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. Citizen 60

    16 years of power for the Clinton oligarchy (incl the FOB) is a threat to democracy, no matter how good the first 8 years were. Power over other people renders the most honnest of us corrupt over time... Being a liberal and a democrat, Mrs Clinton should be aware of this. Having spent 8 years in the White House, she cannot ignore the fact that the President of the US does not control alone the policies being implemented in this country. As a matter of fact, powerfull congressmen (and women) play a strong role in this. Her best service to democracy in this country at this point would be through long-term action in the senate where she is.


    January 19, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Chris

    Come on people–the choice is simple–a new way of looking at problems and trying to solve them in new ways or the same old "good vs evil" Clinton-Bush, Carville-Rove way of doing business ,where the process of getting elected is paramount and actually getting anything new done is impossible.
    Billary's time is PAST! Get over it!

    January 19, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. no flipflop

    That's the point. Obama is already campaining for America, not for democrats only, because he is no flip flop. What he is saying today for democrats in the primary he will be saying for the whole america in the future. Flip flopers, give me a break!

    January 19, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. elaine luna

    does anyone remember how bill clinton pardon his friend husband...big campaign contributed...and pardon him...after he cheated the government of millions of dollars in taxes???? this is the clintons... big money and underhanded deals...if they really loved america so much would they being doing crap like this...not even to mention the fact that he lied to the american people..with tears in his eyes...about this. why do if say this about bill??? hillary and bill are a package..they are devious and will do anything to win...even lie. don't forget the pass...these people cannot be trusted...only experience hillary has is that she is deceitful like her husband...she was a good student of bill's/

    January 19, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. JohnT

    Instead of being carried away by fancy rhetoric and impassioned speeches, try making up your own job description for the duties required of the position of President of the US and rank all the candidates, Democrat and Republican, against it. I guarantee that Obama will rank near, if not at, the bottom of the list. We're facing tough and dangerous times, folks. Leave your emotions at the door to your polling place and vote with your brain.

    January 19, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  6. Arshad

    Way to go Senator Obama, to restore trust and confidence of people on the government, Way to go to expose politics of moments and convenience to promote politics that life the hope and aspiration of ordinary citizen.

    Standing up for hope and change does not mean Obama does not have a right to explain why he should be the nominee except other candidate and to defend himself from relenless lies and smears from other campaigns.

    As Abraham Lincoln said, if they don't stop telling lies about us, we have to start telling truth about them. He is telling the truth. We all know it. You may or may not support Obama but you can't not disagree with the substance or content of his argument.

    January 19, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. Tom, Boston MA

    hey, anti-boomer:

    "I'm happy to see that Obama is distinguishing himself from his rivals. That was what I was hoping to see him do in New Hampshire.
    I am also happy he is reaching beyond party lines. As an independent, I have always viewed democrats as whiny finger-pointers, but as s.positive said above, "the problem in this country will take all parties and all americans to solve, not red or blue states, or a particular race or gender, but ALL AMERICANS.."

    you seem to have formed many opinions already. what makes you "independent"? unless no self awareness is a necessary precondition for being an independent, lol.

    January 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. charlotte

    The Senator from Illinois cast a vote of present, rather then a YEA/NEA is that like saying I don't want to get involved. Say what you mean, mean what you say. It's pretty hard to make a wrong vote if you seldom vote. Obamas' voting record is deplorable. How he would have voted on the Irac war, had he been in office at the time would most likely would have been Present. Right or wrong at least vote

    January 19, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  9. Pam

    Well "indie56" I certainly second the motion! Sarge you hit the high points. I would like to remind all of America that if HRC is elected (God forbid) that we will have twenty (20) years and a possible twenty four (24) years of Bush-Clinton, Bush-Clinton.

    Very close to a quarter century of the same rhetoric and no government "of the people by the people". Talk about dynasties. The dishonesty and corruption of the Clintons and the 'One World Government' of the Bush clan.

    Think with your minds and gather the information to be informed of the past and the FUTURE. Perhaps HRC will sell us to China (indentured to pay our national debt) as her Bill sold our nuclear secrets to them.

    Vote with your minds, and remember "White Water", BC's 144 pardons for his co-conspirators, a White House attorney dead in a park, and shredded papers everywhere. CHANGE is necessary for our America to survive.

    One more thing, a question: Hillary will you and Bill return the furniture you stole from the White House when you left?

    January 19, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. k

    I think you're all idiots and need to quit talking about things you don't understand. Obama has made some very good points and god forbid he talk about the color of his skin or god forbid he be unsure about something before he got into politics. Fine. YOU go run for Senate and President and tell what YOU would say and how YOU would act. You don't know, do you? Because you're too busy trashing candidates with your idiot-speak. Fine. But when you're up in front of a million people, trying to convince them that you could be their president, I'd like to see you not change your mind or have a moment of weakness.

    January 19, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. champ

    Guys, if we can analyze the specific phrase that Obama used, we will understand what he meant by saying what he said. Just as homework, we can break in down into to pieces, “trajectory….. in a “way” the both President Nixon and Clinton did not”. Does this help????

    January 19, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Russell

    Stop spreading B.S. Obama is on record as saying he was against the war from the beginning. It is documented and the media has reported this many times. Oh, also, he is not a Muslim, and he did not attend a madrossa (sp). Win with the truth and integrity, or jion the Republican party. Talking about Democratic values, remember who started this Globalization mess? Bill Clinton! maybe all that lobbying paid off? It has taken years to feel the real affect from globalization. But what do we have now? Where is the trade? All we got is a bunch of super rich elite who, profited by, sending factories overseas to sweat shops, child labor, slavery and communist totalitarion laborers with no rights. We have poisoness products and the Chinese are polluting like there is literally No Tomorrow! The Middle class was the economic engine of this country and it is being slowly destroyed by greedy short term riches of cutting costs with virtual slaves who have no rights. What happens when the Middle Class when they have no money to spend. Remember the Depression?

    January 19, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. J. McKinney SW MO

    We all know in our hearts that we need someone with the ability to really CHANGE things, and get things on the right track–not just talk about it. We need Hillary!!! she sure has my vote!

    January 19, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. matchu

    This is his whole point of trying to unify the nation....why cant a democrat praise a republican or a republican praise a democrat. Theres no law stating they cant, and its good that someone wants to work together with dems and repubs to get things working in this country. You people who cry foul and "hes a traitor" are ridiculous. Get over it.

    January 19, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  15. Hispanic Point of view

    How quickly we forget... During the Clintons era, there was a surplus, gas was $ 1 and change, median houses were $100,000 or less depending on where you lived. I don't know how old you are, but I was in my late teens, I and many others got the opportunity for a higher education. The world look up to the leadership of the United States. People today keep saying, "we need to erase the last eight years." so really we all want to go back to the Clinton years...

    Black America, vote for the best candidate, not because of race.. WOMEN, vote for the best candidate, not because of gender...

    January 19, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. Phil Memphis, TN

    So quit talking about political speak from others.Quit being a hypocrite as you avoid the issues by talking about others avoiding the issues. Tell us what you will do to solve the problems the country faces.

    January 19, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Nevada voter...

    CNN is so for Obama it is sickening!!! My remarks are stuck in awaiting moderation limbo and then poof they are gone.....I guess if I say..vote for Obama it will be let through...but if I say VOTE FOR HILLARY...nope I will be stuck in awaiting moderation limbo forever.....CNN change your name to OLN OBAMA LOVERS NETWORK!!!!

    January 19, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. jp/michigan

    What ever Hillary proposes for the economy, the war in Iraq, health care for all and any other issue . Since day one of Obamas campaign he has taken Hillary's ideas and words cross out her name and placed his own . He is one to grab headlines and do little work. He selective takes out of context quotes from speeches and news paper articles of others to pump up his plans for this . country. Uses the young naive American to promote his rock star campaign. I for one don't want Micheal Jackson or Eminem running our country .

    January 19, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. Harrison, NC

    This is NOT a big surprise! Obama can't define his own campaign; therefore, he attempt to define and characterize Hilliary's! What a sad day for the Democratic Party to have a candidate behaving like Obama – SAD for the Democrats!

    Time to characterize Obama as he has been behaving – SLIPPERY OBAMA! It is tough to pin him down on ANY ISSUE! If your issue is "change," he will certainly bring CHANGE! THINK Jimmy Carter! Obama reflects the same mentality, the same rhetoric, the same foolishness, and will produce the SAME RESULTS – CHAOS and DESPAIR! It is time to tell Obama – "Find another career! This one isn't working!"

    January 19, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. David: Charlotte, NC

    Obama referred to the Republican party as the 'party of ideas' and admitted that he really have the necessary skills or interest to be 'an operating officer'. What does he think are the responsibilities of the Office of the President? He must think the job can be performed through some sort of comedy routine. And it isn't surprising that he would refer to the Republican Party as the 'party of ideas'. A recent ad suggests his answer for jobs moving overseas is to provide greater tax incentives for companies to stay. That is in keeping with the Republican idea of corporate welfare – a mainstay of Republican policy. Does anyone really know what she stands for? He is full of hype and feeds on emotionalism. Conversations that I've had with my Democratic colleagues and friends indicate that I am not the only true Democrat who is fed up with his senselessness. If the Democratic Party isn't careful, there will be a large number of us Democrats who will be foreced to vote against Obama if he should win the nomination. Haven't we learned our lesson from the last eight years about electing someone who puts a good face forward but lacks the skills and perseverence to provide real leadership.

    January 19, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. Bimmer

    Anatomy of Obama's Candidacy

    He said: "I took drugs and alcohol. I liked them. But would not recommend them to children."

    He said: : I am disorganized. I ask staff to give papers two seconds before I need because I might lose them."

    He said: " My wife tells me I sitnk."

    No personal discipline.

    And he still has the "audacity of hope" to be the President not of a local club but of the strongest country in the world.

    January 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. JM

    It's scary what the Clintons will do to get back to the White House. They loved Obama few months ago because they really did not think he was going to jeopardize Hillary's chance of winning the nomination. Now they can't stand him because he is a really threat. They are willing to say anything to mud Obama's name. Remember what Hillary said few months ago? “I am going to have a lot of fun in the campaign trail drawing distinction between myself and Obama”. Little did we know then that, she meant Bill and her will say anything to get her elected and enjoy it at the same time. To them this is a game, to the rest of us this is our livelihood. We cannot afford to elect the wrong person this time around. Frankly, Hillary does not offer anything new...just the same old argument, same old tricks. I say vote for Obama if you want to see really change or see a democrat in the White House. Hillary will never win, regardless of what Bill may want you to think. She will never win in the general election and they both know that, but for selfish reasons will not admit it. I don't think we, American people are so stupid to the point that we will let Hillary cry her way to the White House like she did in New Hampshire. That will not work. Nobody is going to pity against the Republican because she no longer offer new ideas but show her emotional side. Ask yourself do you want 4 more years of Republicans in the White House and if the answer to that is YES, then vote for Clinton. If the answer is NO, then vote for Obama or Edwards. One of these guys can win General Election but not Hillary not the way she and Bill have conducted her campaign. They are so desperate it is sad.

    January 19, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. Ted


    January 19, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. Rob

    Thank you Indie56,

    I'm a former Marine and think the SAME way. Unfortunately civilians have a very myopic view of life and think with bias and gossip instead of objective facts. Most Americans never leave their state, let alone the country. And they LOVE sequels. If George W. Bush's name was George W. Smith, he wouldn't have gotten even close to the WH the 1st time. There was NO reason he should have beaten McCain or been close to Al Gore other than stupid American sentimental quasi-nepotism.

    Bill and Hill, regardless of their strengths are prone to drama and petty vindictiveness second only to Bush, Cheney and Karl Rove. Obama has NEVER mentioned all of the Clinton scandals, but the Republicans will. I'm sure there are some scandals left over by Bill Clinton that weren't even mentioned yet. He's not running, but she'll be guilty be association. HRC will be confused on Day One because she won't have someone's plan to copy. I don't know of when she ever had an original thought. Part of me hopes she wins, just so the people can be educated again about how stupid they are.

    January 19, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  25. Jose Card - Independent

    Obama needs to ignore Hillary and concentrates on issues.

    January 19, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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