February 29th, 2008
12:13 PM ET
12 years ago

Clinton: Obama a 'blank screen'


(CNN) - Hillary Clinton Thursday jabbed at Sen. Barack Obama for being a first term senator and called her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination a "blank screen."

In an interview on ABC's Nightline Thursday night, Clinton dismissed notion's Barack Obama voters are uninformed, but said the Democratic presidential front-runner aptly described himself in his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope."

"I think the best description, actually, is in Barack's own book, the last book he wrote, 'Audacity of Hope,' where he said that he's a blank screen," she said in the interview. "And people of widely differing views project what they want to believe onto him. And then he went on to say, 'I am bound to disappoint some, if not all of them.'"

"He was in the state Senate, what, three years ago, four years ago?" Clinton said in continued jabs. "It's hard to know exactly what his positions are because they have changed rather rapidly in that four-year period. But there is something very appealing, and people have a right to vote for whomever they want."

The comments came a day before the Clinton campaign launched a tough new ad in Texas that aims to portray Clinton as considerably more prepared to handle a foreign policy crises than Obama. Over scenes of sleeping children, the ads narrator asks, "Who do you want answering the phone the phone?" at 3 in the morning.

Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe forcefully responded to that ad in a conference call with reporters Friday morning."We don't think the ads are going to be effective at all, because Senator Clinton has already had her red phone moment. It was a decision whether to allow George Bush to invade Iraq, and she answered affirmatively," Plouffe said.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (338 Responses)
  1. Relevant

    I reject and denounce this political desperation tactic.

    February 29, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Norm Arrington Jr.

    More divisive politics...that didn't work in South Carolina, that didn't work in Wisconsin, and won't work in Texas or Ohio. And if he is a so called blank screen wouldn't that leave something to the imagination. A word often used describing George W. Bush and his lack of imagination. Hilary often takes the Barack Obama's words and uses them as she wishes. Maybe she should come up with something original and awe inspiring, perhaps...

    February 29, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Alex Pegnato

    Obama wants the same powers for himself as president that he rejects senators for giving Bush. The Senate gave Bush a package of options. Obama says they were wrong for doing that. Now Obama says he needs all those options if he feels he needs to go back into Iraq. This is the same two talking stance of an any old same old politician. There is no change here, same old say what ever then contradict that when expedient.

    He said he was to be listen too because he was always against giving war powers to the President. I guess he really means he was against giving them to that President. There no trust in his flip flopping.

    February 29, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. Pete

    I'm no fan of Hillary butif I had to chose it would be her over Obama. Why? He has yet to tell me any specific about what his "changes" would be. He talks about change and everyone thinks it's time for it. Well listen up people Bill Clinton said the same thing when he was running for President. Obama says he is different. He is not. He is just using people emotions and telling them what they want to hear. I'll listen when he starts telling me what he is going to change not just that we need to.

    February 29, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Changing times

    The full context of that quote from Audacity of Hope changes everything Hillary just said. Here is yet another momen of Obama's brilliance and sincerity:

    "Undoubtedly, some of these views will get me in trouble. I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book–namely, how I, or anybody in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments

    Hillary should be ashame of herself.

    February 29, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Melissa

    I am getting so sick of her panic mode politics. There was a time toward the beginning of all of this that she actually made me sit and consider her as my candidate of choice. Ultimately I chose Barack and I am sure glad I did. I am a 100% Barack supporter especially now that she is being so nasty.
    Go OBAMA!!!

    February 29, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Bayou Joe

    This is the Hillary I wanted to see 3 months ago. Before the Obama
    pied piper got all you newbies frothing at the mouth. You can taste victory and are salivating. But the real campaign is ahead and McCain will make mince meat of Obama between August and November. Can you say Landslide!!!!

    February 29, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. Rupert


    Obama a man of integrity, REALLY? Does a man of integrity pander support from William Ayers, an admitted Weathermen terrorist that built bombs to attack the State dept and the Pentagon? Is this the type of man that has the ability to LEAD as Commander in Chief?

    February 29, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  9. Chris

    Yeah,, is this her way of diverting attention away from her not releasing her tax information?

    February 29, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. Kyle

    I am so sick and tired of her negativity. It is really sad to see how far one will stoop to try to win a nomination. From the start I was willing to give her my vote if she became the partys nominee but now I can't stand her. She will never see my vote because if it comes down to that I will be voting Republican at the end of the day. Guess we have seen her true colors.

    February 29, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. Pepou

    Does Hillary think that Barack Obama would not pick up the phone at 3 am in the morning in case of an emergency ? Who is this woman kidding ? This is most hilarious argument I have heard from her ! Keep trying dear.

    February 29, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. Obama supporter in Indiana

    I categorically reject using fear to motivate or manipulate people. It's deceptive and stoops to the lowest level of human nature. It is the same tactic used by those that want to do harm to America, which is terrorism.

    Just because someone chooses to approach problem-solving by using more positive and frankly, more mature, methods, does not put America at greater risk than one who uses childish, schoolyard bully tactics. (Girls or boys)

    I want to live in a more "grown up" America and I believe that Barak Obama is the only one who really gets that.

    February 29, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Again Hillary has hit the nail on the head, Obama says he's wants to bring a new way to do business, but if you look at Obama's actions instead of his rhetoric, in the Illinois Legislature you will in fact come to the conclusion that he is no different than any other politician. Obama is letting others paint his portrait and as Obama says, "I am bound to disappoint some, if not all of them."

    February 29, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. May

    Hillary is prone to making bad judgements. I don't trust her to pick up the phone anytime, especially at 3 am. Doesn't she remember voting for a war that is based on lies? Doesn't she remember praising NAFTA as a success? Doesn't she remember voting to allow Bush to attack Iran, again based on lies? Doesn't she remember anything?

    February 29, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Smith

    Hillary CUT BAIT!



    SHOW US what you can DO!

    Hillary's 8 yrs experience as the white house hag are not interesting to us.

    February 29, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. Ogbo

    I see in Obama suportters a decay of generation who could not see beyond noses' end

    February 29, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. RAJ

    It seems to me that Obama has layed out his plans very clearly. He has policies and he is able to communicate those policies. Remember all politics is preception and all the candidates want to label their opposition and define them. Senator Clinton's experience may not be able to trump Senator Obama's hope and willingness to reach concensus. Too bad that people do not read enough history to know that up until the last 10 years, Washington was able to solve a few challenges when people of all views reached out to one another to solve problems rather than create them.

    February 29, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. Doug

    in responce to reality check,

    no one is beating up on Hillary. She is the one dishing the negativity. The good people here are simply responding.

    Has it ever occurred to you that maybe supporting a candidate just because she is a woman is wrong? Anyone who is doing that really needs to grow up.

    History is coming. It's time to become a part of it.

    February 29, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Wayne, Wentzville MO

    If I had a choice between a blank screen and a pathetic, hopeless cry-baby, whiner, and inept and irresponsible nag like Hillary, I would gladly choose the blank screen. The only thing senator Clinton is capable of, is viciously attacking her opponents and crying up a huge storm when the going gets tough.

    That certainly doesn't sound like a president to me, and will not be if my vote has anything to do with it! Obama 08!

    February 29, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Glucose merchant

    At first we were for hillary, but she's gone too far. Her temperament is dangerous in the capacity of U.S. president. Too dangerous for us to risk. We need the collective demeanor of Obama to guide us through turbulent times. My whole family is convinced Obama will deliver. We will be voting on Tuesday too. Texas loves Obama.

    Brownsville, TX

    February 29, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. Bill

    I would rather vote for a "blank screen" than a corrupted screen.

    February 29, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Jacob

    Hillary is a fear mongering hillbilly

    February 29, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. Rev. Christine Glover

    I'm tired of all the nit picking and negativity. Why doesn't Hillary just continue to build herself up instead of tearing down Barak Obama.

    Everybody should run on their own merits truthfully and honestly.

    February 29, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. John, VA

    Who do I want to answer the phone? Well, not Bill

    February 29, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Nod

    Hey CNN; why are you censuring my posts? Don't like to ask critical questions about Sen. Obama?

    February 29, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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