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. HSNP

    it's more like "experience (Clinton) vs. B.S. (Obama)"

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Jorge Gonzalez

    Can anyone in the media, or moderator in a debate ask Senator Barak Obama about what is he commit to change in the United States? What change means? Is change for health and education? change for other social matters? change for institutions to help him make more changes? What is for him stated as to remain and be good enough not to change?

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Fernandez

    Mr Blitzer
    I am not sure who you guys polled. Obama just uses the word "Change". He did nothing in the Senate to show "Change"

    Hillary and McCain are no better when it comes to experience. I would liek to see Biden break with the party and run as an Independent.

    March 19, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. jana

    Hi Wolf,
    I wonder how effective Obama will be at change when he can't even change his pastor's anti-American,anti-Semitic, and anti-white sermons.

    It seems he bases his whole "judgment to lead" argument on one speech he made. It's getting old. We deserve more from a presidential candidate. I used to think I could vote for Obama. Now, I can't. I will vote Republican if he is the Democratic nominee.Thanks for your show. Sincerely, Jana Brown

    March 19, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. abm Habibullah

    What is Hillary's experience? She was the wife iof a successful President, I give her that. So being a first lady, she is experienced to be President? What a Joke. If Billo was running I probably would agree, but Hillary, heck no. I do not think we need to see any Lewinsky scndal again. Please both you -RETIRE.

    March 19, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. Terry

    If Obama gets the run for president, we (my family) will not be voting on a Democratic ticket. His wife Michele and his pastor has changed my outlook about Obama. Your not in church for 20 years and still not know how your pastor feels about things in general.

    March 19, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Seam

    Mc Cain is the guy. Obama will never win this election because of inexperience and race. He no longer holds the "agent of change" message as we have proven that he is just the same as the rest of the candidates - He lied to america in a a period of five days. I expect more subtance, experience, and solutions for my next president.

    March 19, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. Brian

    Obama has what is needed to be President at this point in time in our history. What we don't need are angry men (John McCain who can't remember for 3 days in a row who we are fighting) nor a woman who has very real issues telling the truth. We need someone who will shoot straight with us and will make the right decisions at the right time such as not going to war with a country that was not a threat to us. I am so sick of the politics as usual and the media seems to want that to continue and I fail to understand. I see things printed about both sides and it sickens me as an American.

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Charlene PORTSMOUTH,VA


    March 19, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Obama08

    Change is what we need. We need a leader who is able to connect with people, understand what is needed and make changes to effect an economic outcome that will be beneficial to all and not just some fat cats in wall street nor some special interest with boat load of money. American needs change, it took 8 years of oversupplying the economy with money that is not needed to create enough greed and "soon" enough inflation that is threatening to cripple the economy. We need a leader that is focused on the people of USA and not on the fat cats of USA.

    Obama is the change we need....he is the change we seek!

    March 19, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. seitu

    Change is what the world needs now..not more of the same. Lets face it, Uncle Sam has become the world's bully and its time to change.
    No more White churches and Black churches..we all are one in the sight of God, aren't we?

    And tell me more of pastor Wright, as a non american I just dont understand....
    are we saying that Sen Clinton:-
    – can identify with being a little black boy growing up in America?
    – faces the same challenges as Sen Obama?
    – is experienced because she lived in the White House and attended cocktail parties with her husband?

    Tell me more

    March 19, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. Sonia Lopez

    I enjoy your show! Thank you!
    To comment:
    Change is what I believe this country so desperately needs.
    Sen.Clinton's experience as First Lady does not make her the BEST Presidential Candidate!
    How many particular instances was she a part of National Security issues? Decisions involving our economy? Immigration?
    As Sen ator, what has she done to make her anymore qualified than Sen Obama and Sen McCain?
    If we're talking about experience, then Sen McCain wins hands down; however, this country will the continue down the same path with another REPUBLICAN in office.
    If America prefers a "Clinton" in office, maybe Sen. Obama will ask President Clinton to run w/him as Vice President!
    Should Sen. Clinton win the nomination, many Democrats will vote for McCain. We need change!!

    March 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. Chester

    In order to be an effective leader, one must posses a vision. That is what leadership is all about. Not who can be the commander-in-chief. That is only secondary. The state of the US demands that someone take the reins and lead this country. Obama has a vision of where he sees this country. His popularity is due to his vision of the future for America. I am surprised that someone as smart as Clinton has not indicated an understanding of that. I can excuse McCain as I expect no more of him that what he has expoused thus far.

    March 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. Jim, Minneapolis

    Experience: George W. Bush has nearly 8 years of experience AS president. Would you vote for him? Today a whopping 31% of you said you might. I for one WOULD NOT. So, what does experience mean, really? Not a whole lot 'my friends' 'my friends' 'my friends'. Does John McCain have more experience than Obama? Of course he does; the dude is like 192 years old. Seriously, if at 72 years old (come November) McCain DIDN'T have more experience than Obama, I'd call his career a complete failure. Anyone that old will have more experience than Obama. BUT, McCain's experience includes the Keating 5 fiasco, as well as years of rubbing elbows (and perhaps other body parts) with young(er) female lobbyists. Seriously folks, I'm sick and tired of these old farts pretending experience has ANYthing to do with one's ability to LEAD a nation. Most of the great leaders in this country's history were in their 30s. Yes, that was due to the context of the time period, but I'd say 30somethings back in Jefferson's day would be the equivalent to 40somthings in present time. Anyway, I've ranted enough. Point is, experience means nothing. Ideas, inspiration, policies, authenticity, character... those things are a bigger deal in my book. Cheers.

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Roxy

    The problem is many Americans don't know that not all change is good. Many Americans have not taken a moment to think about what's at stake in this election. Proof of that is Obama is leading in the polls. We need to vote with our heads not our emotions.


    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. Juan Gonzalez

    Well I go expiriece with Sen. Clinton Obama said his justmen in the war is goes to his favor. But how about his justment in choose a so controvertial Pastor , how about his jusment to choose an inexperienced advicer that has put him on a bad spot. and also his has lied to the American people what warranty he will gave to the people that he will be able to deliver any chages. I all so can't see Obama be able to make any chages on his isue of race after being in a congregation that preaches Hatred to other people.

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. pat vinson

    I would like to see CNN take a better look at a man who would sit in a church, with his children, and listen to a "man of God" spew out hate for our country, Obama tried to make excuses by siteing the man's age and what he had been through in his youth. I know a lot of people who have been through a hard times, my Mom for one, but they didn't come out of it with all that hate, his sermons could be compared to what is being tought to a lot of the children in Iraq, Iran and some of the Eastern countries.

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Grif

    Obama!!! Jambo Rifiki! "GO ONE, ON ONE" with me!!!

    If you dare!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  19. CaliMale4Hill

    I am so tired of hearing that word change. Its just a word. There is nothing behind it. What is change? First African American President. The first preacher being a racist. The first lady for once not a proud American. The first President with a foreign born father.

    Obama claims he will be the better President cause he will focus on bipartisanship. How can a TOTAL LIBERAL ever convince a Republican senate to agree to his policies. I just think an Obama Presidency would be a mess.

    March 19, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  20. Sim

    three words wolf------>JOHN F of the greatest presidents of our time.....he had the same amount of experience Obama has when he ran...I think Caroline Obama is correct, Obama is beginning to remind me more and more of JFK as time goes by 🙂

    March 19, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. Rachel benavidez

    Wolf, One more comment about the church scandal ,I believe that we as Americn's have the right to go to any Church we desire. I take what I believe in and leave the rest. Thank God I live in this wonderful Country and it gives me the freedom to choose. Thanks agian, Rachel Benavidez Sonora, California. "The Mother Lode" Gold Rush Town

    March 19, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. Sim

    typo...Meant Caroline kennedy.

    March 19, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. Val

    From the look of the experience we have had for the last 8 years and to look at the position our country has been put in by some one with all of this so call experience I would rather have some one with NO experience. They couldn't do no worst. Look what experience got us.

    March 19, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  24. John M. Jordan

    I am not surprised at how the Pastor of Obamas church has become like Heaven to so many reporters. OH THE GLORY of all the juicy and
    crunchy things to say about this church! Was there ever a sermon about anything except the ones carefully chosen to report? I can see
    their eyes light up as Obama is placed right up front, in agreement. Why did he not leave? Well what have these saints learned in their church? Ever hear anything about " THE TEN COMMANDMENTS"?
    meanest man alive, but God got a hold of him, and, YOU READ THE STORY!. I pray you learn more about church, not highlight only negative

    March 19, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  25. Joel Fishman

    I do not understand why these two are mutually exclusive. Some would seek to create change through their experience and judgement. Now on the one hand you have Hillary Clinton touting her experience and Barack touting his judgement. Let's analyze this for a moment. Hillary is no doubt the more experienced and has been advocating change for a long time. Barack Obama cliams he had the judgement to be against the Iraq war from the beginning. Let's look at this. He bases his judgement on one speech he gave in 2002. He was not in the Senate at that time and was not privy to the intelligence that all the senators had. He also has never led or signifacnalty been a loud voice for ending the war until he started to run for president. A few more points. Barack Obama claims his purchase of his home and involvement with Rezko was a bone head decision. He also never said anything about his Pastor, or his pastor's speeches or that his Church's newspaper made Louis Farrakhan the man of the year. All pretty bad judgements on his part. One more I think represents a bone head decision, that was removing his name from the Michigan Primary. It made no sense for him to do that either. He had nothing to lose there by staying in.

    March 19, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15