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. pacificaharry

    For those of you who think weathering a Hillary storm is more difficult than a general election republican one, you're naive. I'm a rightie and cant wait for Obama. Keep in mind Hillary really couldn't question his lefty politics because she tries to tack left of him. But when my side frames him and he can't get out of it by his eloquent speaking, he's going to look silly. In the end, he may still win because the wind is blowing the dems way right now but he will soon be a tarnished penny. McCain is not going to go all low blow on him, but he won't win any Iraq debate with a man of McCains stature, who by the way just had one son serve one year in Iraq with another at the Naval academy. He wont win an economic debate by talking about raising taxes on those making more than $75,000, decrying NAFTA, and by increasing govt spending to levels far beyond today (even considering some ficticious peace dividend if he were to actually withdraw troops from Iraq). In the end, taxing of the so called "rich", drives jobs downward, so its kind of hard to grow jobs while the people who create them stop investing their money. It's a complex world and Obama's simplistic approach will be excoriated. It will be fun to see.

    February 29, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  2. ED

    Can america ever believe the media anymore CNN and MSNBC has brought the once highly respected , world renowned , [sic ]reliable ,honorable world events to a new low with it's biased favoritism and attempt to sway an election that has reached a new low.

    February 29, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  3. former democratic voter


    I am a democrat who voted for Sen. Obama on Feb. 5th, before reasearching him completly, if Sen. Clinton does not win the nomination, the repulican party can count on my vote. This media has handled Obama with kid gloves.....as for the Iraq vote ...HE WAS NOT IN THE SENATE!!!!!!!!!!

    And foriegn policy does not just involve IRAQ, during the debate, when asked about the Russian election/transition, he looked at Sen. Clinton "RUH OH"...it requires a world view

    I DO NOT LIKE BUSH AND DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM, but I will vote for Mccain should Clinton not be the nominee..... I WILL NOT BE HOODWINKED AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. tina

    i guess this is cnn's idea of pleasing the people who have been whining about the bias against hilary. it's nonsense. if he can withstand the clinton machine he can withstand the republicans. i would rather obama in office over any of the otehr 2 candidates.

    Oh and by the way... when the call was placed hilary you gave the wrong answer.
    obama '08

    February 29, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. Trev

    I am sorry, but I don't think he can. Many of the GOP/independent voters who are going for Obama now are doing it because the GOP nomination is decided. I recognize that Obama has done well among independents for awhile now. However, if you look at the internals of the Texas polls (see realclearpolitics.com and the Fox poll for one example) you will find that Obama supporters are now happier with Clinton than Clinton supporters are with Obama. That, not matter how you spin it, is bad news for Obama in the general election.

    As for the "Clinton Machine" argument, the protective bubble around Obama (you know the one created by CNN and MSNBC). That will pop when (and if) there is no longer any Democratic opposition. Independents will be free to vote their preference and Obama will lose.

    February 29, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. Joyce

    He will be torn apart. There are too may skeletons in his closet.
    There is a LOT of things that could have been used by other campaigns on him, but they were not.. For instance the picture of him the the tribal outfit (his camp i believe released that), could have been much worse, it could have been him with a microphone standing behind the Kenyan opposition leader, who claims to be his cousin and is a blood relation. This 'cousin 'is a strict muslim and there have been bloody battle in Kenya. Remember Barak also called him from his campaign. His ties to Islam WILL NOT GO AWAY. His record of 'change' will be fully examined and found to be false. More people already trust McCain. Even the Chicago newspapers have said that Obama's actions to no match his rhetoric. His is a typical washington politician.

    Mc Cain wins in a landside. With this DEMOCRATS vote.

    February 29, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. Andy

    Bush served 2 terms people. It will not be easy for ANYONE to beat McCain/Rove. Also, this has been a really bad week for Obama. The media is covering each equally now and momentum is shifting to Clinton.

    February 29, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. robert, san francisco

    I did not know that you were the Clintons, and even if you are please keep it to you yourself, since your personal feelings have nothing to do with the CNN political reps. As for Obama, just do not! worry yourself about him, and simply report the news. We the people will make sure that he will get to where he needs to go. We want him, and we will make sure that when strength is required, to give him the strength to continue.

    February 29, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. Janet, Missouri

    Well, the Clinton camp better be careful. With this new trial coming up and all of the lies she has told and the NUMEROUS times she has flip-flopped on her positions during this campaign, she won't be able to blame it on George Bush as she has done for the entire primary season.

    February 29, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Cris in Texas


    February 29, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  11. me

    Not a chance..none at all
    Most Hillary supporters will never vote for him. At least I don't know any who will.

    February 29, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  12. Neil

    Finally, a few media words about this enormous weakness of Obama which will preclude any ability to win the general election. Unfortunately, it may be too late, which is exactly what the Obama-worshippers on CNN and MSNBC seem to want. They still are ignoring the REZKO trial, starting Monday, at which Obama's CORRUPTION will be exposed. Once his "beyond politics" demagoguery is exposed (geez, he got $14 million in government funding for Rezko, and later solicited him to line up suspicious [possibly from an arab criminal] money to allow Obama to buy his mansion, at the same time Rezko was under FBI investigation), he will have nothing. He called the whole episode a "bone-headed mistake." That's the "judgment" we are supposed to rely on? The right-wing smear machine, unconstrained by the Clintons' concern for the Democratic party, will utterly destroy him in short order. People of Texas and Ohio, HELP SAVE OUR COUNTRY–VOTE HILLARY!

    February 29, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. Independent4Hillary

    Obama didn't fix the pot holes in Chicago as Senator. With Obama as President our Government would be just another Pot Hole.
    Vote Hillary Clinton for President

    Clinton-Richardson 08'

    February 29, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. Ray

    If attacks are how presidents are chosen, then look at what you have now and stop your whinning. What happened to picking a president based on what they are instead of bitterness that has dictated campaigns for the last 30 years. Scare your enimies not your fellow Americans.
    Does enyone use thier brains enymore? To the rest of the globe you look stupid because the brains don't work and you let the TV and computers speak for you. All you loud mouths most likely never went to a rally for a candidate and yet you pick up words from those who get paid to suck you in with the crap they spread cuz they know you just sit there and complain Your pathetic with your comments . Remember, the rest of the world depends on you in America to use your brains as the president affects the world not just your street or village. A CANDIAN AFRAID OF WHAT i SEE AND HEAR

    February 29, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. Angela

    I have been saying this for 2 months now –

    There is nothing the Republicans can do to Hillary that they haven't done already – everything they come up with is old news.

    Obama will get creamed by the Republican machine.

    Its already started. The underlings will do the dirty work and the RNC and the candidate will come out and say 'we don't agree with that'. But the damage will be done.

    February 29, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. jp/michigan

    Obama will cry like he did in South Carolina. But now he'll say help me , poor me the republican people are picking on me. He will have to fend for himself. Let the games begin.

    February 29, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. Latinos for Obama

    It's a very simple question? 100 more years in Iraq? Or NOT?
    Of course he will beat someone who's sweetheart to Bush!

    February 29, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  18. mjc

    thus far, he has caught up to clinton, not knocked her out. they have been neck and neck for too long – this to me shows people still have a lot of doubts about him.

    don't forget we have the ELECTORAL COLLAGE to consider. she won all the big dem states... she really had a wide lead over him in California, and NY... I can see either of them going to McCain in a general.. Arnold endorsed McCain and he won big there when he ran.... its about states, not polls, opinion, or even, sadly, the popular vote.

    florida will absolutley go for McCain if its against obama. it won't even be close. ohio too, probably.

    i worry about him being the nominee. i think people are so excited and wrapped up in obama fever that they forget what country we live in.

    February 29, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. ben

    Hmmm! If he has put a former first lady (and an ex president) in the shade, what about lesser mortals? Wolf, surely you are not afraid to reach for greater things for your country? Would you rather settle for government as usual or take a giant step for the USA? America is still inspired by Lincoln and JFK today (sadly not equally by William Clinton). Obama will one day be counted among these greats as well. Note that they were also considered lightweight before they became presidents.

    February 29, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. Al, Sacramento Ca

    Whoever votes Republican is murdering this country, McCain is a war president, just like Bush, they take America to war, that's all they know how to do.

    How can a man be president who says he has no knowledge on econnomy. Are we that stupid and blind to believe this guys is going to change our domestic problems.

    If Hillary doesn't win, go Obama. We have no choice, American needs to fight the GOP mafia.

    February 29, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  21. DeVone

    he already has , look around no he is not a rock star he is
    just a honest humanbeing and real Americans are human
    and we are sick of the miss fortune that America has bought
    us and shame on thouse who will not admitt to the need for
    a new direction its time for honesty not just America the world
    wants change we must admitt for the past eight years we have
    been bullies not only to others but to ourselves and Mc Cain
    nor Clinton can make that change its time for the heart the
    mind and the SPIRIT

    February 29, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  22. AJ

    Obama will not win – Clinton supports will vote for McCain!

    February 29, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  23. Basil

    Currently, Senator Obama is fighting battles on four fronts; the curent President Bush, former president Clinton, Senator's MccCain, and Clinton. Thanks to this gang of four, he is being vetted for what is inevidable, and he is still standing. In the genral election hopefully the gang of four will be reduced to a gang of two.

    Senator Obama's performance in this election campaign is a destructive change, the aggressiveness of the gang of four is a measure of the effectiveness of the change. The world is rapidly changing and if the gang of four can not adapt to a domestic change can they be expected to adapt to the global change.

    It's time for us Gray Beard's to move over and let the next generation of America's best and brightest to begin their reign.


    February 29, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  24. Byron in CA

    I agree with Eddie in New York about Dems voting for McCain whichever candidate they are for. That's why I would think Nader rather than McCain if Hillary isn't the winner. BTW eddie, I too am an Independent but instead an exDem as of last year. Where's our voice lol.

    I think most of the Clinton supporters that have stated they would vote for McCain if obama were nominated comes from exactly what Hillary is stating from her campaign regarding experience. That means alot to most Clinton folks and to them John McCain would have more experience than Obama, and they do have a point but I still say Nader would represent them better.

    February 29, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  25. deb

    What is it with this Obama guy? Doesn't anyone remember what happened when another charasmatic "crusader" got a bunch of people to follow his "dream": He led them all into the jungle and gave them KoolAid. Nuf' said! Go Hillary go!!!!

    February 29, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
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