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. james farkus


    It is simple: their is egg on both parties faces.

    The local Democrats stumbled in the initial management and the Federal folks did not do a great job in the aftermath. The true story of who was at falt was the elections afterwards where all of the Democrats were replaced with republicans up to the governor (except for Nevin staying as mayor).

    CNN did not report those facts though.

    February 18, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. J

    You're wrong on this one. Just ask all the "relocated" citizens of New Orleans who own property there. Their properties have not been touched since Katrina dismantled them 3 years ago. Homes STILL lie in ruin with no economic solutions for the displaced electorate therein.

    ...Again another example of American journalism forgetting about the thousands of African-American citizens who's lives have been destroyed, not by Katrina, but by a society and government who continues to look the other way.

    Next time go into the ruins and ask yourself the question if New Orleans is ready for a debate. The historic opportunity was for you to report about how the lives of displaced citizens of the city will never be the same. New Orleans STILL looks like a a nuclear bomb exploded in it......Oh, I forgot...you didn't go to that part of town because there's no electricity for you to charge your lap top.

    ....or do do those people matter to you at all?

    February 18, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA

    Hey, what about a debate in Florida or Michigan? Get it?

    February 18, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Steve C - Atlanta, GA

    So true Wolf – a real missed opportunity. Maybe we can have a general election debate in New Orleans between Obama and McCain!

    February 18, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Rory

    Finally, someone is listening. New Orleans did not get it because they did not work for it, except to say, "remember Katrina" and "us poor folks". The problem here is not the political parties, the problem is with the leadership of a city that has been swimming in self pity since Katrina. Enough already, when are you going to stop the self pity, waiting around for help and "HELP YOURSELVES".

    February 18, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. Rosie Texas

    June and Jim claim to be (one unbiased and one a republican) why don't they just come out and say that they're really democrats and that they want to sway republicans to vote for hillary. It's not gonna happen, if anything, disenchanted republicans will vote for Obama! He has run a very intelligent campaign and has not sunk to Hillary's level, of name calling, lies and fabrication (political tactics). I truly hope that voters across America can see that Barack Obama is the best choice for President of The United States. Hillary and her husband have had more than enough time to make "Changes" and deliver on the promises they make, but what have they really done? Nothing. GO OBAMA!

    February 18, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. Monique Powell

    Every day, the Clintons and their acolytes come up with one or more disgraceful tricks in an attempt to derail Obama's campaign. This is "deja vu" and these offensive tactics remind us so much of Carl Rove's dirty tricks with which I believe the majority of the public is disgusted. If Hillary is so experienced, why has she not been able to easily convince a larger number of voters regarding her capabilities and her charm. It would be very refreshing to see Hillary persuade us that she has the best ideas, and that she is more likeable. Also, would the next four years with Hillary in the White House be once again a tug-of-war as during Bill Clinton's presidency and/or a repeat of the divisive and disastrous Bush era?

    February 18, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. KS

    Hey Earl in Chicago, I'll tell you why it is your "responsibility" to rebuild New Orleans (not that you are really doing anything, other than paying taxes I hope). Southeast Louisiana, anchored by the port of New Orleans and thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines, serves as the hub from which thirty percent of the United States' oil and gas production is transported to the rest of the country, including, yes, Chicago. In addition, coastal Louisiana is home to the second-largest fisheries industry in the United States, behind Alaska. These two industries are protected by what skeletal wetlands remain, and by the fragile system of levees which is currently being rebuilt. So, Earl, as our country moves away from a dependence on foreign oil, would you rather another hurricane devastate our energy supply? Would you like to pay 7 dollars for a gallon of gas to get to your job in Chicago, Earl? Would you like to pay twenty dollars for a catfish filet after south Louisiana is left stranded, and its billion dollar fisheries industry destroyed, Earl? Oh, let's not forget the human and social capital of this region, either. Let's not forget that south Louisiana, a region which faces the reality of hurricanes annually, is home to over 2 million people. These people, all of them, rely on wetlands (which must be replenished) and levees (which must be built stronger) to actually live sustainably. Oh, and lastly, but possibly least important to Earl, is the value we should place on culture in the United States. Do we want all of our cities and our towns to turn into strip malls and fast food hubs? Or do we want to preserve the cultural treasures we have left. Do we want to preserve the great American city that is New Orleans? For its 400 years of history, music, food, and spirit, I will go out on a limb and say that our country should preserve this city. We are comin back, hear that loud and clear.

    New Orleans

    February 18, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. David

    EXCELLENT article Mr Wolfe....MORE need to stand up and be accountable for New Orleans and the state of Louisana, TODAY...not tomorrow or next week or next year but NOW.

    It's really a shame all these comments and they have nothing to do with your article.

    February 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. In Moderation again

    Why not have it in Baghdad or Fallujah. It is safer than New Orleans.
    And show what real hardship is all about.

    February 18, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. adams

    Good point wolf.

    Wolf I am really concerned about Obamas ubserd lack of experience.

    Just a few months ago Obama made a diplomatic disaster, when he

    stated the U.S. should bomb the hostile tribes in northern

    Pakistan,infuriating Pakistans President who is risking his life to help U.S. interests in the region

    for those who dont know (and perhaps Obama?) Paklistan is a

    Nuclear armed allie. Also first strike is in violation of international law.

    We all know we need a heavy weight like Hillary to take back our dear America.

    Vote to win think!

    February 18, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Wolf is the only fair voice in CNN

    We like to read Wolf wrritings on the web or on the air. He is the only fair news achor in CNN who not sided with any one candidate, only stating the fact.

    February 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Pat Mesmer

    Obama's comments on words were a direct result of Clinton's saying words don't matter. I do not consider Obama as plagiarizing by quoting Martin Luther King or Franklin Roosevelt and I think you all are making much too much out of this. So what if Patrick said first that words matter – he was also quoting King, Roosevelt, and Lincoln If I had been responding to Clinton, I would have quoted the same people. They are from three of the most famous speeches in American history . And the most inspirational.

    February 18, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Barb

    it is very sad about new orleans, bush is the only one to blame for
    it still being in the fix it's in.
    and it seems there must be a lot of pressure comeing from
    somewhere on cnn about their reporting, to spin so much in
    obama's favor.
    obama can dig the clintons in his speeches and get away with it
    but everytime bill or hillary open there mouth cnn is all over it!!!!!
    i say turn bill and hillary both loose on him and see if he can handle
    it, in my opinion he showed in the beginning of all this that he can't!
    it makes me sick to watch him act like JFK and MLK, when he really
    isn't old enough to remember them, but i do and i seem to remember
    bill and hillary doing all that marching not obama.
    a lot of thanks they get huh?
    and jack should be benched not carville and bagala

    February 18, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Susan

    I think Hillary Clinton should not be attacking character of an opponent lest it should start us remembering the less than moral character in the 8 years of the previous Clinton administration. I would much rather have Michelle Obama's influence in the White House than Bill Clinton's. The Obamas are sincere, honest people. Sharing ideas of a friend does not phase me, if that's as bad as it gets! It just makes the Clintons look desperate. Her attacks are petty and do not show the high moral character which we need in the White House.

    February 18, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Daniel

    It seem to me some of Hillery supporters has brought into fear, could it be ? that they fear change, Maybe there brains have been frozen to the old politics not able to know what's bad for them and this country and don't know it. The positive is Always better than the negative. That's why Sen. Obama has my vote. I guess that;s why the positive is alway slow for the few.

    February 18, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Brian

    It was a poor decision but to the guy who used this forum as an attempt to diss Obama and state that New Orleans did not deserve the debate because they have voted for Obama? Grow up.

    February 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Carrie

    Wolf, there should be a Presidental Debate in New Orleans. It would put a spotlight on the city thats is still in distress and ruin. Hopefully, it will wake-up people.

    Obama 08!

    February 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. John


    At Thursday night's debate, can you please ask the candidates: Of the executive powers expanded under President Bush, which powers would you immediately cede back to Congress on your first day in office?

    February 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Based on a true story

    "the act of division leaves less hands and eyes on achieiving the ultimate goal."

    Curtis L. Madison

    February 18, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. Based on a true story

    'Negative words about others are generally open widows of our souls own personal convictions"

    Curtis L. Madison

    February 18, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. Susan

    As a life long resident of New Orleans, I thank you Mr. Blitzer for the nice message about our town. I would invite any one of the people who have left messages in response to your article– those with both positive and negative messages– to come down to New Orleans for a long weekend sometime this spring...only then, will they be able to understand the wonderful treasure we have here. A bad day in New Orleans is better than a good day in many many other places.

    February 18, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Vig

    When New Orleans cleans up their epidemic of crime then maybe they would deserve to host the debate.

    February 18, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. CHERYL



    OPRAH DOESN'T EITHER!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. Based on a true story

    "words are the ammo of the mind, and the mouth is the chamber."

    Curtis L. Madison

    February 18, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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