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. JohnB

    Once again Hillary using her cheap tactics to attack Obama.
    She is very desperate, she will say or do anything for the White House.

    February 18, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Jim Luttrall

    I like good unbiased Political coverage and I really don't like Hillary, BUT Your coverage of the Clinton't is so blatantly biased, I am starting to like her. I think Jack is trying to get noticed by FOX News the way he goes after her.
    I do have to admit that CNN is still the Fairest of all but drifting badly.

    February 18, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. GO Hillary!

    i live in pennsylvania and I'M VOTING FOR THE BEST CANDIDATE.... where CNN, FOX, or any other channel whose biased baloney coverage of OBAMApreaching seems like WE SHOULD HAVE HOPE,
    we need a candidate that's proven.

    Hillary O8

    February 18, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. j.j

    Wolf, this part of the country is still a mistry to a lot of Americans including myself.
    Your right on the money about both parties could of held debates in New Orlens this would have really helped our country understand why this part of the country is so vital. Why if one city can fall into forgotten disarray it could be a domino affect to all Americans city in there time of need! j.j

    February 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Mike Bailey

    Good commentary on the New Orleans issue Wolf. Out of sight and out of mind has defined a good deal of the ongoing tragedy in New Orleans.

    Just a quick thought about the latest flap or nonsense about borrowing lines from another's speech or policy ideas. Why do all candidates have paid speechwriters? This would be a great issue for CNN to cover in depth. The great speeches of the past were generally not the candidates or politicians words. The majority came from skilled wordsmiths who were paid to write speeches. Peggy Noonan wrote some great stuff for Reagan. Pat Buchanan was a paid writer for Nixon. Bill Clinton and George Bush haave had paid political sppech writers. The candidate or politician never has a disclaimer about the speech being written by someone else. The ymjust give it and get the credit for someone elses words. The same thing paid policy advisors. The Clinton camp would have you believe that Hillary has been locked up in a room for months at time coming up with new a great policy ideas. As you and I know, this is not the case. Policy analysts put together most of the major policy ideas that come out of campaings. I believe this topic would be most instructive to the general public and let them have an understanding about what goes on behind the scenes in campaigns. The speeches Obama gives and the solutions Hillary promotes are in many instances not their own and certainly not something the candidate just thought up while sleeping last night.

    Mike B

    February 18, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. neal

    hillary will never get my vote

    February 18, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. California Boy

    Why is New Orleans more important than some other cities? It all seems to come back down to an attempt to make some problem out of nothing. So what, they choose to hold it somewhere else. New Orleans is not the only city in the US that could use the income from such an event. Half of southern California burns down and we took care of it. We did not loot and commit crimes against the victims and tear down our shelters. Oh yeah, I guess that is the governments fault as well. Blame the administration for the horrible local and state government in place in that state. Seems like people are always looking to place blame elsewhere and make an issue if someone does not fall all over themselves to support their cause. Bah!

    February 18, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Go Hillary

    If Hillary is elected President, she will help New Orleans just like she did New York after 9/11. Louisiana was once her neighbor and very much like the demographical area where Pres. Clinton grew up.

    Obama does not have an original idea of his own, and courts the Republicans...he will have to rely on what the Republicans tell him to know what should be done to help the people in New Orleans and I am afraid it will be more of the same. (meaning nothing will be done).

    Go Hillary! Come on Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. We need your help to elect one smart candidate who takes action!!!!

    Go Hillary!

    February 18, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Midge

    They need to fill NO with dirt, or just flood it. Let the people there get handouts somewhere else. A lot of them are better off then they were before. Other cities have flooded since then, for instance Findlay, Ohio. But people there didn't make a cistern of their shelters and wait for someone to take care of them. We Ohioans are a strong independant people!

    February 18, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Dave

    Hillary is on the ropes and getting dirty. Both Clintons need to be put out to pasture. We have had enough of the Clintons and the Bushes. Golden Valley, Az.

    February 18, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. William F. Kuntz, II, Brooklyn, New York

    At least the NBA showed courage.

    February 18, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. scott c

    Obama is the most honest,and caring person since JFK to run for President. This is a movement that was sparkled by a country that is crying for change in many respect s and Obama is the messager. The Clinton people are the same old rhetoric-she never said the word change until Obama got into the race.

    February 18, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Chris-Seattle

    Earl in Chicago – "Can someone explain to me why it is my responsibility to rebuild a hurricane prone city that is below sea level?
    Was it your responsibility to attack a soveriegn nation looking for Suddam Hussein and WMD? Was it your responsibility for the US government to pull $800 billion (and counting) out of a hat to over-fund the wrong war and under-fund the right war? (Afghan & Pakistan) Isn't Chicago on the northern tip of tornado alley, I guess when mother nature comes along and rips your home off it's foundation and the repair trucks roll in maybe they should say, "why is it our responsibility to fix his home, when he could give a rats but about someone elses"!

    I know it's a hard pill to swallow but, "we are our brothers keepers"!

    February 18, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. vince

    Hi Wolf,

    I was watching one of your reporters this morning sort of implying President Clinton was at fault for taking on an Obama heckler who was screaming Obama over and over during his speech in Ohio. She was sort of implying that when there is a heckler President Clinton should just shut up and leave. Seems to me like an interesting point of view!

    CNN (for Obama) is sounding like FOX NEWS (for Busch). I have no problems with your reporters openly stating they support Obama, but I find it Fox News like to imply the neutrality and come up with reasoning like this.

    President Clinton is allowed to make a speach without an Obama supporter yelling over top of him. Your reporter did not even attempt to make that point!!! She seemed to agree with the heckler!!!

    February 18, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. Luis

    You know, what happened in NO is a tragedy on so many levels, the misfortune of a natural disaster, the debacle of local government and the poor response of federal government. For an incident that started with superb early warning and detection, it quickly fell victim to the lack of steadfast leadership and access to essential resources. Both to which, as of this day, have evaded accountability. If you ask me, there is no better stage from which to declare change!

    February 18, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Jamie

    Obama is a great speaker, no doubt, whether he borrows others lines etc... is a small isue but I think he has been doing that all along. His top phrase of Yes We Can is not his, it is right from the Unions. Great speaker but low and slow on the issues. Obama says 18 debates but in reality there have only been a couple and one specifically that there was one on one. The other debates were soundbites which is of course what he does best. In LA the differences were glaring and Hillary came out clearly on top. Hillary is the smart choice in 08 and gets my vote.

    February 18, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. faye ramsey

    anyone interested in voting democrat should read a book by Edward Klein , "The Truth About Hilliary" before making a decision.

    February 18, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. stacey

    You're a good journalist Wolf but you sound as desparate as Hillary and Bill Clinton!

    February 18, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. William Cooke


    I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the fact that you always mention Ron Paul. Sure, he doesn't have a chance to win, but neither does Huckabee.

    February 18, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. chris from LG IL

    I love how pres. Bush took about 9 days to get down to NO after Hurricane Katrina, but he flew down to Tennessee in a jiffy. What priorities you have, president!

    February 18, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Hannah

    Wolf,honestly please stop your biased coverage of this election.Tell your entire network to stop.You are losing a lot of people's respect very quickly. Are you the least biased of the three networks? Yes but that's not something to be proud of. You are biased nonetheless.

    Your love affair with Obama needs to stop.No wonder, Hillary is losing.
    When a person turns on CNN,all they see is Obama is great and Hillary is terrible.I'm glad that she doesn't complain about the media because it shows that she is STRONG and has been all during her career.We need a president like this.

    Obama has it easy.And you do his dirty work for him by trashing the Clinton campaign so that makes him look like the nice guy.You are truly pathetic and you need to re-evaluate how you deliver the news.

    February 18, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. Bev

    I agree that the bigger question is – why are we not concentrating on a solution for wetland sustainability and the levee issue BEFORE we discuss rebuilding New Orleans? Also, Hillary, hearing the phrase "flip-flop" from you sends shivers through the ranks. We don't want to be reminded of past nasty campaigns!

    February 18, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Tom(Texas)

    Texas for Obama!

    February 18, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. N.Davis

    I am tired of watching Mr. Blitzer provide his Hillary slant. If we wanted to support Hillary anymore than he currently does he would have to change his last name to Clinton. Report the news fair and balanced and I don't mean like the other cable network named after an anmimal.

    February 18, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Paul from Kissimmee

    Charlotte, I agree 100% with you.We had 3 hurricanes in 1 season here in Florida. We didn't sit around and look for someone else to fix our home, clean debris from our yards and streets. What will you give me for free, give it to me now. That's the cry from New Orleans. Weren't they also shooting at the people trying to help them? Oh, that's right, they were just letting out their anger, another example that it's not their fault.

    February 18, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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