February 1st, 2008
02:50 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Another record-breaking night

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/21/art.wolfdebate.cnn.jpg caption="More than 8 million voters tuned in last night."]NEW YORK (CNN) - I am now back in New York after taking the red-eye from LA. My job may not necessarily be as glamorous as it sounds - but I am not complaining at all.

I was honored to represent CNN at the debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It was historic - the first time we saw a woman and an African-American together on the stage poised to become the Democratic presidential nominee. The excitement at the Kodak Theater was palpable.

Going into the debate, I was a little nervous. I knew millions of people would be watching. And indeed, they were. We now know that a record 8.3 million watched in the United States – more than any other presidential primary debate on cable news ever. The previous record was the 4.9 million who watched our Democratic debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina earlier in January. Many millions more watched the debate on CNNPolitics.com, and on CNN International around the world.

I want to thank my debate partners, Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times and Jeanne Cummings of Politico.com, for joining me in the questioning. When I introduced them last night as excellent journalists, I spoke the truth. I have worked with them over the years covering many stories, and they really are among the best in the business.

Now, we get ready for Super Tuesday. It will be an enormous challenge for those of us in the television news business. But we at CNN have the best political team on television, and I can promise you this – we will be ready for all the action.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (263 Responses)
  1. carmen

    Sen. Obama is the reason behind the large audiences, everywhere in the USA and all over the world. Are you getting the message? He is already changing history, he should be the next president of the USA! Greetings from the Netherlands ( yes, I woke up at 2:00 am to watch the debate and I guess I was not the only one around Europe and the rest of the world, I wouldn't bother to do it for Mrs. Clinton, McCain or any other politician)

    February 1, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  2. Aidyn

    Wolf I been wanting to tell you this since last night, I thouhgt it was disrespected of you to call Senator Clinton "naive", it was uncall for unnecessary.

    I like you but feel you went to far.

    February 1, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  3. Bob in NC

    Good night and good job on both candidates. It was good to see push on both candidates, which results in a great policy debate.

    February 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. Jared

    Yeah Wolf I think you are a shame to political coverage and to CNN I have to watch Fox News also the supposedly most biased network but you are MUCH MUCH MUCH MORE BIASED!!!! How dare you say that to Hillary about her supposedly being naive! YOU my friend do not know what you would have done being pressured by the DOD, CIA and basically being told you're a traitor to your country by the President if you vote no to the war. How dare you insult a boon to our society and a wonderful caring woman such as Hillary!! Shame on you Wolf and by the way, she can advertise what ever the heck she wants, Lord knows you give Obama more than his fair share of attention and just for future posters, NO most definitely, surely not would I advocate this special treatment Obama receives for Hillary or any other candidate for that matter it is unfair no matter who receives the attention. Your analysts always criticize her and praise Obama like he is the Messiah. SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME!!!!!!!

    February 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. chad

    I think this is a great place to share the New York Post's endorsement of Obama. I know Wolf is in NY and it appears that New Yorker's no longer care about national security. The Post endorses Obama while admitting he policy is bad and not one to protect the country. I would like to know from other New Yorker's if national security just doe not matter.

    For all his charisma and his eloquence, the rookie senator sorely lacks seasoning: Regarding national security, his worldview is beyond naive; America must defend itself against those sworn to destroy the nation.

    His all-things-to-all-people approach to complicated domestic issues also arouses scant confidence. "Change!" for the sake of change does not a credible campaign platform make. But he remains a highly intelligent man, with a strong record as a conciliator.

    And, again, he is not Team Clinton.

    That counts for a very great deal.

    At least Obama has the ability to inspire.

    Again, we don't agree much with Obama on substantive issues.

    But many Democrats will.

    He should be their choice on Tuesday.

    February 1, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. lb thapa

    excellent job.
    i think , both were doing well. wolf -you were focusing to barack slightly more that is not fairness which is concern with you.

    February 1, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Anthony

    My only comment Wolfe is that you (the media) try really hard to find and inject issues when there aren't any. Case in point is when you suggested that Obama was taking a "Swipe" at Hillary or when you stated Hillary was "nieve". I am polling for Obama but like any competition I want it to be fair. Let be sure we report clear, concise, fair and balance journalism.

    Beyond that I thoulg the discussions were important and beneficial. I liked that the candidates have time to spend talking to the issues and allowing appropriate responses where needed. The discussion was not forced and we all benefited from it.


    February 1, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Natalie

    Good for you CNN and congratulations Wolf. However I think that tptb at CNN need to look up the meaning of the word "debate" or better yet attend an actual debate at one of our many prestigious colleges/universites to see how one is suppose to be conducted. Trying to "bait" the candidates into answers or bait them into insulting each other is childish, transparent and oh to beneath CNN just to generate ratings!

    One more thing CNN be careful not to "milk" this for all its worth, I read you have even more "debates" scheduled. Americans have really short attention spans and although there is a lot or excitement now, I would hate it if your endless coverage has the opposite effect...that is of voter fatigue. The last thing we need is the audience starting to burn out, leading them to tune out...to what really matters that is picking a new President.

    February 1, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Luke Goode

    Wolf Blitzer was a disgrace last night by raising the word NAIVE about Hillary. It's the media's spawning hatred for Hillary. It was a LOW BLOW from Wolf.

    February 1, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. Alex

    I agree with Karen....you need to be fair and square to all parties involved. The last two times you've been the moderator....you have failed!!

    February 1, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. Joshi

    Great debate Wolf! i think it was fare debate. u have tried trick both Obama and Hillary. Obama with "inhuman" question and hillary with "naive". but most of the viewer dont know abt hillary calling obama a naive person..i guess our memory is lil short..overall it was good.. But hillary was not answering questions directly and she took more time to answer with some unwanted explanation. But obama was short and crisp and straight on answers unlike clinton.

    February 1, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. andrew

    Hi, Wolf;

    The greatest positive change is not via new programs, but a more fundamental removal of deep-pocket influence ("follow the money").

    Hence, if you have future opportunities with any candidates, please have them explain their proposed steps on:

    i) campaign election funding reform and
    ii )lobbying reform.

    Answers need to be specific in itemizing each change and timeline.

    Thanks much.

    February 1, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  13. Does Your Arm Hurt Yet???

    Wolf is your arm sore from all the patting on your back you're doing?

    You really didn't moderate a debate last night...you wouldn't make Hillary respect time constraints and you let her get away with skirting questions.

    You tried to lead the outcome once or twice...not good. Once you tried to entrap Obama but he recognized your intent. You would ask Obama for a response to one of Hillary's comments, then would throw in another question...then cut him off with less time than Hillary ever had to respond to one question. Obama did extremely well with all those curve balls. Your lead-in with the chivalry thing was very misplaced in light of all these women libers (and I'm a woman). I know it would be hard to shut Hillary up but you should have tried harder or insisted.

    Anderson Cooper or Cafferty would do much better.

    But BOTH CANDIDATES did well...I think Obama put all the Hillary experience rhetoric to bed. Now what will she run on...the fact that she's a woman and Bill Clinton did so well in the 90's?

    February 1, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  14. T in Austin, TX

    You were blatantly biased.

    February 1, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Viktoriya


    I don’t have anything against you personally, but favoring one candidate over another is not good journalism. Today in “situation room” you show non-stop Sen. Obama speech and interview with Michelle Obama. Don’t you think it is too much?

    February 1, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. Charlie

    If Wolf was favoring Obama, he had an unusual way of showing it. By asking Clinton the silly and unfair question about whether she was "naive," he gave her an opening to appear sympathetic and "picked on." The audience in the Kodak Theater immediately took her side on that point, and I expect most viewers did as well. Wolf did Obama no favors by appearing to be mean toward Clinton.

    February 1, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. Liz

    Wow, I thought I was the only one who thought CNN was pushing for Obama ! Obama is being pushed by the Republicans, Big Business, and the mafia. Anything to knock off Clinton before the actual election. Obama won in Iowa because all the Republicans switched over and voted for him in the Democratic caucus. They won't vote for him in the fall ! The Florida primary is really indicative of how people will vote in the fall. No one at CNN is talking about it. Why not?
    I also thought Wolf disrespected Hillary with his comment. I sure it was planned ahead of time. I've started watching MSNBC a lot more lately.

    February 1, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. Pat Olson

    I was wondering while watching the debate last evening why Wolf Blitzer didn't pose the question.

    "What does it feel like sitting next a history lesson?"

    A woman and a black man vying for the presidency of the United States.

    Both representing historically discriminated people. Just drop the gloves for one moment look at each other and smile knowing they are both breaking new political ground.

    And each writing a new chapter in this nations history.

    February 1, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  19. Ronald


    Having written to you about your timidity when interrupting Mrs Bill Clinton in previous debates as she talked on and on and on and on, I want to commend you on your performance last night.
    Last night both candidates were called on their . . . not so much lack of candor, but, less than clear responses. Well done.

    February 1, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  20. ate

    Yesterday's debate is the first one so far that is full of substance of what the candidates plan to do when she/he become president. There were no sniping, finger-pointing not the waste "technicality" discussion like the one between McCain and Romney.

    But I find it rather disturbing when you, Wolf, a moderator who is supposed to stay neutral and guide the debate, SPECIFICALLY tried to pick up a fight between the two candidates by poingting out to Hillary Clinton that " he (Obama) is sniping you"! Thanks god, Hillary Clinton didn't take your bait, and the debate stayed on as a debate of issues instead of personal attacks.

    Wolf, were you trying to increase the viewer numbers of this show by trying this silly tricks, were your trying to create some "news feeder" for you or were you trying to drag down Hillary Clinton to do Obama some kind of favorite? Are there some hidden agenda out there?

    I used to believe media and journalists are supposed to be objective and their job is to inform the viewers what's happening but not push their own opinons down the throat of the viewers or even manupilate the public opinion.

    February 1, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  21. Pat Olson

    I was wondering while watching the debate last evening why Wolf Blitzer didn't pose the question.

    "What does it feel like sitting next to a history lesson?"

    A woman and a black man vying for the presidency of the United States.

    Both representing historically discriminated people.
    Just drop the gloves for one moment look at each other and smile knowing they are both breaking new political ground.

    And each writing a new chapter in this nations history.

    February 1, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Karthik Rao


    As a debate moderator your task is to present the candidates with questions, control the flow of the debate, and to keep responses to a reasonable time limit. You are not, however, required to try and start fights or put words in the mouths of the debaters.

    More than once, you claimed that Obama made a 'swipe' at Hillary, when he was simply stating how he has differed from Hillary in the past. Trying to create a controversy out of nothing does nothing to help voters who are trying to make up their minds. Instead, it just comes across as unprofessional.

    Also, calling Hillary 'naive' was absolutely unnecessary, and left me shaking my head at the state of mainstream media in America. Even as an Obama supporter, that jumped out at me as you trying to make a story out of nothing. From now on, please just do your job, or find someone else who can.

    February 1, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. john

    Come on you whimps If hillary can't take Wolf's meagre jibes how the hell will she manage the White House

    February 1, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. ShaneP


    You modorated a fair debate. Yes, there was a barb at Hillary for her vote on the war, but I think she did a great job of explaing her position and most of the country's at the time. I think watching Colin Powell testify in front of the United Nations was a seminal moment in politics and convinced alot of good hearted American to believe in the Bush Administration.

    What is clear now is that we need someone as decisive as Bush has been on conservative issues pushing back to balance the country...Hillary has the knowledge and experience to make that happen. I wish We had Gore, or Kerry as Presidents...think how progressive a nation we could have been! Hillary is controversial and devisive to alot of democrats and I for one do not thing that is a bad thing. Its time we as democrats stand up for the America we want just as republicans, who might i add have had greater sucess!

    February 1, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. Shree Shrestha

    It was a great debate. But you really wished the fight between Obama and Clinton. Clinton did not take your bet. On Iraq war your question to Clinton was not the fair one. And you failed to press Obama on his stance on Iraq war. As you know there were lot of people who were against the war but voted yes for the resolution. Obama was not even in the Senate at the time. So his stance on the Iraq war does not carry the water. If Obama was in the Senate he could have voted yes or he could have voted 'PRESENT'.

    February 1, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
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