February 29th, 2008
03:59 PM ET
12 years ago

Blitzer: Can Obama withstand GOP assault?

 Obama would face a tough general election race.

Obama would face a tough general election race.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama doesn't even have the Democratic nomination, and yet questions are already swirling over whether he could withstand the fierce assault he certainly would face from the Republicans in a general election. Whatever criticism he confronted during the Democratic primaries would likely be child’s play compared to what’s coming up.

That fear was reinforced by the front-page story in The New York Times entitled “For Obama, Taste of What a Long Battle Holds.” Adam Nagourney writes that Republican “opposition research” is gearing up for a battle against Obama. The suggestion is that they will use material from Obama’s past that Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates avoided.

“Some cases are simple let’s-go-to-the-video moments, like Mr. Obama’s statements that he would support giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens or would support raising taxes to shore up Social Security, lines of attack that Republicans are already employing,” Nagourney writes. Other material could be more explosive.

“He regularly goes out there and says he’s the person who can beat John McCain,” chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn is quoted as saying. “But the truth is, if he is ever in a general election, a lot of positions he took in 2003 and 2004 will come back to haunt him in a big way and a lot of the vetting that didn’t happen will happen. The independent and Republican support that he has had will evaporate really quickly.”

Clinton's camp is convinced that she could withstand a Republican assault in a general election campaign better than Obama. They have often pointed out that she has a lot more experience in this area – given the battles she’s faced over the years. Her supporters are especially anxious right now that voters in Texas and Ohio appreciate what could be in store for Obama before making up their minds. And that’s the case for the Superdelegates as well.

- Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. pat

    Obama is the best thing that happen to the GOP.

    Obama against MaCain in a general election, is gong to be fun.

    February 29, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    As a side note: Maybe Obama will get lucky and McCain's campaign will be all about Obama too!!

    I don't understand why Clinton and McCain haven't figured out that their campaigns do not benefit from trying to make people dislike and distrust Obama. Maybe they should focus on themselves.

    February 29, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. William Davis

    It all depends if the conservatives will fund McCains campaign. The bottom line however, will be fruitless by the republicans because, the Bush administration indirectly fueled this new movement and the Obama supporters chose him as their motivating speaker. At the end it will be evident that the more the conservatives spend, it will certainly hurt them for the next 12 years.

    Unless they can change their entire Philosophy of politics they are going to be in trouble, no matter how much cash they put out.

    Thanks. Wolfe.

    February 29, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. Mimi


    Obama doesn't stand a chance against McCain.

    February 29, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Kevin

    Obama will withstand the GOP with dignified statesmanship, something Hillary sorely lacks. What is she going to do, whine the Republicans into submission? Complain about being asked the first question? Get real...for all her experience, she's amateur.

    February 29, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. midge from ohio

    He won't be able to take the heat. That is why a lot of Republicans in Texas are voting for him, then in Nov. they will vote for McCain. They know McCain will chew Obama up and spit him out but Hillary can hold her own against McCain. I don't think she is afraid of anybody...

    February 29, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  7. Jenna

    No, he cannot. He has made big mistakes on his first exchange with McCain. Iraq and Alqueda are no joke, his game with words is fizzling out.. So what's he going to do now, pull the troops or keep them there now that he is aware of the terrorist base in Iraq. Will he take a crash course called Iraq 101?


    February 29, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Rowena

    Of course he can. Hillary's Rovian scare tactics aren't working any more. Shame on CNN for perpetuating them.

    February 29, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. Mike

    McCain will be carrying the baggage and legacy of Geeorge W. Bush around with him during this campaign. That will be more than enought to keep him busy and up at night trying to present a positive and workable message to the American public. Obama will probably stand up fine whenever the shadow of the last 8 years continuously haunts the McCain Team.


    February 29, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Scott in Boston

    I think there's been a slight shift over the past 48 hours from Obama to Hillary. It seems as though the big question, "who is better qualifed to handle the job on day one?" is giving people pause. If that's truly the case and not just a feeling, then Hillary wins Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and the nomination. That's my bet.

    February 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  11. Darth Vadik, CA

    If he can trounce the Clintons, he wil wipe the floor with the GOP.

    February 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. Stephen

    He is nothing but an amateur, an Obamateur if you will

    February 29, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. Corinna

    Yes, listening to many in the GOP I have noticed they don't have a real understanding about why so many people are willing to believe in Barack Obama.

    February 29, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Cameron

    So the mere possibility that Obama might have a skeleton in the closet we haven't found yet is evidence he isn't electable, compared to Hillary who has so many skeletons that the Republicans won't even have to work very hard?

    February 29, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. Go Obama

    The question should be phrased, "Can the GOP answer to everything Obama will throw at them?"
    I have no doubt in my mind that the American people are ready for Change We Can Believe In!!!

    February 29, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. steve

    Post my comments CNN

    February 29, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. hawkeyy

    barack will bury the republican pundits...this fom a life long republican...well almost

    February 29, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Austin, Texas

    Some of you people are a bit oblivious to the actual facts.

    Fact: McCain pulls from Independent/right wing Democrats.
    Fact: Obama pulls from same pool
    Fact: McCain will bring out Obama's liberalism which will sway the independent/right wing Democrats to McCain's vote.
    Fact: A majority of Clinton supporters will back McCain due to experience being their top idea in choosing a president. They will not vote for Obama based on his inexperience.
    Fact: McCain will eat Obama up on his foreign affairs policies. The meetings and his outlook on Iraq will be frowned upon.
    Fact: McCain will snatch a large amount of latino vote from the once Clinton supported Demographic.

    Noone takes into account these things. They look at the polls and say O He'll do just fine. Obama will not convert the red states, and will not turn the swing states (like Florida who probably won't even show up to vote for him due to the DNC voiding their votes in the primary).

    Obama will lose the General Election. Obama Supporters just don't want to understand that.

    February 29, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Nope. The Repellicans will make him wish he had stayed at Harvard Law or U Chicago on the faculty. He is not a litigator and too much of a lightweight to take the heat.

    February 29, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. scott c

    Don't these guys get it. Obama is as cool as a cucumber and has a vision for tomorrow. He will play ball with the Repulicans and win because he doesn,t have 20 years of fat cat living in Washington like Mccain. OBAMA is a heavy favorite because he is positive,fresh,smart,and can bring people together in a calming and trusting way.Mccain represents the same "old" under the table policy that we as average Americans can not stand anymore-we have had it!!!!-let's take a clean warm shower to wash away the dirt.

    February 29, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. Martin (Bolivia)

    Who knows what fresh skeletons will be found in Hillary's closet. We could judge better if she released her tax return and her White House files that she claims (falsely as it appears) the WH is withholding. Why so cagey. Transparency is harder to attack.

    Come out, Hillary, show everybody what you've got.

    February 29, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. Mark V.

    Hillary, ifnominated, will not have a chance "to withstand" the Repubican attacks. That battle is already over. The Republicans hate her so much they don't have to make a lot of effort to paint her in the worst light. All the talk about Obama's vulnerability is just talk, based on speculations.

    February 29, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. JohnS

    I do not get this–

    If Obama can win so much over Hillary, beat Hillary at her game, how can Hillary be better than Obama in facing any Republican?

    I guess this is just another way of exciting the bloggers.

    I endorse Stacey Cleark's comments above. If you did not read it, please do so.

    February 29, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. JohnS

    Meet me in Texas! Meet me in Ohio!!

    I thought these 2 states have been the firewalls for Hillary and her supporters. So, what is going on here, I just don't get it?

    The way people with "common sense" sees this, you can cry, yell, and scream all you can, if Hillary does not WIN these 2 states with large numbers (I mean very large numbers), this thing is over.

    So, Hillary supporters need to be careful not to destroy the Dem enthusiam any further. Any tool of attack by a Dem will later be used by the Republicans.

    February 29, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. glhf

    Ironically Hillary's attacks in New Hamsphire gave a cover on Obama's most extreme positions. He'll be able to withstand the GOP attacks but only because the voters will be confused by them when they are the complete opposite of Hillary's. So yes he will.

    February 29, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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