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. Grif

    A new frontier, when the land settles..

    Safety first.

    February 18, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Daniel

    Clinton shouldn't waste her time in New Orleans, they'll for sure vote for Obama.

    Hillary has my vote.

    February 18, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Gaylon Barrow

    Wolf, yes New Orleans is suffering for financial and hands on help. This is another failed Bush policy. But, we also need to understand some people like the Obama backers can't stand or understand help when it is offered to them. Take The Super Bowl for instance. It had to be used for emergency sake. What happened there is a good take on you can't help some people. What did they do. Rape and destroy the very building they were given for shelter. This really makes American want to pitch right in there and help, don't it? This is probably THE CHANGE OBAMA keeps talking about. Boy, I'm going to change America. Heaven help us. GO HILLARY WE WILL SHOW HIM THE BUCK STOPS HERE IN TEXAS>

    February 18, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. Mike in Cleveland

    Wolf – Agreed, we're back to ignoring the less fortunate

    February 18, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Neal

    Wolf, you're on the right track here... Excellent location for a debate. however they are too afraid that Barack Obama would electrify the entire nation in one hour... Too bad for the owners and business people, missed money, and lost confidence right ... It's a shame, maybe they'll change...

    February 18, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Earl, Chicago

    Can someone explain to me why it is my responsibility to rebuild a hurricane prone city that is below sea level?

    February 18, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    I can't agree. If the facilities aren't there, why would any rational party leader commit? Reconstruction is a priority to a point, but until the Corps of Engineers can certify that the levee protection will withstand another Katrina (and they can't), it is foolhardy in the extreme to reconstruct much of anything in a city which lies below sea level.

    February 18, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Thimbletack

    Well Wolf we wouldnt want to remind anyone how bad the response was now would we?

    February 18, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. ben

    As always, Wolf, you are the best anchor on TV

    February 18, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. California Independent

    This is incredibly disappointing. The people in these parties are hypocrites. They claim to want to solve real problems when they continue to deny them. Bringing people back, bringing revenues in, focusing attention on people who need help... would have demonstrated that there was real concern about moving in a new direction.

    I guess it's just the same old 'middle finger' to the people. Sad.

    February 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. Trev

    This is the best non-partisan statement I have heard in awhile. Every so often, Wolf surprises me.

    February 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. Shane

    Wolf having the debates in Neworleans wouldnt of showed they cared for the people of new orleans one bit. You know what would of happened if the debates were held in the BIG easy? Hillary clinton, Obama, Mccain aor whoever else would of spent 2 or 3 minutes talking about how we need to rebuild and how they wont forget new orleans and that would of been it. Its all empty rhetoric. If they really want to show they care how bout going down there and helping to rebuild homes. Or donate some of your millions!

    February 18, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. TheLeftNut

    They could still capture the spirit of a New Orleans debate if they hold it in a FEMA trailer.

    February 18, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. k.s. allin

    Hillary has used most of obama's phrases in Texas, including the phrase from greenwood, sc and the phrases which uses the word hope, and the latino phrase obama uses and the audience repeats.

    February 18, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Malachi

    I believe the time has come for states like Ohio and Texas and Pennsylvania to shock Hillary and vote for Obama. This will unify the demacratic party leading into the Demacratic Convention and allow the potential questions of what to do the Florida and Michagan delegates. I believe that the two states should be held accountable for what they did and the superdelegates should make the final call if necessary. I believe that America is tired of the division Hillary Clinton brings to the party racially and gender wise. Barack has the ability to bring the party together and win in November. If Hillary becomes the nominee there will be a split within the party and we all lose. Bill is acting like he has lossed his mind on the campaign trail and he is doing it on behalf of Hillary. Does that exhibit true leadership. Hillary has never balanced a budget and if addressing her financial campaign needs is that way she will run the country, that is unexceptable. Talk about experience who's exhibiting leadership now. This shows lack of vision and how she doesn't know how to pick proper advisors. Sounds like good old Georgee Bush. I don't think so Hillary too much is at stake for you to mess up.

    February 18, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Bubba

    With gangs murdering folks in NO every week, it was a great move not to hold a debate there. It's a matter of security for those involved.

    February 18, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. ZZTop1960

    Does this reflect an insensitivity to the people of NO, or does it demonstrates that neither party wish to be asked hard questions about why wasn't anything done significant from the federal gov to help this region?

    February 18, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Sandra Scholl

    Words DO matter, especially if they are authentic, as are Obama's. Unlike Clinton, his method of delivery is not caustic. His words are not glove-fitted to match each crowd either. He has shown himself to be the most genuine and respectful candidate in the Democratic race. Obama has my vote!

    February 18, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Katie

    May we please have a debate between the remaining 3 contenders for the Republican nomination before the March 4th primaries? There are thousands of us who have yet to vote and we would like to see and hear John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul voice their stances on issues at least one time in a public debate format before voting March 4th. This is vital because it will give the three remaining candidates the chance to go in depth on specific issues, something we have not yet seen. There is still a great chance that this will go to a brokered convention, and we voters would like to hear where these candidates stand and also see their responses and reactions in order for us to be able to make a well-informed decision when voting. Since you, CNN, are not in the business of choosing Presidents, but are rather one of the most well-regarded sources of reporting the news that occurs in the world today, please be an unbiased leader also in providing this final debate for the Republican candidates before March 4th. Thank you.

    February 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. James

    Obama’s entire speech was almost exactly like Deval’s speech from 2006. Under any other circumstances this is considered plagiarism.

    This is not the change I want.

    HILLARY 2008THE SMART CHOICE!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. Trevor

    Mr Blitzer:
    I am seeing the Clinton camp is jumping all over Obama for using some words from his friend.. she used Obama word all the time without giving him credit. This is showing how desperate the Clinton camp is and The American public should call her out on this.. this cheap shot she cannot winn so they are trying to shoot him in the knee.. shame on the Clinton and her followers they lies and lies now they think they find somethong to stop Obama.... Clinton grow up!

    February 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. Praetorian, Fort Myers, FL

    Both parties fear the "reality" of what is the failure to recover New Orleans from Katrina. Thousands remain homeless, violent crime rate is back to the highest in the nation–there's just not a lot of good happening there.

    Washington doesn't need those negative reminders as they twist, dodge, and fenagle to get the candidates selected.

    A sure sign–no matter who becomes a candidate, no matter which party gets the Presidency in November–the new leaders will be probably as ineffectual as the old ones in obtaining effective recovery and restoration for this devastated city.

    Fitting–they should remain as far away as possible.

    February 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |

    Obama, Clinton camps point to 'borrowed rhetoric'Next article:

    I saw an article over a week ago using the same comment.

    I agree with Obama, it is a common answer to those thoughts.

    February 18, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Shirlee Connors Carlson

    Yes, Mr. Blitzer, I agree an historic moment was trashed. But the greatest historic moment that is being trashed everyday is the Hillary bashing and the hail mary full of grace being bestowed on Obama.
    When someone is lifted by the media to this level, and put up there on the side of the angels, and then on to the cross, the next step is historically the crucifixion.
    Every time a hero is invented there will be a bad aftermath. If the media would report the news instead of opinions and stop inciting the public, this race might settle into some issues.
    As long as the media hails Obama as the blessed redeemer, it is going to be a bad outcome. Say you heard it here first. I have studied enough history and its heroes to make a prediction, based on past
    circumstances and events. I do like you reporting. If I wasn't so busy I would have a crush on you. lol

    February 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Charlotte

    Wolf, Why can't or won't the people of New Orleans at least attempt ot clean up the debris piled up all over the place? I say, get a shovel and a broom and start cleaning up you town instead of waiting for the next hand out!

    February 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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