May 13th, 2008
03:05 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: The primary race has made Obama stronger

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Blitzer: If Obama is the nominee, his primary battle has made him a tougher fall candidate"] NEW YORK (CNN) - There is no doubt that Barack Obama is a better campaigner today than he was when he started this run for the White House nearly a year and a half ago.

All of these contests around the country have really honed his political skills. During the four Democratic presidential debates that I moderated over the past year, he clearly improved his technique. The extraordinary length of this campaign has made him a stronger candidate – one better poised to compete against John McCain, assuming Obama winds up winning the Democratic nomination.

The large number of contests has also strengthened his campaign organization around the country. With the exception of Michigan and Florida, where he didn’t campaign because those states were penalized by the Democratic National Committee for moving up their primaries to January, Obama now has a good base of support in virtually every state. This will be incredibly useful in a general election contest against McCain. The base of supporters across the country can potentially be decisive in getting out the vote on November 4.

He has also established a truly impressive network of fundraisers. The millions of people who have contributed to his campaign, especially on the web, will be tapped for funds down the road, and that will sure be a strong advantage for him. His staff has learned a lot over the past many months. They are better today as a result.

Still, there certainly is a downside to this lengthy battle against Hillary Clinton. Many of his political flaws have been widely publicized and could come back to haunt him. The McCain campaign and other Republicans have certainly learned of his vulnerabilities, which were on display in key general election battleground states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and now West Virginia. All of the exiting polling results from around the country are being carefully studied by McCain and his supporters as they gear up for a potential match-up and as they look for his weaknesses.

As with so much in life, there are always pros and cons.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. Gerry

    Wolf, the so called weakness you stated isn't accurate. What isn't being taken into consideration is the fact that 10% of her overall vote was republican and mostly male republicans which skued the vote.

    But you are right, he has grown immensly and not only survived Hillary's kitchen sink strategy, but gotten stronger as a result.

    May 13, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Jerry Hoff

    Comparing campaigns;

    It seems that Senator Obama is really the candidate who is ready for Day One."

    Senators Clinton and McCain can't budget their money, choose and lead their sraffs effectively, etc.

    These are the thing that leaders do well!

    May 13, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. David, Santa Rosa, CA

    I feel, in hindsight, that this process did make Sen. Obama stronger and more astute without "boiling all the hope and good out of him." He has walked a very fine line, veering off in the wrong direction from time to time but returning to his original campaign message more often than any other presidential nominee in my lifetime (46yrs).

    I think we can agree that his skills as a debater have improved... but. Hopefully, the striking contrast between he and Sen. McCain will allow for less subtly. He's my president, but he is not a good debater.

    I very much look forward to the second or third debate between Obama and McCain. They will both need a trial run or two, but then both candidates should be up to par and it should be lively – Though I suspect the civility of these men will bore a large segment of our nation. (Many of us have never allowed a few facts to get in the way of a good story or irrelivent distraction).

    I'm excited about this election, but then, I'm a Dem and have everything to be excited about. Though like others, I do fear that we may find a way to shoot ourselves in the foot.

    It's time for our party to heal, to come together, and start having some fun bashing the GOP and McCain.

    C'mon... even the angriest Hillary supporters won't want to miss out on the trouncing we intend to give the Repulicans in November.

    May 13, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    Mccain is a very weak canditate. It doesn't matter who runs against him will be able to beat him.

    May 13, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. wendell

    America has improved greatly, 15 – 25 will not vote because of race. But if hilary keeps playing the undercover race card, which she does daily..."he cannot win with out the white blue collar voter " she makes it a issue. Funny Bill won without the blue collar vote!

    May 13, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Caras

    Obama is stronger and us his supporters are going to make sure he will keep going strong!!!!
    Obama 08

    May 13, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. deborah jeane p, Boston

    thanks to you corporate spindoctors, right. yeah, you deserve the credit.

    May 13, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Rob

    yes of course. By the way to all the experience criers – how does anyone prepare to be POTUS. HRC served tea in the Whitehouse and lied/padded her resume. McCain has done what exactly – sure he's a war hero but the old ways have proven to not be working very well anymore, or are you happy with the way things are re: Iraq, economy etc.?

    May 13, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. joe






    May 13, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. fred

    he s been running pretty good all the time , hillary just cant beat him and mccain wount

    May 13, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. Joe PA

    I voted for Obama and if he doesn't win I would vote for Hillary. If Obama wasn't in the election I would have voted for Hillary. I think she is a great candidate except for that 3 months of no tax on gas WOW you are saving me $70.00 I guess since she is in touch with common hardworking people that saving $70.00 for 3 months is helping people!!!!!!!! I don't know about you but I drive to work 5 days a week 12 months a year so saving me 70.00 in the summer DOES NOT HELP ME AT ALL!

    It is a shame how Hillary supporters say if Obama wins the Nomination they will not vote for him. You should all be ashamed of yourself. The fact is she is losing the election fair and square. No one had a problem with MI and FL not counting in the beginning of the primary but now that Hill needs them everyone wants to change the rules. We have rules for reason's and someone running for President should respect those rules.

    May 13, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Lynda

    I am a Republican that has switched to independent to vote for Obama. I am 60 yrs old, a woman and from Ohio. He has finally given us some hope after years of abuse. He is getting better every day.

    May 13, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Mark, FL


    I have been a registered Republican my whole life and the more I learn about Obama the more there is to like and respect. The length of the campaign has confirmed to me that he is the best candidate. I will be voting for Obama this November and for the first time ever, voting for a Democrat.

    May 13, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Syed Rabbi

    Sen. Obama's vision is what resonates with Americans and people around the world. Americans have voted for him knowing well of his negatives; largely unaffected by what the McCain and Clinton spin machines spill out against him.

    When the Clinton's and the McCain are a thing of the past; we may see some honesty and fresh air in Washngton.

    May 13, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Theresa Skira

    I'm an avid Obama supporter. That said, I am greatly saddened that the Republicans placed Senator John McCain as their presumptive nominee. I have great respect for him as a former POW from my era, and wish that he'd just enjoy the rest of his life with his family.

    It is highly improbable that a Republican will win the presidency. It's like this was dumped in McCain's lap so he could take the fall. Why didn't the Republicans put forward a viable candidate? Was it because most knew that they'd lose the White House in November?

    May 13, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    May 13, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Angel for Obama

    Yes Wolf I do think Obama has taken alot from this Primary season. It will help him in in the general election if he does become the nominee. Americans will make the right decison and see Baracks stance on the War and ecomony vs that of John Mcain.

    "Obama 08 enough said"

    May 13, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. marylee wagerman atlanta,ga

    * SUSA finds Obama to be ahead 54% to 43% and gaining ground among women. Note that 43% of voters say they have already voted (Oregon has a mail-in voting system) and Obama only leads by 1%.

    * The Portland Tribune finds Obama crushing Clinton 55% to 35%. I believe this is the first non-SUSA poll of Oregon.

    * Finally, PPP shows Obama leading 53% to 39%.

    May 13, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. InspireThis

    Obama can't win in the general.
    I know this Democrat will write-in Hillary unless there is a chance my vote would end up going to Obama. (That depends on what state you are in).

    Then I will have to vote for McCain.

    May 13, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. AJ in Fla

    Regardless who becomes President those making $ 18.000 to $ 20.000.- in January 2009 will be making about $ 20.000.- to $ 22.000.- in January 2013, those without health insurance in January 2009 will still be without it in January 2013 and the level of military intervention in Iraq during January 2009 will be just about the same in January 2013

    Any bets...???

    May 13, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. mitchell from arkansaw

    he will make a great president!

    May 13, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. dallas white

    How can the govener 0f New york say that under Clinton we had a balanced budget and sur-plus in the trillons with this country so deep indebt?

    May 13, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Pam

    There was no conspiracy here. He is winning fair and square. He has been the most positive candidate.

    Hillary was great till midway when she started loosing, the nastiness has what drove me away. Not to mention the sheer greed she has to tear apart the democratic party so she can have another chance in 4 years.

    It is not about her, she will not suffer if McCain wins, we will!!

    May 13, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. An Agnostic Democrat

    He was strong in the beginning obviously because he washed Queen Hillary away ... and she hasn't caught up! Both the candidates have become stronger in the finish, but Hillary is still eating his dust no matter how you spin it. Remember , she was the INEVITABLE candidate and hasn't been able to "close the deal".

    May 13, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    Nietzsche – "That which does not kill me, mkes me stronger."

    I will concede that the Barack has definitely been seasoned as a result of the extended campaign. If the party were able to leave it at that, we could definitely move forward. However, we have reached the point of diminishing returns in that the costs to the party are outweighing whatever beneifts Hillary believes she may be adding.

    May 13, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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