March 19th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
14 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. deb

    I look at all of the wannabes in the Obama campaign and I wonder, who will be manipulating things from behind the scenes. Kerry, Dodd, Kennedy? I don't believe there will be that much change. I take Obama at his word. Change is just a word

    March 19, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Larry

    Can you explain why you keep saying fall out from Obama's speech when the review is positive for most part. This is only one exammple that vividly indicates how partial you are

    March 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. james martin california

    After the most recent developments and the Obama speech, I beleive this is no longer a choice between experience verses change but rather one of experience vers courage and change.

    March 19, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. mike,Iowa

    I will use Obamas own words on this subject. Bush and cheney have all kinds of experience and we see where that got us. Experience to keep us at war and in an economic crisis and act like everythings ok. Yeah we really need four more years of that BS!

    March 19, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. KLM

    I'll vote for change anyday. We've had experience after experience running the government and what do we have to show for it. We have wars, deficits, scandals, etc. I am sooo sick of these so call experienced people.


    March 19, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Carol D. Durante-Spinner - Fredericksburg, VA

    Although Barack OBama does not have the experience in national security that John McCain possess, it is clear that John McCain is going to follow the Bush Admin, and led us in the same direction which we have found to be the wrong direction. Experience versus change? I want change the hell with experience. The Bush Admin. had highly qualified cabinet members and they have led the country into a recession. Fighting a war that we cannot win. Spending more money trying to win a war that cannot be won and the American people are losing their homes, cars and jobs.

    March 19, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. James

    Experience vs Change?!

    Come up with something new this one is getting old. How about schrill vs presidential?

    March 19, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Tony, Fort Worth, Texas

    Wolf, I knew you were pro Obama, and this column reinforces that view as far as I'm concerned. At least you don't try to conceal your position even though your'e supposed to be an unbiased journalist.
    Keep it up and you're liable to get your wish.

    March 19, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. Sandra Pinto

    I listened to Senator Obama's speech and was absolutely captured by the clarity and honesty of the man and the politician. He dealt with a diffficult issue honestly, sincerely and with amazing clarity.America is at a defining moment in it's history. RACE has always been an issue in the USA. It has been swept under the carpet as if it didn't exist but it is a festering abcess that must be lanced before it destroys the very fabric of American society. America must seize the opportunity to heal the world, to restore its tarnished image around the world and to show true leadership by setting the tone for the 21st Century. Senator Obama has the ability to inspire people across the political spectrum, he has caught the imagination of people all over the world and transmits hope and renewed faith in the country that aspires to be the greatest in the world but is at present way of-course through the policies of it's present governrment

    March 19, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. v.ananthan

    If OBAMA wants to change AMERICA he must win the remaining states win with a very good margin and the recent polls are not showing that ....

    I don^t think that the voters are ready for OBAMA^s changes yet.....

    March 19, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. BAKARI


    March 19, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Brandon Chicago

    Wolf , Hillary was right , it did take a Clinton to clean up the mess from the first Pres. Bush. How easy people forget the life they had under Bill & Hillary Clinton . The great nasty Rep. machine tried to fool every-one all 8 yrs. while he was in office. Newt quit politics because he did the same thing Bill did ( cheat ) .Know you want bad mouth this woman who didn't cheat on her husband , tried to keep her marriage intact , scour the woman for the fault of the man. I will vote for Hillary just because I think she is the best person for the job. Obama organizing on the south-side and shallow voting record in the ILL. Senate will not compare too Hillary's strong drive and convictions for this country, look at the records your people have asked for . This might come back too bite you in the butt. I hope your people in the campaign can do the right thing and offer a very big apology too her when you drop out of this race , oh yeah tell them to vote for Hillary . GO HILLARY

    March 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. Murry

    Wolf, don't dis change. This country sorely needs it.

    Please take heed of Obama's words and stop parsing this race issue, Rev. Wright, and Obama's speech into sound bites and video clips.

    Obama's speech asks listeners to transcend themselves - it asks them to choose nuance over cartoonish political controversy; it asks them to acknowledge stuff about race they don't want to acknowledge; it asks them to think big instead of small.

    The NY Times editorial board gave an intelligent response. So should CNN.

    March 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Ginia

    The PERFECT CANDIDATE does not exist. It would take a person with a high education in economics, finance, management, political science, psychology, and experience in diplomacy, military strategy, plus a perfect exemplary life without flaws. Let's not dream!

    HILLARY AND OBAMA HAVE THEIR OWN QUALITIES AND FLAWS. Which one will we trust to get us out the mess Bush brought on the US, which one will be more apt to unite us?

    March 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. danci812000

    Get out Obama!! Obama supporters say Hillary is willint to do and say anything to win??? Is he not setting the civil rights movement back to its ugly start by now really trying to play the race card and speaking of racial division...please. Point is you have real answers, and no experience in immediate judgment calls. Some of us educated, not racists people do our research and listen to the debates. If Obama is the nominee, McCain will wipe the floor with you on the issues. You speeches are old and sound like something from the Charlie Brown cartoon. America needs someone to lead not speak. I am also not niavee and cant see how people honesetly feel that any candiate is one perfect and two not dirty is some way. Common be real. However, Hillary presents solutions and does have the experience. In a time like this I will take experience over "hope" anytime. It is better to go for the old but familiar than the new and unknown at a time when America is so clearly in trouble.
    Vote Hillary!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. Heather McAlister, NC

    The debate shouldn't be change vs. experience. It should be judgment vs. experience. Because when it comes to picking who we want in the White House next year, we should not consider what they have done in the past, but the way in which they will make their decisions in the future.
    Obama will win that debate

    March 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. quen

    the question on experience is over rated. Look we had a person running the whitehouse with all the so call experience in the world. Look it's like this it is the American duty to put the person who had John Adams vision to run a country. He didn't fight for our country to ley over and play dead. He fought for a free land and that is what it seems like what we are fighting for right now. So experience is over rated because the person who fought for independence was a lawyer who was appointed to congress.

    March 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |

    I have just spent most of the afternoon looking over the Former First Lady's daily schedule, although I have not read the entire deocument. However, I believe it is clear that she did not have "tea and cookies" all the time as many sexist bloggers have mentioned on this site.

    Do a little research, Sen. Clinton has a 141 I.Q., which is actually higher than her husbands. Highly intelligent and accomplished people like Sen. Clinton do not sit around on their laurels. As far as I can tell so far, there are a lot of social affairs to attend to HOWEVER the documents also show her meeting several times within just the forst few months with the Ways and Means Commitee, and for all you "tea and cookie" morons, that is one of the most powerful committees in the U>S> as it controls taxation, tariffs, social programs and also influences policy decisions. She also held meetings on legislative strategy and MANY MANY meetings on healthcare in various capacities.

    I am only in the first couple of months into her W.H stay-but it is clear that the "tea and cookies" sexist comments need to end.

    March 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. mnjohn

    Really? Do you think so, Wolf? And do you think anyone (certainly not you) might bother to dig a tiny bit deeper into this nonsensical dichotomy? Coke or Pepsi? Boxers or briefs? Packers or Bears? Blitzer or Hume? Vote now! Give me a break.

    Here are some questions a real journalist might ask:

    How do you define "experience?"
    How do you define "change?"
    Can one candidate embody both?
    What kind of "experience" do you want your candidate to have?
    Can one kind of "experience" actually be worse than inexperience?
    What kind of "changes "would you like to see happen?

    Well here's one I'd like to see: pulling the plug on you and all of your gasbag colleagues. I'm tired of simpletons like you deciding what is important to know and condensing it down to mush. You're failing to fulfill the responisbility that comes with the platform you have been given. You're taking it upon yourselves to write the narrative of public life in America and no one elected you. You're turning us all into morons.

    March 19, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Shrek

    Wolf, I understand that you have to do you job and ask questions that are uncomfortable. And, keep making a story last for weeks. However, do you realize that every thing you have pointed to seems to question Obama's campaign theme. Also, did you realize that week in and week out you questioning Obama's experience? You also consistantly say things like, "the Junior Senetor" from Illinois. Also the time you and CNN show Senator Clinton in a positive light has led me to believe that you and CNN are Clinton supporters. You and CNN always say you are looking at both sides of the issues. I agree, you do. But, its not so positive on each side. I have also seen a pop-up on the CNN website that provide a way to donate to the Clinton campaign and not Obama's. In my opinion, this is not consistient with being nonpartisan. I was a Clinton supporter. However, after thinking and seeing all the CNN coverage of the Ohio, RI, Vermont, and Texas primaries. I have no choice but to vote for Obama. The coverage was very much partial to Hillary. She recevied a great deal of air time not to mentiion free advertisement from CNN. I personally believe that the indirect contributions from CNN has boosted her campaign. I also feel that this is just what Obama has been speaking against. This is the old establishment at work.

    CNN is very partisan regarding the way they show each of the candidate. Early in the race you would show Clinton on the left. In america we read from the left to the right. Meaning, the first person shown is the leader. You still show Barak on the right in every shot. You may think this is trivial but, if you understand human behavior, this is another psychological tactic to convince voters that Hillary is the peoples choice.

    After seeing the short clip regarding Rev. Wright is was not happy. However, after listening to it so many times I thought about his words. Not only were they appaling but the shameful part is that you would show it over and over again. As if you wanted people to get upset in order to build support against Barak Obama. Well, I guess I can thank you for opening my eyes. With this type of experience, who needs enemies. I will support Obama all the way to the White House.

    Obama 08'

    March 19, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |

    The country needs to move in a new direction and Obama is the only one with the guts, drive and vision to take us there. We are hated in more countries then we are liked and loved in very few that like us. Its time we mend fences by showing people we are capable of real change and only Obama can do that.

    March 19, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. Matt

    Mr. Blitzer, I am not sure what I'm supposed to learn from the your Political Ticker. In your "Experience versus Change" commentary above, you seem to be stating the obvious. I would have been interested to learn which one you thought was more important and why?
    Personally, I believe relevant experience is important, but ultimatly, I believe having the right judgement is most important. There is a quote by smebody that says, "in the face of rapid Change, Experience is the enemy.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Don Morris

    Obama's "CHANGE" scares me! In order to affect change you need knowledge and experience. The only knowledge he has is how to make vague promises that he knows he cannot keep, nor the taxpayers can afford. He has also grown up on a radical environment and now I am not surprised at his posture during the National Anthem.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. Patrick

    Why is Hilliary Clinton running for president? Is it a vindication ploy for what her husband did during the Monica Lowenski affair? Or is it because she has always wanted to be president from long ago but knew that it would be nearly impossible for her to do so at that time because of her gender? I think President Clinton was the best president this country has had since JFK, but the time has come for this nation to have a new generation of leaders. Senator Clinton's tactics to win the nomination seems desperate and her "kitchen sink" strategy threatens to divide the Democratic Party. She is behind and it seems very unlikely that she can catch up. The only way to do so is to knock Barack Obama down. If she succeeds in that strategy, then goes down the Democratic Party and our chance for getting "real " change in the White House.

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. John Smith

    'Thou shalt not commit adultry" This is one of the highest laws in life!

    Hillary STAYED with Bill after Bill's multiple infedilities. May be we should DUMP Hillary for sticking with a sinner, her husband!!

    Well for those who want Obama to go back to his pastor, who would be the greater sinner here: Hillary who stays with .......after all his.....; OR Obama who stays with ...after a .....? Becuse you like to JUDGE, you go ahead and throw the first stone with a clean conscience!!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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