February 18th, 2008
02:50 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: A 'historic opportunity was missed'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/18/art.wolf2006.cnn.jpg caption="Blitzer: New Orleans should have been chosen to host a presidential debate."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - It’s really pretty sad that the Commission on Presidential Debates - both its Democratic and Republican leaders - decided New Orleans wasn’t yet ready to host one of three scheduled presidential debates between the party conventions at the end of the summer and the November 4 election.

A debate there would have sent a powerful message to the people of the city and to the country that the political leadership cares and remains deeply committed to its reconstruction.

When the commission made its decision a few weeks ago, I assumed that New Orleans wasn’t yet ready for prime time. But having spent the last few days there, I can now say New Orleans is more than ready. It just did a fabulous job hosting the NBA All-Star Game and related weekend activities.

The business leaders and people of the city did a really solid job welcoming thousands of NBA owners, executives, advertisers, and fans. The hotels were first-rate. Transportation around the city - to and from the various events including the big game - was smooth.

Indeed, it was a lot smoother than last year in Las Vegas. I remember the monumental traffic jams in Atlanta a few years ago when it took forever to get to the actual game. In contrast, New Orleans worked.

I spent some time Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge with the new and popular Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, who was understandably very upset that the presidential debate commission had snubbed New Orleans. So were a lot of other folks in his state. It’s a pity that this historic opportunity was missed.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. sandi

    I have had it with the tacky comments of who said what...and as long as the media keeps highlighting it...stupid things get attention. First, Obama borrowed something...right or wrong...it was borrowed and it is over. Let me guess, Hillary has NEVER borrowed stuff...FROM OBAMA...give me a break...desperation is starting to show.

    And give Michelle a break...how many speeches does she make a day...and how many of those are picked over with a fine tooth comb. Let me guess...YOU HAVE NEVER SAID SOMETHING WRONG....give me a break.............

    EVERYONE get over it and stick to the issues........

    February 18, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. JILL




    February 18, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  3. Ryan Johnson of MI

    I really think the focus should not be on restoring one city during the presidential elections. Are we not trying to repair an entire nation. I also think as many have stated, if the people's will is not expressed in the "democratic" candidate nomination, the country will view this election just as the Gore vs Bush election. Voter turnout for sure will never be as epic as this primary, ever again. Why are we trying to decide who will be a stronger candidate, isn't that what the popular vote is supposed to express? Shame on democrats for shear hypocrisies.

    February 18, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. Free Man

    New Orleans as a debate site:

    That would have been a great place to underscore what is substance and what is side-entertainment in this election.

    The current issue over copying words is side entertainment.

    "Imitation is the best form of flattery". It is great that Obama used his campaign to repeat great lines that other Americans and people abroad can repeat. It is great that other candidates are also using "change" and " we can" because it reflects that they get what Americans are wanting to happen.

    A campaign season filled with billion dollars worth of ads and spins that focus on great lines will build self-respect among Americans and international respect from abroad. Imagine 8 or 9 more months of this campaign season that will only spend billions of dollars in ads and spins that are based on "win at all cost" principle.
    Sheesh! Geez! as young people would say.

    Weighing "change you can believe" and "ready from day 1"

    Senator Clinton has experienced 2 presidential campaigns and thus far, she is not demonstrating that she was ready on day 1 and is now employing "win at all cost" tactics. It reminds one of college where diligence pays of when test contents are predictable. Diligence is not adequate when professors give tests that contain tricky questions or surprise questions. In such cases, quick thinking and judgment are needed to apply knowledge to unexpected situations.

    About experience, the Clintons' first experience at DC politics was when Bill Clinton became president. Before that, they only knew Arkansas politics and in fact, President Clinton's book describe the zoo-like atmosphere of those first few years in DC. Senator McCain and Senator Obama have experience in DC because both are senators. Both will therefore not be as discombobulated as the Clintons were if and when one of them become the president of the US.

    February 18, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. Vivienne


    I am a resident in South West Louisiana. I agree with you that New Orleans should not have been dismissed as a viable sight for the debates. I think that it is important for all of our citizens to realize that Louisiana was hit by two hurricanes; Katrina and Rita. Both of those storm systems reaped an unimaginable havoc on the citizens of this state. Like many citizens of SW Louisiana we look to ourselves to try and understand what is wrong with us before we start pointing our fingers at others. This leads me to look at Louisiana and question what is wrong with its citizenry and government. Louisiana is a fairly oil rich state (coastal). What upsets me is that a disproportionate share of our oil revenue goes to the federal government – which is distributed amongst all the other 49 states in some form or fashion. Louisiana citizens should be organizing and marching and raising hell so that in a time of need Louisiana isn’t made to look like a bunch of no count beggars. It's pitiful. We are good people with some bad circumstances. In fact, Louisiana is a mineral rich state; one of the last ones in the union. I hate to compare Louisiana to some African countries in that we have so much in the way of resources and the potential to be a prosperous state but, we are surrounded by a bunch of crooked politicians in state and out of state. Thugs in suits and dresses. Thugs that hurt our chances to be truly prosperous. They are embedded in every layer and at every level. Louisiana is doomed if another raging storm system rallies and moves across and over our fragile state. The country will go into shock at what they will see streaming across their television the next time. Why? The response from FEMA in both events was very telling and very different. For New Orleans, the agency simply and completely failed For SW Louisiana, Fema rolled through our small rural communities and offered help to one neighbor with a missing roof and denied the neighbor across the street with a missing roof. They paid for the accommodations of a family who evacuated outside of the immediate area and denied other families with the exact same circumstances. It really confused the good people in my neck of the woods. Thanks to the FEMA guys, it taught the citizens here that help is discriminatory. Not race, age or gender discrimination; that would be easier to understand. This was something quite different. It was inexplicably unexplainable. I have no doubt that this has made all of us more unsafe when and if another disaster occurs. When you have citizens that have been taught that they will not be helped it makes people with few resources desperate. As I stated in the beginning, you are correct an opportunity was missed. However, I believe that it is worth noting that we have other really nice places that a debate could have been hosted. Why didn’t anyone consider Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport, Alexandria and Lake Charles to name a few? What it comes down to is that nobody really gives flip about our state and its people. We give much and get very little in return.

    February 18, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. Davidson

    Added comment.

    Anyone that would vote for Clinton needs to have their head examined.....please save me, my fellow Americans are really not that shallow, are they??????

    February 18, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. U.S. Army Vet.

    Good idea. To paraphrase Kanye West, the federal government doesn't care about black people.

    February 18, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Thinker

    The Clintons will stop at nothing, there devisiveness brings out the people underline prejudice; Lou Dobb on CNN never have anything good to say about Obama; but, always looking to expose his prejudice; it is evident and he should be aware that people listening to him are intelligent and can "understand" his co-word "rheteric" against all minorities that the Clintons are skillful in trying to explot for polictical purposes.. The afro-american community became very much so aware in this campaign, I hope the hispanic community become aware soon. Brown, Black & White are erasing the divide and the people who profit off that devide are angry.

    February 18, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. geminiani

    If Bill Clinton was the president ,New Orleans should be on its feet right now . He cared and did a lot for the black people . Unfortunately it is all forgotten .

    February 18, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. marge

    Veronica February 18th, 2008 4:27 pm ET

    "Yes we can" — United Farmworkers came up with this. NOT Obama.
    United Farmworkers have endorsed Clinton.

    The ignorance of this electorate just blows my mind!

    Wow!!! Your ignorance 'blows my mind". What difference does it make who came up with the phrase???

    Newsflash....There's nothing new under the sun!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. D

    Wolf- is it possible that the candidates have equal time on your show? CNN for some reason do not provide equal time to the candidates .
    I always noticed Hillary is in favour . CNN is an International news -media outlet and has a good reputation . Please do not send the wrong signal to the viewers.

    February 18, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  12. Keyshon

    Barack isn't ready to run the country. If George wasn't in office, then I would support him. But we need someone who has the experience to put this country back on it's feet! Plus, the propaganda is completely one-sided and totally with Obama. People need to only listen to the debates, and ignore these persuasive reporters! MAKE YOUR OWN OPINION! Stop trying to pick our presidential candidate for us!!!!

    February 18, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. Paul V. Berry Jr.

    I usually disagree with you Wolf on some of your comments BUT:

    The government in any fashion or form (Except Jindel) has seriously left Louisiana and New Orleans to continue to "crawl" on their bellies.

    I'm also, upset that neither HRC, Huckabee, McCain, and OBAMA (alphabetically order) said anything so far on this issue.

    As a past resident of Louisiana, I'm still discerned of 2.5 years and still no change, 30, 000 people in trailers, another 10,000 on the street in tents?

    The streets of Bourbon is remarkable! Tourists is hitting all time high (90% capacity filled?)

    Now, it's time to build apartment, houses, townhomes, establish integrated healthcare system OUTSIDE of the 6 block radius.

    February 18, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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