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. David McDougal

    Comon Wolf not all Americans feel the say way you do about New Oleans....The government has spent millions of dollars and where are the people. Still in Texas or scatter around the country. They dont deserve a debate or any thing else .

    February 18, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. Steve

    Vote for hope vs. vote for substance.

    I am reminded of the old saying: "Don't buy a pig in a poke".

    Come November, I hope Americans don't end up buying a pig in a poke.........

    The media's job is to help voters make an informed choice, not turn the elections into a Reality show or some personality show.

    February 18, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. ELaine in California

    New Orleans is rarely if ever mentioned from either candidate when giving victory speeches and or debating. For once I agree with Wolf that NO was a historic opportunity missed.

    With regards to the candidates, at this point, they are close to the finish line, and elbows are flying. What I'm most surprised by is why many are saying that Obama is being hailed as a Saint, when he was clearly the underdog at the beginning of this race. Now that he has shown momentum, and running a more successful campaign than expected, many are saying the media is being soft on Obama. Well truth be told, he hasn't bashed the Clinton Campaign, he has been consistent with him message, like it or not, and he's playing by moral rules. If he doesn't get the nomination and Clinton does, I will probably still vote for the party, but I hope the Clintons will take away something from Obama's campaign strategy, BE READY DAY ONE! ESPECIALLY AFTER SUPER TUESDAY!!

    February 18, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Rick Jordan

    And CNN is going to miss another potentially historic event by canceling the February 28th Republican debate that was to occur in Ohio (in conjunction with the Ohio Republican Party). I called the Ohio Republican Party, and they said they wanted to have the debate, but that CNN backed-out / canceled it after the Super Tuesday results came in, and some Democrats refused to appear (my understanding is CNN insisted on back to back debates, with Democrats and Republicans on the same night. So, no Dem debate, no Repub debate). It's a shame, as millions of Republicans would like to know how the presumptive nominee, John McCain, would do in a head to head debate with Mike Huckabee. CNN is missing out too, it seems. Just imagine having the exclusive scoop on one of the most anticipated debate showdowns. McCain and Huckabee would have to articulate their positions, without sharing the stage with a buch of other nominees. Would the meeting stay as cordial as previous meetings have been? I'm guessing not. Mike Huckabee shines in debate, and he would come hungry, since this would be his best shot at besting McCain publicly. And Huckabee is smooth. And McCain would have to try to hit Huckabee on his record, potentially influencing the conservative base he says he wants to bring into the fold. But what is McCain were to seriously stumble during such a debate? What is he lost his temper, or made some major misstatement that Huckabee could pounce upon? What if Huckabee messed-up? It could change the complexion of the entire race! I've seen a petition floating around on the Internet , asking that the debate go on as scheduled. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens...

    February 18, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  5. Lin

    I guess Hillary will have to debate McCain somewhere else but when she's pres. she'll put N.Orleans back on the map, just watch

    February 18, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. Vannessa Frazier

    I believe Hillary should realize that the spin she and her husband are using (including race baiting) is used up. I love both of them, when he messed up in Washington, he asked for forgiveness, as a people we forgave him, most of his own didn't. Some hate them both, people connected to the white house died during their tenure. The skeletons in the closet are many, Some former staff are still afraid of them. Sure, a lot was done under them, but BILL was president, not Hillary.
    This is a pity party support for the turmoil she endured throughout his tenure, tell the women who died that (Domestic Abuse) somebody that really endured something to the bitter end. Her speeches are not geniune. Great speeches come from the heart, some people don't know that. They both have had over 30 years to do some good for this country. Where are we now. She has been a Senator for 8 years, look where we are at. Although they are not in the white house, they have connections to get things done. What really gets me is that she states" She was on the foreign committee and "sat there" time after time and watched them move the jobs over seas. Why didn't she tell her constiuents what was going on when it was going on.

    Words mean alot more than what you say. They also carry the message of what was not said. IF you don't have the message anymore accept it and unite the party.

    February 18, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  7. ric

    My fellow Democrats, regardless of your favourite candidate please support the party nominee in November. Do it for the country. Otherwise Karl Rove and Bush will continue to be major players in the White House.

    February 18, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Michelle

    Hillary and Bill have created their bad relationship with the press for years.

    Let them reap what they have sowed.

    February 18, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  9. TaJuan

    I think this is silly of the Clinton campaign to accuse Obama of stealing well known quotes. Ask her where the phrase, "It Takes A Village" come from...not her. It is an African proverb.

    February 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. vl

    Wolf, for once an unbiased report from you... GREAT JOB!

    Too bad there are so many boneheads using this post to voice their opinions on the candidates, especially the candidate that can't speak a sentence without a teleprompter or and extended um........, ah.......

    February 18, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. Rachel

    Mr.Blitzer, I am tired you keep pushing this this story about Obama lifting a portion of his friend speech...are you looking for ratings....the last time when hillary cried and you keep playing, it over and over again....because of people like you thats why she won in NH.
    Stop this pls!

    February 18, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. Terry

    It's a shame that a primary debate wasn't held in New Orleans – how about a presidential debate instead?

    So many volunteer efforts could be given publicity, from Brad Pitt's home-building project to the musicians like the NO-native pianist and the famous jazzmen.

    Tell you what, tho' – ScienceDebate2008.com is trying to get them to agree to a debate on April 18 in Philadelphia, ahead of the Pennsylvania primary. By the looks of it, Hillary and Barack are both sending their reps to various sponsor events, and getting out the word that Science is cool again.

    February 18, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. Pat

    I think the press is making too much out of Obama's speech on words. Obama's comments were a direct result of Clinton's saying that words don't matter. It doesn't make any difference who used the quotes by Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Franklin Roosevelt first. They are three of the most famous speeches in American history and they do prove words matter and that is what Obama was pointing out.

    February 18, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. Sean

    Well Wolf I live in the caribbean.CNN was my favourite channel but after seeing how you and Jack and the other so called "best political team on television" have conducted yourselves during this campaign i feel sick to the stomach.
    Your bias to Obama ia so overwhelming that it borders on worship. You are there to report developments not make them, to inform people not choose for them, to be fair not biased.
    CNN has lost credibility in my eyes and to be honest although i cannot stomach FOX they actually make more sense than you guys sometimes. You have disected, evicerated and poisoned the Clinton campaign and all that they stand for while to this day not one hard question or "negative" report has been made on Obama.
    I will live to hear your voices in the future if Obama becomes President and do hope that you continue to sing the same old salvation song you now sing.

    February 18, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. WI for Hillary

    I agree with the previous statements. Why is it my responsibility to pay for the clean up and rebuilding of this city-below-sea-level, any more than I already have through taxes? Why are they still waiting for another handout? Where is Mr. Nagin – off blaming everyone else?

    Also, WI does not want a preacher for president. You say Hillary changes her message for her crowd? No she does not. But, Obama changes his speech pattern depending on whether he needs to sound black or not, or if he needs to sound somewhere in-between. Give me a break.

    Hillary has our votes!!!

    February 18, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  16. Gene

    This is absolutely ridiculous! Clintons have nothing else to say or add in their campaign trail only, but negative attacks. So what! If Obama borrowed statement. Politicians always borrow lines from other politicians. John McCain did it last week when he said 'I'M FIRED UP READY TO GO" Hillary did the same in New Hampshire when she said "I FOUND MY OWN VOICE" AND YES WE CAN" Hillary and Bill 're hypocrisy.

    February 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Grif

    To get back to the other Blog, that has been closed.

    I said weeks ago, that Obama was just another Hard-drive in any coputer, that has been progamed, and the Kids become an extension of that same program. You can go back? I care about what happens after this Election____ If Obama isn't elected.....

    You have to watch the Body Language, and then the words, that could come from anywhere..............

    February 18, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. Julie, Binghamton, NY

    Wolf, I know what could send a powerful message. Americans should donate their refund checks to Habitat for Humanity specifically to re-build houses in the city of New Orleans!

    February 18, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Cindy in Boston

    "I FOUND MY OWN VOICE" ....that was borrowed Hillary, shame on you hypocrisy..

    February 18, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  20. Jones in Ohio

    This is absolutely ridiculous! Clintons have nothing else to say or add in their campaign trail only, but negative attacks. So what! If Obama borrowed statement. Politicians always borrow lines from other politicians. John McCain did it last week when he said 'I'M FIRED UP READY TO GO" Hillary did the same in New Hampshire when she said "I FOUND MY OWN VOICE" AND YES WE CAN" Hillary and Bill 're hypocrisy.

    February 18, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  21. Joe

    Yes of course, it was Bush's fault. It was his fault it rained on my pinic the other day, and the day I had a flat tire, when the liquor store was out of my favorite beer, that one really hurt,. I got a headache the other day, you guessed it, Bush's fault. I could go on and on, but I'm getting a pain in my A–, I mean behind and you know who's fault it is anyway.

    February 18, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  22. Keith Tozier

    Wolf, we have a candidate that we thought gave great speeches and hope. It is disgusting to know that he stole the same from others. Obama looks like another politician making empty promises. I have to agree Clinton atleast gets the work done. I have decided to vote for Hillary.

    February 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  23. Rob

    Hillary cannot win in November, Obama can. Simple as that. All that matters is to get the current wretched incompetents out!

    February 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  24. RC from VA

    hey Wolf how much have you donated to the OBAMA campaigne?

    February 18, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  25. Mike

    I love how Blitzer inteviews the govenor of Wisconsin today to bash Hillary then after the interview says "and we will talk to a hillary supporter tommroow" Great....pump Obama up the day before the primary then talk to Clinton supporters once the polls close....that's blalanced. Keep up the great work guys...the best political team huh

    February 18, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7