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. dajack

    The question is based on the fallacious idea that Obama represents ONLY "change" and Clinton represents ONLY "experience". It's not that simple. I support Obama not only because I am excited about his message, but because he is an experienced legislator – more so than Hillary, in fact. I can't speak for Hillary supporters, but I am sure they support her because they feel that her history and knowledge of Washington makes her more able to *effect* positive change.

    So basically, Wolf, it's a pointless discussion until you bring John McCain into it.

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

    Obama lied to us. He told us he was special. He told us he was different. He is not special or different. He is a typical politician that will say anything to pander votes. He lied about not knowing of any controversial statements about Rev. Wright on Friday and then admitted that he did hear controversial statement but undertands the pain that led to them being said. He has lied about campaign finance. And now he is lying about what is truely right to do in Michigan. Let them vote.

    March 19, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Kyle New York

    Being that of only 18 years old, I cannot say I have much knowledge of too far in the past, especially regarding politics. My High School "Participation in Govt" teacher always told us to vote during our senior year but at the time, I wasn't really wanting to due to the lack of interest I had in politics. Barack brings an entirely new way to discuss the United States and its problems. He is the only candidate that myself and many of my friends truly believe will stick to the words he speaks.

    March 19, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. matt

    What experiance does Hillary have? I don't ever remember her being president. all the work she has done as the first lady isn't going to be the same as president, so I think the whole experiance thing is boguess

    March 19, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Adam FL

    You dont put a new piolet into the Apallo mission and say.. " Land us on the moon"- it just doesnt work that way, mistakes happen. We need someone with experiance, and the best person to take on Senator McCain, would be Senator Clinton. The experiance gained by taking a VP offer from clinton, in 8 yrs will have Obama on top of the game, as president of the congress.

    Clinton in 2008!!

    March 19, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Hugh

    George Dubya had so called "experience" and look what that got us!!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Lisa

    she got experience since still in the WOMB

    March 19, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    Bush had experience as the governor of Texas and the son of a President. Lincoln had almost no experience. Who would you rather have as a president, Dubya or Lincoln?

    I think we can all put the experience issue to rest now.

    March 19, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Summer

    I agree that Barack Obama is the best candidate for change. Last week he said that he was never in the audience when Jeremiah Wright made his most incendiary statements. Proving that he can bring about change, Obama has now stated that he was, in fact, in the audience when Jeremiah Wright made some of his incendiary statements. Now, even though last week he had never been in the pews, this week he had been. That's a change you can believe in!

    March 19, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  10. Eagan

    making a bad judgement for authorize to go to war by giving Bush a blank check.
    36 years of experience of NOT telling the truth to American people,
    lie & secrecy, taking a money from LOBBYIST, Corporation, special interest group, cynics.
    Avoiding Tax disclosure, earmark.
    Avoid to answer a tough questions, never has been straight forward with any issues.
    Kitchen Sink strategy – The problem with her kitchen sink strategy is that her sink is plugged, plumbing is clogged so she is throwing all the garbage to innocent voters.
    Vote ANYONE but Hillary

    March 19, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |


    March 19, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Danielle

    The whole "experience versus change" argument is nonsensical. Only an experienced candidate would be able to implement change.

    Hillary Clinton is the candidate who will be able to implement change, because of her long experience in public service and ability to navigate through Capitol Hill.

    March 19, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Lois

    Experience – That's the problem now, maybe we have too much experience in the status quo (Hillary/John Mc). They had experience when they voted for the Iraq war without using judgment. Is this what we have become? A nation that wants to remain stagnant and have business as usual. I think it really is time for a change, because I'm tired of these old people with old ideas and decaying brains. Give us some fresh blood with a brain of today's thinking. Thank you!

    March 19, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. Leslie

    The Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld example is right on point. So I don't think that matters. No one knows what it means or how it feels to be president until they are. So the experience debate doesn't mean much to me.

    March 19, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. TEO

    Still waiting to hear what all this experiance she's talking about. If she means ,the ability to be ruthless, dirty, underhanded and disrespectfull I guess she probably is more experianced.

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

    I don't understand why people believe Obama can change just because he said so.

    His story is full of something like Rev. Wright, Rezko. People can not find out a single accomplishment he did for his country. Is he really the kind of president we are going to elect?

    March 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. jp/michigan

    Every candidate since the beginning of time gives speeches about change. Some have the experience to make it happen and some think they can do it without. Change is a beautiful word, but experience is needed and helpful to make that change occur. Words are great but without substance they are just words. Hopefully our next President ,has the experience and substance to make the needed changes, and solutions on the issues, so that we are not just listening to only words. Go! Hillary '08

    March 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Sabrina Celestine,Royal Oak MI

    We had our voice stripped for the primary and we voted accordingly. Hillary Cllinton does not get it. A revote in this state is a mistake for her to ask for. She will loose. She will stay in this race at any cost to Americans and her party. She is not much different then Bush. She wants what she wants. She could not give a rip about her impact of Nafta and her crappy decision with permitting people to loose their homes in bankruptcy. Fortunately I am not one of those people YET. No jobs, not enough money for house payments, etc, Suddenly when she is looking at Michigan to help her win she uses the vote as a pawn for her party not because she is interested in anything else in this state, just what she needs to win. IF we have a revote I will be out there helping Obama. Lets get somthing done so the Republicans dont tilt this election. How stupid they think McCain would loose against Hillary, would serve them right, because I really would have a hard time showing up to vote for her or McCain. McCain wants to stay in a war that he does not even know whom our enemies are? America is falling to pieces and he does not have a clue?

    March 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |




    March 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. Anne

    The Obamaites are citing Republican's experience........duh – what side of the fence are they on? It is the wrong side. Want to use an apple to apple comparison – Senator Clinton, Senator Kerry, etc. etc. also have vast experience and it is useful. This is the Obama way – never compare what would be correct, spin it to make it all a wrong!

    March 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Leslie

    The Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld example is right on point. So I don't think that matters. No one knows what it means or how it feels to be president until they are. So the experience debate doesn't mean much to me.

    March 19, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Elle in Manhattan

    With Hillary, we'll get both experience and change. Why are you not emphasizing that?

    March 19, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. Avery

    Look where experience has gotten us so

    March 19, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. Nicholas Hussein

    Wolf, is it just that Sen. Clinton hasn't yet offered you a paid position in her campaign? Or does CNN just pay better? I bet you could work out some kind of consultant's fee or should give her a call, or ask her the next time you guys have lunch...

    March 19, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |

    Anderson Cooper asked Obama if he would say God Bless American on Friday. He said he would not becuase of his bad singing voice. I don't buy it. He should say GOD BLESS AMERICA at the top of his lungs if he wants to be the President of this GREAT nation.

    Obama stands for Voter Disenfranchisment. (Which means he does't want some people's vote to count. )

    Obama go away already


    March 19, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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