So what do you want in ’08?

Barack Obama (AP)Voters are torn between competing cravings: Change or experience in 2008? They are demanding something new, but there is comfort in the tried and true.

The public's low opinion of Washington and growing concern about the direction of the country point to 2008 being a "change" election, one like the campaigns of 1976 and 1992 when people looked for a marked departure from the status quo.

But the war in Iraq and the rise of global terrorism make for an anxious electorate and could turn this into a "war" election, one like the campaigns of 1944 and 2004 when voters found comfort in the most experienced candidates.

Change versus experience? The White House will likely go to the man or woman who speaks best to both.

"You can't separate them. I think (voters) want both," said John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 who is running for president in 2008.

"I think they're looking for change — serious change, substantive change — and I think they will have to feel like whoever the candidate is is prepared to be president of the United States," Edwards said in an interview.

"I will say I don't think they will judge that based on a resume. I think that's a judgment they will make based on what they see and hear — the demeanor, personal strength (and) those kinds of things."

Edwards was quick to add that last part because he is more of a "change" candidate than one of experience. Despite this being his second national election, the former North Carolina trial lawyer has little in the way of a political resume outside a single term in the Senate.

Fellow Democrat Barack Obama also is more change than experience. Just three years removed from the Illinois Legislature, Obama rocketed to the top tier of the Democratic presidential race by presenting himself as an outsider who could transform government crippled by corruption, polarization and "a smallness of our politics."

"The time for that politics is over," Obama said when he announced his candidacy Feb. 10. "It's time to turn the page."

The message clearly resonates. The Illinois senator raised more money for the nomination fight than any other candidate while drawing huge crowds and an Internet following.

Obama's inexperience showed at an issues form in Nevada when he had no answer for the nation's health care crisis. He looked worse at a debate when the Democratic candidates were asked how they would respond to another terrorist attack in the United States.

Obama should have been ready for that question. But all he could muster were a few halting sentences about effective disaster relief effort and "good intelligence." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., pounced on his failure to consider a military action.

"I believe we should quickly respond," Clinton said.

The former first lady and second-term senator is long on experience and short on change. Polls show that most voters have made up their minds about her and they associate her with her husband's presidency — for better and worse.

A USA Today-Gallup Poll this month showed Clinton leading Obama among Democrats nationwide. The No. 1 reason Clinton's backers gave for their support was her experience. The main reason Obama's supporters backed him was "fresh face/has news ideas."

Still, both Democrats fight against type.

Clinton, 59, tries to be what Bill Clinton has called a "change agent." She denounces politics as usual, sponsors an edgy Internet contest and borrows phrases from Obama. "People are anxious to turn the page" and "change the direction of the country," she said this month.

Obama, 45, has started giving policy speeches. His wife addresses the not-ready-for-prime-time murmurs. "He has great experience," Michelle Obama told ABC this month. "He's been in the state Legislature. He's been a community organizer. He's been a civil rights attorney. … Need I go on?"

Campaigning in New Hampshire, she said, "I know experience is important, right? But experience without the sort of moral compass is not enough."

On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is a "change" candidate who casts himself as a Washington outsider.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is an "experience" candidate who built his presidential platform around the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorism, he says, is something "that I understand better than anyone who is running for president of the United States."

Republican Sen. John McCain was a self-styled reformer during his failed 2000 presidential campaign. His message this year is less about change than it is about courting conservatives — the GOP status quo. McCain, 70, considers his age and experience an attribute.

"I'm older than dirt and have more scars than Frankenstein," he likes to say. "But I've learned a few things along the way."


Ron Fournier has covered politics for The Associated Press for nearly 20 years.


  1. mary cali


    I have lost complete faith in the way we elect presidents. From the start, its all about the money and who can raise the most to spend on ads that market the candidate to voters who are poorly informed and easily manipulated.

    There is no way I can vote for a Republican. 3 candidates stood before a Republican audience and said they didn’t accept the facts about evolution. That seemed just fine with the audience. The Republican party consists of inflexible idealogues and religious zealots. Until that changes, I cannot and will not vote for anyone in that party, even though I voted for Nixon twice. The Republican party has proven to be incapable of governing even with a republican president and a Republican congress.

    I am not one of those who think party does not matter. Party does matter. There are different philosophies and different constituencies that will be heeded according to party.

    Destined to vote for a D candidate, I am not enthused about anyone, particularly those in the top tier. Those in the so called bottom tier have greater experience Dodd, Biden, and Richardson. I do not look forward to having the Clintons back in the WH, but would be forced to vote for Hillary should she be the nominee. At least I would likely have more agreement with her policies than those of the Republicans.

  2. macfan1950

    Mitt Romney offers both change and experience. He was a successful conservative governor in Massachusetts, he turned around the 2002 Olympics, and he’s been a successful leader in the corporate world. See his stand on all the issues at:

    You’ll be impressed.

  3. jarrodlombardo

    He’s interesting, but his morals are clearly flawed/out of step with the American people. Most Americans are offended by polygamy, that’s fine, but Romney has said he “can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy.” Genocide around the world is considered more awful by most Americans. Murders are considered more awful by most Americans. Lots of things are much more awful than polygamy. His beliefs get in the way of his leadership skills.

  4. JudyB

    I want to be able to trust our governments leaders to tell us the truth…that alone will be a huge change from what we have now. If our current President & any of his henchmen had an ounce of integrity between them, the USA would not be in the mess it is now. Honesty, Integrity and Trust would in fact be a welcome EXPERIENCE and A Definite CHANGE for all of us!

  5. Arlo J. Thudpucker

    Incompetence? Bring it on.

    Double digit IQ? Fine.

    Utterly corrupt? Just use some KY.

    Unlike Diogenes, I’m not willing to wander the barren political landscape aimlessly.

    However, to help assure integrity, I’d like to add a specfic item to the Presidential wardrobe. (BTW, this idea is being shamelessly stolen from some obscure Ahnold movie.)

    Explosive collars. Containing a few ounces, say, of Semtex, linked to a computer.

    HAL would relentlessly compare Presidential utterances with previous statements.

    “Flip – Flop”?


    “Mr. Vice President, here’s your Executive Collar”.

  6. SEAL

    What the hell happens to a person when they start running for high political office? Is their something in the DC water that makes them so stupid they can’t answer the ordinary and certainly expected questions without think tank preperation?

    “What would you do in case of a terrorist attack?”

    Ask any “normal” person on the street and they will say the same thing. “That would depend on what it was – what happened.” There is no other answer. And if you are a democrat, you have a perfect opportunity to blast the repugnants considering how badly they have handled that and Katrina.

    “In the first place, I wouldn’t have all of our defense apparatus sent away on “exercise” leaving no protection for one of the most obvious targets. And I would “change” the DHS disaster response system. The one we have now has proven itself wholey unable even when they knew days ahead the disaster was coming.” In case of a terrorist attack, handling the disaster must be fast and effective and it will provide information we need to identify the source. From there, we act accordingly, whatever that requires. All options are available.” Next question, please.

    All you get out of the “experienced” ones is a nonanswer – “we must act quickly!” Well, no shit! That’s an insulting brush off. An evasion because they feel that no matter what they said it would not appeal to some voters. That’s why Kerry lost. He never said anything after the first round of the debate.

    Thse idiots better wake up and start communicating like ordinary people and tell us what they will do or not do. You are going to change it? How? What? If you want to win, don’t tell us you are going to “improve” what is there or make it “better.” That’s just more of the same.

    Tell us you will redirect the funds from killing people to provide health care and schools and all those things that directly impact our quality of life.

    Tax the rich proportionately and stop sending the jobs overseas. Trash the immigation bill and enforce the laws we already have. Bring enough troops home to secure the borders, stop the illegals from crossing, and punish those who hire them. That’s what people want to hear. Just answer the damn questions.

  7. Carl Nemo

    “But the war in Iraq and the rise of global terrorism make for an anxious electorate and could turn this into a “war” election, one like the campaigns of 1944 and 2004 when voters found comfort in the most experienced candidates.”

    The Twin Towers were destroyed by Saudi radicals that had no involvement with Saddam Hussein. So Bush, via the Wolfowitz-Feith-Cheney rogue intelligence pipeline, used their “cooked” intelligence product to sway Congress into waging war in Iraq. Yes there were bouts of terrorism prior to our second Iraqi invasion, but world-wide estimates indicate that terrorism multiplied many times over on a world-wide basis since Bushco decided to kick over this hornets nest. So now our G.I.’s are getting stung to death by a bunch of people that have little to no kinship with the West, except for the wealthy one’s that fly regularly to London, New York, Zurich, Dubai and other watering holes for rich arabs. Meanwhile regular Iraqi’s have suffered mightily all because of lies proffered by this administration to inveigle the U.S. into an adventuristic MIC war for the purpose of stealing oil and building mega-bases in the Middle East.

    It seems that terrorism is a direct precipitate of the Military Industrial Complex and our ever-meddling intelligence services in fomenting international strife rather than the other way around. There’s also the possibility that the Twin Towers came down as a function of either an orchestrated plan, or possibly intentional non-intervention in order to let the scenario unfold. For what purpose you might ask? Simply to get the American people worked up to support any and all schemes that would give the elected cabal a virtual “Kings X” on everything they propose to Congress and the people and that’s exactly what has happened.

    I also find the lead line for this editorial ludicrous; i.e., “What do you want in ’08’ change or experience” ?!

    As far as I’m concerned and many other Americans, we don’t care for any of the pre-selected choices being proferred to us by the wealthy cabal of NWO/MIC/AIPAC oligarchs that run the show with the “marketing” of these candidates being facilitated by their media mogul buddies. They pitch these duty losers out with a take-it or leave-it attitude. I have a suspicion that someone is going to showup on the scene prior to the “08” elections that is going eliminate all of the aforementioned annointed one’s from the running. With possibly the exception of Obama they are all long-term, well-seasoned, “highly experienced” disappointments.

    Reagan/Bush > Bush/Quayle > Clinton/Gore > Bush/Cheney > Hillary/? > Obama/? > Giuliani/? > Romney/? > McCain/? > ?/?

    I created this flow chart so people can focus on the last one which is ours to have and not theirs. Traditionally these Presidential contenders end up chosing some well-placed political “crony” for V.P. After studying the activities of these listed people while V.P.; i.e., H.W. Bush with Reagan, Gore with Clinton, and now Cheney with G. Bush we have to be damn careful who ends up in the V.P. slot. They are only a heartbeat away from becoming President. I discounted Quayle because he performed in the typical V.P. fashion; i.e., got lost for the most part and didn’t do much of anything whereas the others seem to be behind the scene meddlers. H.W. Bush had a geniuine intelligence background due to his association with the CIA. Gore was a wannabe intelligence analyst, and we all know Cheney is a consumate meddler when it comes to tinkering with our intellgence services and their product. I admonish people to very careful in this next election concerning the V.P. slot, otherwise it’s going to be a curtain call for the U.S. unless it happens under the current regime with martial law being declared and we end up with our first American dictator for life.

    If Americans choose their candidate for “comfort” then all I can say is you best get ready to experience the “ride”…! If you vote for the most experienced one’s then you’ll get more of the same corrupting nightmare, the “ride” that we’ve experienced for the past 6.5 years. We need “change” bigtime and it has to be for the better; i.e., to send the dreadnaught “Tyranny” to the bottom. There’s a laundry list of un-constitutional legislation that must be rescinded! If the prospective candidate has no intention of rescinding the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and to restore habeas corpus into the greater body of American law both civilian and military then we don’t want them in the Whitehouse. If the American electorate is satisfied with the way things are then rest assured you, your children, grandchildren and generations to come will surely get the government they “deserve”.

    Freedom is not free! “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”…Thomas Jefferson

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. Wayne K Dolik

    Judy, Carl, and SEAL you are all spot on in your points today. Yes how about our civil liberties and less secrecy and more truth. The only way that I see this happening is to reject the selections of the shadow government and the mobbed up consolidated and controlled corporate owned media.

    Secondly, we do not need to bestow control of America to any one family. I mean control by the Clintons and the Bush crime family. Repetition has bought this country to the mess it’s in. Surely, we do not need more of the same.

    The other problem with electing the same political crooks is the awfully corrupt baggage that they bring with them. They always install the biggest liars in the Whitehouse. We cannot tolerate “experience” any longer. We need to get the same old reptilians out of our government.

    We need fresh leaders and new faces in our Whitehouse. Screw experience. Give me an honest President who believes in American values every time.

  9. Janet

    Let’s see…Bush had no Foreign experience (Daddy’s experience doesn’t count) and was not a change agent either, unless you consider running the Republican party into the ground change. The people actually running things – Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al all had experience and look at the mess they got us into. Experience is useless if you’re incompetent. Brains matter. So does integrity and ethics. The current administration lacks all of it.

    I’ll take brains and change anyday over experience. A smart president such as Obama or Edwards will surround themselves with experienced and smart advisors. I’ll also take brains, experience and change in the form of Richardson, Clinton or Biden.

    Dumb presidents surround themselves with loyal, but incompetent staff. 1.20.09 can’t come soon enough.

  10. Steve Horn

    I want a man or woman of integrity, vision and conviction who is willing to do what’s needed – whatever is needed, to get this great nation of ours back on track.

    I don’t give a tinkers damn about race, sexual orientation, gender, party affiliation or looks.

    I just want someone who can look ME in the eye and tell me the truth – while (by the way) not really giving a damn if I want to HEAR the truth or not. I do – but that’s my business.

    Betcha I’ll be disappointed once again –


  11. Steve Horn

    Morals – what exactly are “morals”?

    Would we not be better served to look at an inidivduals ethics – which can be better defined in the absence of a conversation about their personal system of belief (or lack thereof)?

    One can use their system of beliefs to justfiy nearly any horror, based on a “moral” judgement.

    If my God is greater than your God then it’s obvious that I (in my mind) have the “moral” high ground. Ethics, however, are agnostic. Ethics exist with or without God.

    Some would say that, compared to Clinton, Bush is a moral man, as (far as we can tell) he hasn’t chased skirts or received oral pleasures from various women while in the Whitehouse, but would you label GW’s behavior as ethical?

    Let’s drop the moral accusations and judgements and look the ethical behavior of individuals instead.

    Another way of saying it would be – let’s keep the church and state apart.



  12. Donnat

    Fighting terrorism is something we can do under any leader – other nations have repelled the enemy at the gates throughout time. We shouldn’t have to be fighting our own government to keep our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. An enemy within is far worse, IMO.

    I want someone smart, someone who knows what’s going on in the world, someone who isn’t afraid of challenging us to achieve worthwhile, important goals, like ending the war and switching America off of fossil fuels.

    That will take someone with vision and if the Democrats have no spine, they at least have vision.

    The GOP wants it to be 1902 forever, and I’m sick of their neanderthalism.