March 19th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Experience versus change

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The experience v. change argument still rages."](CNN) - Experience versus change. That has been a constant refrain we’ve heard out on the campaign trail. Which is more important in this presidential election campaign?

Barack Obama beats Hillary Clinton and John McCain in our latest CNN-Opinion Research Corporation Poll when it comes who voters feel is the candidate best able to effect change. The American public, the poll shows, believes he can better change our political culture. In the same poll, however, he loses when it comes to experience. For one thing, both Clinton and McCain have been figures on the national political stage for far longer.

Obama is willing to address the issue directly – and in the process take a swipe at both McCain and Clinton.

“It is time to have a debate with John McCain about the future of our national security,” Obama said Wednesday. “And the way to win that debate is not to compete with John McCain over who has more experience in Washington because that’s a contest he will win. The way to win a debate with John McCain is not to talk, act and vote like him on national security because then we all lose.”

Obama’s surrogates have made the constant point in recent weeks and months that having a great deal of Washington experience is not always useful. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, they point out, had decades of Washington experience – going back to the 1960’s – which they say did not necessarily help them make better decisions during this Bush administration.

If Obama gets the Democratic presidential nomination and faces John McCain, you can expect to be hearing a lot more about change versus experience.

- Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Alex H

    That's a very good point. Clinton can't run an experience campaign against McCain, she'll have to adopt a new platform... perhaps she could use judgment and change? But she's been beating that platform into the ground... so what can she use? I guess the only thing left would be policies and issues. I don't know if she can actually run a campaign purely based on those.

    March 19, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. Michigan voter

    What scares me more, is that there are still people out there that want to perpetuate America's current problems by voting Republican again. This, I simply DO NOT understand. It is NOT an accurate reflection of the will of the people, and shows how much big money influece there is in the Republican war machine. I am convminced that the Republican war machine benefits from areas of the world that remain unstable, by their own opportunistic interventions.

    March 19, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Angela

    a) I think it takes experience to bring about change. What you need is a willingness to change, and the experience to know how to bring about that change....

    b) When you are talking about the highest office in the most influential country in the world I would really like someone who has a bit of experience running the show. All the lofty rhetoric is not going to accomplish alot.....Change without experience sounds like a lot of 'trial and error'. YES – that is something you want coming from the Oval Office....jeesh

    March 19, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Kenneth

    Hillary does not even have all of the experience she is claiming. When has she ever handled a foriegn policy crisis? I'll give her credit for handling a domestic crisis when Bill got his wee wee stroked by that intern. And for McCain, look at what his experience will get us. More war in Iraq, and probably a new war in Iran. At least Obama does not lie about his experiences and will bring an entire different outlook and fresh ideas to the mess the republicans have gotten us into. Go Obama!

    March 19, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Wayne

    It's not experience v. change. It's experience v. JUDGEMENT. Cmon Wolf. How did you miss that one. McCain and Clinton both have been on the national political scene for a long time. But when it came down to invading Iraq..or completing war in Afghanistan, invading Iraq or asking the necessary questions to determine the costs, if they posed a true imminent threat, if there were any ties to Al Qeada at all both Hillary and McCain made the monumental error of voting for invasion. Invasion without a plan, without imminent threat, without ties to 9/11. It was pointless and costly. There is only one candidate left that had the right judgement and that's Obama. If more leadership had Obama's judgement at that critical time we would have saved this country 1 trillion dollars and 4,000 lives. That being said, McCain and Clinton arent even fit to be president based on their previous judgement errors.

    March 19, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Charlene in VA


    HILARY 08

    March 19, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. True Dem

    The Hillary Clinton campaign sounds like the campaign of George Bush Senior in 1992 because she goes on and on about amount of experience and knowing the White House in and out.

    The Hillary Clinton campaign also sounds like that of George W Bush in 2004 because she is using shameless fear tactics- implying that America's children will be in danger if her opponent wins. Her "3 AM" ad looks like is was written by Karl Rove.

    March 19, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Lionel

    Mccain will eat Obama raw when the time comes.

    March 19, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Unsensored youtube.The Shocking Video Hillary Does NOT Want You To See

    Changes mostly come from a new person!

    March 19, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. deb

    Obama's dependency on a minister who preaches hate is too much change for me.

    I will take Hillary.

    By the way, Rev. Wright is one of the highest paid ministers in the country.

    March 19, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. Andrea L

    Mr Obama is not the Democratic presidential nominee, hold up!!!
    I just read of the real possible that 1.5 million voters are going to count and let us not forget,,,,, Senator Clinton has been saying for week,months a year, he is not ready.... She's correct... If you TV people want to make this less for you to cover by taking about the McCain Obama debate get another job but how about just really reporting the facts for a change. Yes Obama won Utah all 3 democrtatic voters that live there,,, give me a break, start reporting the news and less of your opion

    March 19, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. mary

    On FOXNEWS website it saids the Black Panthers support Obama. They have quite a list of requests that they want from Obama. How come CNN isn't saying anything?

    March 19, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Obama has just shown the world that he is indecisive and has no strength of convictions. We pray he won't get the Democratic nomination. Hopefully, the recent fiasco and his admission of sitting in church for 20 years listening to Racist Sermons from Pastor Wright will solve the nomination dilema for the Democrats. Obama is NOT qualified to be President for he is NOT a Leader. IMO, Obama will not survive in his political quest. This racist event will follow him for the rest of his career, for it shows how strongly he rejects his White Grandparents.

    March 19, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. BillK

    If Obama get the nomination we will be hearing alot more about Wright, Rezko, NAFTA and now the endorsement by the New Black Panther Party. No thanks.

    March 19, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Very Concerned American

    First of all...pray that Obama doesn't get the nomination.

    He still is supportng his Pastor, Reverend Wright, who is a radical, anti Semetic and has said vicious things about our country.

    The experience he has had with this pastor is frightening. That would be enough not to trust his judgement.

    I have had my own business for years. There is NO WAY that I would hire someone with one year of experience in Washington and I certainly would not hire someone that supported Louis Farrakhan or Pastor Wright.

    March 19, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. Independent

    Hillary Clinton has ruined her reputation among many, has alienated the rest, and is shinning a spotlight on the reasons why our political system is flawed. She is doing a rain dance during the monsoon in silly season...

    March 19, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Rae

    CNN will never give up on Obama. Does it matter to you that he did plagerize? That he has lied to the American people not once, but twice. How can we trust a man like this? What did we know about Obama several months ago? How can you people be so blind?

    March 19, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. Hoang, UC Berkeley

    Face it. Anybody who replaces G.W.Bush is a change.
    You have to have experience to push the change process in the right direction.
    Demanding change without the experience to handle it will just damage the country.

    March 19, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Opal

    . . .Senator Obama has the EXPERIENCE to bring about CHANGE.

    March 19, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Sublime Dialectic


    It's time for you to stop reporting on simplistic dualisms. It no longer sheds light on the candidates electability or the evidenced wishes of the voting public. It's a disservice to continue a discourse that is no longer viable at this point in the race.

    March 19, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. Thomas Booher

    Why does this campaign have to continue to be about change vs. experience? Why can't we move on to let's say living as one nation in a united front of humanity?

    March 19, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. MP

    We've had so called experience for 7 looooooong years...Did us a lot of good – NOT...Definitely NEED CHANGE...Obama's it!

    March 19, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. Mfelder

    Over the past 20 or more years that both the Bush and Clinton's have been in the white house, we have not seen any real changes in our crumbling education system and healthcare. We are looking more and more like a third world nation. It frightens me to think that ONLY the Bush's and Clinton's can save us. Its time for change that includes the input from the AMERICAN PEOPLE.

    March 19, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Ronald, NY

    Papers show Clinton's days as 1st lady.All the Hillary support should explain below:

    She was also involved in helping her husband win congressional approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal she now criticizes and says she would try to change.

    Her schedule for Nov. 10, 1993, shows her speaking at a NAFTA briefing closed to the media, with 120 people expected to attend.

    March 19, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Proud American

    NO MCsame!!!
    Obama '08

    March 19, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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