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In N.H., Bill Clinton Argues That Experience Matters

KEENE, N.H.--Campaigning in Keene, New Hampshire Tuesday, former president Bill Clinton took a verbal jab at his wife's chief rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, by challenging the premise of his campaign: that Obama's dedication to change in Washington should trump Hillary Clinton's years of experience.

Without naming Obama, he mocked what he called a "fashionable idea" that politicians "should somehow be disqualified from our national leadership because they have actually been changemakers in the past." Referring to his wife as a "positive change maker" for 35 years, Clinton said that her experience "indicates you will be more likely to successfully execute change as president."

But Clinton saved his most pointed criticism for the press, which he said was doing a poor job of covering the presidential campaign.

Citing a study on press coverage by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, he said only 1 percent of the stories about the 2008 campaign were devoted to the past records of candidates. "No wonder people think experience is irrelevant," he said.

In the survey, he said, 15 percent of the stories were dedicated to the life experience of the candidates, 17 percent to their proposals and 67 percent to what he called "pure politics" that "won't matter tomorrow" and "won't affect your life."

Clinton was well received by about 400 people in the town of Keene, about an hour-and-a-half from Manchester. The town got a double- dose of presidential politics Tuesday, hosting the former president followed a couple of hours later by Arizona Sen. John McCain, kicking off a six-day bus tour of the state.

McCain held a town meeting at the headquarters of C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., one of the nation's largest grocery distribution companies. The company is privately held and run by Rick Cohen, but company employees went out of their way to say the decision to host McCain was in no way an endorsement of his candidacy.

In fact, the town meeting almost became a private event when -- much to the dismay of the McCain campaign -- executives at one point said that reporters who had been traveling with McCain and local reporters from the town of Keene could not attend the event, which had been on McCain's public schedule.

The company relented a bit, allowing print reporters to take notes during McCain's stump speech and the questions, but barring the use of tape recorders, video cameras and still photography. McCain boarded his bus after the event without stopping to talk with a local TV reporter who had waited outside the event.

Inside, McCain offered his standard stump speech and then responded to questions, including several about illegal immigration and global warming. He reiterated his desire to build a wall across parts of the border before tackling the politically sensitive subject of a "pathway" to citizenship for those already in the country illegally.

On global warming, he said the country will be "judged very harshly, very harshly for our failure to enact policies to reduce greenhouse gases" but said a tax on carbon emissions, favored by some Democrats, would amount to a tax on "a gallon of gasoline."

McCain was interrupted several times by ringing cell phones, including his own. But he used it to his advantage, referencing the well-known incident in which rival Rudy Giuliani answered a call from his wife during a speech to the National Rifle Association.

"I can assure you this is not my wife," he said, turning off the cell phone. "So I'm going to just put it out of commission."

--Michael D. Shear

By Washington Post editors  |  December 4, 2007; 7:07 PM ET
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I think it's interesting that the Clintons keep attacking Obama for lack of experience, when Bill Clinton had no foreign policy or Washington experience when he ran for president in 1992. They need to quit the hypocrisy and find something else to focus on.

Posted by: Leslo2626 | December 12, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Audart said:

"One of the most absurd mantras being put forth in this presidential election is that experience doesn't matter when running for President.

"Barack Obama has been trying to sell this notion for some time. I think his luck is about to run out."

Obama has never said that experience doesn't matter. He has stated that HIS experience is superior to Clinton's. Check out this video, in which several heavy hitters in foreign policy (including Tony Lake, Clinton's former National Security Advisor) explain how Obama's experience is superior.

This video contains almost 2 hours of people explaining why Obama's experience is the kind we want. Don't miss it. And feel free to google all the names of all of the folks involved. They all command respect, regardless of who you might vote for.

Posted by: kathleen.mcgee | December 5, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

'Can someone lend me a microscope to find Hilary's experiences because everywhere l look, l just cannot find none' Or maybe the reason l cannot find it, is because it is all locked up in chains?

is it her experience on iraq, iran, nafta or her cry of help from big daddy Bill.

'A nation healed, a world repaired'----president Barack Obama

Posted by: nkgilb | December 5, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

On Hillary's White House experience, cogent evidence needs to be released on her role in withdrawing from Somalia when one of our helicopters went down, and in turning the presidential back during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Posted by: FirstMouse | December 5, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

You tell them Bill BlytheIV! Experience counts! And bad experiences are REMEMBERED!

Posted by: rat-the | December 5, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

STOP the Hillary attacks they make you all appear as childish as obama. Why not take a look at his record... well...that is, if you can find a political record for him...ask at Harpo productions. His only record is missing all important votes in the senate in his very short 104 weeks as a senator; he isn't even qualified to be a senator let alone President!

Obviously these ole boys do not have a clue on the security threat bush and Chaney has caused our great country, we are at odds with most every large country, they will not talk to bush anymore, because he's daddies spoiled little boy who the weak republicans gave him his way for the last seven years and now they are running and hiding from him. EACH republican shares the blame as bush and Chaney do for the state of this great country. The more obama speaks the more I hear a republican...

It's also obvious from the last debate that John Edwards is fighting with anything he can think of, which we need a fighter; he's only attacking Hillary though? As the good ole boys are sticking together, is he scared of oprah and obama? The reason you're not hearing allot of negative about obama because OBAMA IS TOO INEXPERIENCED, there is no history, other than he doesn't show up for work, he's missed almost all important senate votes? We already had a president the played instead of worked, look at this mess...What's has this guy been doing? now he thinks he can use Oprah's money to buy the Presidency? HE IS CRAZY as she is...

After recent weeks and the personal attacks, I strongly now see the best choice and my vote will go to CLINTON, we need her contacts as well as the great relationships President Clinton has with other countries and experience, to work together so that other counties will share the bill and world security. We do not have time to play politics with the likes of obama and rest of these guys...

CLINTON 2008, the true SMART choice

Posted by: dyck21005 | December 5, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

If sending good paying factory jobs to other countries, yes Bill Clinton (and Hillary) have experience.
Remember NAFTA, GATT and most favored nation treaty with Communist China!He said he would not vote for it, but after getting in office, he pushed it down our throats,He lied. Now his wife says she will look into these trade treaties, another lie.
These people are Republicans!

Posted by: ldittmar | December 5, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

One of the most absurd mantras being put forth in this presidential election is that experience doesn't matter when running for President.

Barack Obama has been trying to sell this notion for some time. I think his luck is about to run out.

He should have thought of this before he waged character attacks on Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Stand back Obama. And take your vitamins.

Posted by: audart | December 5, 2007 3:39 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, it looks like the only ones buying Mrs. Clinton's "experience" line seem to be the Washington insiders and the big media outlets. Do they know something the rest of us do not?
If former White House residence constitutes experience,I'll endorse the suggestion of Socks the cat for president. Mrs. Clinton may (or may not) have had influence, but she's never had the responsibility, even as much as Obama had as a neighborhood organizer in Chicago.
But as a New Mexican and Richardson supporter, I'm glad to see Bill Clinton out there arguing my Governor's case.

Posted by: ViejitaDelOeste | December 5, 2007 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Well lets see, besides living in the white House for 8 years already(Wasn't there something about Term Limits?), the Clinton's did some things beyond Hosting Christmas Dinners, and taking Around the World Vacations during their final Days.
Pardoning the FBI's MOST WANTED CORPORATE Criminal Mark Rich should be great experience for Pardoning Hsu. Speaking of Pardoning, Bill is GREAT at Appologizing!

LOL! I can hear it now!

Obama, Oops, I meant Osama, we are terribly sorry for the inconvenience that Evil Mr. Bush caused you, Can we French Kiss now and make up?


Posted by: rat-the | December 4, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Bill is right. He has experience. Let's elect Bill.

Oh wait, we can't, what with that whole term limit thing.

I know! Let's get "Socks" the cat, to run for president!

He was in the whitehouse for the whole time Bill was!

Posted by: julieds | December 4, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Two thoughts:
-Clinton's right about the press, you're worse than a bunch of Heathers
-Holy mackerel! Is McCain pure poison? Do even republicans really shun him so openly? That's news to me.

Posted by: zukermand | December 4, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

If this were really about experience, Hillary, you'd be stepping down from the race and endorsing Biden/Richardson/Dodd.

This race is between REAL Experience (Biden/Richardson/Dodd) vs. Judgement, Leadership, and Change (Obama/Edwards) vs. Hardcore Fringe Candidates (Kucinich/Gravel) vs. Machiavellian politics (Guess who)

Posted by: gobanana910 | December 4, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though many may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where assaulting, torturing and murdering people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
Do we want a President who sends a "crime does pay" message to society?
Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKKlan or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKKlan and Nazi Party.
We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you:

Posted by: avraamjack | December 4, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Michael Shear reports
"Referring to his wife as a "positive change maker" for 35 years, [former President] Clinton said that her experience "indicates you will be more likely to successfully execute change as president.""

Did the former President happen to cite specific examples of successful change she has executed over the past 35 years? Did he happen to comment on her contribution to his foreign policy successes (and failures)? I understand she claimed this week that she offered him insight on such issues. It would be curious indeed to find out just how much of his administration is actually the result of her input and/or actions.

Posted by: bsimon | December 4, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

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