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. Jetty


    Leave Obama alone! If you do not support him, stop unpresidented negative reporting on his campaign. Take it as a feedback that there are millions of people out there who see you as anti-Obama (The undoubted next US President).


    June 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. Casey in Missouri

    Puleeze... there's no bigger flip-flopper than McBush, period. He changes his mind on his own viewpoint on a weekly basis, depending upon who he is mumbling and stuttering in front of.

    McCain = Bush's Third Term

    June 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Jim in S.C.

    Let's talk about the issues and compare the platforms of the candidates and the implications of said platforms, please.

    June 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. Shannon

    I have no problem when a person rethinks their position on something that is no longer a good idea.

    We all have done it, make a decision early on, but when circumstances change and things begin to go in a different direction, we have to rethink our earlier decision and decide to go in a different direction, or stay stuck where we are.

    It is not hypocritical, it is just logical thinking, we all do it all the time if not daily in the small decisions we make about our own lives. I would not want a presidential candidate who doggedly stuck to one thing no matter how situations and circumstances changed.

    June 20, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA





    June 20, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. Belle

    It is not so much the flip flopping as the WAY Obama does it. He says that McCain is funded by PAC and lobbyists as is the RNC...so he in fact, tells a "LIE" to excuse the fact he himself is breaking a promise, or lied.

    Obama himself, according to RNC standards for PAC and Lobbyist money has accepted at the very least, 162,000.00+ for his campaign. The real truth is the RNC has less than 1.1 percent Lobbyist and PAC money, and McCain has 1.7% in his campaign donations.

    THE DNC, however, 10% made up their funds.

    So it is the incorporation of a lie to disguise the truth that has me personally reeling over Obama. I used to want Clinton as the VP because I supported her....now I just want her to stay away from this guy....as far away as humanly possible.

    His new logo? Total arrogance. His true colors are showing behind that wonderful facade. It breaks my heart in a way...I really did want to believe in him.

    June 20, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. Manny

    B.O. is just like all the rest of the politicians – a big fat liar. Rev Wright know this for a fact, maybe we should go ask him to enlight us more about B.O.

    Manny, Phx AZ

    P.S. Remember what B.O. said about Rev Wright "I can not disown Rev Wright as I could not disown my very own grandmother" but yet here we are.........with Rev Wright thrown under the bus. That was a hint of future lies.

    June 20, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. Ronnie

    The American tax payer should not foot the bill for the campaign of anyone! Let people who believe in their candidate donate money if they so choose.With Bush wasting money on 2 or more wars (Iraq,Afghanistan,drugs,border wars) we do not have the money to waste!

    June 20, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. Janey

    It looks like even Blitzer has succumbed to the Obama audacity–sticking up for that despicable seal on the situation room–he and Lou Dobbs were my last hope for objectivity-join Brazille and the rest of the dems for a good 500 million dollar laugh at the taxpayers expense..My vote says it will never happen. Nurse for lower taxes for working people...no Obama

    June 20, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Donna

    If someone changes their mind (more than a year later) about something that isn't earth-shattering (to me), so what? McCain has done a 180 on everything he has been so self-righteous and pompous about, from torture to immigration to the war to offshore drilling... the list goes on.

    And every single one of those things affect me. Personally, I donate every month to Obama's campaign (sometimes twice)... probably $5 to $25 and I think he still will be publicly financed.. by the American public that is hungry for change.

    Yes, we can.

    Donna in Ca.

    June 20, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Gina

    In Obama's defense he did say he just changed his mind when he decided to run for President.
    I agree with this article, the term flip-flopping has gotten out of hand. Some beliefs/stances have to change it is foolish and irrational not to. Look at George Bush he is the poster boy of NOT flip-flopping, look where that's got us.
    I do think the system is broken even when these 527 can still make negative adds and the candidate is not accountable. I don't think this was Obama's main reason, which is he needs to do everything to win and the public finance system limits him.

    June 20, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. DC in Missouri

    Puleeze... there's no bigger flip-flopper than McBush, period. He changes his mind on his own viewpoint on a weekly basis, depending upon who he is mumbling and stuttering in front of.

    McCain = Bush's Third Term

    June 20, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  13. DJ

    The press and the republicans continue to underestimate Obama and as long as they continue with that mind set he will win in a landslide.

    It was a masterful move to reject public financing. It would show very poor judgement to reject a strength you have come to build through the process.

    Go OBAMA/HAGEL 08'

    June 20, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Sean

    The presidential financing system puts both candidates on equal terms. It is meant to level the playing field and stop the influence of big business and interest groups from drowning out the average citizens vote. There is nothing wrong with a person maturing and looking at things differently and changing their stance on an issue. In this instance though, as you well know Wolf, this is not a person maturing and changing their stance on NAFTA, War, Abortion, right to privacy or freedom of speech. It is about money and a politician serving his own best interest. You can rationalize it, if you want to but what it boils down to is, not changing the way Washington operates but politics as usual at the expense of the individual voter.

    June 20, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Vote for Change

    As long as the "change of mind" doesn't hurt public but helping him, then why not?

    June 20, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. SZ

    If it's ok to change your mind, why was Hillary's vote for the Iraq war such a big deal during the primary campaign? Do better, Wolf.

    June 20, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Zainab

    Why didn't McCain think out all of his policies before he ran for president??

    June 20, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA









    June 20, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. Artur de Freitas

    If a candidate consistently changes her/his mind as a result of ignorance then one has to ponder if a Presidential candidate shouldn't be reasonably well informed people.

    June 20, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. Josh Sumner

    Aren't politicians people too?

    I haven't heard of many people that haven't changed their mind about certain subjects. I think it's great that both Obama & McCain have changed their stance on a few issues. However, Obama still has my gauranteed vote. McCain is cut out to be a disaster for the economy, human rights, and how the world views America.

    June 20, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Sarah

    At least Obama doesn't sputter and get angry when accused of changing his point of view.... unlike McCranky.

    June 20, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  22. Molly Weasley

    What is ridiculous is when McCain changes his mind every time he talks to a different audience, which he has done throughout this campaign.

    June 20, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Jerimiah

    It depends on the reasons behind the switch. If the situation has changed, policy must as well. If a position changes based on pure political calculation (ahem, Mitt Romney and McCain), then the voters lose trust.

    June 20, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Michelle

    Do you trust Obama to keep his word about the Iraq war?

    June 20, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. dubblek2@hotmail.com

    Nothing is wrong with a political candidate who changes their mind.

    Obama's campaign finance decision to not accept public funding from the government, but rather from the puplic directly, is "change we can believe in".

    Mccain's campaign finance decision to accept public funding from the government does not represent change.

    It represents continuation of a failed government campaign public financing system.

    Obama's decision is in alignment with what he annonced the first day after he bacame the presumptive Democratic nominee, that his party would no longer accept donations from special interests or PACs. That too was "change we can believe in".

    Obama is having his campaign rely on small contributions from "We the people...".

    Seems like back to our roots patriotism to me.

    June 20, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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