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)

    Total Ignorance. It just shows that you have not been following the primaries for 16months as some of us has. When Hillary was the inevitable candidiate throughout last year you were totally fine with that.

    If Obama can beat her without her help he does not need her help in November. I hope you do vote McCain or stay at home because when he wins in Nov you will have no more arguments.

    On being an Independent, she will become the Ralph Nader of 2008. If thats what you want for your candidate then just don't vote democratic.
    Everyone except you knows that a democrat will win this election.

    June 4, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  2. Pat

    To Staunch Clinton Supporter – Hillary Clinton lost. Get over it. Hillary will get over it and continue to live her millionare life style. Let's stand together as Democrats and take our country back. I'm sure you don't want 4 more years of McBush just to prove a point. Think about it!!!

    June 4, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. PW

    It's unfortunate that Hillary is truly showing her spoiled, unprofessional, stubborn and in denial side of her "real" demeanor. It's no wonder Bill wondered about, if she's this rigid in public, I can only imagine what she's was like for him in private. Will the "real" Hillary Clinton, please stand-up and continue to show herself because it's really ugly!

    June 4, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  4. Voice of Change

    To Carrie from Chicago:

    Many of the delegates that you mention, especially superdelegates, are not bound by the decision and can change their minds until the convention. The decision making process of the Democratic party has been hijacked by self-serving party leaders.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Pelosi has been sabotaging Clinton because she has some delusion she can be the first woman to be elected President. That isn't going to happen.

    June 4, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. ray ferreira

    last night i could not remove my self from the tv , i was so proud that this had happned then i heard hillery clinton speach and it took the wind out of me I kept watching hoping that something possitive would come out of her mouth but it did not happned. She took away some of the importance of the night that belomg to obama

    June 4, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Sgriffin, Amsterdam, NY

    Folks, you can still vote for Hillary in November. Don't we still have the WRITE-IN option? For all those who do not know who to choose but believe in Hillary Clinton, start the movement to get out the WRITE-IN VOTE for November. This race isn't over because the SuperDelegates think it should be. This election can and will be decided by the Americans. Keep in mind, in many states, the primaries were closed. I'm and Independent and I know who I will vote for in the fall and no one is going to tell me otherwise.

    June 4, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. amy

    Where's John King? Vacation I hope!!

    June 4, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  8. KE

    ...those same crowds that cheerd and shouted Hosanna to a man turned on him the next day...some are only interested in fish and bread...

    June 4, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  9. NJ

    Wolf might use derogatory terms to call her "odd woman out" but guess what...Hillary can run as an independent and win!!

    She has a better chance against obama's baggage and McCain's policies...

    June 4, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  10. Cheryl K

    Can anyone tell me what was the exact number of women that voted for Obama? and what is the final popular count for Obama? Sen. Clinton slapped African Americans in the face by not acknowledging his historic night.

    June 4, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. Ryan Asbert

    Every one of you crazy feminist idiots really need to get your heads out of your... Well, if I finish that sentence, this comment will be blocked, but you get my point.

    Hillary Clinton does NOT DESERVE TO BE THE PRESIDENT, and the fact that you are all being so stubborn about this just goes to prove how mentally incompetent you all are.

    Hillary Clinton did not win the popular vote – I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but contrary to what you might think, Caucus States luckily do get a say in the matter. (How dare you declare that my WA State Vote doesn't count.)

    You all need to get lives – Just because your candidate lost, you're going to whine and scream like Veruca Salt to get your way? You spoiled feminist morons! You should all be stripped of your right to vote! You are all a disgrace to this nation.

    June 4, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. K Grey

    I'm taken back by the posture that Senator Clinton has displayed in respect to Senator Obama's nomination achievement. It has the tone of "Sour Grapes". I can't help but wonder, if the roles were reversed & Obama dispalyed such disregard to Senator Clinton, how relentless the media would be for his "bad sportsmanship". Regarding the Clinton camp, it's looking more to be about Senator Clinton & less about the Democratic Party.

    June 4, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. curt

    As a registered republican I can't stand the idea of voting republican again, but neither can I stand the history of the Clinton team. Therefore, I was excited by the Obama candidate and his position of not blindly sending me into harms way in Iraq for nothing (read between the lines folks since I can't directly mention having a govt employer). Iraq is just like Vietnam because it doesn't matter if it succeeds or fails geopolitically. If we want so bad to create democracy in the Middle East then how about changing our allies (Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, or UAE) all of which are not democratic governments. I feel the reason why is because they would probably become democratic Islamic countries based upon their religin (just as many say the US was founded on the christian religion. As you might see is that Islamic countries (democratic or not do not allow freedoms of the minority)–just look at Indonesia.

    Whether Iraq goes democratic or not does not matter, in fact, the US might be better off if it wasn't so we could keep them from repressing the minority since US christian founding ideals are a minority viewpoint in Iraq.

    Anyway, Palestine is an establish democracy but we didn't like them electing Hamas so we just ignored them. But Palestine could be that beacon of light of what a democracy in that area of the country really might be like. Beware we might just get what we are asking for and not like it when all Islamic majority countries establish democracies and do it on Islamic religious law (similar to US establishment on christian law/viewpoints).

    June 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  14. the jackal

    No more hillary,go home back cookies

    June 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. Wise White Guy

    McSame is a joke. He reminds me of that creepy preacher guy in Poltergeist who held the souls captive. Frail, pale and you could see right through him.

    June 4, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  16. the jackal

    bake not back

    June 4, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. Terry Head, Chicago, IL

    Thank God! This Democratic campaign is over and now it is time to move on to the general election.

    Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be many things. One of the many things that she has shown herself to be is a visionless looser. The main issue in the primary campaign was not experience; it was change.

    Yes, Obama 08!

    June 4, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  18. Patrick - Novato, CA

    First the "staunch" Hillary supporters said they'd vote for McCain in Nov, if she didn't get the Democratic nomination. (Nevermind the general recognition that–in stark contrast to McCain's priorities–Hillary and Obama essentially want the same things for our country.) Now the "staunch" say they'll vote McCain, if Hillary doesn't get the VP slot. And these clowns call themselves Democrats? They smell like Joseph Lieberman to me.

    June 4, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  19. Raihan Islam, PA

    All "STAUNCH CLINTON SUPPORTER"'s post did was unite the people who want a Democrat to win even stronger. The dividers are few and far between for this November. We will consistently become more united as illogical arguments that dare say Obama and Clinton had different goals for the Democratic Party come into play. Threatening to vote for John McCain because of some entitlement you feel some candidate should have? That's negative, that's divisive if anyone would even dare to call your argument logical. It won't divide us. We're not going to take that anymore from our government. There is no psychological message stronger than change we can believe in and to have hope for a better tomorrow. It invigorates us, and it will make us all more positive people. That's the real goal of having a united country if not a united world, pure positivity.

    June 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. Mary - Independent

    This Country needs to come together and stop this bickering, hate and racial prejudice feelings. The Democratic party needs to think about how they are going to be united, and so far, all I see is the Democratic party distancing themselves with their ways. The American people are hungry for a leader whom they can trust, whether Republican or Democrat, but so far, we have yet to see this.

    June 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  21. Brian Knoxville, TN

    When Obama spoke in South Dakota last Sunday, he made me feel so bad about myself. At the end of his speech, when he told that story about going to a little town in the "sticks, " in the "middle of nowhere, " and said that the little crowd of twenty people who came to see him started shouting "fire it up!" and that he was so uncomfortable because he didn't know what they were talking about, I became so uncomfortable, too.

    In that long uncomfortable moment I thought, "Are they racists who are going to burn him?" But let me tell you, when Obama finally revealed that the point of the story was that the people were saying only that we have to fire up our enthusiasm, I felt so bad about myself as a white person.

    I asked myself, "Am I a racist for thinking that that's what he meant, that ‘fire it up’ meant that these hicks were going to burn him because he's a black man? " And I thought, "I better vote for him, because if I don't, then everyone who looks at me might see that I am a closet racist…"

    I have to prove to myself that I'm not a closet racist before the rest of the world can see how enlightened I am.

    Now that's one piece of effective oratory!

    June 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. Chris - Hemet, Ca.

    Obama debating McCain! This could be very much like the Kennedy/Nixon debates of 1960.

    June 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  23. Patrick

    A vote for McCain is a vote to end partisanship in Washington, a vote for Obama is a vote for more of the same, just this time it's from the left.

    June 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  24. Brenda

    I think people are running away from the main issues that we are facing in this country and worrying about the wrong things.
    Presently we have a republican president and we all are witness of the ahrdship that the country is going through and people still talikng about electing Mcccain another republican over a democrat, I don't think some people care about what we all are going through.
    Our rate in the world has been diminished, and I can believe we still have people who are enemy of progress. We need repentence in our hearth and joing together to give the new guy, Obama a chance. He is energized and ready to work, and I believelead us into a new and better direction, I hope we will regain what we have lost.

    June 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. the jackal

    staunch clinton supporter don't vote, WE DO NOT NEED more BS from Hillory. Be your own man barack and pick who you want. A woman is good JUST NOT HILLORY. we want Obama to be here for the next election also. NO HILLORY

    June 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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