June 3rd, 2008
03:09 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Did the primary season strengthen Obama – or weaken him?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/03/art.obama.s.dakota.gi.jpg caption="Did the campaign make Obama stronger or weaker?"]

(CNN) - It was exactly one year ago today when I moderated the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire. At that time, there were eight candidates in the race and all of them were on the stage: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel. What a year it’s been.

Now, Obama is on the verge of winning this contest and moving on to the next chapter. The earlier rounds were the playoffs; now comes the championship.

Many political observers believe Obama is a stronger candidate today than he was a year ago. He has certainly improved his campaigning and debating skills. He’s learned a great deal. In short, he’s honed his skills and has improved his game.

But others insist he actually is weaker – having been bloodied up over these many months of a fiercely competitive fight. They point to his latest series of defeats to Clinton, including in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and, most recently, in Puerto Rico. They say he’s lost some of his mojo.

Still, he now has five months to regain it. How he reaches out to Hillary Clinton and her supporters and brings together the Democratic Party in the coming days will be critical.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. S.Cameroonians

    My friend you are stupid.Someone who is just new in the political scene and a four year senator ousting a Fabulous Dynasty in American politics and you need to be told he is Strong?Someone with little or no experience that you yourself pronounced?
    Someone who has undergone the heaven and hell surgery of the Clintons?
    But One thing Obama needs to be proud of is the school of taught that the Clintons registered him into if not McSame was impatiently waiting in the labor room.Now he is in the re.animation ward.
    One big thing McSame should avoid with Obama if he wants to win Obama is attacking him on irrelevant issues because those are the things that the Clintons did and failed and when she discovered,it was late.You see in the last primaries Obama has been doing very little though he was fighting a double battle with John Hillary Clinton.
    Those who thought flag pins and others were solutions to american problems should put their fingers inside behind down there and get the stench.

    June 3, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  2. Sue

    "It really strenghtened him. She aired out all of his dirty laundry, and now he his fully vetted and ready for McSame."

    ...you've got to be joking. Thanks to his surrogates and the media, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the 'junk in his trunk.' But I'm sure McCain will be much better than the almighty DNC at getting to the truth of this guy.

    June 3, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  3. Emeka, London UK

    By the test of fire, fine steel is made (Abraham Lincoln). Obama has gone through a channel that can proppel him to face any challenge in life.

    November is for the people to choose real CHANGE.

    This is what the likes of the Dr. King's and the late Kenedy's would have been glad and grateful to witness. Thanks for your calmness and mature approach. I owe you another book purchase on "Election Preparation and Attitude" or anything you wish to call it.

    GO OBAMA 08!!!

    June 3, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. Tully, San Leandro , CA

    Weaker or stronger, does it make any difference? This is just the primaries. Wait until the SwiftBoat comes out , we'll see true test. The only thing that will help Obama win the White House is by reconciling with Senator Clinton and asking her to be his VP, like it or not. Politics is dirty . The old boys club, some female members of the GOP who wanted to run but were afraid to lose to Hillary, the media circus, the DNC have helped put Obama on the pedestal. He'd better win in a landslide in November or the joke will be on him. So let start mending fences now.

    June 3, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. Stefan Flosbach

    Obama always tried to keep the primary season short and sweet. He tried to push her out, before the Rev. Wright issue broke. Now we know why he was so eager to be seen as the presumptive candidate, because the party would have protected him if he had been the candidate back then. Well, the media did that job.

    To everyone who is able to read poll results, it is clear that Clinton is the stronger candidate against McCain, but here the lemming instinct of the Democrats takes over. This and the "Yes-we-made-a-mistake-but-now-it-is-too-late-so-lets-pretend-that-everything-is-fine-and-maybe-nobody-

    They already see the iceberg, but feel that changing the course would be face loss.

    Obama is a damaged good and does not stand a chance against McCain. Sad but true

    June 3, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. Evelyn

    Senator Obama reminds me of Bush, Jr.–someone un vetted full of promises but with no real experience.
    I am shocked he is about to clinch the nomination.
    And I will not support him- even though I am a life long Democrat.
    He is too much of a wild card with no experience.

    June 3, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  7. Pistoff


    He is finishing the primary season with his integrity in tact. He is righteous.

    June 3, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. pam

    She WILL GO OUT IN STYLE! Hillary has received (most) of the votes she has worked her bottom off for and now shows what a popular formidable opponent she is. We have not seen the last of Hillary. History will give a nod to this strong women and ALL her accomplishments past and yet to come. She may not be president, but this women will go far and we have not seen or heard the last from her. I'm SO GLAD she'll be in the ranks (HIGH UP) fighting for the American people!!!

    June 3, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. Pete Zebulon

    6 month ago, Obama was a little known knight in shiny armor, with a church, a spiritual mentor and a message of change and hope.

    Now he is the black candidate with problems with traditional Democratic voters, including females, Hispanics, rural voters, blue collars, uneducated, gun owners and small towners.

    Favorability ratings in Louisiana are through the cellar, Clinton polls ahead of him and the Republicans believe that there truely is a God, prepared to help them in their hour of need. Obama is a gift from heaven for them. Clinton would take away states such as Arkansas, West Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, even Nevada.

    Obama is a liberal and they can handle liberals. Especially those with enough baggage to make Karl Rove salivate.

    June 3, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. J.D., Washington, D.C.

    The primary season largely hurt Obama. His appeal among independent and GOP voters was much stronger before he was tag-teamed by Clinton and McCain - and before racial politics was injected into the campaign by former President Clinton and others. In addition, he had great appeal among women voters before the Clinton campaign - and former President Clinton - unfairly accused his campaign of sexism.

    June 3, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. DC

    The only way Obama will get my vote is if Clinton is on his ticket, otherwise it is McCain all the way, as I dislike Obama more than McCain.

    June 3, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Kompari

    Since Barack Obama is convincingly about, "Change" He should cross party lines and consider selecting Collin Powell as his Vice President! Its a bi-partisan ticket.....Now thats CHANGE!!

    June 3, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  13. Jeremiah Wiggins, NYC

    It absolutely helped him. He may have been used to the "rough and tumble" of Chicago politics but now he's used to the lasciviousness of national presidential politics. It will be a landslide for Obama come November. And any democrat who says they'll vote for McCain will be voting away their reproductive rights, any hope for health care, the future of social security and a litany of other social Democratic issues. Not to mention the hope of ending our military presence around the world. Hillary may have been the "smart" choice, but voting for McCain out of spite is downright stupid.

    June 3, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. latino in mn

    YES, it strengthened him to the sleezeball tactics that will be waiting for him coming from the Republicans – wait a sec – Hillary used to be a Republican! What a coincidence! Keep her as a VP on the ticket? Sure let's transplant the cancer to another part of the body once the doctor removes it too. The reason he won the nomination is because he wasn't her nor anything she represents. And her "foaming at the mouth" supporters still vow to vote McCain anyway! Roe vs Wade anyone? Omaba for, McCain against. Yes, I don't like the TV show I'm watching so I'll gouge my own eyes out with a fork to spite those dastardly TV programmers! They really should follow through and form their own party like they threatened to: Bitter Old White Women Of the World. (BOW WOW) It would be like taking the burnt crust off the cake, who'd miss it?

    June 3, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. Christine

    Wolf, The process definitely strengthen OBAMA. Are you surprised by the flood of positive response (claiming it strengthened) ?

    I started out being neutral and ended up despising the clintons more with their intimidation tactics instigating voters on florida and michigan's situation. Shame on clinton campaign management for not upholding democratic party rules to incite pro clinton voters into a frenzy.You can fool some into hysteria and outbursts, but I congratulate the resolve of the general americans to stay the course of doing the right thing and to supporting the much needed new leadership. Clearly the Clintons don't play fair, and her brand of campaign is a constant reminder of old school politics relying more on name Clout on a beauty contest than sincere genuine desire to lead change. Ultimately it is not about sexism as much as wanting to preserve the whites in a "white house". WIth Obama's imminent success, I am able to witness the emergence of a new america which is strong enough embrace the best candidate regardless of race and age. Congratulations to americans who takes greater responsibility for their future by engaging in this historic process.

    June 3, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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