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. M

    Clinton and Obama are 99% the same when it comes to policy. Why then would someone who was a sincere supporter of Clinton not vote for Obama, but vote for McCain instead out of spite? This makes absolutely no sense. I understand that some Clinton supporters are disappointed, and some even angered. However, if you truly support Clinton, you should support the policies and the values she stood for. Taking the country down the incorrect path out of spite is just plain irresponsible.

    Democrats unite!

    June 4, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. steven

    Listening to Sen. MCcain speak is torture.
    I just can't stand it!
    Please someone help this man.

    Obama 08

    June 4, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Theo


    You and the candidate you champion are delusional and should put on your grown-up underwear! Hillary lost fairly and squarely, despite her whining and less than honest attemps to change the rules.
    Her campaign theme lacked consistency, and its message changed from state to state, proving Hillary will say and do anything deemed politically expedient.

    The DNC continually moved the goal post for your candidate, allowed you to remain in the race well after victory was deemed mathematically impossible. Your candidate has cried, lied, fudged numbers, played every card imaginable and now refuses to acknowledge the obvious. The Democratic primary is over and she is not the nominee. She refuses to concede and will not even congratulate the victor. (Sour Grapes??!??)

    To top matters off, all of you continue to have the nerve, the unmitigated gaul, the audacity to demand a spot on the victor's ticket??!?? Throughout the primary the Clinton campaign has tried intimidation and it has backfired. Just face it SCS, your girl has been exposed, before the world, just like McCain will be.

    As a matter of fact, if McCain doesn't shore up his knowledge of the economy and get the players right in the Middle East, he will be destroyed. If I were Obama, I'd tell all of you and your idle threats to go to that very hot place, inhabited by that guy with the pitchfork and pointy ears.

    I don't make it a practice to cite polls, but your diatribe confirms what polls indicate about you "staunch supporters". YOU GUYS AREN'T VERY SMART!

    June 4, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. joe

    She leveraging for a McCain Clinton ticket. It doesn't seem like she's a Democrat anymore.

    June 4, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. Michigan/Florida Hillary supporters for Mccain

    To all Obamites,

    Don't treat all Hillary supporters as if obama doesn't need our votes.
    Let's see if Obama will win if Hillary supporters vote for Mccain or not vote at all.

    If Hillary will not be on the ticket then I'll vote for Mccain or not vote at all. This is the sentiment of many of us. I know a lot of my friends (Hillary supporters) doing this.

    Let's see if obama is really the stronger candidate between the two (him/Hillary). If he wins, that's good. If not, then all of you including the superdelegates will sourgrapes and say if only we voted for Hillary then we should have gotten the White House !

    Hillary for vice president, if not Mccain for President or don't vote at all.

    June 4, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Tommy

    Obama should respect and honor McCain's service to this country. Far more than he'll ever do. He walks on anybody to get what he wants. It will all catch up to him. Besides, Hillary is still going to the convention so he doesn't need to get too comfortable with his new title. HILLARY 08/12

    June 4, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. angelitA

    At least the straight talk express calls it like he see it, people didn't just find out about him yesterday. Unlike Mr. Prententious who thinks he is the next coming of Christ.

    Donna Brazile stated, her mama said not to change the rules in the middle of the game because it is called cheating. Well my grandmama said "a dog have shine teeth and he laughs at the butcher, ah ah ah ah."

    June 4, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Rood, NY

    Hillary for Vice President 08

    June 4, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Nom Deplume

    Acknowledge Obama's service???

    What service is that? Voting "present" during less than a full term as a Senator???

    Serving as a senator in the Great State of Illinois???

    Please, someone, explain what service Obama has provided the nation, besides simply showing up???

    June 4, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. Patricia

    Let's elect someone who doesn't start his speeches with 'Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran'. We don't need any more of this garbage!!! It hurts us at home and in the eyes of the rest of the world. I want the US to have the respect that we had 8 years ago.

    June 4, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |

    What they both said was very true and explains exactlly why Obama will be our next president hands down!

    McCain we do know you and have for a while now and guess what we don't like what we know! Nuff said!

    McCain another thing I hope you are not going to continue with these dumb as^ comments and pluck shots we have had our fill of them after eight years of your twin brother President Dim Wit.

    June 4, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. American Voter

    I think it's funny how everybody is aguing over who would be better, and how bad off we'll all be if "x" candidate makes it into office. I'm 43 years old, and to be quite honest, I don't think any candidate gives a rats arse about the voters. They care about your votes and as soon as they get into office big business, and special interest groups dictate policy.
    It doesn't matter who is in office, the House and Senate are still run by the same morons who got elected and don't have a term limit that are ruining the country. They keep spending our tax dollars on their pet projects, and don't have to answer for it. Treat Congressmen and Senators like any other employee, if they don't do their job FIRE THEM, and don't give them their benefits...maybe things would change for us all if they were facing the same problems we do every day.

    June 4, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Brian Knoxville, TN


    Your lack of service and accomplishments is not a state of McCain's mind.

    As an American who loves his country, I'll be proud to vote against you in Nov.

    McCain Democrat '08

    June 4, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. s.boat

    Hillary And Her Extremist Supporters Can In Suck An Egg! Not All Hillary Supporters Are Going To Follow Your Empty Threats About Voting For Mccain! She Is Not Going To Blackmail Her Way Onto The Ticket! There Is A Team Of People Working On Obamas Pick For V P. Trust Me Its Not Going To Be Hillary! She Will Never Be President! Accept It!

    June 4, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. Hillary has no use for!!!!!!!!!!1

    Obama the Hillary before my friend and Hillary after my Friend' Does not need such friend who discard people when no longer useful. Like Pasror Wright

    June 4, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. cali

    if you vote mccain remember you cant squell when america becomes a 3rd world country. However i will be sitting there with a rather dignified look saying i told you so lol

    sadly i will also be in the shamble but atleast ill have some dignity because i told you so.

    June 4, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. Bob Stephens

    Hey Wolf,

    How about some discussion of Phil Gramm , McSames financial guru, and how he lobbied for UBS? aka money for terrorists. haven't heard anything about this on CNN....

    June 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. arc, Lugano CH

    Staunch – tu es stupide et rigolo! Tu m'a fais rire, Merci!

    June 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Dan Lee

    to all the unedcated supporters of Queen Hillary Clinton:


    Get over yourself. Its over for your queen. Please do not come on those blogs with your empty threats of not voting in the election or voting for McSame...Reality is who ever out there calls themselfes a real democrat but is willing to support McSame is a democrat we do not need or care for. You all said this day will not come , but oops here it is Obama is the Nominee. You all keep saying he will not get elEcted ? Well come Nov 5th, I and million other will say to you all :

    SO SHUT UP AND MOVE ON..Obama will get enough indep. and republicans to win the presidency with or without your support...

    June 4, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Kenny-boy – states "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!"

    Why not honor Senator Clinton with her 2nd wish: a Democrat in the White House? A vote for McCain is equal to a child's temper tantrum: A vote from McCain means you don't truly care what Senator Clinton's vision for America is – because both she and Obama's plans are the same.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for war, recession, and a turning back the clock on women's rights and civil rights: and the end of the hope of health care for the uninsured.

    If you don't care, then you were a real DINO – Democrat in name only.

    June 4, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Dem Switching

    I am so tired of hearing Obama and his supporters saying that the party will be united NO IT WON"T and his supporters saying please don't choose Hillary for VP but telling us you better vote for Obama if you are a true democrat. I for one am voting for McCain but IF there is a REAL movement to write her name in than I am there with the 18 million strong.

    June 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Reality

    I understand the numbers, but in perhaps a more clear way:

    He won more states.
    He won more delegates.
    Her popular number "victory" is a farce, and everyone knows it. You give no credit to caucuses or to states whose primaries were (to put it generously), seriously flawed.

    Can you not see the irony of Hillary supporters blasting the superdelegates – when she started with the hugest margin of superdelegates on her side?! Without superdelegates, there is just pledged delegates and he STILL WINS.

    Pulling out threats to get on the ticket, doesn't make her an appealing running mate at all.

    Accept that she loss, and then try to make a case as to why she should be VP, but blackmail? I thought Democrats were better than that.

    June 4, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Ridgeway

    How can he acknowledge Obama's achievements when he has none? Acknowledge what? The goobers that think Obama has clue are just that. Goobers.

    June 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Laura Smart

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

    Obama received 1767 elected delegates; he missed 2118 by 351 delegates
    Clinton received 1640 elected delegates; she missed 2118 by 478 delegates.
    Obama has 18 million + popular votes
    Clinton has 18 million + popular votes
    Obama won 33 contests
    Clinton won 19 contests

    Thus neither Obama, nor Clinton secured the number of elected delegates to win; but obviously, Obama won fairly. Let us move on to the GE.

    Democrat to the whitehouse.

    June 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. Richard

    If the comments from Obama supporters reflect on the candidate, then his commitment to uniting the country are w/out hope. The views expressed here are too often hateful and divisive. How can Obama bring hope unless we as a people (party) project hope and tolerance. Here is Obama's first opportunity to unite the country. It will be interesting to see how he handles it. But the spite filled invective spewed here by Obama supporters is more reminisent of Rev. Wright than the UNITER we HOPE Senator Obama may/could be. Give it a rest folks. RENT a more generous perspective, if you can't find it w/in yourselves to adopt one. If Obama is to do his best, his supporters should support "the better angels" of his mssg and not the dregs of his politics, so often heard on this site. WE CAN do better for ourselves and our country and support Senator Obama together, only if we are tolerant of those whose veiws differ from ours. Your candidate and country deserve more generous support than the negative views which are daily expressed in forums such as this one.
    Congradulations Senator Obama! I sincerely hope you have the wisdom to lead us in a positive direction. If so, you will have my support.

    June 4, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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