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. Julian Sanchez

    There are two people that need to go, Clinton and Blitzer!

    February 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Trevor

    The Clinton will say and do anything to get elected

    February 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. David Siegel

    To add insult to injury, the Commission cravenly cited the inability of New Orleans to meet their logistical requirements when in fact we have already hosted much more complex events wit great success.

    One of the great stories of the recovery from Katrina has been the many private sector initiatives whcih have helped bring us back. These range from very high profile like the NBA, NFL (remember Monday Night Football to start the 2006 season) to thousands of volunteers from churches, universities, visiting conventioneers, and individual retirees.

    Not only did government at all levels fail in the pre-Katrina preparations and immediate response, it continues to lag. For example, funds to rebuild damaged and destroyed firehouses were not available until earlier this year, 28 months after the storm.

    We still have much work ahead, but New Orleans is open for business.

    February 18, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Fernandez

    not another debate with you moderating. The NBA suits you better

    February 18, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Sean

    Not only should the Democrats have insisited that New Orleans should be host to a presidential debate, Hillary should have campaigned in New Orleans during their state primary. What does it say when the 'inevitable' nominee of the Democrat Party won't even acknowledge or affirm the pain and the progress of the Big Easy?

    Obama went to Tulane and gave a speech that offers specifics on the recovery he would lead as president from the federal level. We are still waiting on Hillary to give hers.

    February 18, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Katie, Madisonville, TN

    It's a pity. A debate in New Orleans surely would remind people that the Lower Ninth Ward is still a shambles, that tourism still is nowhere near back to normal–It may look pretty to you, Wolf, but it's still a wreck of its former grand and gaudy self.

    February 18, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. KB

    What do some of these posts have to do with New Orleans??

    Anyway, Wolf, I agree totally with your point. Being a native New Orleanian it's difficult to understand why both parties are neglecting arguably the one of the most historic cities in the United States.

    It's not a good sign as Americans to turn their backs on their own....

    February 18, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Dianne in Texas

    Superdelegates should only be used as a tiebreaker. Any other reason for their existence is absolutely undemocratic.

    "We the people" are voting and expect to be counted.

    February 18, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Janet White

    I would love another one on one debate ASAP – pick the issue and let them have at it once a week. There are more than ten states to go. Unfortunately, Obama likes pretty words more than he likes to study how to get anything done. Enjoy the rhetoric on both sides. It won't tell you a thing about what they will actually do.

    February 18, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. annette G

    Our country is presently going through a trying time right now. Our next president has to be ready to tackle the mess from this outgoing administration. From listening to Obama, i do not get the sense that he is ready for this job..Offcourse he is energetic, good-looking and gives a great speech but it is not enough. Echoing the word "change" does not translate into real action otherwise it's just a buzz word for the moment. One cannot affect change without the necessay experince. Hillary will make real change and a better president...I am convince of this. It is time for a woman to rule!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. Richard Wise

    I can understand the Republicans not wanting to go to New Orleans, that's where the Bush Administration really showed it's incompitence. But, it was the Democrats who really dropped the ball. All of their issues are there in one spot: the effects of a broken enviroment, broken political structure, lack of good medical care, the effects of poor education, the poor being left behind, and a Repubican Mayor not backed by a Republican President.

    February 18, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Anthony Chikwadze

    If you borrow words to effectively communicate whats wrong with that ?
    The Clintons should also find other sources to borrow from.

    February 18, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Brian

    Can the republicans actually show their face in NEW ORLEANS? I doubt it.

    February 18, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Wolf, As important as this topic is, I feel I have to write to you about your lead story today on the Situation Room. How can you let yourself be so easily manipulated by the Clinton smear campaign. They make these charges, and now you are going to repeat them every hour on the hour, and give Obama a brief spot near the end of the piece. Please. Journalists are supposed to do more than repeat the spin and dirt of the political campaigns. Does Senator Clinton write her own speeches? Has she ever borrowed lines? What about input from her husband? Are you really going to keep running this smear campaign for them on the eve of the Tuesday primaries? Kevin, Illinois

    February 18, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Susan Goldbeck

    I do not understand why CNN stays away at the debates from the hot button issue of what do do with the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Isreal , the wall, Hezbolah bombings of Isreal and other questions regarding this very important contraversy. Instead the same issues are covered over and over again.
    Since Clinton has major support from pro-Isreal lobbyists and has kept a very low profile on this issue, I think this should be included in the next debate as it will be an issue where there is a real difference between Clinton and Obama. I believe this running sore between these two countries contributes mightily to the instability in the middle east and we need a president who will be able to work with both sides and try to reach some type of agreement. . Susan Goldbeck

    February 18, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. DMR

    I think most of the words in question are in the public domain and with permission and advice from a senior adviser,Deval Patrick, Barak Obama used these words . That everyone who is interested now knows about these words and how they were originally used by the authors, suggests that words do matter and have an effect. I think that is the point Barak Obama is making.
    Do words matter or don't they Senator Clinton?
    Obama has my vote!!

    February 18, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. wesley

    I too spent my vacation in new orlean during the summer of 2007 and I was surprise based on media reports. New Orleans in back and the country needs to help with the 9th ward.


    February 18, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Veronica

    "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.

    February 18, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. TruthBeTold

    We don't need a preacher, we need a PRESIDENT!


    February 18, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Ella

    there is no need to attack wolf for his opinions.Wolf always tries to be fair in my opinion
    he has to report the news but it is sad this IS the news
    Clinton is getting desperate
    I have heard her use Obamas words
    lets face it all candidates refer to others words when speaking
    Everyone out there uses Martin Luther Kings words all the time as well
    as John Kennedy
    Americans should not be swayed for something as trivial as this
    its grasping at straws plain and simple out of desperation
    I think they are smarter than this

    February 18, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Just fed Up with the Clintons

    Hillary should focus on how she can expect the American people to trust her leadership in balancing our economy, ending the war, creating and ensuring "EVERY" American has affordable healthcare, creating more jobs, etc, etc... When she can't even provide sufficient leadership with her own campaign, she can't show great leadership to inspire her own campaign staff, the American people, her own husband, who is a loose cannon!

    Hillary should really understand that this race is not about a women or an african american, this race should be about, who has the skills to get the job done... she doesn't!!!

    February 18, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Mick

    Wolf, Stop please stop pluging for Obama..leave Hillary alone PLEASE

    February 18, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Linda Smith

    If CNN wants to have any credibility, they will stop being Hillary's messenger for her dirt slinging. I want to see as much coverage of the court date Thursday, Feb. 21 on campaign fraud. If you don't post this, it will only validate that you are biased and not really a NEWS source, but a political blog to display dirt for the Clintons to sling.

    February 18, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. June Washburn

    I truly believe the media is the one that inspires voters to vote and for whom. Maybe this is the name of the game. However, It is important to be fair to each candidate. The media has made Obama a hero! Maybe he is our savior but to date I am not convinced!

    I am a registered Republican, I shall not vote Republican. I am disenchanted with the Republican party in more ways than one. I do not like the tatics they use in campaigns. Their tatics are no more honest than the party has projected to its citizens during the last 7 plus years.

    Plus, give Hillary a break! I frankly am tired of hearing how great Obama is and the new Washington he is going to bring to the country. So, wonderful if it can be accomplished!! I surely would like to see him have more experience before running for President of the United States.
    It would be nice to hear some of the nice things HIllary stands for and what she can do for this country. She, too, has a direction that seems to be a great change for the country. . Certainly her husband left the country and its citizens a more prosperous country than George W. Bush will leave the country!

    As far as I am concerned, McCain is more of the same . . .

    February 18, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Christiane

    Please dont forget New Orleans! Its not too late to make a Debate there! It would give the People Hope! It hurts alot to see the Pictures how it looks now. Its a Shame. The Government should do something.
    I hope Mr. Obama wins and rebuild New Orleans!

    February 18, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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