February 29th, 2008
12:13 PM ET
14 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. Just go away

    It's over. Go home, Hil.

    February 29, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Deebo

    I'd rather have a 'blank screen' as President than a practiced politician.
    She just doesn't get it – It's to her disadvantage at a time like this to claim experience. I wish everyone would wake up, and learn to vote against the incumbents, no matter what political office they hold. If you see a name on a ballot that you recognize, vote for the person you don't know. This fluidity will keep our Government honest!!!

    February 29, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Jordan Howard

    What bothers me is that bother these candidates are Democrats and Hilary is talking about Obama like a Republican. I always thought fellow Democrats would help eachother out, and if they do. Then wouldn't Hilary help Obama with some of her valuable experience. when he is President. All she is doing is dividing the party.

    February 29, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. M. Miller

    Yeah Hillary-Its about time someone gave Obama some of his own 'words' to chew on!

    February 29, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. noelle

    he may be a blank screen, but she will always be remembered as the woman who wasn't strong enough to leave her cheating bastard of a husband

    February 29, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Brian

    There is something very annoying about the smartest one (or worse still, the one who thinks he/she is the smartest) in the room. People just don't like Hillary and it gets worse when she gets backed into a corner.

    Bye bye.

    February 29, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Conrad

    How is she going to explain all this when he's the nominee? Damage control doesn't seem to come all that easy to the Clintons. Definitely going to be hard to keep her Senate seat when NY voters are reminded of all the vicious attacks on a DEMOCRAT. Maybe she's angling for a McCain VP spot.

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Joanne

    Hillary, you are showing your bitterness, again. People are tired of the "same old same old". People easily see through your attempt at Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt tactics.

    Stop it!

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Kat Williams

    Obama has not changed many positions because he NEVER actually voted on anything! While in the state senate he did not take a stand and voted "present" and then, yes he did give a speech against the war but then once in the US senate he voted to continue funding it? He also managed to simply miss an important vote of Iran. He is a blank slate and if all you bandwagon jumpers get your way, we are in serious danger. Hillary may not have always voted the way I want (I too have always been against the war) but she has always taken a stand and has the experience to lead this country. Please people the sooner you all realize that a trip on the obama bandwagon is a trip to nowhere, the better off we'll all be-vote for experience and stong leadership. Hillary!

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. LisaMpls

    That was not a red phone moment for Hillary. She had time to carefully consider her vote. Plus, she may not have read every single piece of intelligence, but neither did the majority of the senators. Why? Because they were briefed in detail by the very person who wrote the intelligence. I support Hillary 100%!!!

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. April in Texas

    Trying again to get a post listed...

    I would feel better if Obama answered the phone. One thing many can't deny is Obama is sure quick on those one liners. I can not see another Clinton in the Whitehouse and sadly the repulican politics have swayed me to vote democrat. Most of my adult life its been either a Bush or Clinton in the Whitehouse as I am 38 years old and it was Reagan before these two familys started political shuffle in and out of the Whitehouse.
    Its time for someone new who will stand up for the little people in the country. I hope he can change Washington because that is what we need. It will still take us the voters to stay involved in politics and stand firm but together with Obama leading I really think we can change how Washington works because it isnt working the way it is now.

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Tom

    What would you expect from a candidate who feels the nomination should have been handed to her. Enough with the hissy fits!

    Bill you forgot to add the kids are in Iraq, a war hillary voted for!

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. Deloris Rozier

    Senator Obama just responded to the latest Hillary fear tactic. His response was brilliant. Senator Clinton had her red phone moment and her judgement was poor.

    Hillary do not complain when the Obama camp comes out with what you perceive as negative ads.

    Continuing to instill fear in the American people is what we are voting against. I hope folks in Texas will not be drawn into this mean spirited last minute fear tactic.

    Once again the American people want real change not just surface moments. Senator Clinton you do not understand the art of collaboration– clear and strong leadership verses fighting and dividing folks. We want real change!

    Thanks Senator Obama for showing your leadership and ability to bring us together rather than creating an atmosphere of fear and hate.

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Dana Broxton

    man, please hillary go away. how is it that obama never utters your name out of his mouth unless responding to your attacks, he is focused on john mccain, you are old news. we all know you are desperate but maybe if you focused on mccain more instead of obama you could actually make some sort of a comeback!!

    anything the media asks her she will compare it with obama. if they ask about your childhood would you compare that to obamas childhood as well? and stop taking incompleted lines from his book and trying to turn it against him . it is obvious that he was tallking about a previous maybe younger time in his life
    you are becoming almost unbearable now!!!!!

    February 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. Joan

    Did Karl Rove design this ad?

    Reminds me of the "wolves" ad Bush ran against Kerry in 2004.

    February 29, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. Carl

    The full quote from The Audacity of Hope:

    "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."

    I think that, in full context, Barack speaks for himself. Context is everything. Clinton really should know better.

    February 29, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Lily

    This is so tiresome that the Obama campaign harps on the decision Senator Clinton, along with many others in Congress, voted on the Iraq war because of misleading information from the Bush administration. She admitted that it was a decision she wished she could retract. I guess Obama voted 'present' on this issue. His only claim to fame is raising that one issue over and over and over again. What if his detractors constantly brought up his drug use and 130 votes of 'present' while being a Senator? That certainly evidences his reluctance to make a definite stand on issues. For one who is such a smooth talker, he ought to speak to decision-making evidence of some import in his Senate record. We don't want another talking head in the White House.

    February 29, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. Mike D

    Bill Murray is right! lol

    Stop giving in to these fear tactics, people!

    We've been dealing with them for the past seven years!

    February 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Roger

    Blank screen is better than what you get with Hilary. I'll take that blank screen any day over someone who has proven their lack of judgment.

    February 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. S.M

    I guess Senator Clinton hasn't done her homework, otherwise she would have known that Senator Obama had been in the State Legislature for eight years, so this qualifies him to be more experienced than she. Even his campaign Manager has more smarts than Hillary.

    February 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. A

    Hillary's interpretation is a strong abuse of literature. She desperately tries to compare words in a book–that use trope, imagery, and descriptive language–as ammunition in political rhetoric. If anything, this just exposes her abusive politics and language. Orwell once said, clear language leads to clear thought. It would seem, that her campaign could benefit from some "clear language"

    February 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Renee

    I'm beginning to think we are witnessing a "Walking Nervous Breakdown"
    Hillary is insulting our intelligence.

    February 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Vickie Oatman

    So , was Hillary answering the phone during her husband's tenure there? Just because she can answer the phone doesn't mean she is qualified to be Pres any more than her opponents. In fact, she is making one wonder who was running the White House during Bill's Presidency!

    February 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Vote for Hillary

    You can hope and promote change. If you're talking about what Bush did and other did, it means you're not promoting change. Mr. Obama's can talk about his plans. He copies Hiliary's ideas on Nafa. In teh dedate, I" agree after condeming her for NAFA."

    How can talk about changes in the future if he doesn't have any clues or expreince . An expereinced leader undertsand the past issues adn devleivered the actions. This man should come with ideas and action plans instead of delviver fancy speeches.
    Like Bush, Bush used fancy phrases all time before he elected. If Obama wins, I'll for Nader and convert myself to Independent part.

    February 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Dee

    Was that Chelsea sleeping on the new ad?

    February 29, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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