February 17th, 2008
06:00 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama jabs Clinton left and right at Wisconsin Dems Dinner

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/17/art.obama0216.ap.jpg caption="Obama and Clinton are locked in a tight battle for Wisconsin."] MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (CNN) -– Although Hillary Clinton delivered a relatively mild speech with largely indirect attacks aimed at her Democratic opponent, Barack Obama's remarks minutes later could easily be labeled far more critical.

Sen. Obama, following Sen. Clinton to the podium Saturday night at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Founders Day Gala, even strayed off his prepared comments to dish out attacks he's recently included on the stump.

The Illinois senator introduced a new line, as well, hitting Sen. Clinton for "just recently" supporting legislation aimed at keeping jobs in the United States that he said he's advocated for years. Obama said the Patriot Employer Act "will reward companies that create good jobs right here in America."

He also accused Clinton, as he has in the past, of participating in the "politics of the moment" by taking certain positions simply because it's campaign season.

"I didn't just start criticizing unfair trade deals like NAFTA and China because I started running for President," Obama said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement, a treaty signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. Obama often points out that Hillary Clinton praised NAFTA during her husband's administration.

Obama served up a small backhanded compliment, saying he "applauds" Clinton's healthcare plan which he said includes some of the same steps he proposed "last spring." Clinton introduced her health care plan in September.

The final portion of Obama's speech was largely ad-libbed with slightly tweaked material from his stump over the last week. It included lines directed at Clinton's recent heightened criticism that Obama is a "talker and not a doer" and that this election is not about "speeches" but "solutions" - a theme Clinton also pushed in her comments at the dinner.

"It's true that speeches don't solve all problems, but what is also true is if we cannot inspire the country to believe again then it doesn't matter how many policies and plans we have," Obama said.

"Don't tell me words don't matter," Obama said, citing the famous lines "I have a dream" and "all men are created equal."

Even though Clinton was his primary opponent focused on in the speech, she wasn't the only one in Obama's crosshairs. He also accused John McCain - widely seen as the likely Republican nominee - of being part of the "failed policies" of President Bush. It's a line he's used repeatedly in recent days.

-CNN Political Producer Chris Welch

soundoff (456 Responses)
  1. Achille Salesh

    Hillary or McCain ? Ok, the blue and the red losers. Right ?

    February 17, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. chikoo


    February 17, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Karl Shipps

    Regardless of how this nomination process comes out, the Democratic Party is going to have to pull together to win against a very impressive Republican candidate in November. Senator McCain is a true American hero and will be difficult to beat. We need to remember the common values that unite Democrats and treat each other with more respect than I've seen above. Obama is right that words matter – it is impossible to read the Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address, FDR's first Inaugural, or the "I Have a Dream" speech without feeling that we have inherited a great opportunity accompanied with great responsibility. Yes, we can.

    February 17, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  4. Kay

    The more I research the candidates plans for our future the more sure i become that HILLARY must be our candidate of choice. Her willingness to continue the battle no matter how hard the struggle indicates to me her sincere dedication and desire to improve the lives of the people of this country. In regard to earlier debates where so many were involved it was difficult to sift out the fluff from the real issues. We could see that some could speak with more clarity than others but the issues couldn't really be analyzed in depth. One on one is another matter and HILLARY has shown me she has experience and knowledge that provides her with the information and direction for getting started as she says, "On day one !" Maybe Obama can do better on the next debate but I think his lack of experience will show through again. HILLARY '08

    February 17, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. ST

    This talk about Clinton and McCain "copying" slogans from Obama is a bit specious especially since the Obama campaign appropriated the "yes, we can" from Cesar Chavez and his labor movement of the 1970s.

    February 18, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  6. tryecrot

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

    August 26, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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