May 16th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Blitzer: Obama's learned - 'attack right back'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Blitzer: Obama hit back a day after Bush's speech."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama came out swinging against both President Bush and John McCain. At issue: the allegation that those who are willing to sit down with terrorists are no different than those who sought to appease Adolph Hitler in the lead-up to World War II. A day after President Bush’s speech in Jerusalem, Obama gave a tough speech of his own defending his record and then followed up with a lengthy news conference.

Obama’s political strategy is clearly designed to prevent the accusation from gaining credibility. Republicans have successfully raised questions about Democrats national security credibility over the years. Obama and his supporters who fanned out across the television networks want to make sure that those charges don’t have time to resonate.

I remember covering the 1988 presidential race between then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Mike Dukakis. The Democratic nominee was branded as weak on national security. He was ridiculed for wearing a helmet while on a tank. The picture clearly made him look silly. Even though he had emerged from the Democratic convention that summer way ahead of Bush in the national polls, he eventually lost the election in November.

Many Democrats learned an important lesson in the process. Once attacked, attack right back and don’t wait. Bill Clinton learned that lesson in 1992. It’s seems Obama has learned that lesson as well.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (209 Responses)
  1. True

    I can't wait for Barack to destroy the Republicans in the debates over foreign policy. Its all in the facts. Those that think that Obama is weak on security are the ones that support war mongering and non diplomacy. The voters will decide who will run this country and I'm positive that a majority of America will not want the Bush administration to have another term under John McCaine.

    May 16, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. SCC

    Jim D wrote:
    "Way to go, Mr. Obama; just pick those shoes up and try them on for size. And you weren't even mentioned by name….hmmm…."

    Just so you know, Kevin James admitted the comment was aimed at Obama. McCain pretty much did as well....

    By the way, what is it that you people think Hillary will do so much better? Bomb Iran? Yes, that's a great solution if you want more war, death and hatred towards the US. Wake up people!

    While we're at it, what has the Bush administration's hard stance on terrorists done for this country other than killing 4000 American soldiers and sending the country into a recession?

    May 16, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Not So Delusional

    Personally I don't mind that he attacks with a speech rather than some hot headed, unprepared remark that he will end up regretting later.

    The worst part about Bush's comments is that he actually took the time to sit down and come up with that garbage and the old man agreed with him.

    I'm a republican and a veteran. There is no way that McCain will ever get my vote. I've had enough of my friends killed and injured in Iraq and spend way too much money on basic necessities. This isn't the kinda of garbage politics that I want to live in anymore.

    May 16, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Brian Knoxville, TN

    Only the so-called leaders of the Democratic Party, Obama’s infatuated fans, and the pundits can possibly think that the three stories that broke yesterday–A) the California Supreme Court upholding the rights of same-sex coupes to marry in an election year, B) Bush’s statements at the Israeli Knesset regarding the historical failures of appeasement, and C) Osama’s resurfacing to spew a hateful message against Israel–are helpful in any way to Obama getting elected. He’s being defined as an elitist (with stunning effectiveness), and ballot initiatives designed to get out the Conservative vote are already in the works.
    From the beginning, Obama has been a weak candidate who has done little to nothing to deserve the votes of the members of his coalition. Over the months of campaigning, he has failed to take the initiative in setting the terms of a single debate. He completely failed to get ahead of the Rev. Wright story before it blew up in his face. If his campaign thinks it is going to win a general election with the McSame slogan and a few shots at his age, we are all in serious trouble. Obama's TOAST in November.
    And maybe it’s better that way. Obama’s an artful speechmaker, but what has he done otherwise to prove that he can lead the country or to show how he would lead us? (Maybe he can give a pep rally a week.)
    The Democratic Party’s so-called leaders can still field a real candidate in Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton for President of the United States '08! Most of us lifelong rank-and-file Democrats aren’t holding our breath, though. We have learned over the years not to expect courage from the failed leadership of the Democratic Party.
    Time to get right with the idea of a McCain presidency…

    May 16, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. Ding, Washington, DC

    Wolf, Dem better learn the art of the game. Republicans do not own the monoploy of attacking opponents. If the republicans want politics to be as dirty as often suggested, then they should be prepared not only for a big time lost in NoV, but also some shame that will come with it. It is pathetic that Republicans focus on attacking opponents instead of talking about issues. It is a shame, but what would one expect from Karl Rove, Sean Hannity among others. By the way, these individuals never finish college!, and have no clue whatsoever. They should be taught some lessons!

    May 16, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. 58 white old ladies for OBAMA






    May 16, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Keep fighting dems

    Hillary supporters:

    Obama has threatened to talk with muslim terrorists like al queda and has made a mockery of this country that bush and mccain have tried to make better despite liberals trys to make it worse.

    You know hillary would not want to vote for Obama-dont either. He is a liberal fool and is unpatriotic

    Choose the right choice-the man on the right-John McCain! He will WIN in iraq-not retreat like obama and the dems

    May 16, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Pamela Austin

    From what I have seen Demorcrats started throwing out snide comments after the last election and they have not stopped whining since. They seem to like to say mean things and when Rep. reply they can't take it. It is sooo silly. It is like two children fighting over a ball. I wish both parties could get out of their ego's and do the best for the country and the people who support them.

    You want change. Just remember change can either be a good thing or a bad thing.

    Be GRATEFUL we live in a country with so many freedoms and luxury.

    May 16, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. MT

    April 23, 2003
    Mr. McCAIN: I think it's very appropriate that Colin Powell is going to Syria. I think we should put diplomatic and other pressures on them. It's also a time for Mr. Asad Bashar to realize that he should be more like his father was. I think he's too heavily influenced by a lot of the radical Islamic elements and–and militant groups.

    LAUER: Do you think Syria meets the criteria set forth by the president in his post-9/11 address to Congress that they pose an imminent threat to the US in that they are either sponsoring or harboring terrorists?

    Mr. McCAIN: I think they're–they're sponsoring and harboring terrorists. I think they have been occupying Lebanon, which should be free and independent for a long time, but I don't think that that means that we will now resort to the military action. We–we can apply a lot of pressure other than military–than the military action. So what I'm saying, we're a long way away from it.

    LAUER: Under what circumstances–under what circumstances would you back military action?

    Mr. McCAIN: When we've exhausted all other options. And we have a lot of options to–to exercise. And I'm glad Colin Powell's going there, but the Syrians have got to understand there's a new day in the Middle East.

    May 16, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Bukky - Balt

    To all the people saying he waited too long.... He did respond yesterday if you care to know. This is just a more definitive response.

    Also what Bush said was an (false) attack... Like Biden said it BS. What Obama said was the truth supported by 7 plus years of hard facts. If the last few years of war you still think NOT talking is the way to get things done. Enlist! Suit Up! and Ship The "f" out!

    Take the place of a soilder thats ready to come home....

    May 16, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. Rachel

    He may have "learned that lesson," but the fact is, what Bush said is true. Everyone hates the guy, so it doesn't matter how right he is, everyone gets behind the other guy. And yes, the Pres does have the right to make such a comment! He didn't single Obama out, Obama did that for him. So whether fighting right back is good for him or not, what Bush said is true. So Obama should stop acting like a 5 year old about it.

    May 16, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Minh

    I am no supporter of Obama but he needs to enlighten his team on the "days to come." The Rep will not let down and Obama has too many weak spots as well as ethnical problems. You may believe that Rep plays dirty but wait until the Dem do their dirty work. Some may want the Clinton back in power but the world has definitely changed since the 90s, we (USA) are at world, we need a leader not a moderator.

    By the way, I am an Independent.

    May 16, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. Fredi

    there is a difference between "attacking" back and exposing an unfair attack, lie or slander for what it is. This is not about taking revenge but about telling the truth. "... know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32)

    May 16, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Sick of the BS

    Bush continues to do more harm abroad and at home with his
    "airing of political laundry" on foreign soil. All he had to do was reinterate our support for Israel and congratulate the Israelis on their nation's anniversary.

    His most important mission of the week: convince Saudi Arabia to exert influence over OPEC to increase oil production.
    He failed January; he failed again this week.

    His is the best argument against the Repubs.

    May 16, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Ann

    Sure, one more speech. Bush didn't even refer to Obama. You are not the center of the world 'sweetie' . Give voters a clue how are you going to fix the economy and what exactly are YOU going to do in terms of foreign policy.. don't reinterpret someone else words. So good to have Rev Wright or Bush saying something that you can 'analyze' at a higher level.

    May 16, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. SCC



    I'm not sure why I'm bothering with you people at all but, how exactly was victory stolen from Hillary? Last I checked Obama's winning because he won the most pledged delegates? Please, enlighten me....

    May 16, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. Mmimi De La Cruz for OBAMA





    May 16, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  18. bill pike

    hey mcbush tell em about you wanting troops in iraq for 100 years. do what??? you want more money from who??? keating??? oh you said you were cheating. you didn't read the intelligence report that said iraq had nothing to do with 911. do what?? you are hard of hearing also??? I SAID IRAQ HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 911 BUT IT COSTS US MORE LIVES AND MORE INJURIES AND MORE CRIPPLED THAN 911-YOU SURE SHOWED EM MCBUSH. do what??? you can't remember the names of the enemy units in iraq or what country??? what??? AARP on that.


    May 16, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. Paul Rosso

    It is obvious you have lost all objectivity in your news reporting. Just say you are an Obama supporter!

    May 16, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Dee, NY


    You can talk all the junk you want, but you need to stay out of my Uterus.

    May 16, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. Keep fighting dems

    Hillary supporters-

    We can not vote for obama or any other democrat in novmber they have tuned thir back on hillary. the ONLY optuion is john McCain. He WILL fight for you he has promised he will stop lobbyists and will WIN WIN WIN this war against the peopl who want to kill us-muslim terorists

    May 16, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. No Obama!

    Obama is a weak candidate and I will not support him.

    He has no national security experience but likes to act superior. He believes he can just sit down with our enemies, strike up a deal with them and that they will honor him. How naive! Criminal minds do not work this way.
    Also, watch out Republicans; the media will bash you next but continue to CARESS Obama.

    For Hillary ONLY!!

    May 16, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I hope CNN learns a lesson – no Wolf Blitzer – omg....tosses softballs to Clinton during the debates....and pandering to her ever tear during interviews....omg...get rid of this Clinton press secretary wannabe

    May 16, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Sean

    He was waiting for Hillary to copy her response to Bush with a little change.

    May 16, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. Dave, IN

    So he's like any other politician, one negative attack deserves another. The only thing that grates is his attempts to portray them as some sort of righteous indignation.

    He's still Mr M. T. Suit when it comes to experience and national security.

    May 16, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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