January 26th, 2008
02:01 PM ET
9 years ago

Clinton, Obama campaigns play expectations game

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As South Carolina Democrats headed to the polls, the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each sought to raise the expectations of their rival while lowering their own, in dueling memos circulated to reporters Saturday.

Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson all but declared the New York senator will lose the state, and he said the Democratic race will shift to Florida afterwards - a state where Clinton holds a wide lead but whose primary has been rendered essentially meaningless by party sanctions.

"Regardless of today’s outcome, the race quickly shifts to Florida, where hundreds of thousands of Democrats will turn out to vote on Tuesday," Wolfson wrote. "Despite efforts by the Obama campaign to ignore Floridians, their voices will be heard loud and clear across the country, as the last state to vote before Super Tuesday on February 5th."

Wolfson's comments come a day after the Clinton campaign formally called on her party to seat Florida's delegates at the convention - a privilege the state had lost for holding it's primary contest before February 5, in violation of national party instructions. Obama's campaign quickly criticized the move, trying to "assign meaning to a contest that awards zero delegates and where no campaigning has occurred."

Also on Saturday, Obama's campaign circulated a memo form Joe Erwin, a supporter of the Illinois senator and the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, that notes Clinton's efforts to win the Southern state.

"The truth is Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is pulling out all the stops to win in South Carolina," he wrote. "And it includes saying and doing just about anything to win."

The memo went on to note the significant resources the New York senator's campaign has invested in the state, Bill Clinton's fervent campaigning there over the last week, and a recent declaration by a Clinton surrogate that she would win the state.

Responding to Wolfson's contention that the Democratic race will soon shift to Florida, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "It should not be surprising given recent events that the Clinton campaign would in one breath say the election is about winning delegates and then tout their success in states that don’t award any delegates in the next breath."

"The DNC has made clear that the winner of the contest in Florida will not receive any delegates, so the next step in this nominating process is February 5th. If the Clinton campaign's southern strength rests on the outcome in a state where they're the only ones competing, that should give Democrats deep pause," he added.

soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. lc

    Its no big deal if Obama wins SC because of the black vote!!

    Why is the media and the CLINTONS getting away with downplaying the significance of the black vote? (I understand the negative spin the Clintons are and will make of it.)

    But they would not be able to get away with it if the media adequately applauds Obama for capturing the black vote in SC. They were there to remind us when he did not overwhelmingly have the black vote in the beginning. After Iowa, didn't the pundits say Obama has proven that he could win the white vote and now he has to prove if he can win the black vote before SC? So why all of a sudden is him winning the black vote NEGATIVE?

    Why is it a bad thing if Obama wins SC because of the BLACK vote?

    There was NO negative spin when Hillary won New Hampshire because of the WHITE WOMAN'S VOTE!!!!!

    All of our votes are equal and one vote should not have more political significance than the other.

    I think CNN and the rest of the media outlets have a responsibilty to stop allowing these racial and derrogatory comments and dismissals go unchecked. And it needs to be highlighted at a time other than MIDNIGHT when the minority analyst are only heard by those with insomnia. There should be blogs highlighting the issue and the Clintons should be called on the carpet.

    January 26, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Vincent

    How come every time Barack Obama is called on his record, past votings, and statements he as made, he doesn't address it and continues to call them attacks? I have not decided on a candidate, but he is starting to make my decision easier. Hillary!!!!!

    I would love to see Obama answer the questions and stand up for what he is called on. If he doesn't start doing that, it is clear who will get the nomination.

    No news media seems to bringing this point up!!!!

    January 26, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. rubin

    Re making Fla's delegates count: It's just like the Clintons to want to change the rules once the game's underway.

    January 26, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. Kandace

    Obama is clearly gonna win SC, but who thought he wouldn't? I find it humorous that ppl think we needed the Clintons to "remind" us who the black candidate in this race is. It was obvious from the start who the black candidate was...did anyone forget that Obama was black? LOL, I don't think so. But I'll say, Obama is gonna need MUCH more than SC to win his party.

    January 26, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. California

    Democrats should certainly take "deep pause" if the Clintons are going to throw out the rules and do anything to win. What she has done in Florida and Michigan should be tremendous cause for concern. There is no democratic process being followed in these states. Some might expect this from Republicans, but Democrats? I guess this is what we get when the Clintons get involved.

    January 26, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Robert

    Clinton seems like the kid on the playground who tries to change the rules when they aren't winning. I think it is slimy that she is flip-flopping on her commitment to stay out of the Florida primary. It already seemed like a third world dictatorship having only one person on the ballot in Michigan. Why wouldn't she take her name off? She is trying to have everything both ways.

    I think people are starting to see that the Clinton's will do anything, regardless of the consequences to their party or our country to get elected.

    January 26, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Grace, Overland Park, Kansas

    Kandace, is your memory completely short-term? clinton was leading in south carolina by double digits merely a month ago. in fact, she was burying obama in new hampshire and nevada too. the only place where he was semi-competitve was in iowa. the fact that he managed to overcome such huge odds to make this a very competitive race is AMAZING. this should have been a CAKEWALK for her given the huge margins that she enjoyed since the beginning of the campaign.

    and if sen. clinton wins the nomination, the republicans will be quite giddy. they are eager to demolish her – and unlike obama, they will not have the decency to hold back. this is going to be a very interesting election.

    January 26, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. lee

    The Billary Bullies Strike Again!!!!

    January 26, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  9. Amber

    I bet that if Obama was ahead in Florida she wouldn't be saying this. Billary will only do something if it benefits them in the long run.

    January 26, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. Obama 08

    Kandace asks who thought Obama wouldn't win SC.

    Answer? Everyone a few weeks ago. Remember when the complaint was that he wasn't "black enough"? Remember when pundits said, "Ok, he has proven he can get the white vote in Iowa, but the real test remains whether African Americans will support him." At that time, Clinton was heavily favored by that democratic and led in South Carolina.

    This expectations game is demoralizing. The media and the Clintons keep raising the bar for Obama. First they said he'll never win Iowa, it's an all-white state. Well, he won by the largest margin among the Democratic primaries to date. Then it became unimportant that he came in such a narrow second in New Hampshire against the "incumbant" Clinton because the real test would be whether he could convince black voters that he was for real.

    Despite winning the most delegates in Nevada because of white voters, and despite his strong showings in New Hampshire and Iowa, suddenly the conventional wisdom is, "Oh, sure, he'll win South Carolina because half of the voters are black, but once white people vote on Super Tuesday he'll be out of it."

    Doesn't ring true for me. Three states down, small black populations in each of those three states, and Obama is ahead. Forget managing expectations, Obama is proving again and again that he is a WINNER!

    January 26, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Chance

    What is slimy about Hillary having her name on all of the ballots? Those that do not want to vote for her have the option not too. They didn't in Michigan, 98% of the ppl that voted for her (55%) said they would've done so even if Obama/Edwards on the ballot. She is winning this thing anyway, look at the national polls. Why must she follow suit of Barack and John's choices?

    January 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  12. Texan

    Way to go Obama. Disenfranchise a large group of voters that should be allowed to stand up and be counted. Obama should be fighting for these delegates and not blatantly and publicly against them. This is a HUGE group of Democrats that will remember this in the general election. Kudos to Senator Clinton for actually fighting for the "people of America", and not just spouting empty promises about Hope.
    Oh and by the way Robert, Obama tried to add his name BACK to the ballot in Michigan, but it was to late.

    January 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. Joyce Newman

    Agreed Obama will win SC, but remember that will be a great shift because the Clintons have the greatest affinity to the black community before now. Bill Clinton was not referred to the "Blackest President of America"

    Let be sincere, if Obama wins SC, it has nothing to do with the color of his skin, if he wins, he earned those votes. Before the Iowa caucus, HRC was leading in SC, everything changed after Iowa results.

    Another thought, I do not think any of the Democratic candidates will win enough delegates to win the party's nomination. This is going to a broker covention and I see Edward going to be a king maker here.

    January 26, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  14. observer

    One thing for sure, should Hillary win the nomination, Obama Will support her, and should Obama win, Hillary Will support him. That is being true to your party and each will do that and encourage everyone else to do the same.

    January 26, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  15. John, Milwaukee, WI

    Everyone running will do ANYTHING to get ELECTED!

    The DNC should NOT deprive anyone for any reason of their right to vote and have it count!

    January 26, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Jake

    Barak needs to get out of the race and let Hillary do her thing! He's screwing things up for a potential winner.

    January 26, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  17. charlee

    she said the delegates should be able to sit in at the convention because they will be needed for the General election, she never said they should be awarded. Now who's distorting the facts. The delegates will be needed in the General election for whomever is the party's nominee.

    January 26, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. Phineas

    Kandace, you may recall that as little as a month ago Senator Clinton held a wide lead in South Carolina. The fact of each candidate's race and gender was never an explicit part of the primary campaigns until Senator Clinton realized she would need to rely on the women's vote to recover after her 3rd place showing in Iowa.

    After using her "crying moment" to great effect just before the NH primary, Clinton realized that she could capitalize on both her gender and Senator Obama's race to reclaim the white women voters who favored Obama in Iowa. While I believe the African American vote will be consistent for Obama, I do not think that the white vote will continue to break so overwhelmingly for Clinton and Edwards as it is predicted to in the deep south of South Carolina.

    January 26, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. Linda

    I disagree with all of you. It appears to me that Obama's camp seems to twist things around and make it look like the Clintons are doing something wrong. They are campaigning to win and if that means that Bill has to show up for an event he will. If he didn't you would all be saying he wasn't supporting his wife. Give me a break! It amazes me that it is okay for Obama's wife to campaign and say what she wants but, if Bill does its a major crisis. Furthermore, I feel that Obama is playing the race card in SC and I find it to be offensive. He acts all innocent but, I feel he has a hidden agenda and don't support his actions. Also, I find it rather ironic that after Pres. Clinton raised questions about the way people were being treated in Nevada elections that suddenly Obama's camp is filing an investigation against the Clintons and saying they were doing something wrong. Amazing!!! That is ridiculous since, they were held by the union Obama was endorsed by. PLEASE! Sounds a little suspicious to me.
    Lastly, I just want to say that if you look past all the hype around Obama you will see he is NOT the one to be our next President. GO HILLARY!!!

    January 26, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. EmmyG

    Of course Obama will win. He played the race card solidifying the black voting block in SC against Hillary Clinton. How could he not win? But, he did it in a very divisive way–so much for the politics of hope.

    January 26, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  21. hillabeans

    She has no respect for the LAWS already on the books in this country,starting with IMMIGRATION LAWS.The law is very clear, but she doesnt think they should be inforced.She needs the Illegal votes to win,so that makes it ok?

    January 26, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Darrell

    The Clinton's are running scared and will use any scare tactic or tell any lie to try to get back in the white house.

    January 26, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. dolly broughton

    I'm voting for Hillary because she's smart a good leader and manger and knows how to get the job done and get it done right.

    January 26, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. Jeffim, Miami, Fl

    Obamanites, enjoy your victory in SC.
    It's a last one you gonna celebrate!

    January 26, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Susan

    The Clintons are racists. They play the race card or any card to win..pure and simple. It's time WE THE PEOPLE said NO to the Bush/Clinton dynasty. We are not a third world country where only certain families have presidential powers. This is America..we deserve better!

    January 26, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
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