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. Ted in Chicago

    Looks like its going to be a long hard road – or a very short one now

    From AP
    Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly challenged Barack Obama to agree to new primaries in Michigan and Florida on Wednesday and said it was "wrong, and frankly un-American" not to have the two delegations seated at the Democratic National Convention



    Being President is an insanely tough job – in so many ways – the test is now – it only gets tougher from here

    May the best PERSON win - and then the harder battle with McCain and the Republican spin and swifboat machine


    March 19, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. vic nashville,Tn

    Hi Wolf
    It is interesting to read ,
    John Mc Cain doesn’t have experience in Economy that issue #1 So Mc Cain ?????
    Between Hillary and Obama, policy Differences are Narrow , We don’t know much about Obama now only some are coming out what I see and listen from CNN last Friday in A/C 360 Obama said NO yesterday Yes ( he was at the church ) I think he didn’t took serious on Friday. My point is “ known politician is better than unknown politician.”

    March 19, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Linda

    why are we electing the president in march 08? If everyone will be patient these canidates have lots more to show you. John McCain went 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 Hillary is next? To heck with experience or change at this point, allow these men/women to really show you who they are. To heck with polls, they way we are going polls might not mean a thing in March 2008. The real time to vote is in November.

    March 19, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Mary Jo in Illinois

    I am a Democrat who is very concerned about the kind of change that Mr. Obama would effect. I trust Hillary Clinton (my first choice) and John McCain (my second choice). The more I learn about Mr. Obama, the more I distrust him.

    March 19, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Juliet George

    A great deal of experience has not worked for us. Look at what we have experienced from the hands of our "experienced" leaders in the past decade. Old policies, bad ideas, ridiculous mindset. I think America needs a new direction. The only person who can do that now is Barack Obama. Nobody else!

    March 19, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Sam

    Experience isn't interesting till it begins to repeat itself – in fact, till it does that, it hardly is experience.
    – Elizabeth Bowen

    Do we want a repeat of the Bush and Clinton dynasties? I think not!

    A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.
    – Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Obama 08

    March 19, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA

    Cheney – EXPERIENCE
    Rumsfeld – EXPERIENCE
    Nixon – EXPERIENCE
    George H. W. Bush – EXPERIENCE
    John McCain – EXPERIENCE


    March 19, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Velle

    America cannot stand any more of the "old guard" tactics! Cheney and Bush are, at this instant, attempting to LOCK-IN a disastrous plan in Iraq that they think the next President will be bound to honor. How long will Amercans continue to fund this criminal conspiracy that calls itself "government"? Stop paying taxes and they have no power! Take back our government....vot for Obama! McCain is an idiot, his record proves it. Hillary is a criminal as is her husband. They should be indicted. Bush should be IMPEACHED and he and Cheney should be tried for their crimes! Why would anybody want more of the same?

    March 19, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Roy

    I Obama wins the nomination I will vote McCain!

    He is stealing the nomination from Clinton by disinfranchising MI & FL. We already have one theif in the White House. He wants us to TRUST HIM. NO WAY!

    March 19, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Grif

    Not just Experience!!!! Not just Change! The so called "Middle East" is going to explode... I've seen it building for Half a Century. And.

    I keep saying this, after being stationed there 47-49 yrs ago. Nothing has changed to them, except they are getting much stronger....

    But now the Middle East is everywhere over the Globe.... Nobody seems to take any notice... I watched, and watched. You do that after living in the fifties..

    Experience Yes!!! But whoever needs do do some research.....

    Go on do it again Discard my Comment........

    March 19, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Teresa

    Obama camp bring it them.

    March 19, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Steven L.

    Teddy Roosevelt, J.F.K, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton (and now Barack Obama) focused on change rather than experience because they were leaders in terms of both rhetoric and action, and people were inspired to believe in them.

    March 19, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. LNAB

    You will hear more than that if Obama gets nominated. You are going to hear a lot about how he sat in a pew for 20 years listening to racist rants yet didn't feel a need to speak out....until it got very public.

    That will be the experience he'll be seeing every day on the T.V. And that is only the tip of this gentleman's iceberg.

    March 19, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Roy

    Also If he thinks he has the best judgement then he should have had enough to walk out of that church.

    March 19, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. Ric

    Obama cannot be trusted. He lied about Rezko. He lied in Ohio about NAFTA. He lied about his racist pastor of 20years. A vote for Obama is more of the same. He doesn't bring any change. Another lie. Hopefully before its too late.

    March 19, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  16. DEM, Texas

    Experience verse Change

    Lets see it the experience that caused the death of over 4000 servicemember and injuried over 120,000 others service members.

    Hillary Clinton Voted to authoried the war. No one plays politic better than the Clinton and the Bush. The sad part is that Clinton have Lied their way back to fooling the american voters.

    American need a change not back to the way it was when Bill Clinton was president because times have changed.

    Change that let all america be a part of the process not just the few or the one.

    Obama is the person we need.......

    March 19, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  17. Hillary 08

    Obama is a Joke! now he is a Lier, Hillary has the Experience!

    March 19, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. Peter Fobare

    Personally I believe that experience should play no important role in these elections. What I just said may outrage some of you, and know that I do understand that good things come with experience. But on the contrary, check this out. Okay so Bush's father was pres. then clinton, then bush, and then Clinton again? No this is a reoccuring pattern which i dont believe is healthy for our country. Its time to stop with these people they are all too familiar and the downward spiral that we are experiencing will not be aided by introducing our country with another pattern. I Think we need a fresh outlook on every aspect of this country, president Obama is number one in my book and McCain second, at least that way we can get rid of these detrimental administrations which cannot seem to solve problems the right way. Anyway just throwing in my two cents.

    March 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. JH

    she said experience just because she "SAY IT" and just words

    March 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. Kathleen, NC

    In Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential debate opening statement – he specifically addresses his opinion on Experience. Voters should check out what he says.

    March 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. Angelo Gentile

    The experience vs. change refrain somehow implies that the two are mutually exclusive. In fact Sen. Clinton has both. She has lots of experience but her election would also mean a dramatic change, too, because we'd be electing the first female president.

    March 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. kelly in Utah

    Don't you thgink experience would be a change. Experience also means not getting involved with controversial preachers.

    March 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. TheLeftNut

    Change. New Blood. New Perspective. Obama.

    March 19, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. Mac in FL

    That's a big IF Wolf. I don't think Obama is going to make it that far.

    I believe that trying to make changes without the experience and judgement that is needed in the undertaking is just a waste of time, and we don't have time. We need ACTION to effect change that is brought about with the wisdom, experience, and judgement of someone who can respond to issues and changing tides without having to lock him or her self up for a few days to think about it and write a speech.

    March 19, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. BK

    If Obama was for change he would not have set in that church for the last 20 years and listening to anti american speeches. He would have been out trying to do something about it. There has been no effort on his part to indicate he believed in any of this until he wanted to become president. Actions speak louder than words. I am also from Florida and if Obama does not believe every Americans vote should count he is anti-american.

    March 19, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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