June 20th, 2008
03:20 PM ET
14 years ago

Blitzer: What's wrong with a politician who changes views?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.blitzeriowa.cnn.jpg caption="Blitzer: Obama, McCain are at odds over tax policy."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - There’s nothing wrong with people changing their minds. We all do it – all the time. But as Luke Russert reminded us at his father’s funeral this week, politicians have a hard time admitting that they ever change their minds. They are apparently afraid that they will be accused of flip-flopping, which supposedly is bad for a politician.

Luke said that Tim Russert would also point out that the Americans are a very forgiving people. They will certainly accept politicians changing their minds as long as they are up front about it. What’s wrong with political leaders simply saying they’ve had a change of heart? “I used to think one way, but now think another.”

I was reminded of this when Barack Obama announced this week that he was opting out of the public financing of his general election campaign despite earlier expressing support for the public finance system. His decision certainly made financial sense, given that he could probably raise at least $300 million for the campaign compared to the roughly $85 million available in public financing.

In explaining his decision, Obama insisted the current presidential general election finance system was “broken,” something Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, a leader in campaign finance reform, denied. Would it have been so bad politically for Obama if he would have just said: “The country needs me in the White House and this decision will help make that happen. We can’t take any chances. As a result, I changed my mind”?

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Beverly, NYC


    Nothing is wrong with a politician who evolves and see another view, in the corporate world its called thinking outside the box. Now a politician who doesn't recall conversations and changes his mind in drastically in the same week in the corporate world would be retired.

    June 20, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. Theresa in Minneapolis

    I listen to conservative radio to keep up on what the other guys are saying. Hugh Hewitt (sp?) kept on and kept on calling Obama a liar and hanging up on his supporters who would not say he lied.

    It was a joke. This is the best decision for democrats and I hope that all of the real democrats can see that.

    I would like to see the "public money" allocated to the people who are in desperate need after the floods that are destroying the central part of our country.

    June 20, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. Bernadine Platen

    You're right. He should have said that he changed his mind.I will continue to support him anyway.

    June 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. TJ Johnson

    Obama the empty suit, empty-headed ultra Liberal racist elitist Messiah of the New Black Revolution does not know what any of his policies are so it's no surprise when we hear conflicting comments come from him. It is the press who calls his waffling "change", and it likely takes Obama by surprise that no-one bothers to challenge anything he says. American will get what it pays for with this man: big trouble.

    June 20, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. BJ

    What this says is, we cannot believe anything politicians tell us, because their positions may and will change. They will keep playing word games with voters.

    Bottom line, just look to history to see what each party's policies have been, and chances are, that's what you can expect from their candidates.

    However, Bush is a aberration, so his terms can be discounted. And since we have no idea who Obama really is, we have to be more wary of him.

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

    Politicians always change their views. Look at all the flip-flopping we've had over the past 7 1/2 years.

    For every finger being pointed at someone else, there is two being pointed back at you. (You would think they would get it already).

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

    Nothing's wrong with a candidate changing his/her views. It's wrong that they lie about why they're changing their actions. Obama didn't keep his word and lie about it.

    June 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Debbie

    Politicians always change their views. Look at all the flip-flopping we've had over the past 7 1/2 years.

    For every finger being pointed at someone else, there is two being pointed back at you. (You would think they would get it already).

    June 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Holden Litgo

    Glaring omission in making no mention of the McFlip-flops of McBush in this analysis of "mind changing" and its consequences. McCain has raised reversing position to suit the needs of his campaign to an art form. The end result of Obama's opting out of public financing is that for the first time we can be REALLY proud of our campaign financing because it will, for the first time, be REALLY public.

    June 20, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. Peter E

    Tell it like it is Wolf! Obama DID change his mind AND lied about it. He's not bringing any change to the White House. He also lies and cheats just to get elected!

    June 20, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Lee

    Nothing is wrong with changing your mind, if you are not running for president against a republican. They seem to think that changing your course of action is a failure instead of wisdom, look how many lives were lost in Iraq before they changed their stategy. Shameful, but they critize DEMs for "flip flopping" on issues that do not involve taking lives.

    I think Obama is somewhat afraid to say he changed his mind due to all the flack he took early on in the primary, they keep saying he is inexperienced; so he feels he cannot change his course while running for President. But we all know that he will win and use his judgement to bring America back on the playing field financially and militarily.

    GO OBAMA '08

    June 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Jeff in White Bear Lake

    Well Wolf, it goes to the issue of trust. Politicians are unique creatures in that we elect them based on past deeds and future promises. The problem with changing their mind is in how they do it. Say for instance I support candidate A who runs on a platform of getting out of iraq quickly and supporting alternate energy sources. Now, after I've voted for him and he's elected, he 'changes his mind' because its just too hard to accomplish either of those things. Now I'm stuck with a guy who is explicitly not doing he promised he would do for me. Thats called bait and switch. Hence, I the voter have been betrayed in my trust for the candidate.

    Its ok to change your mind if you can reasonably prove that your decision was wrong. Many democrats who voted for the war have since learned that they were mislead and are regretful of their vote. Thats ok. But when a politician changes their mind for the pure purposes of political expiediency, especially when they have promised otherwise, and their only justfication is a lame excuse about what the other side might do, well thats a problem.

    Barack ran and won on a platform of being different. Now he is breaking his promise because its inconvienient to keep his word. Why should I trust him on any other issue?

    June 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. Saad from NJ

    To answer your question, I ask you a question: what is wrong with someone who follows the 'norm' Wolf? The norm of politics has become to change your views as they suit you. Sometimes the politicians view change turns out bad for the people and sometimes good.

    Had President Bush and especially Cheney and Rumsfeld changed their views on Iraq, it would been a good for our country and the world.

    June 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. katiec

    There are too many loopholes in the system as it now works.
    Remember when Kerry was running all the money that was
    spent by the RNC on horrible ads? Until this is addressed
    in the reform bill I cannot blame anyone for not trusting it.
    Public financing should be what amount is allowed for
    campaigning and nothing else. We do not ever again need
    Carl Rove tactics in our presidential or any race.

    June 20, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Speechless

    Nothing. But going back on your word to the American people – that's something else entirely.

    June 20, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Anne Clark

    On his decision not to accept public financing, Obama has broken a promise he made earlier, and in my opinion he cannot be trusted on other issues that he has taken.

    June 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Tom Eyemdaman

    Wolf, why don't you bring up McCain changing his mind about off-shore drilling because the cost of gas going from $1.50 to $4.00+ warrants the change?

    CNN is cheerleading so hard for Obama it's pathetic. Why can't you look at yourself and at least attempt to keep some level of objectivity?

    June 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. R.I.F.

    I think it's a by-product of the 2004 election. Bush and his goons labeled Kerry as a flip-flopper and that was their entire attact line, and it worked to a good degree. Regardless of wha Obama does that won't be effective witht he GOP this year because McCain has Obama beat 5 to 1 in terms of flipping on issues. To a degree I thnk it is silly because there's no one on earth who doesn't change their minds about things. No ones perfect...not even the POTUS.

    June 20, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Matt

    CNN–Blatant defense of someone who cannot take a stand or a view and stay with it.


    June 20, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. for Obama

    well, u might have a point. although i dont think his decision was a mistake or should be considered flip-flopping, i do however, feel he shoul have worded his change of mind differently. even if the system IS broken, he should have jus went about it less bothersome and more enthustiasctic about choosing a wiser option for winning the presidency in november. however, his intentions in mentioning the "bokeness" of the system might have been to further spread his "message" of change and make it a little more obvious for those who dont know about these matters- to sort of remind the voters that he is not for lobbyist and big corporations.

    anyhow.... he has made the best choice possible, more power to him!!

    YES WE CAN!!
    Obama 08-12

    June 20, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Yupik1

    Public financing is broken in the sense that it's just not enough money to compete with corporate-run 527 groups. If you could shutter the 527 groups out of the campaign process, then it would be a more fair system. I would take issue with Obama's decision if he was funded by PACs and corporate special interests, but he's not. Obama is funded by the same people that fund the public finance organization, so it should be a non-issue with ordinary American citizens. Heck, I'll send Obama another $100 just to spite Russ Feingold!

    June 20, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Ben Ekiyor

    Obama has a right to change his mind especially if he thinks the system to be broken. McCain has changed his mind several times on some other issues (and lately on drilling for hydrocarbons on "holy ground"). What America needs is a President that can solve its problems, and not campaign finance laws that create new problems.

    June 20, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. Enlightened Voter

    Obama is honest and that is more than we can say for mcwar. He is entitled to change his mind, we all do it constantly. But this isn't a policy change or something that will effect american people negatively, he just saved us 84 million dollars.

    June 20, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. Go Hillary

    I wonder what other things he will change his mind about ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    June 20, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. Loretta from California

    Nothing would be wrong with it If both sides would agree not to criticize the other for it. Sorry, I know that my comment is not realistic , Wolf.

    June 20, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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