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)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Most of Obama's digs are polite, as noted above. He may lose if he does not grit his teeth and show some meanness.

    Many of McCain's shots condenscending; i.e. "Let me show you Iraq." He may lose if he continues with the low blows.

    America is at a critical crossroad, and America will make up it's mind. The whole world's watching this election much more closely than most Americans realize.

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

    To Staunch.

    do us a favor and don't vote. don't need ya anyway.

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


    June 4, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. JT, AZ

    "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…"

    If you would vote for Senator McCain, then you either weren't a genuine follower of Senator Clinton's values, or you are simply being a petty brat.

    June 4, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Charles

    Staunch- That is such a foolish thing to say. Clinton herself has said either herself or Obama would be vastly better than McCain. The fact that you would support McCain (whose policies are nowhere near Clintons) instead of Obama shows that its just sour grapes for you diehard Clinton supporters and not whats best for this country. I support Obama but would vote Clinton in a second if she had won.

    June 4, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Chi4Obama

    I wish that she and Geraldine Ferraro, would just fly away on the broomstick from which they came.

    June 4, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. AP

    Unfortunately Obama and Clinton are well off. But majority of the people ranting that they will not vote for him are struggling, so if voting for Obama will bring prosperity to you, why should you vote for Mcain?

    June 4, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |


    have you heard of super delegates???

    June 4, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Liar, Liar pants on fire

    Not for Hillary. She didn't answer his phone call to her. Remember, she is a fighter, not a uniter.

    June 4, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Vig

    Oama says what he thinks people want to hear – people are sick and tired of Bush – you don't have to go to Harvard to figure that one out. Obama reminds me of a showman – all flash and hype. When the gloves come off you are going to see fumbles from Obama – plenty of them.

    June 4, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. gdz

    What we have to remember is that we are not facing the "good" John McCain. John McCain sold himself to the political devil of George W. Bush. He filled his campaign with lobbyist and when he was caught, he did what "W" would do. He let them go and said "sorry". The Issue is not that he let them go, but that he either thought it was ok to hire them before they were found out or did not have the intelligence to know where they worked. Either way, it shows a lack of judgment.

    He has changed all his views to almost the exact view that "W" has on every issue. Any differences between McCain and "W" is merely cosmetic. This is not leadership. A leader takes a position, based upon his knowledge and experience and sticks with it. A leader does not accept a position from someone else in order to fit his party. McCain had centrist veiws which were admirable, too bad he "FLIP FOLPPED ON THEM ALL".

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

    Although some people don't seem to get it [see above], the winner is the nominee with 2,118 delegates–that includes pledged and supers. Obama is well over that number.

    The only way to say that Hillary got the popular vote (which is not how primaries are measured, anyway) is to count Michigan where Obama's name was not even on the ballot. Anyone with a sense of fair play has to realize that is not a valid indicator.

    I want Hillary to be #2 on the ticket. That being said, those "staunch" Hillary supporters who won't vote for our party's nominee if they don't get their way, are idiots.

    June 4, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Jen

    To Clinton Supporter:
    First, as you noted Obama won more elected delegates. Second, the supers did put him over, but that is part of the process. I distinctly remember when Clinton was ahead in superdelegates, or "automatic delegates" as her campaign called them, Clinton supporters were not upset about their role. However, now that the tide has shifted so have Clinton supporter's views. Clinton only wins the popular vote if caucus states are not included. But remember, as Clinton has said, all votes should be counted and thus so should the caucus states.
    Lastly, as a democrat I do not think it is appropriate for Clinton supporters to be blackmailing for VP spots. Yes it is blackmail as your last paragraph was a "threat". In nov. when it comes time to vote you must vote on the ISSUES not on the person. If you supported Clinton, you supported her because of her issues, therefore your next choice should logically be Obama. This election is not about the person running for president per se but rather HOW they will operate America and WHAT they will do for America. We can not afford another 4 years of Bush-like policies.

    June 4, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. marie from missouri

    So, what does that have to do with taxes? Either way..we are going to pay...either way, good or bad, the people will be effective. So if all of you Clinton supporters have been Democrats all along, what's wrong with supporting the party and bringing it together. Just because someone is not the one you pick..."oh yea, you Clinton voters are going to fix us democrats, we're going to vote for McCain." Really, what sense does that make. Or, "I'm not voting at all." You're still going to suffer like everyone one else if McCain gets elected. Don't be another Florida/Michigan Senior Rep and cause your "party" to vote in the wrong direction...you could very well be penalized later!

    June 4, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Michael

    Staunch Clinton Supporter....

    Who are you for? clinton ..... or a democratic President? Get over it! She lost...fair and square. Obama 08!

    June 4, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Jerry in Fresno

    We think we know a lot about McCain, but do we?

    What about Charles Keating?

    And now what about former Senator Graham of Texas.

    I think it's time for "the real Senator McCain to standup."

    Let's have some straight talk about your relationships with the lobbyists and foreign agents.

    June 4, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Susan

    The race is on.........

    against McCain.

    Hillary Clinton Vice President!

    Go Obama/Clinton!!

    June 4, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |

    TO DEBBY...


    June 4, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. Glenn

    Clinton News Network (CNN), Wolf, Lou, Bill Schneider are all closet Hillary supporters.

    June 4, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. Susie

    This comment is for STAUNCH CLINTON SUPPORTER. If you can't count just SIT DOWN and BE Quiet. Reality is Senator barack Obama already WON...............YES He already won.........No matter how you do the Hillary mathematic strategies there is no way that she can take that nomination away from Senator Barack Obama or should I say your soon to be President.
    So as for you sit down and shut up.
    Canada for Obama

    June 4, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. Garth

    I think Staunch Clinton Supporter is really just a Republican in Democratic clothing.

    I think some of the pro hillary comments are from real Democrats, but probably not most of them. Be mindful that the rebullyican format is to continue to divide the party and they hope their pathetic candidate will be a little better than Obama.

    Clinton is a great person with lots to offer the country. I do not believe a black man and a woman together on one ticket are that strong. I still believe someone like Sen. Nunn or Governor Richardson would be a better Vice President because of their strong international background. All Clinton does is bring what we think are 18 million, but unfortunately, I think a lot of them were Rebullyican cross overs so they can mess with the results.

    June 4, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. rajpal gurm

    I think Obama should pick Tiger Woods as running mate! Tiger's got the money.

    June 4, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Ron, LV

    For those of you who keep going on about the popular vote, count all the votes where they were bot on the ballot. If you do that, then Obama has won the popular vote. Also, if you include Guam, Americans abroad, Maine, Washington and Nevada, he is even further ahead and probably beats her even if you include Mi. If you say you are a supporter of Democracy, then the democratic thing is to only count the votes where they were both on the ballot, otherwise you act like a dictatorship.
    As for super delegates, CLinto was always the one who said they would decide and it would be all right if they chose her even if Obama was leading. Now that they have decided. it seems that if they don't support her, then they should not count.

    June 4, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Sue

    Yep, you're right Wolf: BO is a blank slate and campaigning with all his slick talk/talk/talk cannot change that.

    June 4, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. Smarter than that

    John McCain. We don't know you. I have seen many flip flopping statements you made. You supported 95% of Bush's policies.
    You agree with the war.

    We don't know you, but we will. You need to focus on your direction and your own history and decisions. NO MORE BUSHES or THEIR
    CLONES !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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