I can't begin to speak for CC,
but as for myself I just feel that Episode I has more of a "Star Wars feel" to it than Clones.
TPM had moments of introspection and a sense of wonder that Episode II just didn't in spite of the Padmé assassination plot mystery, the secrets behind the Clones and the huge battle on Geonosis. Clones
is a good movie....none of the six Saga films are bad. But for a Saga film it's just the weakest and least emotionally rewarding of all of them to date, and the atrocious romantic scenes between Anakin and Padmé don't help one bit.
feels more like a space action film with SW elements thrown in. TPM for all its flaws feels like an actual SW movie with more emotional scope and range.