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. Alexandra

    God bless Obama

    March 19, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. NoObama

    Please drop this one off. I didn't see much of change! He is no difference than any of other politicians!

    March 19, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Jennifer Ohara

    Dare to print this CNN -

    I simply do not want to hear from Obama anymore. I heard his "mentor, friend and great advisor" speak about this country and the people in it. I heard his great "mentor", Reverend Wright, spew vile and hatred against whites, Jews, God and this country. I heard his great "mentor" throwing out rhetoric to fuel the fires of racism! And I wondered how a man could sit in a church like that for 20 years and not feel the same way. I wondered how a man could speak of "uniting America" when those so close to him, including his own wife, are neither proud of America nor proud to be an American. And I wondered if Barack Obama doesn't just want to advance his own agenda, as opposed to the AMERICAN agenda. I will not vote for Obama — ever. I'm ready to vote for an African American for President one day, for sure — but not this African American.

    March 19, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. The Austrian

    Here's a little eye opener to the American public: Hillary does not have the right experience, and Obama will not bring change. They are both from the same stock of Keynesian, CoFR-ridden, imperialist and statist- driven politicians that have been in office since Wilson.

    March 19, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Uncle Sam

    The DNC and others who have been quick to criticize John McCain for his statements about Iranian influence on Al-Qaeda should think again. Common enemies make for strange bedfellows.

    March 19, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. Mike

    The only experience I see Obama having is playing politics as usual by double-dealing NAFTA before the Ohio debate, "accidentally" voting 6 times for republican measures, buying $50k in two pharma companies for bird flu and then pushing legislation in favor of it, selling out his pastor only when it became an issue of the sermons, admitting he lied about knowing the sermons only when members of his church said he was there during them, having a con artist friend do questionable real estate deals for him, hiring his known con artist partner's son as an intern in the senate, and so on and so on.

    Is this the change we can believe in?

    March 19, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |








    March 19, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. nick in SF

    Change, change is Obama deamin? Does Obama think that the men that Rev. Wright talked about want "change". Mr. Obama waisted his time trying to get White folks to see things through our eyes. The Dream is dead and America is what it is and that is many nations in one. What make him think that White people want change. As Bill Clinton said "give me a break". Words are just words as they said and the White man still to this day have that fork in his mouth.
    God Bless America

    March 19, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Adam

    Hog wash...Obama said he did not vote for the war. That is absolutely correct because he was still a child learning about politics in Ohio. No one knows how he would have voted if he was in the Senate of the US. So claiming he did not vote for the war is a joke. He couldn't. He wasn't there. So stop using the excuse. Yet! since he has been there, he has voted for the appropriation bills supporting the troops in the war. Stop lying about not voting for the war.You can not unwrite history.
    Not qualify to lead.

    March 19, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. Aaron in Virginia

    I hope and trust that Obama will not exploit for personal gain his opponent's age and senility.

    March 19, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. Kerry

    Yes, experience is overrated when it comes to politics. Look at all of McCain's experience but yet he didn't even know the difference between Al Qaedi and Iranian extremists. Or what about the Bushs and all their years in government? Bill Clinton's experience did not help him when he had a choice to not engage in inproper behavior. Nor did it save Elliot Spitzer's career.

    It is judgement and character that matters most because a President, or a politician of any high stature for that matter, rarely makes decisions all by himself – he'll have the input of so many advisors and politicians, who will no doubt have more experience and expertise in the particular field in question.

    Ultimately, the President must be able to take all the information and advice at hand and be able to make the right decision. There will not always be one right answer – there may be none or many right answers.

    Will the President make the best decision for America, or for what is currently popular in opinion polls? Will the decision be based on the President's on self-interest, including current lobbyists and future lobbying deals (ie. future oil/mining or stock deals)? Will the President abuse his power and position for selfish rewards, like Bill and Elliot Spitzer did?

    Judgement and character to lead and inspire. That is what's most important in a President.

    March 19, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Trev

    Experience is not always the greatest thing. However, Hillary has experience bringing about change. She is the best of both worlds. Obama talks about change, but many of his tactics indicate that he is not a change agent. Many Obama supporters also point out the Hillary has less experience than Obama. If experience can be bad, as Obama says, I look forward to those people supporting Hillary.

    Hillary 08

    March 19, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Josh

    What election in the past 100 years has not hadthe candidates saying "I'll bring change!"

    Running a campagn on hope is rediculous. I'm not sure why anoyone would vote for Obama as the real solutions that he's occasionally hinted at are weak.

    We all want change. But moving on – what would he do to bring it that others haven't done in the past?

    It's really time to focus on results and experience.

    We can havet a former POW with his finger on the red button; a testy former first lady, and someone who all we know about is taht he wants change. Since we don't know where that change would come from, I'd go with the known variable.

    Sure things need to be changed. If I heard more about HOW they would be changed I might listen to Barak – for now he seems like the travel agent for empty promises.

    March 19, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. CHERYL



    GO HILLARY!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. Kim

    as a newly registered democrat, of which i'm almost sad i changed, if Obama gets the nomination (GOD FORBID... sorry Wright), I will vote for McCain. NOT because of change speeches, but because of integrity, EXPERIENCE, and an ability to stand up under pressure.

    of which Clinton and McCain can do.

    Obama, go home.

    March 19, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. ANA

    Please, Obama is not truthful, how can you even consider his distortions and lies about everything going from Rezko to racism (rev Wright) and his wife clearly saying that she was not proud of being an American until Barak run for office. Please be aware that Michelle Obama's words fit perfectly with Rev Wright's "God damm America" sermon. She brought Obama to Wright's church and apparently they are good followers, so good that they even expose their innocent children to the hatred promulgated by Wright and his followers. Obama wouldn't reject his "uncle" until he was caught. Up to a few days ago Rev Wright was an official advisor in Obama's campaign only to be removed when caught.

    March 19, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. joe


    this poll must have been done b.w.....before wright

    different poll if taken today

    obama is history

    March 19, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. Alice in Fort Myers

    Barack sure is good at "change." He keeps "changing" what side of his mouth he's speaking out of. He speaks out of one side when he can't remember hearing anything Wright said. Then he "changes" and remembers he did hear hateful stuff. Same thing with NAFTA. Same thing with Iraq – he's against it, but he would send us back there. The man's a chameleon. An utter GENIUS at "change."

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

    Experience is verifiable, proven, a resume. Change is a slogan, a marketing tool, an unknown. Hillary gets my vote.

    March 19, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. docrock,tx

    Will CNN be willing to air an obvious Political statement,matching in content of time ,for McCain or Hillary?I will go on record as gauranteeing they will NOT!The Media will be responsible for yet another aborted election process,but this one may turn out to be the first"nail"in the coffin of the so-called "news networks".Isure pray that this is the case.

    March 19, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. therealist

    What exactly are they experienced at? Running political campaigns??

    March 19, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. CST

    I'm sorry but how does Obama win a debate about national security against John McCain?

    Speeches don't equal action. What has Obama done besides talk about what he's going to do?

    March 19, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. HILLARY 08

    Obama's change to the country will be allowing muslims to come into the country and settling here, to build there new middle east.

    That's the change he really has in mind!

    He's just a load of banter!!

    We need experience!! Bill Clinton did away w/ what George Bush Sr. left of the country – and did a very good job – he left a balanced budget as well.

    Hillary Clinton can certainly do the same. She has the capacity, the knowledge and expertise to rebuild the country!! Come on, we've seen it done before, it can be done again!!

    Why are you people falling for this Obama conspiracy!!??

    March 19, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Judgement

    Experience is nothing if you do not learn from it. What ever experience you have if you do not have good judgement it would not get you anywhere. Having said that hillary keeps saying she has more experience what experience is she talking about. Being First lady does not by any measure give you experience. Her Judgement has been wrong from day one to date. She can never learn from her mistakes, one can not correct his/her mistake if you he/she refuses to admit it when asked. Leader ship is about judgement not experience. You can be 60 years old, still do not have the judgement and leader ship of a 15 years old. I rest my case.

    March 19, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Illinois

    Of course Obama's campaign wants to paint it as though it would be a bad thing to have too much Washington political experience......because their candidate doesn't have any!

    And having extensive political experience in the way Washington does politics is NOT a disadvantage. The only way it's possible to make a true difference in the way politics are done is by someone who has an insider view of Washington. A person can't change something that they know virtually nothing about.

    March 19, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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