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Obama, McCain, and the experience question in Wisconsin

By Griffin · February 20th, 2008 · No Comments

Commenter warner sees future trouble in last night’s exit polls for Barack Obama:

Exit polls on CNN out of WI showed on the question of “experience” it was 95% to 5% for Hillary.

Obama should have been tacking against this looong ago. The inexperience claim while _not_ true vs. Hillary _will_ be true against McCain.

H[e] needs to stand up for what experience he has and stop ceding the field.

I agree, Obama should not be ceding this terrority.  Rather than saying, “Yes, I’m inexperienced, but…,” he should at least be making an argument for why he is (legislatively speaking) every bit as experienced as Hillary Clinton, or why his on-the-ground experience is more relevant than her in-the-boardroom experience.  Luckily for him, after eight years of Bush-Cheney, experience is pretty low on America’s list of priorities.  Only 22% of respondents in Wisconsin listed “experience” as the most important candidate quality versus 54% who listed “change.”

John McCain, by preemptively attacking Obama as “inexperienced” and “naive,” is already falling into the same trap that Clinton did.  And with 20+ years as a U.S. senator, it will be just as easy to portray him as someone who has been in Washington too long and can’t help but to have been corrupted by the environment.  As Bill Richardson famously asked in a debate earlier this year, “Is experience kind of a leper?”  Regarding this election, this year, the answer is a resounding yes.  And Richardson’s frustrated, off-the-cuff statement sums up 2008 better than anyone has so far.  If McCain, like Hillary, tries to run as the experience candidate in a change election, he will lose by the same double-digit margins that she is.

Tags: Barack Obama · Democrats · Hillary Clinton · John McCain · Republicans

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