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. Eliah

    What's your point Wolf? Are you taking a bread today from spitting HRC talking points? Stick to what you know sir – Hillary's talking points.

    March 19, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. Slap Stick, Florida

    Ok, I see that someone else is having SLIP OF THE BRAIN!!! Why does this question keeps coming up within a few days of one another. The answer is going to be the same as it was a few days ago. She did not have experience then and she does not have it now! Her resting on the coat tail of her husband don't count!!!

    March 19, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  3. Pennsylvania for Obama

    Wolf.......please quit being so Pro-Clinton. Please.

    Please quit pushing the Michigan-Florida re-vote and focus on reporting on the democratic leaders in those particular states who voted to move up their own primary. They are the ones who hurt the voters of Michigan and Florida. You know this. I know this. Anyone who knows anything about this story knows this. So why are we reporting on the leaders in these states and how they messed up.

    If the democratic party is to suffer because of this, it will be the fault of Senator Nelson and other dems who favored to VIOLATE the rules. Report on that Wolf....please.

    March 19, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. R.M.

    No the fault is not Obama nor Hillary. You are at fault Wolf. Your journalistic style of engadging people, your style of confrontational journalism and your provoking questions is the change the american people are looking for. You may have the experience but we need a change from you.

    March 19, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. William Martin

    See there is a major problem with this decision that people have to make between "Change" and "Experience".

    One question that I must ask Sen. Obama is if he truly believes that he is the candidate that can bring "change" then he must answer the question of what kind of change. Change can go either postitive or negative....which is always in the eye of the beholder. I hope that if he is the nominee then he would be able to bring this miracle of change. But until that question that I have asked before until that answer comes then I cannot support him as a candidate.

    For the "experience" of Sen. Clinton...I believe that the record shows in the public eye that she does have experience. The release of her White House years as the First Lady have only strengthened the argument that her campaign has made that she genuinely has the experience necessary to be the Commander-in-Chief of the United States.

    I myself believe that experience is probably the most important quality that a President should have. Because without experience we will have another Bush or Lame-Duck President with no vision forward for this great country.

    March 19, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. Grace, Gruene,TX

    I think the country started to voice their opinion about experience vs change in 2006, by voting to have an all Democratic Congress. I think because of the continued Bush policies, they will continue to vote that way. I must say I'm at a loss for why McCain would use the same Bush political roadmap. He has a 31% approval rating. That should tell McCain something.

    I for one, want change, and not in drips and drabs–I want monumental change. We need to change our direction in the war, the economy, and yes in our race relations. This country needs and overhaul Wolf, and I believe Obama is the man to do it.

    Obama 08

    March 19, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |




    March 19, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  8. Veronica

    Well, as the Right and the Hillary supporters will tell you...

    "Hope and change are over-rated. Experience at giving you more of the same is what really matters!"

    March 19, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. Dre

    Why is Hillary experience is not adding up on her first lady paper, also alot of her dates are black out, I think it some misleading information is cover up with archives they need to be investigator

    March 19, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  10. henrie alabama


    March 19, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  11. Eva

    Obama talks about change but when asked about his pastors sermons says he has never heard the hatred a couple of days later admits he has heard it and then proceeds to blame white americans It took Obama running for President to make his wife proud of America for the first time in her adult life his pastor curses America and then Obama places the pastor on par with the grandmother that help raise him that is in my opionion an insult to the grandmother and not a person we want leading our country What change just lies and more lies looks like the same old same old to me PROUD AMERICAN

    March 19, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Tobi Ade

    After an era of dirty politics full of empty and misleading promises we have a candidate that doesn’t appear to be playing on those predetermined rules. Obama isn’t lashing out; he seems to sit back and really analyze the situation before making a move.
    That is the sort of leader that would not have jumped into a war that has, and is costing Americans blood and precious Dollars or fathers and the fathers before had worked so hard to accumulate for us.
    As for Clinton; I have no issues with her, however, I don’t see a lot of change that is SO much needed in DC if she is elected.

    March 19, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  13. Scott

    what experience of Hillarys? I still have yet to see anything honestly positive that is worth bragging about to be the President. Nothing at all. I vote for change!

    March 19, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. carliss

    it doesnt take experience to run the white house i can do it as a black man from the inner city i can raise gas prices i can start a war for nothing i can tell people in america their gonna be laid off because their jobs or going over sees and i can deny a stain on that womens dress in the white house and even get peter paul case thrown out of court when i a[ppoint my own judge

    March 19, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. Courtney, MA

    I really did not understand the change in the media until this election. For instance I notice that CNN and FOX News continue to run the Wright tapes, although Barack has answered his critics in a very substancial way.

    So now my question is, are the Wright tapes about the ratings? I expected to see the tapes on Fox (they will run them until Nov.), which in my opinion is fake news, but not CNN.

    Tell me I'm wrong, I hope so.

    March 19, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. Uthea Romero

    John McCain will win this battle because Obama has very little to talk about and his past actions speak louder than words. When he gave his speech about racism, he never looked directly into the camera, he looked left and right. People like to see your eyes and watch your words to see if you are telling the truth.

    John McCain is so very strong, he will make Obama cry like a baby.

    March 19, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. jeromeepps

    CNN tell old man Jack Cafferty to do his home work first before he open his one sided mouth. I am a black american, retired military/DAV and one of my of airman friend told me like other family members that live in MI that Senator Obama campaign personnel were there asking them to vote uncommited. why he don't ask the question why he have lie every time about the amount of money his campaign recieved from Tony Rezko. The truth about the home and land ge got throught this man and him under hand dealing. Why he haven't ask him to produce all his records. I think it very dangerous how we let him get away with so much when we know he are telling one lie after another. Why he didn't go to New Orleans, when Ex president Bill Clinton and Senator Clinton show up. Why? Tell me when ever have a individual ever recieved over ninty percent of one race vote? Why do he let Obama campaign get away with playing the race card. Yes, a lot of black wonder why that is never cover. I want to thank CNN for all there stories but sometime I feel like cafferty is so one sided that he is playing the gender card and that's race to me. Again thanks for all your reporter included Jack Cafferty. I truly love Lou Dobbs because he don't back down from none of them and he know that all of those males who couldn't beat the Clinton they look for everything to destroy them. But we all know that she is strong and will fight for us and I mean all race. Senator Clinton do not sell out like Obama do, he for the rich and the under table people with money. It will all come out. I think it is unamerican how you'll let him and his campaign get away with the race card. It was okay when his people was in MI and he know they was, check with people that live there. He lie on a solider and lie about what he had heard from him minister. He said one thing but do something different. He is not Dr. MLK, Jr., and for sure he not Jesus.

    March 19, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  18. Mark Mansfield

    Hey Wolf,

    I really enjoy watching your situation room, but I recently have become upset with the program as a result of Jack Cafferty. Jack has always been rather negative, but his attitude and personality have very much deteriorated and his negativity makes me want to change the channel. I also feel that Cafferty is far too partisan, and is very clearly an Obama supporter. Where are the days of objective journalism? Perhaps an example would be helpful... tonight you discussed US military payments to Iraqis "in exchange for peace." While Jack may have a point where Al Sadar is concerned, in contrast can you really expect the young men of Al Anbar to police their province or pick up the trash as the video report indicated, for free? This viewpoint was not expressed, but rather Jack intended to use this, as he does with everything, as a point against the Bush administration and with an extremely negative bent. I am not a Republican. I have liked and voted for candidates from both parties, and I don't appreciate partisan, negative journalists like Jack Cafferty. He is making your show unwatchable.

    Mark Mansfield

    March 19, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  19. Mary B

    Obama has cooked his own goose on this argument. His inexperience has led to debacles that have only begun to surface. At least I hope it was only inexperience, and not total deception. Those are the only two real choices, I think.
    So I'll vote for Clinton's experience.

    March 19, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  20. Sonya

    Experience vs fake change.

    March 19, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. Drive The Nation

    I think it's unfair to keep simplifying this Democratic contest into a basic phrase like, "Experience vs Change".

    Firstly, Obama's experience is understated and not well known in comparison to Hillary Clinton's, who has had the luxury or tagging along Bill Clinton throughout his Governorship and Presidency during the late 80's and 90's.

    Obama was an Illinois State Senator for 7 years before he made his run for the US House of Representatives- and then became a US Senator in 2004 and currently has 4 years experience. So Hillary has 7 years experience as a US Senator to Barack's 11 years as a State Senator and then a US Senator.

    If Clinton supporters want to arbitrarily include Hillary's several years as first lady to Bill Clinton while he was Governor of AR, and President as "experience"- then there's nothing about Barack Obama's previous "unofficial" experience before he was State Senator that is inferior. If anything, Obama has more experience when you actually examine what these two candidates were actually doing during these years of "experience".

    Hillary Clinton's experience is overrated and overstated. Supporters will argue that she has "35-40 years experience"- but in what? Being the first lady? Walking around in pantsuits and talking to politicians in Washington? Cutting deals with lobbyists?

    I don't think it's fair to say Hillary Clinton doesn't have good experience, but I do think it's fair to say that it's very overrated and made to be something it's not for political momentum and security.

    Obama wins the "change" debate. There's no question that more change would happen if Obama is President. Clinton is the same kind of Washington insider politician. Her intention might be good, but she wouldn't accomplish what Obama is capable of accomplishing as President.

    Bill Clinton was about 47 when he became President, and Barack Obama will be 47 when he becomes President. Where's the experience/age argument here?

    Obama's fundamental argument is that because he hasn't been in Washington as long, he is better able to change it, where as McCain and Clinton are long time Washington insiders, and this is why Washington will be up to the same tricks once any of them are elected. Obama is going to change Washington, because he isn't corrupted by IT.

    March 19, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. Slept in Church for 20 years

    What is the date of this poll?

    Was it prior to "Race-Gate?"

    March 19, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  23. Jot

    Blitezer, do you know why Cafferty your friend hates Hillary? Please tell me

    March 19, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  24. Becky in In.

    Obama says he is going to change things. The problem is we don't know how or what he will change. Hillary has experience and anyone with half a brain knows it. She knows how to take a hit and not get shook up!!!!

    March 19, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. Ratgurl

    If what we needed from a President was experience, we'd be best off to hire the oldest, wisest person still coherent enough to make decisions. But our US President gets to have these great little things called "advisors" who help enable him/her to make descisions they may not have experience with.

    Besides, look at the current administration: they have more experience collectively than any other administration in history, and where have they taken us? Into war, debt, and a poverty that grows daily. I'll take change, thank you.

    San Diego, CA

    March 19, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
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