June 4th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Blitzer: As the race comes into focus, the gloves come off

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/13/art.blitzer.jpg caption="CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer"]
NEW YORK (CNN) - One of the most memorable lines of Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday night in St. Paul involved his opponent in the general election: John McCain, a man “who has served this country heroically.” Obama then pointedly added: “I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.”

It was consistent with Obama’s oft-stated praise of McCain’s military service, who was a POW during the Vietnam War. But it also included a polite dig.

McCain, for his part, pointedly noted that “the American people didn’t get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama.” It was his way of suggesting that the presumptive Democratic nominee is still a blank slate for a lot of Americans.

Just watching and listening to their respective speeches highlights their many differences including their backgrounds and age. Obama is 46 and McCain is 71.

Obama and McCain have offered near-daily criticism of each other since it became clear both would be their parties’ respective nominees, though I suspect the worst attacks of the campaign season will come from surrogates who in contrast will take off the gloves and hammer away, on personal and policy differences alike. The biographies of the two men could not be more different. And there are major policy differences between them on a whole host of foreign and domestic policy. They strongly disagree on Iraq, taxes, health care and a lot more.

I suspect all of us are about to learn quite bit about those differences, and that is good.

soundoff (240 Responses)

    Here is how a staunch H.R. Clinton supporter sees the end of the Democratic primaries.
    Total number of delegates needed to receive the Democratic Nomination 2118

    Obama received 1763 elected delegates; he missed 2118 by 355 delegates
    Clinton received 1640 elected delegates; she missed 2118 by 494 delegates.
    Obama has 18 million popular votes
    Clinton has 18 million + popular votes

    Thus neither Obama, nor Clinton secured the number of elected delegates to win.

    The popular vote goes to Clinton she received more votes than Obama.

    However, the super delegates, anxious to make history by backing the first black American Democratic leader, ran over themselves to back Obama, and gave Clinton a difficult time.

    What the Clinton supporters truly believe that since neither candidate won the designated 2118 for the nomination, THEY SHOULD BOTH SIT ON THE TICKET.

    AND IF NOT, we the Clinton’s staunch supporters will either not vote at all, or vote to support J. S. McCain and that is not an idle threat, we are her legion of supporters and how you treat her is how we will feel that we are being treated…

    June 4, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. Soupy

    Haha polite dig gold.

    June 4, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Travis (in the real world)

    What will you do now Wolf that your favorite whinning nominee "Billary" is history,,,,are you sharing the same crying towel?...or will you retire and become her Press Secretary in Antartica?

    June 4, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. martin

    i'll be hammering for obama.mccain has no solutions .just more bush.

    June 4, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. herman

    when will you be taken off the tube

    June 4, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Despite the age being the obvious difference, they have opposite philosphies of government. Obama seems to believe that government can do good things for people. McCain seems to believe that government is part of the problem and should be eliminated. That is the part that I don't understand; those that feel the government is too large, but yet run for office and end up not shrinking it or making it larger.

    June 4, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Ken

    This is just another reason that Barack Obama needs to have Hillary on the same ticket as his VP, because he is unknown and not strong enough to beat McCain in November alone!

    I am one of Hillary Clinton's supporters that unless she is on the ticket, I will either write-in her name, vote for McCain or just not vote!

    Hillary Clinton for VP 2008

    June 4, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. New Day

    Is it me or is Wolf a lil over-dramatic?

    He's like CNN's answer to William Shatner.

    hehehe just teasin! I love ya Wolf!

    June 4, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. Stacy Clarks



    LET'S GO DEMOCRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. Debby

    Wolf, I found Obama to be tacky making that statement about McCain denying his. McCain's military service alone overides what Obama has ever accomplished so far. Obama as a community organizer has been less than productive, seeing the streets of Chicago are worse off then they ever were.

    June 4, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Mario

    There is a core of voters for both candidates, and they will stand with them no matter what. The election, as usual, will be decided by the independents. Listening to both speaches yesterday I cannot see how McCain can win them over. He seemed a robot repeating prepared lines without any conviction or hearth. His line "that's not change we can believe in" was old and boring the first time he uttered it and it became more and more pathetic with every repetition. How is he going to inspire independents to vote for him?

    June 4, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. CW4Barak

    When you throw stones in a hog pen, whichever one squeals out is the one that got hit!! The fact that you all had to get on a conference call after the Aipac talk means Obama's stone hit you right in the center....way to go Obama, kill them with it....get on up, stand up, fight back, we're gonna win!!

    Obama '08!

    June 4, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. No McCain

    Wolf, I don't think there is anything NEW McCain has to say. His story is the same old story: I am John McCain and I served my country all my life and we will stay in Iraq for 100years....

    ... and of course he will not agree to anything unless it starts with: "back then as I was serving in Vietnam....".

    June 4, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. keith, NV


    June 4, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. jon

    Gloves? The only real fighter is McCain. BO is just a media oddity. People are obsessed with getting a black person into the White House, regardless of his experience (or lack of) and they're prepared to risk the next four years on a media-induced hype.

    June 4, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Andy

    Obama will easily bury McCain.

    McCain is a true symol of America's past. While Obama is a true symbol of America's today and tomorrow.

    America does not need the same thing over, and over, and over and over again.

    What America needs, is something fresh, something new, hope, and a new beginning towards the endless posibility.

    And Obama is the one who embodys that.

    I have full confidence that Obama will win over McCain easily in November. Without a shadow of a dought.


    June 4, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Mario

    I am tired of the STAUNCH CLINTON SUPPORTERS to speak as they are representing the whole HRC constituency. There will be defections but probably only closet republicans. Barack will claim the independent vote and we can afford, actually we HAVE to, loose the divisiveness of HRC. So, STAUNCH CLINTON SUPPORTER good riddance!

    June 4, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. REAL American for Obama


    Let it go! No, she did not win the popular vote except by her count. Get a grip. It's over. I know you are grieving. HRC will conced by week's end.

    Don't worry, you'll feel better in a few months.

    Go Barack Obama, all the way to the White House!!!!

    June 4, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Anita

    Staunch Clinton Supporter,

    You're obviously not counting the caucuses, are you? We have our nominee. You've been playing with the numbers to suit your candidate, but truth be told, rules followed, Obama is the nominee. Clinton had in the bag, but didn't do what was needed to win. What's next, "BEST TWO OUT OF THREE"

    June 4, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. CW4Barak

    Hey, STAUNCH CLINTON SUPPORTER(s) .....shut up, sit down and stop exposing you stupidity and ignorance....are you one of those illiterates from WV or KY? Don't vote, stay your butt home, but stay off the blogs and move the the state of Denial that Billary is now the president of!

    Obama '08

    June 4, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |

    Please, let us get THE CLINTON'S THE Hell out of there and move on.
    They are disturbing human beings.

    NO more! Trouble making Clinton's. All I can say about Bill Clinton's
    "so called popularity as President is HE WAS in the right place at the
    right time. In other words, times were good and he was lucky. I think
    he was "doing more" than running the country. Maybe we can thank
    his CABINET for running the country then. Somebody had to run the
    country. Whoever, sure made him look good.

    I NEVER want to see Hillary or Bill on MY TV again.

    Carolyn Kennedy is a great person and I trust that the choice of V.P will
    be an excellent one. My heart broke when I heard the news about Ted
    Kennedy. My Thoughts and Prayers are with them.

    And for those who will vote for McCain instead of Obama, you will be
    voting against yourself and your families well being if you choose McCain. Goodbye ANY entitlements. And be sure to look hard into
    how McCain wants to END all entitlements. That is what he means
    by NO BIG GOVERNMENT. And, the GI Bill, he wants the men to
    IT HOME!!!!

    June 4, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. theresa in Prattville, AL

    MCain is afraid of Obama. He knows that Obama has brought in so many new voters. He knows Obama has independents as well as Republicans on his side. Yes McCain has been around a long, long, long, long time and that is exactly why we, Americans want change. Since McCain wants to say he is an ELDER in politics, what has he done for this country lately. We are in a RECESSION, our SOLDIERS are dying everyday regardless of how many per month. One life is like a hundred. Therefore McCain needs to back down and sit down.

    June 4, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. Frequent Flyer NYC

    Hey Staunch Clinton Supporter dont you think that the DNC would have wanted to back the first WOman president as well?? Its pretty much the same you imbecile. If you werent so high on hillary you would see that beyond that cloud you live in either one would have been historical...Stop with your Conspiracy theories because the oonly conspiracy i see is if Obama doesnt win the presidency against John McSame

    June 4, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Franky

    Wolf, you couldn't have said it better........

    June 4, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Vickie, Maryland

    STAUNCH CLINTON SUPPORTER ..... then you are not a TRUE DEMOCRAT.......... cause regardless, any democrat is better then McCain in the White House in 2009.
    I'm so blown away by the "we wont vote" comments from Hilary supporters.
    Well I guess we all, blue collar, women, blacks, young, old....all of us will suffer as McCain runs us through four more years of the same things that have us struggling now.
    But I'm sure you don't see it that way. All you see right now is "emotionally" drivin. But I would suggest you go with what will affect you personally, affect your pocket, your kids, your life specifically. Cause guess what, regardless, Clinton will be just fine. She's going to keep making money, working in politics for polices, etc. But it will be us, the average people that suffer at the hand of the republicans.
    Are you really willing to live with that?
    I'd have to implore you to think that over. Cause me, and my three children, struggling as we do now, would argue that isn't the best thing for americans right now.

    June 4, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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