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. Kim

    Why does the Clinton campaign fail to realize that the American public, and in particular the portion of the American public that votes in primary elections, is not stupid?

    February 29, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. daisy

    Is it true that Obama refuses to salute the flag? I heard from my sister in law in TN that he refuses to salute the flag. What kind of president would he make? We'll all be wearing Muslim garb and walking 10 paces behind the men. Vote Hillary! At least we'll be respected internationally, we'll have health care, a better ( and safer) quality of life and our economy will be better.

    February 29, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. sherrie50

    Go Hillary! You will win even if you lose.

    February 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Vote for Hillary

    You can talk about 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.

    Obama had bad judgment in voting for Chavo's case. I'm sure he had bad judgment not show ing up for the NATO sub commttees. He has skeltons in his closets. EXCUSES, EXUCSES!

    February 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Michael "C" in Lorton, Virginia

    Hillary Clinton is always defending her "status quo" in debates with Obama long past the time when her "quo has lost its status".

    February 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. JH

    Obama can change everything and can do everything. That is not truth. He is big lies. He cannot trust. He like drug and made people crize. This is total wrong. CNN need 100% responsible for this. They favour Obama.

    February 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Dixon, Des Moines Iowa

    This is why I will not vote for Hillary. She cries when it is convenient, gets angry when we believe in hope and whines when she is behind in the polls. This is old school politics and something most of us want to avoid. It is good to see candates like Obama and McCaine who try to stick to issues and not name calling.

    February 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Claire, Austin, TX

    Something smells a bit desperate, don't you think?

    February 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. BJ

    Would that be like the same call Hillary answered sending our young men and women to war to fight a war that never should have happen......Yes, I want Obama to take the next call.

    February 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. Nicki

    Wow, I didnt realize how desperate she was. Keep searching and making her self look bad in the process. Instead of reinforcing her strengths she is trying to find his weakness. Go out with the little dignity you have left.

    February 29, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Democrat Sheep Obama/Clinton 08

    Obama always defers to the Iraq War on all issues

    February 29, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Mothers in Ohio For Obama - MOFO

    We definitely DO NOT want Hillary answering that phone @ 3am. The first time she answered, we wound up in Iraq!!! She's a scary lady.

    Obama '08

    February 29, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Lisa

    Reject Repubilicans picking out nominee. Hillary hasn't done anything I consider negative or fear mongering. She is pointing out the facts, and we all need to find many sources before giving Obama any more of a free ride.

    Many Republicans are voting against Hillary not for Barack and have admitted they will switch there votes in November.

    Republicans have already started debateing Barack as if he is already the Democratic nominee, perpetuating the belief that Hillary has no chance to win.

    Democrats are we going to let the Republicans pick our nominee and then watch as they destroy him in the November election??? Wake up Hillary can beat the Republicans!!! Obama cannot because he doesn't have the experience!!!!

    February 29, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Deana

    LOL Obamanites are such babies, they may whine me to death before the primaries are over.

    February 29, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. hs

    I love how CNN made the headline look like Clinton said herself that Obama is a blank screen, when in fact she was quoting what _he_ said in his own book. Way too many things being taken out of context in this campaign by all sides.

    February 29, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Yankee Dog

    Poor Hillary - her attacks are falling on deaf ears. It is clear she is the wrong person at the wrong time for America.

    I keep looking back over the past twenty years of Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, and yet Bush again.... Is this country stuck in some crazy Bush/Clinton cycle? Certainly we are better than that. The Democrat field in 08 was very, very strong, and it seems clear at this point that Obama is going to be the choice of those who want real change!

    February 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. RP

    Hillary is now running ads for McCain? That's an ad that he might have put up. I hate to break it to Hillary, but we reject and denounce fear. We are ready to move this country into a better future.

    February 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. Martin

    I wonder how many people on here are paid by the campaigns to write comments for every story that comes up on cnn.com and push their candidate's talking points...

    That said, Clinton's moves over the last few days have struck me as very desperate. As someone who, up until recently, would have been happy with either candidate, her smear campaigns have definitely turned me off. I don't really know why I thought she was above that, but for some reason I did. Shame on me.

    February 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. John

    If, Obama has any sense, which I doubt, he knows that Hillary is the
    best qualified of all the candidates. He is too green to be prersident. He hasn't done anything but smear the great job that the Clintons have done for our country. He doesn't know how to debate. How can he talk to world leaders, if he can't even win one debate? he needs to sit back and learn from Hillary, then after her 8 great years of leadership, he will have some idea about how to talk.

    February 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. Hillary has Multiple Personalities

    Hillary answers the phone??? She would curse you for filth!!! She could care less about your children neither mine. You Hillary supporters are so wrapped around the axel that you don’t see how catty and conniving she is. When did she get presidential experience? I guess I could apply for a position as a Sr. SQA Engineer since my husband is one – I’m a co-SQA Engineer. let's see if that flies with the DoD.

    Thank God for Obama!!!!

    February 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. George

    Hillary's tactics here are "conduct unbecoming". Stick to the issues..

    February 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Hawkeye

    The only blank screen will be hers on March 5th. What a desperate person she has become. She has called ole dog Billy into the fray and still doesn/t understand that he costs her votes. NOT a bright person. whoa is me????

    February 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. sarah

    As Hillary's latest ad proclaims – “Your vote will decide who answers the call." She's right! People – a vote for Hillary in the promaries is a vote for McCain in the general election.

    Hillary has a huge negative side with a good bit of this country & Republicans who would not otherwise vote will vote AGAINST her. Don't let Hillary SPOIL the general election for democrats. If you really want a Democrat in the White House "get real" and vote Obama.

    Obama is inspiring (just look at the voting numbers) and truly offers a different way of doing things...he can surround himself with the EXPERIENCE that he needs and offer a new & fresh perspective in the White House. America is a joke to the rest of the world – lets' show everyone that we won't stand for that. Get Bush & the Republicans out. They did enough permanent damage to our foreign policy and national policy (check out our new Supreme Court). Let Barack get in there & try to undo some of the damage that has been done.

    February 29, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. norris/vancouver

    Obama is a blank screen. He has politically avoided taking any tough stands so that he can win this race. He's a calculating politican and people are falling for his platform which has always been on issues that no one can argue with. "We want unity yada yada yada."
    Hillary has been tested, not only in politics but also from consistent attacks by the GOP. She has endured. The GOP have attacked her, WHY? because she is a formidable foe. Obama won't last against McCain. He already has shown his colours with the inane commet about IRAQ, that McCain picked up in a nano second.
    Wake up people!
    Barrack can't keep living off his past IRAQ vote. That's history.

    February 29, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. Judgement trumps experience (especially the wrong experience)

    Judgement trumps experience any day. If you have a track record of making the wrong decisions this means your judgement is flawed. That is the fundamental issue. That is why she can not admit that she made the wrong decision in voting for the war because she would then have to concede that her thought process on the most critical issue/vote in her EXPERIENCE led her down the wrong path.

    Additionally the whole notion that Obama has no track record or experience is a myth. The Clinton campaing and others have put this misinformation out there.

    Mr. Plouffe said it right "....Clinton has already had her red phone moment. It was the decision whether to allow George Bush to invade Iraq...." She made the wrong decision.

    February 29, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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