February 21st, 2008
07:47 PM ET
15 years ago

Schneider: Clinton has a harder task than Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/21/art.debate1.cnn.jpg caption="The stage is set for tonight's debate."]
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) - The Democratic debate here in Austin, Texas begins in about 15 minutes. The questions remain secret and no one is quite sure what will happen tonight. But one thing is clear: Hillary Clinton has a much tougher task ahead of her than Barack Obama.

Clinton has got to be the candidate of change tonight - she needs to change the race. Obama has won 10 straight contests (11 if you count today's "global primary"), and the momentum is clearly on his side. The pressure is on the New York senator to have a defining moment that changes how voters view her – and how they view Obama.

But can she stop his momentum without harming herself? She clearly needs to draw distinctions with Obama and knock him off stride - without appearing overly negative. That’s because Obama thrives on her negativism - it boosts his argument that he is a different type of politician, the candidate that can change the highly-partisan tone of Washington.

Clinton also needs to get voters to see her in a different light. Bill Clinton has talked recently about his wife's ability to empower people - if she can convey this message tonight, she will likely be well-received. But it’s a tall order.

Obama's task, on the other hand, is easier. He merely needs to avoid a big slip up, and fend off anything Clinton throws at him with a smile while calling her out on her attacks.

He also needs to introduce himself to Texas' Latino electorate. Hispanic voters are expected to play a key role in the state's March 4 primary, and many here still don't really know who he is. They know the Clintons well - and the New York senator is banking on their support to carry her to victory.

But tonight's debate is co-sponsored by Univision, and will be broadcast in Spanish, giving many of these voters their first opportunity to get a long look at Obama. If they warm to him, Clinton is in trouble on March 4.

Let the debate begin!

–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider

soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Lou

    A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say, it just begins to live that day." wrote Emily Dickinson. How true this is! Words are powerful tools, and can be used to do great harm or they can be used to do great good. Either way in the hands of a gifted leader, they should not be used irresponsibly for self-serving purposes.

    "I have a dream…" Martin Luther King, Jr. said, and repeated it several times, until it sank into the soul of every black person present or within hearing distance. "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country," JFK said. "My friends, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," FDR said. Memorable quotations like these are made, not for self-serving reasons, but with outward purposes, attempting to help others or others' situations. Consider motivation. Be careful of flowery words used solely for making an impression or getting back at another person. Measure a person's words with his past and present actions.

    Hilliary Clinton is more decisive, more knowledgeable, more experienced than Obama. She will make the best president. Even though she is surrounded by biases and prejudices and has been since being the first lady, wife of former Pres. Clinton, she can, I'm sure "overcome."

    February 21, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  2. henrie alabama


    February 21, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  3. Joanna Stirt

    Clinton has been working for us all her life.
    are we going to bail out on her now ? she should have the chance
    to show the U.S what she can do . She HAS EARNED THAT !

    February 21, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  4. Daisy from NJ

    Hiliary Clinton represents the past,she is telling the American people
    that she is prepared to be President on day one, she is prepared to continue doing business the same as business has been conducted in the past. Now is the time for change. Obama is an agent of change. Obama can lead the country in a new direction . I feel that Obama has a vision for America that will restore us to the America that we were meant to be. The kind of experience that Hilliary keeps bringing up is the kind of experience that has gotten this country into the predicament that we are in now. America is ready for change!

    February 21, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  5. jd

    The reason her hill to climb is higher is because of these types of analyses. This whole primary season has been guided by the pundits who set up the candidates to answer to the media's view rather than just speak to the people.

    February 21, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  6. Dale - Laredo, Tx

    I think both of the canidates are saying whatever they think the people want to hear. They need to worry about our debt and all the illegals coming across the border and stop giving away the hard working man's money to pay for them to get free medical and everythig else we give them. Clintons and Bush already scred us with NAFTA. Now we have moe Mexican trucks across the border than American truckers.

    February 21, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. Marcella in WA

    Doesn't it bother anyone that we have had a Bush or a Cinton running this country since 1989?

    I personally liked and voted for Bill Clinton, I could care less who a man sleeps with as long as he is doing his job. But nowadays, I feel fed-up and frustrated with our country's political system. Obama's "transparency in government" sounds like just the cure we need to turn this boat around. I am sick of lobbyists and special interest groups running the show. And as a Christian Democrat (yes we exist!) I am ticked at the religious right who have hi-jacked my religion and my country.

    Throw the rascals out...and let's get Obama in there and see what he can do. How can it get worse than it is now?

    February 21, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  8. Reality check

    Clinton has always had a harder task than Obama. As long as the media continues the Big Obama Sale she is going to have a harder time. They have wrapped him in the Care Bear Inc arms, notice how he told them to go ahead and get Hillary's stand on the economy and he would come back to it? It didn't happen. They would have burned her at the stake for making the same comment. They let her lead off to give him his cue. Sooooo sexist is the media! Very apparent tonight. Campbell Brown even shows an attitude toward Clinton.

    February 21, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  9. pat

    Obama sounds just like George W. Bush – and that is really too much!

    February 21, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  10. Tim

    I always knew The Pantsuit was the wrong candidate. The Dems are wising up and choosing Obama, a winning candidate.

    February 21, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. Yvonne

    You go Hillary...you are the most brilliant. Obama scares me.

    February 21, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  12. Paloma

    What an end! Hillary was superb!

    February 21, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  13. PC

    I think both candidates are promoting change. Hillary has been speaking about it for the last 35 years, but no one cares to listen. Obama harks change and has an excellent speech writer and a great marketing image maker in his entourage. She is the best choice, but would do better with Obama's marketing team and unbiased journalists.

    To those people with the nasty comments, I am glad you are not running for president because this language is unacceptable. You have lowered yourselves more than any of the candidates do to each other. Unfortunately Hillary will have a hard run due to narrow minded thinking people like you who promote hostility. I am happy to say that I am not on "your" team!

    February 21, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  14. Ron C

    She really showed what she is made of..!! Can you believe how Obama fumbled with his answers.. Now we all should know that Hilary is the better candidate..!!

    February 21, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  15. John - Spokane, WA

    I think its advantage Hillary, look at it this way; which spot would you rather be in ?

    1. Obama is ahead by 69 delegates but he is going into Texas (he's down by 50% to 45%) Ohio (He's down by 10%), Pennsylvania (He's down by more than two to one) He's down also in VT, RI & most likely KY !!


    2. Hillary is down by 69 delegates but quickly racking up Supers and ahead in the aforementioned States. Id rather be in her spot

    February 21, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Donnie Memphis, TN (DEMOCRATS UNITE)







    NOMINATION, I WILL BACK THEM 1000%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    February 21, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  17. Keith

    It is scary how the media, specically CNN is influencing this election and is failing to provide unbiased information. It is clear how CNN commentors support Obama and almost ALWAYS say negative things about Hilary and Bill. It is also scary how the American public is so brainwashed by the Media's opinion.

    February 21, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  18. Kathleen

    Time for the Bush~Clinton Dynasty's to go away!

    Barack Obama ~ a breath of fresh air that is so needed by this country now, more than ever!

    Obama 08

    February 21, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  19. Kay

    -They keep saying everybody wants universal health care....well I don't want universal health care because I don't want them putting a verichip in my arm. So they can keep it.

    February 21, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  20. Rico Sauve

    If Hillary wins the primary, then I won't vote again. Well, maybe I'll vote for McCain. I would have voted for her four years ago, but now it's time for Obama. He can identify with the immigrant exeperience better than her.

    February 21, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
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