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. John in WA

    If an example of McCain's experience is his recent "mis-speaking" in Iraq over where al-quaida fighters are coming from, then I'll probably gag as I pull the "dem" lever in November (if it's Barack.......)

    Oh well, anyone but Hillary........

    March 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. La Petite Sorciere

    Cnn i have been tryin gto post this now for about one hour:

    I have the experience to be the next president: My father is a congressman he has been for 14 years, i have followed him to meetings and even Congress.I was an intern for the UN in Geneva, Switzerland (1 year) and 1/2 in NY, my partner works for Medicins sans Frontiers (and has for 4 years) i often go with him in his trips (I am not a doctor), and I was present as an observer while Ireland was workign the peace accords .... SO, now I have all the experience I need to be a foreign diplomat and not to mention to be president........... ohh yes I forgot I am also a woman.........
    Experince according to Clinton _
    if she can fake it why can we??? that is all folks.!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. April

    Why is this still being talked about? Why doesn't someone at CNN expose The Clinton Chronicles, or the other film made by an ex Clinton supporter "Hillary Clinton: It's All A Big Lie"..? Doesn't CNN care if she gets elected or hasn't Bush done enough to ruin the reptuation of the USA?

    March 19, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |

    There goes Wolf giving his darling Obama another plug!

    Might as well rename your show to "The Obama Edition"!


    March 19, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. michelle brians

    Whenever Obama said 'change' in his speech, it reminds me the picture of the movie ‘Resident Evil’.

    Change is not always good when it is not well planed. Running a country is not like running a lab, where you can afford a lot of experimental runs.

    We can’t give him 4 years to do some inexperienced change to this country.

    March 19, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. kmichelle_Troy, MI

    I've had enough...more than my share of the experience Washington politians are offering. Current conditions of our country is not something anyone in Washington should put on their resume. We can't afford anymore "experienced" leadership from Washington.

    March 19, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Ellie

    Wolf –

    Based on these FACTS coming out of Sen. Clinton's papers, I have to say I'll go with Sen. Obama any time, any day.

    It states in the papers:

    In the Whitewater probe, one of the most pivotal events occurred on Jan. 4, 1996, a day in which Mrs. Clinton's personal calendar for late that afternoon is marked "Private Meeting" with her chief of staff, Margaret Williams.

    Several hours earlier, an aide had discovered inside the White House family residence long-sought billing records of Mrs. Clinton's legal work on Whitewater-related real estate transactions that turned out to be FRADULENT!!

    Her calendar for Jan. 26 says "No Public Schedule," although the first lady stood before a bank of microphones in front of the federal courthouse in Washington, and declared: "I am happy to answer the grand jury's questions." Several hours of testimony she gave that day made her the first first lady to ever be hauled in for questioning before a federal grand jury.

    Neither the federal probe by Independent Counsel Ken Starr nor Republican-led investigations on Capitol Hill were ever able to sort out why the records of Mrs. Clinton's work had NEVER been turned over to investigators. Mrs. Clinton said she had NO IDEA where the billing records had been


    Wow..... that is proof that Sen. Clinton will do anything and say anything to hide fraudulent and deceitful activities!!

    March 19, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Jeannie, Sacramento, CA

    The change Barack Obama espouses is slowly being negated by his refusal to repudiate his pastor's hate rhetoric. Once again, the white man must change his evil ways while the black man should be allowed to keep screaming hate from their religious pulpits because once upon a time, they were the white man's slaves. Well enough! If Obama wants change, he needs to tell his black brothers to change course..... or they can all just go to their corner while we go to ours. Then we'll see who really runs the wealth in this country.

    March 19, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. kmichelle_Troy, MI

    I've had enough…more than my share of the experience Washington politicians are offering. Current conditions of our country are not something anyone in Washington should put on their resume. We can't afford anymore "experienced" leadership from Washington.

    March 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. Don Anderson

    it's hard to believe that Tony Dean blew it again in a Presidental election. The states of Michigan and Florida pay the election bills and Tony tells them how and when to spend it when it is the taxpayers money. The states make the elections possible not the 2 political partys. Since when do politcal rules control free elections.

    March 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. David

    Wolf its about judgement , not experience, not change. Sound judgement is what our next president will need and what the country is desperate for.

    The country will judge John McCain on his judgement about the war, his surge argument might win out with half the nation.

    IF Obama is the democratic nominee his judgement will come down to why he has not denounced a racists preacher. So far he has not explained that and I am very fearful that he won't be able to or even worse does not want to.

    March 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Kelly

    Wolf and CNN doesn't get it.

    They are still trying to force Obama down our throats despite the fact that all the polls out there – and there are many, shows Obama losing ground over the last several weeks.
    Your psuedo news organization and your polls have no credibility. Face it, after this, Obama, if he gets the nomination cannot win and will not win the general election.

    March 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. shari

    Why does the media insist on saying "Change vs. Experience" when we can have both with Hillary? She has been using the word change for as long if not longer than Obama. I started wearing a Clinton campaign button last spring and both several last summer and fall and they have the word change on them. This is another case of the media's influence on the campaign. If you asked people who you polled which candidate could bring about the most change, they would have said Obama because that's what they media has been telling them for months!

    March 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. Man that supports Hillary

    Change of What? All he has been doing is lieing.

    March 19, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. J. Harvey

    Experience is and has always been key to delivering a job well done. HIllary Clinton's expereince and hard work ethic will result in better opportunities for all Americans. And do not forget Hillary has a record of voting across the aisle which reflects her proven ability to compromise for the common good of our country. This is not the time to roll the dice for a promise of change. Patriotism should be the foremost underlying factor for any candidate who decides to run for president. Barrack Obama's sense of judgement is clearly impaired. His business dealings with Rezko and his continued support of any church that denounces our country is appauling and unacceptable. Let us not forget Barrack Obama is a U.S. Senator and the content of Michelle Obamas thesis. The true puzzle seems to be coming together. If never before, how could Michelle Obama not have been proud to be an American on 9/11? I had a hard time listening to his speech in it's entirety. I think it's truly disturbing that black citizens do not feel like Americans. There is no better country on this earth. God Bless America!

    March 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. Maddie

    I don't think Change can be a legitimate mantra for Obama anymore. If he cannot even Change the tone in his congregation, how can he change the tone in Washington or in the US. He was in the best and unique position to do so within his church, but he sat there for 20 years doing nothing. To me, that is not change. It is status quo.

    March 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. rapimus


    March 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. ct

    it is not matter of change or experience anymore. Obama was visiting for 20 years racist church, had his kids to be influenced by this. This is heavy, this is serious.
    I will never be able to trust him. He had to be influenced by this hate – nothing is worse than fanatism, and this pastor is fanatic. I would not ever listen to fanatic for more than 5 min. Then I would leave forever. Obama chose to make him his friend...... and he does not want to leave him.
    This is what is even more serious.
    I will never vote for O.

    March 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. mike

    If Hillary is not the Dem. candidate I will be forced to vote for McCain. Obama is not be trusted!

    March 19, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. Letha, Sioux Falls, SD

    I'm beginning to think this racist is your man in Washington since you seem to play such favorites. I'm surprised since I really thought you were the most fair on TV when it came to facts. I may have been wrong.

    March 19, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  21. Dumbest proposal

    Florida lawmakers,

    Your plan offering to seat delegates is dumb. You need to place delegates based on the vote from people of FL and not from national vote. We don't represent FL. Only FL people represent FL. Thier vote need to be counted.

    You need to care about as what people of FL has to say and not the national vote. You call as Florida law makers representing people of FL. SHAME ON YOU. You are making people of FL as the victims for Party Leaders mistake. Clean up the mess the Leaders made.

    SHAME ON YOU for ignoring the voices of FL. Your plan is dumb.

    March 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  22. Grif

    What would be your options, if Russia gave Iran an Air- force ....

    They definitely gave one to India, while you and Europe were fighting in Yugoslavia.

    just Ten years ago...

    March 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. David

    What do we mean by experience?
    Rumsfeld, Cheney and McCain has more experience and they made bad decisions invading Iraq. Hillary helped them...
    Is this the experience Hillary is talking about?
    If she is talking about the experience of her husband, then she should be blamed for his failure to accept a handover of Osama Bin Laden by Sudan government in 1997...
    May be if he did, September 11 may not had happened...
    We need new leadership in this country to understand the challenges we face in this century. We need Obama...

    March 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. Randy - Denver

    This is the center point of this campaign so we willhear much more about it. The question Americans have to ask themselves is a simple one do we want to continue down the path we are going as a government (NOT TALKING SPECIFIC POLICIES) with those in power working simply to get mlore money so they can stay in power, where government is for those who make the most and have the greatest impact on the many people in general. Or are we going to vote for someone who is not as involved in the politics as usual, who is talking change, not just in minor things but the way we conduct our business and what it means to be American. Me I for one am fed up with Washington, polls show approval of both the current resident and Congress below 30% so I would say roughly 2/3 of the citizens agree with me. fear, however, is a terribly strong factor, and change is one of the greatest fears. So ask yourselves, are you ready to take the risk or are you willing to accept the status quo? For me it is simple take the risk the status quo is not working, for those who worry about that I say we survived the last 8 years, if I am wrong we would only have to survive 4 more and then you can put your company owned resident back in charge.

    March 19, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. Deb

    Obama is now the candidate that you vote for if you HATE America!

    This isn't solving any real problems that need our full attention.

    No way Obama is a viable mainstream candidate, all he and his camp are doing right now is stirring up a lot of HATE-we don't need!

    Exit Stage Left.....the sooner the better!

    March 19, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
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