hillary!

    January 19, 2008 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  11. Donne

    "365 days multiply by 35 years are not enough to ending her impatience to bringing change or what" ?

    Thank you Obama, The woman has been very boastful and never have any touch of what it takes to answering real questions at any time. she took American people for granted but believe you me She has lost.

    Nevada people are not low key people and they are intelligent. Clinton has undermined people"s ability for so long and as such she has got lost as the aftermath of her strategy.

    She is being impatient to changing America. Oti.o, What have she been doing in her 35years of doing it?

    Please Clinton"s, Are 365 days multiply by 35 years not enough time for your impatience to bring up change? So 4 years are bigger than 35 years to bringing up change in your own eyes? Stop cheating Americans.

    You and Bob Johnson failed to identified that this is not black peoples issues , it is American issues. So what? Whether you place Bob J any where the deal has been done and he shall no longer been seem in American story but seem as one that has slave mentality.A man that refused to believe that American and indeed Americans can bring up changes.

    Bob and his so- called Black leaders who are supporting Clinton are out of touch with the realities. That Senators and congress men and women serving since 1974 and beyond endorsed Obama means that they understand the American problems , they are in need of a problem solver and not a political speaker..Therefore if such giants accepted Obama to lead who are they so-called, Bob and co"s.

    365 days multiply by 35 years are more than enough for one to come out and tell they American peoples that her biggest weaknesses is Impatience to changing American. Dreamers never see the change even if they the have change in their hands.

    YES WE CAN; YES WE CAN; YES WE CAN. Obama , God is with you.

    January 19, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  12. lani, GA

    Americans are no longer interested in pandering, divisive politics! They want straight answers, even when it hurts. We can do more as Senator Obama said to improve our energy crisis just by starting to conserve in your homes and communities. Now isn't that a brilliant, yet simple idea. Americans rallying around a common cause. Too bad, the status quo candidates haven't come up with that idea in the past 5 years, or even last year! The status quo candidates are more concerned about keeping power, serving special interest groups' agenda, and doing just enough for the middle class to brag they've done something. Go Figure that logic from a "DO NOTHING CONGRESS".

    It's time to elect the next President of the U.S. who will bring Americans together, who will serve the American people in honesty and integrity, who is with sound judgement and intelligence, yet genuine compassionate in solving both domestics and international ills for a better world.

    Obama is the next President of the U. S.

    January 19, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  13. Malcom

    It's always great to read the blogs of people who are caught up in Obama mania. The man has no political trail to follow, often voting present in the state legislature when important bills were being discussed and who goes on and on about change. Well Mr. Obama- talk is cheap. Leave it at the door. What myself and all Americans want are results. And the Democratic candidate who has proven they can deliver is Hillary Clinton. While in the US Senate, she has kept her head down, her mouth shut and ears open and has gotten important legislation passed that has benefitted the citizens of New York State, her constituency. Even Republicans have repeatedly commented, that they have been inpressed with her hard work and ability to reach accross party lines when it matter. I don't care if the President can impress me by the way he/she talks, what I care about are results. As an African-American, I think Obama is naive and un-seasoned and should not be supported simply because we want to see America's first black president. All black Americans need to open their eyes and vote on the issues, not skin tone. If Obama is elected, we will have 4 years of impressive speeches, but not much else. What is needed is someone who knows how to work with and work within the system and that is Hillary Clinton. Come back in 8 years Obama and perhaps then you will have more than air to back up your lofty speeches.

    January 19, 2008 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  14. concern citizen

    it is sad to see America about selecting another George W Bush-Obama. Another 4 yrs of on job training and figuring out what is he going to do. ask yourself what do we need to change that Obama keeps saying that. I kept hearing change, but I dont know what kind of change he is going to change. as we know- many job outsourcing, high unemployment, high debts, housing crisis, high gas price, high college tuition and many other issues that we have to face. just forget about the bs of politic, just make your decision based on who is the best to fix these challenges ahead. To me I believe Hillary is the best candidate because of her past experience and exposure to these challeges before. China, India, Russia,Japan, and South Korea economic and technology are on the rise, and we are here to worry about that Republicans and Democrats congress are not talking or getting along. How pathetic! go and vote and select someone that you think have better idea solving the issues that i mentioned above eventhough you dont agree with that canditate on something. thanks for readng

    January 19, 2008 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  15. CeeJay

    Why is CNN behaving like the Russian commentator that shamelessly supports one person openly against the other when its supposed to be neutral publicly.Shame on you Wolf Blitzer.Shame on CNN.

    January 19, 2008 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  16. Smillie

    He IS better than the rest of the Democrats.

    January 19, 2008 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  17. Angela

    Obama is just too vague about his "HOPE" and "CHANGE". If you get right down to it, all the candidates NOW and even in the past have advocated HOPE and CHANGE in some way .
    He's like a fortune cookie that says: "Your life will change". Wow, how profound!
    Vague , empty and no specifics..

    He thinks he is standing on that platform as something new he brought to the Presidential race.

    But it's really just the same old tired, worn out feel-good slogans from the past. Just re packaged. He is NOT original.

    I can't, for the life of me, see the appeal of this guy.
    He is just an ambitious politician trying to get elected.
    Look at his record, he avoided commiting himself to anything so he could later spin it any way he wishes to gain appeal from whoever he happens to be speaking to.
    He's a feel-good fortune cookie with nothing but lovely words.
    Be careful America, we got one of those in the White House right now and look at the mess we're in.

    January 19, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  18. Hope

    So Clinton and her surrogates can say anything and everything but Obama can't say a word without some of you Clinton supporters calling him names? If someone is dividing the country and the democratic party its the Clintons. They want to win so much that they will go anywhere and do anything to be elected. I fear for the day when Hillary Clinton with 55% negative rating becomes the president of USA.

    January 19, 2008 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  19. nonA

    Something regarding Obama that ought to be brought to people's attention.

    He claims to have been opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning, speaking against it in Chicago during the fall of 2002. However, he forgets to mention an interview in 2004. He declined to criticize John Kerry and John Edwards at around the time they were the nominees for President and Vice President, who both voted to authorize war with Iraq. He speaks against the war, but when asked how he would have voted, he says "What would I have done? I don't know."

    The first thing to point out is that he doesn't seem to be all that opposed to the war in this case. He did mention that "from [his] vantage point the case was not made." However, he still didn't bring himself to say that he disagrees with the nominees. It seems as though he doesn't feel as strongly as he claims to be.

    The second and more relevant point is his way of stating his position. Just recently, he criticized Edwards and Clinton for what he called "political speak" which is a bit ironic. In 2004, despite speaking against the war in Iraq since 2002, he insists on not disagreeing with Kerry and Edwards, saying that he wouldn't know how he would vote. So he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning, but if he were Kerry then he wouldn't be so sure. Sounds like "political speak" to me, but then I haven't been drinking the Obama kool-aid.

    The final item I'd like to point out is the nature of the question asked during the latest debate. Specifically, he was asked what his greatest weakness. He would later comment that if he would have given a "political speak" kind of response like Hillary or Edwards, he'd have said that helping old ladies across streets would be his greatest weekness. This comment shows either willful ignorance or a woeful lack of understanding of a simple question. The question asked is perhaps the most basic question asked during an interview. The purpose of the question is to see how a person can use his/her greatest flaw in a positive way. Edwards showed how his strong feelings can be used to remember that voters are real people. Hillary showed how her impatience can be used as motivation to accomplish the goals she has set for herself. Obama simply slipped up and is now trying to focus the attention from his flub to his opponents.

    Another thing to note: when choosing a candidate for President with experience, you want that candidate to have experience at the federal level of governement (Senator or Representative) or at a commanding level of government (Governor). Edwards has 6 years experience, having been a US Senator. Hillary has had 7 years of experience, having been a US Senator since January 3, 2001, as well as the 8 years that can be described as observational or unofficial experience, depending on whether or not you like her. Obama has been a US Senator since January 3, 2005, a mere 3 years of experience at the federal level of government. Odds are that his years as a state senator and a child in Indonesia won't be terribly helpful, but who knows. Indonesia could be the next big thing in the next decade, but somehow I doubt it.

    Contrary to your beliefs, Senator Obama, you are not holier than your opponents. You are perfectly capable of engaging in "political speak" and making mistakes, such as being against military action in Iraq and Iran and yet having no voting record in the US Senate to back up those positions.

    Most importantly, experience in the federal government is not measure of corruption. Unless you are prepared to replace every politician in Washington DC, you should stop claiming experience to be a liability.

    January 19, 2008 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  20. Marshall, San Francisco, CA

    Obama has excellent points. The commentators that have the view that party loyalty trumps good policy positions are in need of a wake up call. If the Democrats ran the country from the left, our economy would spiral. Obama is a pragmatic; it is not about what the party sets as the agenda, but rather what works and what does not. With this outlook, Obama will create a true Democratic majority by bringing moderate independent and republicans into the fold, just as Reagan did with moderate Democrats. For those that want to see Hillary elected, I have to ask why you think revenge politics is good for the country. Doing the exact opposite of the republicans just for the sake that it is not republican is _not_ good for the country.

    January 19, 2008 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  21. Jose F.

    No where did he say GOOD ideas! He said, "the party OF IDEAS"
    [capitalization mine]. Unless you sink and swim with 'half truths', reading comprehension a skeptical and analytical mind, are must have.

    January 19, 2008 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  22. Janice

    Excuse me Jenny but Obama is getting the intelligent voters. It is Hillary that is getting the, as you say, idiot voters. You take your pick, which are you?

    Having stated that, there are only two viable candidates in this contest for the Dem. nomination to me and those two are Obama and Edwards.

    Edwards could possibly pull out a win if the party unites around him.

    Obama could surely win b/c he has broad party support and even cross-over support.

    As for Hillary, she would extremely lucky if she could win. She has no cross-over appeal. The Repubs. hate her; Indeps. just want her gone; And even many Dems, like myself, are planning to vote against her if she is the nominee......

    The plain truth is this: if Dem. care about getting the WH back in 08 then the candidate had better not be Hillary; Otherwise the Repub. will win.

    January 19, 2008 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  23. Maeve

    Just what we don't need...another supremely arrogant guy worming his way into the president's office, claiming to be a "uniter, not a divider" while he attacks and mocks anyone who stands in his way.

    Bush redux, anyone?

    Obama's pomposity is showing...and it's ugly.


    January 19, 2008 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  24. Rus, Whitburn

    Say what you mean and mean what you say – good advise, but in the moment. It's important to stand by principles always, but not ideas. Intelegent people are open to new ideas, and have the ability to learn and move on. It really is a question of judgement and motivation. I think it's is right to point out when new opinions seem to be politically convenient, though it's very hard to think of a politition who's never changed their tune on that basis. But what I like about Obama is that he really seems to do this less than most. It's clear that he never thought the war was a good idea, from the first indications that it may happen. He said this publically, many times. Admittng that he doesn't know how being in the senate may have influenced him is just honest, but I have little doubt that he would have been consistent to his principles had he been there. I want the person making important decisions on my behalf to learn from experience and have ideas that evolve with new information. But a the same time, they must remain consistent on the fundamental questions. I think Obama has. He knows we must continue to move forward. We all know that the republicans, especially Reagan, gained power through promoting new ideas, but they were the wrong ideas. Of course Obama wasn't praising Reagan or the republicans, he was recognising the power of new ideas, and the need to move forward.

    January 19, 2008 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  25. pete

    so, if obama gives the voters the true picture of the clinton machine, there is something wrong with that. His comments are LEGITIMATE criticism on valid points letting voters know what the clintons are about. When that black billionaire endorsed clinton and says obama is "doing something else in the nieghborhood" that is a personal attack unprecendented in politics, and clinton gets away with it. But obama pointing legitimate concerns with the clintons is a "divider of the democratics"? what a silly argument!!!


    January 19, 2008 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
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