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. Diana Holdridge


    It's not experience vs. change, it's experience vs. judgment. Certainly you can do a better job at hiding your bias.

    March 19, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Jane

    Wrong exmaples (Cheney, Rumsfield)!

    No experience = gamble (at whose cost) ! Period.

    March 19, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Carlos Ventura

    We need change, Experience has only put us close to a Recession and a war that has no ending. Lets help Senator Obama rebuild America. I have my voice heard, on April 22, 2008 let us all hear your voice great citizen of Pennsylvania. Go and Vote for Change.

    March 19, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. California Voter

    Hillary Clinton has pulled a fast one on the American public. She has no experience actually getting results and yet the mainstream media keeps pushing her as the candidate of experience. The one thing she points to as her domestic policy achievement (SCHIP) has been shown to be the achievement of Senators Hatch and Kennedy. Her foreign policy "achievements" in Northern Ireland and Bosnia have also been debunked in the past 3 weeks by those who were there and who actually achieved the peace. What that leaves her with is a HUGE question. Her claims on her resume aren't supported by the facts.

    March 19, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Patrick

    Yes, Mr. Blitzer, but you left out the results in this poll that show that more democrats see Hillary Clinton has having more experience than Barack Obama.

    March 19, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Does this election have anything to do with experience or change? No matter who wins the election our country is in store for a rude awakening come 2009. I suggest everyone continue to look at the canidates closely as they are showing you the way to how and what will come along with them winning this election. John McC went over to the middle-east and had a tongue slip, B Obama sat in church for years listening to a hate preaching preacher. And I'm sure more will come to light before this finds its way to a winning president. To heck with the polls, don't electe a president in March 2008 wait until you get as much information as you can get. It seems everyday we are finding out more about everyone. Guess Hillary is next?

    March 19, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. Mimi in Pittsburgh

    Obama is right to point out that McCain has the wrong kind of experience. He comes from a military family and has a military mindset. Although we unfortunately still need the military, it will take a lot more than that to tackle the economy, individual liberties issues, the environment and other problems that we face. We need new ideas, not the tired old Republican mantra that McCain has to offer.

    March 19, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Tiachi

    Change will lead to experience...

    Change will take us away from status quo....

    Change will unite us!!!

    Besides, as Mr Obama correctly pointed out... for a democrat stacked against McCain, we will not win the experience argument. Hillary should change her direction on that because if she is to win the nomination, (hopefully NOT), he will SLAM her on that. She is too focused on the goal of overturning Obama's lead and she will hurt herself in the end.

    March 19, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Steve

    Your'e Polls FLIP FLOP
    Just like Obama's WORDS to Canada on NAFTA
    Just like Obama's WORDS to Btirian on IRAG
    Just like Obama's WORDS to on the Preacher I Didn't here it on Fri. but I did here it on Tues.
    He tends to foget alot what a leader he's going to make.It Frightens ME!!!!!!!!!!!! to think if he can not pick the right people NOW to ADVISE HIM what's the chance he could pick as PRESIDENT, after all one was a PULIZTER PRIZE WINNER
    Now That's SCARRY

    March 19, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. RedSea Foreign National

    RedSea Foreign National March 19th, 2008 1:40 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation FOR HOURS NOW!

    Well with McCain's slip of the tongue, I can give him that as a slip of the toungue, but in making it so many times, I think he does equate all extremists as Al Qeada, who started the extremist movement. I do not think exreemists have any loyalty to a branch of Islam. I think bin Laden is a Wahabi, even if Al Qaeda is sunni, and I heard the Wahabi's do not recognize Sunni or Shi'i . Wonder if Obama knows anything about that? Even though I accpet and agree with his message of change, he is not the chosen one to bring it!

    I think this is a little surprise, andmany others McCain has waiting for him if they run against each other! I am sure he knows!

    Don't forget that McCain was around during Reagan and the time Al Qeada was born. In the eighties, Osama bin Laden was an ally and spent billions to fund the war in Afghanistan to get the Ruskies out, and the Bin Laden Taliban in. Bin Laden recruited Arab, Afghan, and Pakistani soldiers for the CIA under Operation Cyclone who brought them to training camps in the states. The CIA training camps were called Al Khifa, now listed as a terrorist organization by the 911 commission report. Funny, even though long abandoned, it was originally a CIA operation. After we got the Taliban in, they rejected our desires to build a gas pipeline through the country. The states then said his government was too radical and they needed a more more moderate government. It does not excuse or condone the activities or views of bin Laden. It was a situation that probably gave his true character a chance to come out, but is interesting to understand the roots. I wonder if Obama knows?

    I am sure McCain knows full well the history, so I am waiting to see what happens. He has been a bitter rival to Bush on strategy and did not want to war to take so long. His words are being twisted over staying in Iraq 100 years, because he was talking about having a base like we have in Kuwait. So I am waiting to see what happens. McCain will have a few surprises for Obama showing him that as a little league soft ball player he cannot play with a mjor league baseball player.

    March 19, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. Cindy

    Change is scarey... but necessary. But the future will continue to march toward us, regardless if we're scared.

    I don't want to march into the future with another administration like the present one. If you have a job infront of you, and you're stuck in it, often times, it takes a change in personel to take it in a different direction and finally find a different way to finish the job.

    It takes courage to make that decision. America, don't be scared, yes we can. 🙂

    March 19, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Aar/MN

    I was watching a debate between Bill Clinton and the Older Bush in one of their presidential debates back in 1990's – Bush is claiming that he has more experience than Bill, and Bill saying back that judgement and who can get the job done is very important than how many years you were in Washington....Bill ended up Wolf – go figure buddy......

    March 19, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. Jason

    As much as I love Obama, I see him becoming the next Dukakis. The GOP is going to unite and destroy him with negative ads, with the ammunition Hillary has given them, and also the whole Wright BS they're going to bring his campaign crashing down.
    Looks like Dems are done for this November.

    March 19, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Lone Star Wolf

    Mr. Blitzer, I am so tired of you and Cafferty's praising of Obama. You quote him on everything he does like he is a God. He is nothing but a Liar. And if he get into office, Oh yes he'll definitely be a man for chance if congress let's him get away with it. With the preaching of Rev. Wright I'm sure he is prepared and ready to go. He says he's experienced enought to handle the job. Well his actions setting in church for twenty years of listening to Hate Whitey and America is enough for me to know his decision making are null and void. Though I'm sure you will find a way to make all his lies go away and somehow make him to look like the knight who has come to save America. It's funny to me Cafferty when he reads his comments he only reads severl positive things about Obama and he may mention one for Hillary and most of the time it's very negative. I'm so tired of him. He needs to go back to Fox. CNN really needs to look real good at the both of you when it comes contract time. If you can't report facts as theyr really are then please don't report them. We're not all stupid out here. HILLARY 08 or McCain but not OBAMA.

    March 19, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. kevin

    After minister's comment, it is over. Why support Imus firing and not fire your own minister. CNN needs to report reality instead of trying to cover the truth. The question is are you going to post my comment?

    March 19, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Adam

    It is not the number of years that gives one the experience necessary to be President. It is what those years have shaped in you as far as a world view. As mentioned by Blizter... Rumsfield and Cheney have umpteen years of experience but the world view those years shaped was exactly the wrong one.

    And I will say something else about McCain's confusion yesterday... age. I am 55 and I don't think as clearly now as I did when I was 46, (Obama's age). I shudder to think about the brain of McCain at over 70, trying to deal with all the complications of foreign and economic policy. It is the stress that dulls the mind of an older person. McCain had been traveling. He was under stress. And he got confused about something very important. It is for me quite telling about how he will fare in a very difficult job like President.

    As far as Clinton goes, her problem is more her ethics and her judgement. She is so political and made her decision on the Iraq War, I believe, for political and not substantive reasons. It couldn't have been substantive because she didn't even read the National Intelligence Estimate before she voted. So I trust Obama's judgement and his experience that led him, like me, to oppose the Iraq war from the very beginning. It was very clear to me it was the wrong move. That is why I can never see Clinton as answering the phone at 3am. If I could see the war was wrong, why couldn't Clinton?

    March 19, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. K.Celina IL for Hillary

    I wonder how much any of Obama's supporters are up to have their personal data to be open to anybody in USA or the World !!!!!!
    How about Obama's record !!!!!!!! and Rezko link !!!!!!!!/POOR AMERICANS. I feel so sorry for all of You, becouse you are very naive !!!!!!! What about Mr Mc Cain record !!!!!!!!
    Thank You !!!!
    I hope people will be smart while voting !!!!!

    March 19, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. michael, ny

    So, you would rather hear experience vs. experience?

    This game is over for Hillary.

    Lets move on to discuss change vs. experience on a new level.

    March 19, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. broadstreet buddy

    Wolf, last night on Larry King Live, how did you let that woman respond to a question of yours by saying, "Have you seen the news lately?"!!!!

    Doesn't she know that you ARE the news!!

    but immediately after she did make a good point.

    March 19, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Mark

    Obama is smart enough to choose the right VP to balance the equation of experience and change. I find it very interesting that Richardson has not endorsed Clinton, and the reason for that must be that he is on top of the Obama shortlist of ideal running-mates. It would make a lot of sense: Richardson has the experience, and he is Hispanic; between them, Obama and Richardson would put states into play (like Texas) that have been solidly Republican for a long time. He could even announce the intention to have Wesley Clark as Secretary of Defense, which would blunt another McCain claim to expertise. What will reveal the political skill of Obama is how he approaches these issues and opportunities.

    March 19, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. simple thought ?

    all the change in the world doesnt mean squat if you don't have the experience to change for the better.
    if this country is gonna survive, it will need a doer, not a talker.
    mr obama is the talker.
    he can not provide a list of anything he has done as a senator.
    because he has only one thing on his agenda.
    the presidency................

    and Mrs. obama has made it clear, you either vote for her husband now....
    or else she wont let him run again....
    who wears the pants in their ( we hate America) household?????


    March 19, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Adam

    I think the argument has actually been "Experience vs Judgment." Obama and Clinton both constantly talk about "change."

    So far it appears as if Obama has demonstrated better Judgment than Hillary Clinton. He spoke out against the Iraq War during the middle of a campaign while the country was blood thirsty. Hillary did vote to go to war with Iraq. She can't deny that. Obama advocated that we should attack Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan unilaterally. Hillary and McCain made fun of him. Then Bush attacked a senior Al Qaeda target in Pakistan unilaterally. Now Clinton and McCain are clammering to ride Obama's coat tails.

    But lets face reality here. Wolf Blitzer does not want to talk about Barack Obama's judgment. He would prefer to concentrate on the false "Experience vs Change" argument. That argument he obviously feels favors his horse in this race.

    March 19, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Ed Chapman

    If Senator Obama thinks for a minute he is going to best Senator McCain when it comes to a candid discussion on National Security, as the old saying goes" He (Obama) better pack a lunch, because that is going to be an all day job"!!!! Senator Obama has this misconception that experience is not all it is cracked up to be, mainly because he has so little of it, but make no mistake Senator Obama, many Americans, in time of crisis 9 times out of 10, are going to be more comfortable with "experience" than "inexperience", when it comes to the national security of this great nation!

    Ed Woodbridge, Va.

    March 19, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. YBLN7


    March 19, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. No Rokee


    Thanks for all the updates. I like your programs.

    We don't want a Rokee. If Hilary is not the nominee we prefer John McCain vs Obama.

    We are an a crisis. Issues need to be addressed that cannot be done by empty speeches.

    March 19, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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