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. CCC in VT

    How much experience did Bill Clinton have when he was running for President? Not much and he was an effective leader in turning our economy, environment, etc. around. As I recall he ran as the candidate that offered "hope". His appeal was offering an optimistic vision of the future and that things will change for the better. Sounds alot like what resonates with us Obama supporters

    March 19, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. JT in Dallas

    Change? What we have all heard over the past few days should stop the "CHANGE!" crap right now.

    Obama and his supporters got caught spewing racial hatred loud and clear about the U.S. and whites. Best of all they blamed it on history and that is how they do it in that church, blah, blah, blah. It is disgusting that they say it is ok to breed hatred in their Church but ooooohhhhh no, anyone else, and it is the end of the World.

    Racism is racism, period! Change is thinking differently, acting differently. Not excusing the behavior you talk against when it is you doing the misbehaving. Is that change??? Did BHO come out and say anything until he got caught? If we hadn't heard all this about his racist anti- American preacher would he have admitted it? Of course not!

    To add insult to injury, all his supporters have said, in his speech and on CNN all night last night is that it is o.k. for Wright to spew it because his congregation is angry. The most laughable justification came from one of BHO supporters last night saying that a writer of the constitution, Thomas Jefferson, owned slaves, and this was all a part of the way people have been thinking throughout history. Is that change??? I think not!

    Is change in this country generating hatred in CHURCH? In my church, a Christian, love, forgiveness based church, the language and the hatred Wright has used and Obama has accepted and allowed to go on is considered blasphemy.

    Anyone who has any experience at all, anyone other than an excuse using, justifying, and racist speech preacher such as BHO has my vote. What a Liar!

    March 19, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Barry

    I really hate these black and white (no pun intended) dichotomies that the campaigns cook up and the media eats it up.

    Just because one focuses on change, or one focuses on experience doesn't mean the one that focuses on change has NO experience and the one that preaches experience has NO effect on change.

    I guess the American public IS too stupid to think in greys and nuance and would rather be spoon fed one-word ideologies like change or experience. No wonder they voted Bush for 8 years.. People were fed the, "hey if you don't vote bush, the terrorists will kill you" line and they ate it up then.

    That's why whenever i see people interviewed on CNN or other news networks i cringe. They often say, "all i hear from Obama is change change change".. will guess what that's because all you watch are 20 second sound bytes, when you should be getting yourself better informed. That blame falls on the 24 hour news networks as well.

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

    Obama has never addressed any issue directly, this is getting funny. And heres something to think about , Choose your friends wisely as you become them,,,,,, Wright and. Obama..

    March 19, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Hill Supporter from Minnesota

    It's odd that CNN continues to show Obama leading when all other polls indicate he is not. I wonder what that's about.

    March 19, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Shirley Steele

    Mr. Blitzer, l would not miss your programs, but I do believe you
    are biased in your reporting, if that is what you can call it. I a so
    weary of the way CNN pundits try to mask their support of Obama
    over Hillary Clinton. It still is blattantly obvious.

    March 19, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Clofitas

    What's the point of this article exactly. CNN is a tabloid and to think at one moment in time it was respectable.

    March 19, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Monica Vanhorne

    I am black woman who vote for experience not for change,I do not vote for woman because i am a woman,neither for a black man because I am black woman I vote for the person who I think is the best for our country; and is Hillary Clinton.

    March 19, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Clofitas

    What's the point of this article exactly? CNN is a tabloid and to think at one moment in time it was respectable.

    March 19, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. mary reynolds

    At this point I feel that change is important. Even more important is integrity. Obama embodies the kind of integrity that our country's leaders so desperately need to exhibit.

    Hillary may have been in the White House already but her role was not that of the president. I heard somewhere that Obama has been a Senator longer than she has.

    As far as John Mc Cain goes, his is just another version of the Bush administration and philosophy.

    Obama is the only candidate who offers hope for our future.

    Mary from Ithaca

    March 19, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Chuckie

    I got one question for you Mr. Blitzer, why haven't you, CNN, and FOX challenge Sen Clinton on her experience on prime time news? Is it because your bias? Well I and many other surley beleive you are. I don't see KBR in the headlines for weeks for miss using the American peoples money, However, REV Wright seem to trump that subject which is absured and not in the American people interest. Take a look at yourself and your first admendment rights.

    March 19, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. KLS79 are NOT the nominee yet. You don't get to debate McCain yet. You have shown immensely poor judgment throughout this campaign. You are not yet ready to be president.

    March 19, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. Lisa

    If no experience is such a good thing, why is Obama trying to disprove the experience Hillary claims to have? He is making that argument because it is the only argument he can make.

    Lisa in Kailua-Kona, HI

    March 19, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. therealist

    CNN and Wolfy are 0 for 2 on election calls. Looks like this year will complete the strike out..

    March 19, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Janet

    Change and Experience are not mutually exclusive. Can you have positive change on something if you have no real experience on that something? Is it more likely that a person will craft better changes if they have more experience in that area? The answer is No to the first and Yes to the latter. While some will cherry pick exceptions to argue this general rule, it is logical that change requires experience and can not be done with out it.

    March 19, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. Think About Things

    It seems as if Blitzer is trying to campaign for Clinton. Last night when he was doing Larry King Live he had two individuals on talking about Obama's speech. One was a Clinton supporter, one was an Obama supporter. It just seemed that the entire night, although he was trying to remain neutral on the outside, there was a subconscious lean toward supporting Clinton. Here he brings up the experience vs. change argument – not taking obvious sides with either candidate – but for no real reason other than perhaps a Zogby poll that came out (which we all know from the N.H. primary poll is often accurate **sarcasm**). I think the "experience vs change" argument can no longer be made after Clinton offered to make Obama VP. That right there says she thinks he DOES have the experience to be president.

    March 19, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Toni Miley

    Mr. Blitzer, as a retired public school teacher from the State of Mississippi, I've seen the Obama candidacy as a watershed event in the history of this country in terms of race relations and all other citizen concerns as well. Continue to compose the fair and balanced presentations you make each day so that voters can be informed. Why did CNN run the whole Clinton Iraq speech on Monday and we have not seen the whole Iraq speech by Obama today? That kind of thing bothers me. ...All in all, you are brilliant and I appreciate your work. Toni Miley

    March 19, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. Talimee

    Wolf, can you please be clear about what change? Do you mean pull the troops out of Iraq? Yes that is change, but you do need to understand the issue and have some type of "experience" before making decisions. I want change like everyone else, but now, do I exactly know what change I want? Does Obama? He is inspirational alright, but if he wanted to institute change then have him answer these questions (among others):

    1. Why did he vote over 130 times "undecided" in the Illinois Senate? If he wanted to vote down a law, he can vote no, if he wanted to vote for a law, then he can vote yes. If he is undecided, there is no change.

    2. Why didnt he hold one NATO oversight meeting in the Senate subcommitee? He goes around talking about how the war in Afghanistan has been abandoned. Well, NATO has been an utter failure in Afghanistan. If he wanted change in Afghanistan, why didnt he hold meetings and press the issue? Didnt he want to change the situation? I see no change.

    3. What has Obama achieved in the race issues of this country? Besides giving a speech yesterday, what has he accomplished in the Illinois Senate and DC? Was he cleaning up in New Orleans after Katrina? Did he speak loudly to the Senate floor about what the complete failure Bush's administration? Has he given the same type of speeches before when it mattered? Did he ever challenged Reverend Wright to stop saying those horrible things? If he ever did tell Reverend Wright to stop, he obviously didnt care about what Obama said because he kept up the hatred in his speech until recently. Is this change? Has he pushed for change?

    4. Could someone tell me (besides his ethics reform in Illinois) how Senator Obama helped his constituents in Illinois with Healthcare, finances, taxes, family care, etc? How did he change the lives of his constituents?

    I have more questions and no answers.


    March 19, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. gary

    You have to have experience and know how to be qualified to bring changes for our country. HRC is the only one qualified to really bring the changes we need.Obama is not Leader material. He would make a better Preacher. concerned Viet Nam Vet

    March 19, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Ryan

    Wolf -

    I'm sick of the "experience" argument being tossed around by both the McCain and Clinton campaigns. Have either of them ever been President of the United States before? Is there any legitimate reason to believe that participation in Congress is somehow akin to leading the executive branch? All that is being said here is that these two individuals have lived in Washington DC longer than Obama – hardly a positive in my book.

    And to be perfectly honest, I think I'm not alone when I make the point that many voters are sick of business as usual in our nations' capitol. I don't want another candidate who does everything the same way it's been done (and messed up) for years and years now. You can mock Obama's message of change all you want – when it comes down to it, what you're really voting between is the status quo (possibly a slight variation of it) or the possibility of altering the way our government runs for the better.

    March 19, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. marilyn grant


    March 19, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Larry Peter

    Senator Obama seems to be the only one that has the skill to unite those around him. Good decisions are made by good teamwork, not by "I-type" people like Senator Clinton.

    March 19, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. ledel

    This "experience" issue is ridiculous . Bush had no experience, but Cheney and Rummy had tons of experience . Anyone can see that the Bush administration has run the country into the ground, the economy a mess, the military stretched to the breaking point ... , McCain,supposedly experienced, can't keep Iran and Al Qaida straight ( do we want him answering the phone at 3am?) and according to Hillary's papers ,she was experienced at having tea in foreign countries and choosing floral arrangements. A President needs judgment and leadership ability. Looks like Obama to me

    March 19, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. Grif

    Does anyone know, who are the real friends to the USA, in the Middle East .??

    Better the Devil you know? They say.. But who?????? Knows Who???

    So I bank on Hillary, and William!!! But you got the road
    to the Ticket. Not me...

    March 19, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. Obama 2008

    I am afraid about someone having way too much experience. More experience also means the candidate is older. McCain is perhaps too old to be our president!
    Think of what it might look like, if McCain was elected as President.

    At 3:01 AM, his P.A. comes waking him up for an emergency conference call with the Russians and Chinese. "Mr. President, we have a crisis situation". McCain, "What in the moonshine is the problem? I was in the middle of a lovely dream!". P.A., "Mr President, North Korea has launched a nuke, heading towards South Korea." President, "How dare they? I will wipe them off this planet.....where is the Iranian ICBM button?".
    P.A., "Excuse me, Mr. President, you mean N. Korean ICBM button?"
    President, " Is there a difference? Doesn't Iran come in before the ICBMs reach N. Korea? Why not kill two birds with one missile? I am in a mood to fight tonight".

    3:03 AM, "Oops, I hit the wrong button. I am sorry!"

    March 19, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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