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. AHerbert; San Diego, CA

    You know ...take the gloves off I know Obama can handle McSame – it is unfortunate that he is fighting Billary to boot. What does not kill you make only make you stronger ... he can take McSame and Hilary with one hand behind his back ...... Please Hilary don't make him fight that fight.... concede and unite our party along with soon to be President Obama

    June 4, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. PA Voter

    Staunch Clinton Supporter, you argument is flawed, and the first is that Sen. Clinton won the popular vote. She only wins when she counts the FL and MI votes, which she clearly discounted before Super Tuesday, and then does not count the votes in caucus states. Can't have it both ways.

    This election is not about my candidate or your candidate. It's about the American people and I'm casting my vote for Sen. Obama as I believe he is most fit to help America make the turn in the right direction. And had he lost the race, I'd vote for Sen. Clinton. There is no way on God's green earth I would vote for John McCain!

    Please, America, let's not get stuck on stupid!

    June 4, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. AJ

    I have been a democrat for 30 years and never supported any republican for any office. I hate Obama and his supporters. I urge all of Senator Clinto's supporters to either vote for McCain or stay home in the fall. It's no longer about democrat v. republican. It's about defeating Obama!!!

    June 4, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Phil Newton Murphy, Oregon

    Obama = Candidate of change

    McCain = Candidate in need of change

    June 4, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. mendoza

    listen clinton supports, did obama cheat and try to change the ruls during the game time and time and time again. he has been nothing but be nice and gracious to sen clinton. yet she still has not said one positive thing about the new leader of the democratic party! so all the clinton supporters if voting for mcbush makes you feel better than sticking with the party then do that, ruin the country for 4 more yrs! this was a fair race and she lost get over it if she would have won we all would support her as a true democrats! sounds like the clinton supports are just racist! GET OVER PEOPLE AND LETS COME TOGETHER TO WIN THE WHITE HOUSE! Obama baby 08

    June 4, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. The US abolishes century old clinton dynasty

    does Blitzer and billary not read numbers?

    Blitzer can join billary in PR and be her reporter..

    Blitzer, is so annoying, and he does NEVER report facts, his love for the queen has blind h im..

    get over it and over all read the numbers, news, facts, and count the votes, we the majority want change, we want a new person not a bush nor a clinton
    enough is enough

    why is everyone afraid of the clintons
    why does everyone else has to apologize but not the clintons
    why ???

    June 4, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Generation X

    @Cindy, Good Lord girl, Hillary couldn't win the Democratic race, how in the hell is she going to win running as an Independent. And, by the way Hillary didn't carry Obama, he has won on his own. Get over yourself and grow a pair!! LOL

    June 4, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. KCbob


    You fail to take into account Operation Chaos. Republican ditto heads who tried to get Clinton into office because she is the easier candidate with way more baggage than almost anyone in the DNC.

    Clinton is a polarizing figure. Obama appeals to many republicans and not because he would be easier for MCCain to face.

    Clinton is history. Let it go and lets move on.

    June 4, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. Val

    Staunch, first of all who cares who you vote for, and for all of her supporters thats like you, you should make Hillary pay for all of you all including her to see a doctor because the way you all sound you need some strong meds and a couch, and my God none of you can spell, there are such things as spell check, oh I'm sorry I forgot Hillary did say that her supporters were hardworkers and uneducated forgive me I can read between the lines.

    June 4, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Patty, Big Bear, CA

    Those Hillary supporters that dig in their heels and say they will vote for McCain or not vote if she's not on the ticket in some way are spitting in the wind.....What would Hillary want? If you truly support Hillary for her beliefs and not just because she's a woman, then you will vote Democrat in the general election and be a part of the solution rather than the problem. That whole "I'm gonna take my ball and go home" attitude is pretty childish.

    June 4, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Tangi


    OBAMA 2008!!

    June 4, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  12. dave

    If AGE is defined as a detriment in job performance – as in the Democrats and CNN criticizing McCain because of his age, then perhaps CNN should fire Jack Cafferty and Wolf B.
    Food for thought .

    June 4, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Mike from Amherst

    STAUNCH Hillary Supporter,

    You obviously don't, or did not, at any time support Hillary. If you did, you would have supported a woman's right to choose, an end to the war in Iraq, and a tax that does not just favor the wealthy. By not voting Democrat, or voting for McCain, you forfeit your beliefs, and the beliefs that Hillary fought so hard for.

    Any Hillary supporter that votes for McCain, obviously did not support Hillary in the first place. McCain is the antithesis of everything Hillary had stood for.

    As others have noted, don't let emotion cloud judgment. Hillary fought a great race, and lost a close election. Maybe some of you Hillary supporters don't like Obama supporters who have put down Hillary. That's understandable.

    But honestly ask yourself if your emotions, are worth another 4 years of young Americans being killed in Iraq. Ask yourself if it's worth having an economy that continues to fail and gas prices continuing to soar. Ask if you want another 4 years of George Bush. If you do vote for McCain, or do not vote, and these things happen, you'll have no one to complain to and no one to blame but yourselves.

    Obama, Democrats, '08.

    Amherst, MA

    June 4, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Glen

    I'm waiting for the two of them to have a debate. Obama will full court press the hell out of McCain on the issues. Let's see just how well the long primary process has tempered the Obama chops. No stupid questions now, ABC. Keep to the pressing issues and not the TMZ issues.

    June 4, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Clinton Supporter

    You guys knock me out. For the second time in a row, Hillary wins a primary as does BO. BO decides to again step on a Clinton victory by declaring something. Last time was West Virginia. So he crowned himself. I fail to see why HC should sit back for this clown. You just don't like it because she's a woman who doesn't bow down before some male.

    June 4, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Jose

    Obama-(Obama's + the peoples' choice for Obama's VP)!

    June 4, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. Michelle from Colorado

    Blank slate for sure. Could it be that this blank slate is what turned off the people who chose to vote for Hillary instead of him and not the color of Barak's skin?
    While I hope his slate will be exposed for his lack of history, tenacity, and accomplishments, please don't be surprised about any of the digs Barak will receive in the next 5 months. It is not pretty out there. As much as McCain is older than any other nominee and he is fair game, so will the big difference Barak has from any other nominee. His skin color. If his supporters thought that all Hillary supporters were her fans because they were racists, they ain't seen nothing yet, unfortunately.
    May they both stand strongly on their overall merits and may the best man win.

    June 4, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. NoMcSame

    If Hillary was short changed by the media and her party, why are her supporters so mad at Obama? I don't get it. I never heard the man say anything bad about her at all. Now these people are willing to shoot themselves in the foot because of what?
    Obama always takes the heat for the things that other people have done. Please help me to understand why if you can.

    June 4, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. kathleen

    I was ready to follow Clinton in her eventual support of the nominee.

    After hearing comments like The Clintons are deranged narcisstics and the continuation of cable TV anti-Clinton Spin –
    I have only one choice.
    To use my vote as my only power.

    It is not an anti-Obama vote for McCain.

    It is an anti-Obama supportor vote for McCain.

    June 4, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. david in seattle

    Another point on No Nukes....If you really want to make this country energy independent, then lets get back on board with the Methane Hydrate mining research that the Bush administration effectively killer. Methane hydrate is essentially frozen natural gas....there is enough of it just off the North Carolina coast to power the entire country for the next 50 years....
    There are also deposits off the Florida Coast, in the Carribean and along the California and Oregon coasts.....We dont need nukes....we need to think outside of the petroleum or 300 years worth at the current rate of energy consumption. The lets use nukes mentality is a mindless copout.

    June 4, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. jane

    This was closed and NEEDS to be said. Some need to understand anger. Sen Clinton informed all of her staff to get their final expense reports in for their FINAL reimbursements. She then, last WEEK, invited them to Join her IN NEW YORK ON TUESDAY NIGHT. Once the POLLS CLOSED in S Dakota and MONTANA, she would speak to her supporters, and then take the time she needed to phase DOWN. PLEASE NOTE, the Obama Camp STAGED numerous delegates to announce their support for Obama ON THE SAME DAY. More SUPER DELEGATES came out that day than any other day this year. Instead of waiting until the election was over and allowing Hillary a graceful evening, they made sure Obama limped across the finish line, with a pile of supers pushing him, interrupting Hillary's speech. Sure, they both earned their moment in the sun. but this was clearly staged, and even David Gergen jumped on the bandwagon–blaming Hillary for stealing Obama's Thunder.

    June 4, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Mark

    You stubborn HRC supporters are a sad breed. Take your idle threats, bad math, and sore attitudes away. Threats of writing in HRC for prez and defecting from the party mean nothing. Do it but just go away. True Democrats will rally around the party in this time of need. Selfish folk need not apply. Goodbye.

    June 4, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. Jose

    What political or any other "favors" has Barack Obama done for Tony Rezco or any of Rezco's family then? Seeing none, I rest my case!

    June 4, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. DFoster


    You sound so stupid. You call yourself a Democrat? You would rather support John McCain rather than give that support to a fellow Democrat … amazing! Who do you think Hillary will vote for in November … remember, she will also vote. Ask her, STAUNCH CLINTON SUPPORTER. She’s a Democrat and she will vote for Obama, whether she’s his VP or not. She will help the party when her vote is being counted. If you don’t believe that, then you’re not a true Democrat and what you believe in is Clinton as your god or something. Do you think she’s God? Come on, do you really want McCain as your President?

    Use your head, not your emotional outburst when making decisions that will affect this country.

    June 4, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. Ron L

    What would be GREAT is Wolfe could learn how to ask tough questions and not settle for the standard political no-answer when he deals with either Obama-McCain or anyone representing them. I doubt if it will happen though.
    Another GREAT thing is if Wolfe could go more than a hour without say DREAM TICKET....HE'S LIKE A DANG GONE PARROT WITH A BEARD...DREAM TICKET...WHAT ABOUT THE DREAM TICKET...DO YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO BE THE DREAM TICKET...HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE DREAM TICKET...IS THERE STILL CHANCE FOR THE DREAM TICKET...ON AND ON AND ON AND ON..IT IS SICKENING and it does not deserve so much time...HELLO Obama won....it should be about him 85% of the time, not 50%.

    June 4, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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