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. Pat

    You keep using that word , "experience." I do not think it means what you think it means. Thank you Mr. Montoya.

    March 19, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. Kyle Columbia SC

    Wolf we are now seeing that all that experience she claims to have gotten from being First Lady is a bunch of bs!! After he Health Care plan died her role DIED!! You are such a Hillay muppet!! Do some real reporting

    March 19, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. AtlantaVoter

    To say that experience, as it is generally thought of, made the Dick and the Donald make bad decisions is inherently wrongheaded. They could have used their experience to make good decisions. Experience presented them with options. They chose the low road.

    To extrapolate that Clinton will do the same is just another bogus analogy. The first being "I was against the war and she voted for it" = bogus analogy. She had a vote and obama didn't. Apples and oranges.

    Stop and THINK - don't just gobble up everything you hear without stepping back and looking at what is really being said.

    March 19, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  4. Blaise

    The poll shouldn't be which candidate is best able to effect change, but instead what change they will effect. Hillary WILL fix the problems with the nations economy if nothing else. McCain will be most effective in dealing with matters of national security and Obama..well hate and a divided USA thats what. I have first hand experience in this I have alot of african American friends and now we are at odds because I support Hillary and not Obama. And this isn't a one time occurrence it is literally happening through the US. People who don't support or vote for Obama. Is this really the change that we want from Obama? Or will this go away IF he becomes president? Either way I remain strong in my support of the better candidate for president. Obama has said nothing to convince me he is the best for the job, all its been has been words and lies. He lied about meeting the Canadians, he lied about his ideas for Iraq and he lied about not knowing about his pastors words of hate. So their you have it.

    March 19, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  5. Give me a break

    Wolf, it isn't 'Experience versus Change'. The title of this blogpost is misleading. 'Experience' is not the first word that comes to mind conerning presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Clinton campaign argument that she is the more 'experienced' candidate has been used to mislead Americans who don't know much about her history... or even the history of our country. George Bush has more experience in his pinky than all of the experience HRC has had as a senator and first lady. Not only was his father former head of the CIA and a former president, but George Bush had also been part of the political scene for decades. He had even been part of Nixon's campaign for president! And look at the job that he has done as president so far. A war reminiscent of Vietnam and a failing economy. Regan was a Hollywood actor, and he has been one of our most effective presidents to date. So give me a break with all of this 'experience' Hillary speaks of. HRC is very experienced when it comes to misrepresenting herself and her opponents. Let's consider why she would be reluctant to release her taxes or white house papers (well, today she was FORCED by court order to release them due to an ongoing investigation and even still large chunks of information have been ommitted). This is a woman who sat as a lawyer on the board of Walmart, was involved in the Whitewater scandal, worked for the Rose law firm, and has been the target of NUMEROUS legal investigations. The media is willing to drag Obama through the dirt and has been scrutinizing his record, but it is not willing to even mention the numerous scandals the Clintons have been involved in. What about when HRC ordered staff to remove boxes and boxes of files from Vincent Foster's office after he had reportedly committed suicide, BEFORE investigators got there??? Even the evidence surrounding his so-called suicide suggested that his body had been moved post-mortem and that part of his suicide letter had been forged. So please, this is not a debate about whether experience or change is better. Its a debate surrounding a history of political corruption versus a history of having sound judgement. Rezko and Wright have NOTHING on Peter Paul, Vincent Foster, Whitewater, Rose law firm, etc.
    What ever happened to responsible journalism?

    March 19, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. Justin

    I can't decide if this point is being made too early or too late. The US is tired of this change vs. experience debate for now, especially between Obama and Clinton. The truth is that both have very little experience in comparison to McCain ( I don't buy the point that Clinton has far more experience than Obama because of her tenure as First Lady.) If Obama wins the nomination and faces McCain there will be a plethora of contrasts, change vs. experience will be one of them. But why make this point now? It's obvious that this debate won't happen for a long time, if at all.

    March 19, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. OBAMA 08






    March 19, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. Independent

    Obama does not accept the results of Florida and Michigan. He is against revote in Florida and Michigan. He has not alternative to suggest solving the problem. Basically his stance amounts to disfranchising millions of voters in Florida and Michigan. Can we entrust this nation’s reign into the hands of someone who tries to disfranchise millions of people in Florida and Michigan so that he gets elected? Absolutely not.

    March 19, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Art Hall Jr.

    Barack Obama did not do enough. His message cleverly disguised, was crafted, to open up, old wounds, from the past. The country is more divisive, now, since his speech. He made it absolutely clear, that he is not going to disasociate himself from this friend, father figure, and mentor, Rev. Wright! If he can't do it, even now,while he is under the microscope. He will never do iit! If Barack Obama was elected to the prsidency of our beloved country, would America want this "uncle figure", whispering into the ear of our President. If Barack has the "audacity" to continue to lend his support, to a man who proclamed, loud and clear, God D America, he would have the "audacity" to have this "uncle", close friend, Rev. and spiritual advisor hold the bible on inaugaration day. Could America stomach this?

    March 19, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    If by experience you mean the same status quo way of doing things in Washington, forget it, I would rather have a smart, inexperienced person who has the intelligence to hire the right people to fill the important positions in his cabinet. They are the people who should have experience.

    Obama has the thoughtful presence of someone who will listen to the people he hires and take their advice before he makes a decision. That is the person I want for a president not someone who repeats the same old tired discourse (we fighting him there, so they don't follow us home. etc) as our reasons for continuing a failed war.

    Obama is right, Washington is filled with experince but look where all that experince has gotten us.

    March 19, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. Veronica

    Clinton should bow out gracefully and attend to the missing sink in the kitchen...

    March 19, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. pat, FLORIDA

    Its interesting that the way change is communicated, is such that this change is just going to happen. A lot of the things to be done to effect change require vast experiance, and if you do not have it, then I'm afraid but your wish to effect change will just be that... wish. Hillary is the most qualified to talk about change, because she clearly has a plan on how its all going to be implemented. Her understanding of government systems, networks of politicians around the world, and tangeble "Solutions for America" makes her the better candidate.

    March 19, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. Jimmy

    CNN protecting the teaching of hate to our youth through Rev. Wright and other black churches teaching their youth to hate and blame the white children. Shame on you Barack Obama. This is not bringing Unity, this is Decisive. representative Pelosi this goes for you to. You support Obama you support teaching hate to our youth. You both should step down in good faith of our American Values. All are created equal including the White man. Teaching hatred about any race in the United States should not be allowed. This is why Barack Obama can not be President, nor should he be an United States Senator.

    March 19, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Jimmy

    Not that your bias is showing or anything, but when is this network and specially The Situation Room going to be renamed The Obama Show. Really I have never been more disappointed with a network than I now am with CNN. Really don't think you give a fling flip but I feel better. By the way I am not a Clinton Supporter.

    March 19, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  15. Andee

    I believe "change" will take place no matter who wins the election. None of the candidates agree with Bush totally. Obama's campaign simply chose the correct "catch word" this time. Hillary stands for change just as much as Barack. However, the media continues to support Obama instead of reporting unbiased news. I have stopped watching CNN and MSNBC.

    March 19, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. Aaron

    Experience far outways change, Hillary v. Obama. I can not believe so many people are in support of Obama for President. I can only shake my head in wonder, why(?) Ironically enough just as CNN hit the nail on the head by labelling this Presidential contest "Race & Gender" the under lying issues are finally coming out into the open. Race is an issue and I believe Obama is missing his calling. If he strongly believes he is the champion of change then perhaps his efforts would best be served replacing Reverend Wrights message of hatred and contempt and redefine a new message of co-operation , coexistence, mutual goals that equally bennifit all Americans. Firstly by dropping the "African " from Americans, after all inserting "African" is by nature a devisive name in itself. The Black community themselves are promoting racism by insisting they be called "African". No, Im not Racist!!!! The power of the spoken word is a powerful tool as Obama amply illustrates throughout his addresses to potential voters. Rev. Wright works up his congregation with not words of love, forgiveness, understanding, tolerance,incouragement and yes, hope for a better tomorrow. Instead Rev. Wright chooses to speak of hate and take God's name in vain. Obama lets his children sit through this and allow hatred purpetuate inself through another generation of discord. He has done a great dis-service to his people by not advancing Dr. Martin Luthers Kings self sacraficing life long work toward equality ..Obama's charismatic presence would honour Dr. Martin Luther Kings legacy by continuing his work and do more for America than he could ever possibly hope to do as President. I believe Obama has reached that cross roads in his life which, by in large will determine what he truly believes.

    March 19, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  17. Lisa

    Ever since I saw the excerpts from Rev. Wrights CD, it disgusts me to listen to him. Its frightening that he would allow his children to be exposed to such a radical and racist human being. Rev. Wright is no better than Islamic Extremists. His views are racist and insight more bigotry and hate. How could anyone vote for a man who aligns himself with such a horrid human being.I'm betting Obama just lost a large portion of the white vote. If he wins the nomination, we are doomed. Lets hope Hillary wins.

    March 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  18. Tanita

    What is going on Mr.Blitzer? You told us that American public believes Obama can better change our political culture?!
    Obama' s "inspiration" based on lies.
    He cannot be trusted!!! Once he said one thing and another time he said opposit.
    I can remid you a lot of examples:
    About Jeremiah Wright – his spiritual mentor – when Anderson Cooper asked him " Does Obama ever presented at his Church when his spiritual mentor gave Anti-American and hatefull speeches..." Obama answered – "No". It was on 15th of March 2008 and on 18th of March 2008 in his speech he told us "He was presented in the Church when Jeremiah used such hatefull Anti-American speech and racist and hate words toward white people.
    By the way Baracks Church doctrine says they have a NONNEGOTIABLE COMMITMENT TO AFRICA – their MOTHERLAND.
    And what happend to America?...

    Barack lied about NAFTA.( Remember story wirth Canadian consulate in Chicago?... His staff told canadians, don't pay attention what he is saying on campaign trail it is just politics...)
    He lied about his energy policy (he voted in favor of the Cheney oil subsidies).
    He lied about Iraq (his foreign affair adviser tells Europe no way he will take out troops and it's really just a "best scenario").
    He lied about being post-racial (his campaign co-chair Jesse Jackson Jr. calls black superdelegates and tells them that if they do not vote
    based on skin color, they are going to be out of job).
    He lied about Rezko . First Obama said he hardly knew him, then it was good friends but no business, now we find out from a federal agent under sworn testimony that they were meeting daily for business.
    Has he said a single true thing?
    He is pathological liar.

    When you are (Barack Obama) a candidate for President of the United States of America and you are running as a uniter, you cannot have 20 years of your life invested in division. Obama is UNELECTIBLE now. Period.

    And last question for you Mr.Blitzer. Don't you have another team to discuss issues but Jeck Cafferty (he is full of hate), Rolland (I forgot his last name ), Geff Tubin, Gloria Borger?... We don't need their opinions. All of them hate Hillary Clinton and It is totally unfair to have a team for discussion who support only one candidate and it is Obama. Even after all this information mentioned above they still support him. This people have the same kind of "judgement" as Obama has! They don't think about America. I think they should have no place on CNN.

    Obama gave a speech... a great speech that did nothing to adress the problems. IT'S NOT ABOUT RACE IT IS ABOUT HATING AMERICA.

    So, don't change subject, Obama, don't full us again and again.

    March 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  19. Wisconsin

    Yes real issues again! Lets get all three on stage and start talking about the war!

    McCain... is ok with 100 years of war

    Hillary... Voted for the war.

    Obama... Spoke against the war.

    Just the facts here.

    March 19, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. Independent


    March 19, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  21. Barbara Ward

    Why don't you change the name of your channel to Obama News? I am fed up with your slobbering over Obama. If Obama can not walk out of a sermon that teaches hate of America and whites to his children, how can he be considered strong enough to be President. He was more concerened with his position in the "black" community that taking a position about the good of America and whites, who he is half.

    March 19, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  22. John

    I thought newscasters were supposed to tell us the news and let us decide, but you clearly favor Barack Obama and post and say things on air to prove it. It's enough if I wanted to see biased news I'd watch Fox.

    March 19, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. ah! heck?

    the only change that obama will bring is another loss in the democrats presidential races.

    mr.mccain, the war hero will allow the republicans to eat this guy alive.

    think he's off his game now, wait till the right wing gets ahold of him.

    fountain farm, mo.

    March 19, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  24. jkk

    lsn't that the meaning to insanity? lt is time for something new and refreshing. let's try a new approach to solve these 21st century problems that confront the world at large. let's abandon those archaic ideaology . Americans are smatter so is the world.Obama is that person to do it. lt's true he doesn't have washington type of experience.... but where has experiences got us? lost of life, trillions of dollars and still counting, lost of respect as once world leader. We havw been knocked down that pedestal plainly because of arrogance that bothers on ignorance that we can poke our nose in other people's bizz without no repercaution.....

    March 19, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  25. Donna Canadian

    Sorry experience will out weigh change as people begin to realize change is only good when it's for the better.
    Obama doesn't even have the good JUDGMENT to CHANGE his Pastor and church for one that preaches and teaches peace and unity and equality, instead he chooses to be a member of one that preaches hate and racism and ironically is all about old school ideas on the subject of race. OBAMA WHERE'S THE CHANGE???? The only CHANGE I see is when he CHANGES from saying I never heard anything offensive when I sat in the pews of my church (last week) to Yes I heard these comments when I attended church.(this week) Oh and maybe the CHANGE when he was dead against Nafta to sending an advisor to the Canadians to tell them he CHANGED his view on that it was just political positioning. Oh, and maybe when one of his advisors told another goverment that he really won't withdraw troops right away even though he says he will I guess that is a CHANGE. Oh, and the change from agreeing to public funding for his race to now disagreeing with that. WELL GUESS WHAT ??I GUESS HE IS THE CANDIDATE FOR CHANGE !!! WOW WHAT A RELIEF!

    March 19, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
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