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. Kwaku, CA

    This presuposses that no Democrat can win against the Republicans because of the latter's dirty tactics, nd the medium becomes a willing enabler. What a stupid argument. The American electorate can demnostrate that they're more intelligent than that. Democrats only lose when the electorate becomes dumb and falls for stupid non-issues and fear-mongering, dirty tricks from Republicans. Have a mind and think for yourself, people!

    February 29, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. OBAMA 08

    This question by its very nature is biased and a sad reality of the American political system. First, John McCain is extremely vulnerable in a whole host of issues...Can he withstand the attacks?: The media is flaming controversy before it exists because it is good for the bottom line. This is no longer a political campaign about issues, but a reality tv show showing the ugly, divisive side of this country on all levels and shows why Americans are in the state they are in.

    Obama can do something about that; the wide range of support from respected leaders etc shows that, but I fear that the ugliness of America which worries about middle names, who is next in line, wearing a lapel pin...instead of corruption, poverty, corporate greed, the cost of war will prevent that from happening.

    Perhaps we deserve McCain or Clinton!!

    February 29, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  3. John

    Thanks Blitzer for the Ballot bowl and situation rooms full day of continuous advertising for the Clinton campaign. Its about time for some balanced reporting or have your so called best political team joined Hillary's staff. screw you Obama will still win

    February 29, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  4. Janet

    Wolf Wolf Wolf –
    I watch CNN religiously and all I keep hearing everyone say is that "Obama made the right call the first time and voted against the war."
    He wasn't even a senator when the 1st vote to go to war was made, so, he can't say he voted against the war. He never had an opportunity to vote for or against it. So, please let the viewers know this. I think quite a few people think he was in on the initial vote to go to war. I personally don't wish we were there, but we are, and we have to find the best solution. Thanks.
    Janet from LV

    February 29, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. Marla

    It is sad to see the wave taking so many innocent minds. I am a registered Republican who has voted democratic in the last 3 presidential elections. This was based on my research of the candidates and their records, all extensive. As much as I want to continue my dedication to the values and principles of the democratic party, I cannot in good conscience vote for a person who has spent the last decade campaigning, no wonder he is very good at it. He has not made a single significant contribution to the greater good of this country. He has had an opportunity over the last 2 years to make some difference and he has been too busy campaigning. WAKE UP AMERICA! This is not an American Idol contest.

    February 29, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  6. 2Smart4Mediabias

    He is clueless like "W". The media will shine the light on him and it will all be over. No more free rides from the media. All his "advisors" and "followers" will disappear like smoke. I hope Texas and Ohio realize this. Look at how tuff they have been on Hillary and yet she still standing with her head up. Every time BO is attacked he cries and snubs! His reactions are childish. HE COPIES HILLARY'S RESPONSES ON ALL DEBATES. The man has NO plans to do anything. Will they write a speech when it's time to solve problems.

    His response to "What would you do when you enter the Oval Office for the first time? His answer "I would kick my feet up and say WOW!"

    Don't we have that kind of President already?? Arrogant and clueless??

    The media will not choose my President again!!! Anyone with me??

    February 29, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  7. Larry

    Is CNN really just trying to overcome HRC's "the media don't like me" rhetoric? Do you think that the RNC doesn't have a trunk load of material on HRC? All you have to do is go down to the local book store and you'll see a dozen current titles, all going after Hillary or Bill or both. Mark Penn as a source is kind of shady don't you think? Sort of like having Paula Begala always on the air singing her praises.

    February 29, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. CT


    February 29, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. Ed Hershey, San Diego, CA


    You left out the Obama's arguments. Correction, please?

    February 29, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. Darth HUSSEIN Vadik, CA

    If the GOP trully thinks they can beat him,


    February 29, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  11. JD White California

    This time something different and new is what it all about, the new verse the past. This time a change is what we need, we need this time to be about America and Americans. Obama is just that something fresh, new and different.

    February 29, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  12. E. Omega Cantu

    O.K. listening to Mr. Obama, his response to the new Senator Hillary's ad running in Texas was; "The phone has already rung". Well, if it has rung, and therefore she voted to protect us, why didn't he? The information given to so many of the members of Congress and newsroom 'pundits', received the same info. Had she voted against attaching Irag, we should be hearing, the "Why didn't she vote to protect us?" You can't have it both ways, Mr. Obama.

    Therefore, I'm more than sure Senator Hillary Clinton would do the right thing!! That's only one reason I have voted for Senator Clinton.

    February 29, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  13. Interesting

    Yes We Can/Si Se Puede

    Obama/Sebilieus 08

    February 29, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  14. Nancy S -Long Beach, CA

    Yes, the Republicans will throw the kitchen sink at Obama, but if it was only about Obama's performance in the Senate or his decades of experience he would not have even made it this far to speculate on his ability withstand the attacks. I think he's already doing it. Leadership, and the special ability to inspire are major factors in selecting a president. McCain doesn't have it, and Hillary doesn't have it – at least compared to Obama. Barack Obama has a special quality beyond the resume stuff that makes him more able to withstand opposition and negativity for either Democratic or Republicans rivals.

    February 29, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  15. Manuel TX


    It sound like you're voting personality.

    February 29, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  16. Rich Orl, FL

    Simple answer: Yes. Obama will have the American people behind him to withstand the nonsense that the GOP has created over the past eight years. I would add Hillary has similar support.

    February 29, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. Ron Saywack

    I wish to comment on that ad Hillary is running in Texas.

    So, if she is the president and she receives a call at 3 am. What the hell is she insinuating here? Is she expecting the terrorist to give her advance notice of an impending attack so she can then decide to take peemptive action?

    The question is not about receiving that call at 3 am; it is what you do afterward that matters, because, presumably, it will have been too late to prevent anyting by then. Therefore, her last-ditch, desperation fear-mongering tactics won't wash.

    It must also be noted that the 9/11 terrorists were in the country when Bill was president, enrollled in flight schools and planned their evil deeds while Bill remained totally oblivious to it. So, what's her point?

    She showed extremely poor judgment in that October 2002 vote and thus defeats her argument.


    Ron Saywack

    February 29, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. Jill

    you would not expect a 6 year old to be good at calculus
    you cannot expect a 2 year senator to be a good president

    I will vote for McCain if Hilliary doesn't get the nod. sorry guys, but i will not put another inexperienced man in the white house.

    February 29, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. Uncle Sam

    A better question is, can Wolf Blitzer withstand a Clinton defeat.? Will they put him on suicide watch? Will he ever be able to recover? Will he ever be the same??

    February 29, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  20. Matthew

    McCain's biggest worry is the Conservatives. There's not a chance in Hel* that Obama can get those Conservatives. If he's the Democratic front runner, with Nader in the race, the presidential election gets a little worrysome for the Democrats. I like the three front runners right now. McCain, Hillary, and Obama. I feel, though, that Obama doesn't have a chance against McCain. Hillary vs. McCain would be a better fight.

    February 29, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  21. Ben, New York, NY

    Shut up, Wolf. No amount of advertising spending could rival what you've done for Hillary in this election.

    February 29, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. Karen

    I'm not at all concerned about Obama withstanding bullying from McCain. I'm more concerned about Hillary not being able to withstand (that is, IGNORE) taunts and bullying from world leaders and terrorists. It's already clear from her foreign policy stance that she's going to be constantly worried about appearing weak. She's committed to the same old macho arrogant approach to global tension that is making us less safe every day. It's a shame, I had hoped for better from a woman. I'm so proud of Obama's attitude/approach and I hope he'll just let McCain keep displaying his personal obsession with "winning" a war that is a disgrace to our country. There are other ways of showing our support for the people of Iraq that are more focused on them and less on our own national pride. So let's show a little more concern over who can bring out the best in us (Americans) in the eyes of the rest of the world, not who can sling the most mud back at the Republicans. If McCain gets nasty (and he already is), he'll lose the one thing that might draw Clinton-hating non-Republicans to him – a sense of honesty/decency. If he's running against Obama, he's never had access to those votes, so they are already lost.

    February 29, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  23. Pedrito

    Very simple, if Obama is the D/nominee we will vote for Senator McCain in November. Obama is full of himself.


    February 29, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  24. pmac

    Chevy- – -He was born to naturalized American Citizens- –
    It doesn't matter if he was born in an outhouse in the middle of
    the outback- -He is an American Citizen and allowed to run to be
    President of The United States (and lose) Go Dems!!!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. James CA

    Mind you this may be the year of the 'Democrat Machine', we're generating all the money now. McCain has a past full of dirty secrets. Why does no one question the attacks that will be directed at him. The NYT article against McCain is just the start.

    February 29, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
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