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. Cynthia

    Not a thing Wolf. Senator Obama is doing what he feels is best for his campaign and it saves money as well for others who can't do as well as he has done. John McCain has changed his mind so many times until I have to really think hard to remember where he stands on an issue.

    June 20, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Robert

    Obama is a liar!!!!!!!!! I will NEVER vote for him! This country needs him as far away from the white house as possible.

    June 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Willy

    Can you get another picture of Wolf up here? That one does not make him distinguished. He looks lost.

    June 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Confusesus

    Having this ability is exactly why I think Malcolm X is one of the most heroic figures in American politics. (and I'm a white guy born in '68)

    Unfortunately Malcolm's mind changing got him killed in the end, but still... it's a quality I wish these politicians possessed.

    June 20, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. s


    Only a non-thinker remains with the same view. It only means he's opened to other sides- whether or not a view as been stated. I mean, don't we need a leader that thinks... after 7 years of a non-thinker. come on, people- open your mind!

    Dem '08

    June 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Bruce

    There is nothing wrong with a politician changing his views so long as there is a reason for the change. Obviously, facts change, experience teaches and personal values mature. Indeed, changing ones views on an issue may be a positive thing, a sign of intellectual honesty and maturity. However, what I and most people I know resent is a politician whose views seem to change based on what audience s(he) is addressing or the direction of the prevailing political winds. I think politicians owe us an explanation of why their views have changed. The mature voters will understand, particularly if there is a good reason; the partisan won't care.

    June 20, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. vic nashville,Tn

    Politician also Human being, If they change their views come forward and explain to public
    When they don’t explain then we don’t believe them,
    Really I miss Hillary, We know about her but we don’t much about Obama When he changes his mind its hard to believe him
    So I decide to vote for Mc Cain

    June 20, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Herman in LA

    Nothing as long as it is for the good of the people and not some pandering gimmick.

    June 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Thomas Happ

    I completely agree. I never understood when people would say, "even though a politician belives such in such now, ten years ago they were not, so don't trust them!" Politicians should not be afraid to change. Eliminating the ability to change their views eliminates their ability to grow.

    June 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. Adam

    I agree, Wolf. I thought the same thing during Kerry's 2004 run, when all I heard from anyone was "he's a flip-flopper". I didn't get it. What was the big deal? So he changed his mind. I change my mind every day. Isn't it better to have a president who is flexible? A president who can realize when there is a better option out there and go for it? Isn't it better to have a president who's not afraid of change, but embraces it?

    But maybe that's too much for some voters. Maybe there are still too many people out there who think going down with the ship is better than getting on one that's not sinking.

    June 20, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Mary WA

    He has not changed his mind. He is for public funding reform that works. Can't have this with 527's. McCain isn't playing fair. Serves the RNC right. GO OBAMA

    June 20, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Bill L

    An hisorian recently said that Abraham Lincoln was once questioned about why he changed his mind on a certain policy and he said that he changed his mind because he knew more now about the subject than he originally did.
    Certainly we know more now than we did when the decision to invade Iraq was made. So politicians should always admit that they changed their mind because they learned more about the subject.

    June 20, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. twister49 - oklahoma

    as long as it is Obama and not Hillary changing her mind, the media is all for it..... Not much on the old Ticker about Obama changing his mind on NAFTA , I just wonder what else he will be changing his mind on, if and when he is on office.......

    June 20, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    We've had a stubborn imbecile in power for the past eight years eho prides himself on NOT changing his mind! We'd all be a lot better off with some flexibility!

    June 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. CAROL

    WAY TO GO OBAMA....of course u are entitled to change ur mind......I am sure his actions make sense....GO OBAMA...THE WORLD NEED U......

    June 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. jonny

    Politicians who refuse to change their mind about issues when faced with facts that show them to be wrong, such as Hillary Clinton and Bush, look even worse. People can't expect any presidential candidate to know all the facts about every issue, and can only make decisions on their current knowledge. When their knowledge is increased, sometimes a different decision is apropriate. Now LYING and pretending to believe one thing just to get votes is a totally different story.

    Obama/Gore '08!

    June 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. SUE, Michigan

    It wouldn't be bad, except that in spite of his lofty claims, Obama is no different than the rest of the Washington insiders that he purports to shun. He, I'm afraid, cannot be elected without Hillary, and I don't think he sees that, or is man enough to accept her onto the ticket. SHE is the one who can change Washington, not him.

    June 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |

    Nothing Wolf I think its refreshing to see a politician say in there own words I was wrong and I have changed my mind on this subject. This does not happen as much as it should and maybe if Bush had the you know what to say this we wouldn't be in Iraq. I commend OBAMA for taking the heat and standing for what he thinks is right. We need to stop pigeon holding our official to what they say when a changed of mind is for the good of the country. We are all human and we grow and evolve and do our ideas. This is fine with me

    June 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Relle Boston

    Ok who flip flopped first? Mccain and he did not get hit this hard. Mccain has changed his hat more then anyone else and he voted with Bush 95% of the time, but barack being black surely shows that there is a double standard and CNN I use to watch you so much, but know you are dissapointing me. Does not seem that you are partail anymore. Mccain lies daily and it seems to go by the waste side.

    June 20, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. Rea

    I think it's okay that candidates change their minds.
    I thought that Obama would be different.
    He's bascially a politician trying to buy his way in.
    His money trumps honoring his word.

    June 20, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Dwight

    I am actually more worried about a politician that has never changed their minds, ever.

    A non-flip flopper, is basically someone that has lost the ability to learn

    June 20, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Independent

    Obama's explanation for why he is foregoing the $85 million is not false. He just decides to focus on the argument that works for him. Is it true that another reason behind the decision is his capacity to raise money? Of course! Instead of belaboring the obvious argument (which everyone else is pushing), he is emphasizing the other - equally true - argument that McCain has been playing the existing system.

    So Wolf, yes Obama has changed his mind; but also true is the reason Obama has given for his decision: the system is broken.

    June 20, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. cedarsands

    Wolf, the better example of a good change is Senator McCain's change on drilling for oil. With gas prices going through the roof, that is a change that we can believe in. While he will take political heat for that, it is America that will ultimately benefit from that decision, not John McCain.

    Senator Obama's decision helps Senator Obama, and Senator Obama alone. All these people who think he stands for hope and change have been hoodwinked and bamboozled.

    Think about the greater good in this election.

    June 20, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. The system is "broken"

    So he changed his mind, I really don't think the American public cares about that. Why have limited funds when you can have unlimited funds, lets get the real issues. The economy, Iraq, China, etc.

    June 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Sharon in Florida

    I was reminded of it when McCain realized we needed off shore drilling off the coast of Florida because we need to head in the right direction for what's best for the entire country and not just what's in our back yard.

    But you're right, being upfront about it is the way to go, before someone else gives you the idea to be upfront about it to make the way easier when Obama wasn't that way on his own.

    June 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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