February 13th, 2008
12:10 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama, McCain camps say opponents can't catch them

 The Obama campaign said Wednesday it's nearly impossible now for Clinton to finish with more pledged delegates.
The Obama campaign said Wednesday it's nearly impossible now for Clinton to finish with more pledged delegates.

(CNN) – As the all-important delegate chase continues, the campaigns of presidential frontrunners Barack Obama and John McCain argued Wednesday that it was now just about mathematically impossible, or already so, for rivals Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee to capture their parties’ presidential nominations.

On a Wednesday morning conference call with reporters, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said that the Illinois senator’s own sweep of Tuesday’s Potomac primaries had made it “next to impossible” for Clinton to capture the Democratic nomination.

The most recent CNN count of Democratic delegates puts Obama ahead of the New York senator, 1,215 to 1,190, a gap of just 25 delegates. That includes both pledged delegates who are distributed proportionately according to election results in their state, and unpledged superdelegates who have made their presidential preference known. Superdelegates are free to cast their vote without regard for the primary or caucus results in their home states.

This cycle, the party’s nominee will need to capture 2,025 delegates. The campaigns of both Clinton and Obama have said that, whatever the upcoming results, both are planning to stay in the race through the national convention, when delegates cast their votes.

But the upcoming primary calendar, said Plouffe, offers Clinton little chance to recover the lead. “The only way she could do it is by winning every contest by 25 to 30 points. You amass delegates by winning by big margins,” he said.

He said that scenario was unlikely, since Obama had won 14 states and the District of Columbia by more than 20 points, while Clinton had won just two states by similar margins. And polling in the upcoming, delegate-rich contests of Ohio and Texas – which the Clinton campaign has said are “critical” – show a far narrower race in both states.

If she does not regain a lead in pledged delegates, she would need to capture an overwhelming majority of superdelegates in order to become the Democratic nominee. Plouffe argued that is unlikely, since superdelegates have begun to say publicly they are reluctant to overrule the results of the pledged delegate count coming into the party’s August convention.

The Clinton campaign has said that the leader in pledged delegates will not necessarily be the party’s nominee, as superdelegate votes have equal weight in the Democratic nominating process. The campaign has also said they will fight to seat delegations from Michigan and Florida, which were stripped of their voting privileges for violating party rules in scheduling their presidential primaries.

Clinton was the only major Democratic candidate to appear on the ballot in Michigan, and she won the votes in both states. On Tuesday, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond also called for the Florida and Michigan delegations to be seated at the Democratic convention.

In a campaign memo sent to reporters, McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis said the Arizona senator’s wins in Tuesday’s Potomac primaries in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. had put the presidential nomination out of reach for Huckabee, saying that the former Arkansas governor needed more delegates than the number up for grabs in the remaining GOP contests.

Davis said there are only 774 delegates available in remaining votes. According to the latest CNN count, Mike Huckabee has 217 delegates – leaving him 974 votes short of the party’s requirement of 1,191. McCain currently has 812, leaving him just 379 delegates short of the mark.

McCain, the likely Republican nominee, won all three contests Tuesday night – but dealt with another uncomfortably close race, as conservatives flocked to Huckabee in Virginia. The senator has struggled to win over his party’s conservative base for much of his presidential run.

Huckabee has said he is committed to staying in the race at least until one of the candidates actually reaches the required mark of 1,191.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (355 Responses)
  1. Chris

    He is only ahead by 25 delegates! I don't think there is any reason to say that she cannot win the nomination! Obama is trying to plant a seed, but it will never come into fruition. She is very capable of winning this nomination. With all of his speeches of "hope" he of all people ought to know that where there is a chance then anything is possible. Hillary ending up being the democratic nominee is very possible, maybe he ought to practice what he preeches!!!!!!

    Hillary Clinton '08

    February 13, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Gigi

    To quote a famous Bible proverb – "Let him that thinketh he stands, take heed lest he falls." Obama's cockiness and his campaign staff's arrogance will eventually lead to his downfall.

    February 13, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Vote 4 Hillary

    What a sad, sad day that will be if Obama wins the nomination. Get ready for another 4 years of a reublican, b/c there is no way Obama will beat McCain.

    What a pity!!!

    February 13, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    You don't have to tell people that Clinton is statistically unlikely to win the nomination, its already on every news show I turn on just like Hillary's "inevitablility was on every news show right up until Iowa.

    FYI, I support Obama but I don't think we need to start getting cocky, it doesn't suit the Obama message well.

    February 13, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. LisaMpls

    Well this Hillary supporter still believes in the impossible!!!

    David Plouffe's statement is funny because, on CNN this morning, one of Obama's senior advisers still said that Obama is the underdog in Ohio and Texas. Is he the underdog in those while still being the frontrunner?

    February 13, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. wendy

    This is all the usual PR rhetoric and there is no sense in getting excited about it. Its just like sports talk about an upcoming game. No one says "we could POSSIBLY win but of course we depend on timing and luck and who knows?'"
    Both Clinton's people and Obama's have said similar things thru out the campaign. And, of course, both campaign managers and top team are working hard as heck and are not cruising.

    February 13, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Larry

    I agree with Mohammed Anjorin;

    Sounds like Mr Plouffe is attempting to jinx the campaign.

    Just shut up and keep winning. You can brag AFTER Obama has won.

    February 13, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. George from Minneapolis

    Mr. Plouffe has made all the right moves so far, so i have no reason to think him saying she can't catch obama will hurt in any way.

    i do think that hillary will sell her soul for the nomination and that she is going to get real ugly before she finally has to give a concesssion speech.

    it is hard to see hillary winning by large numbers anywhere. it seems that even in texas, ohio and penn that she will not roll over obama like he has been steamrolling her.

    president barack obama.... i like the sound of that

    February 13, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Jim

    It might be difficult for Hillary to catch the Pied Piper as he continues to blow his flute (recite the same speach over and over), while the blind children follow him into the abyss.

    February 13, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Todd

    If OBAMA wins the nomination look for a Republican in the White House. I have talked to too too many people that are Democrat like myself who are voting for McCain if he is our option for president. TRUST ME, he will not win.

    February 13, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Charlotte

    I think, for the good of the country, Obama should step aside and let us have a good shot at the Presidency.

    February 13, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Linda Flayton

    We cannot allow the surge for Obama lose steam over the next month due to over condfdence. The Clinton machine is always formidable and could be deadly,when threatened, as it seems to be after fObama's sweep. We also need to counter the Clinton push to seat Michigan and Florida delegates-acceptancre of them would create havoc within the Democratic party.

    February 13, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Tracy

    I am an Obama supporter, but let's not get too confident. This race is not over until it is over. Everyone must continue to work hard and not get too comfortable.

    I agree with the two debates. Obama does not need to debate every week. That is ridiculous. He needs to meet the voters and they need to meet him.

    Keep on working hard Senator Obama, you got my vote in CT and I will continue to support your campaign in any way I can.

    YES WE CAN!

    February 13, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Art Salazar, San Antonio, Texas

    Let the delegates be apportioned until all the states have had their say.

    February 13, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. Marcela Pineda

    Is the United States more prepared to be ruled by a woman or by a black person?

    As far as I can see, by none of them. Gender and race are playing in the competition. However, consider this:

    If Obama wins the nomination, don't you think that there will be voters that will cast their ballot in favour of McCain SO AS NOT TO allow a black person to get to the White House and, in so doing, they will strengthen the possibilities of ANOTHER Republican there?

    Amazing.

    If Obama wins the nomination, don't you think

    February 13, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Manda

    Moment of change? What do you mean "take back America". Any democratic president will be major change over what we have now. The thought that Obama will be able to do some sort of instant miracle if he becomes president is foolish and narrow-minded.

    February 13, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Art Salazar, San Antonio, Texas

    CNN should show more objectivity in reporting instead supporting one while trashing another for the same accomplishments or mistakes.

    February 13, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. JimS.

    Terri, I would hardly say that about 15 delegates is "way ahead" given how many are already selected. It's essentially tied, with Obama only very slightly in the lead. Hardly "way ahead". Two large-delegate states are coming right up, and if Hillary won them both she'd be back on top again. If she were ahead by about 20, would she then be "way ahead"?

    It's amazing Hillary has done as well as she has, given how CLEARLY BIASED the press (and especially CNN) are in favor of Obama. I didn't much trust the integrity of the press already, now I don't at all. The obvious partisanship is disgraceful.

    February 13, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Bruce Waters

    If Hillary wants McCain to be President, she will stay in the race after Texas speaks. The margins run up by Obama since Super Tuesday mean democratic voters have taken a second look at Obama. Obama will be president from 2009 to 2016. Do these years need 90's solutions?

    February 13, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Jarvis, Milwaukee, WI

    I think it is now time for Obama and all of his Obamamites to drop out: they have demonstrated that they can make good speeches, only that and nothing more!

    HILLARY FOREVER!

    February 13, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Lisa

    I think Plouffe is saying that Clinton will not get to the magic number of 2025. Obama's 50 state campaign has made this very hard for he to get that number.

    i expect her to win Ohio 52-44 but that Victory would split delegagtes. Superdelegates may decide this.

    February 13, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. Matt Dyson

    There will be voters who will not vote for Obama because he is black, just as some will vote for him because he is. What I find worrying are comments that seem to suggest that the democratic party should not nominate him because there are still some backward people in this country who will not vote for a black man. If I deny Obama my vote because I worry a black man cannot beat a Republican, then in essence I am denying a worthy candidate because of his race. That is not something I can do. This country needs Barack Obama, and would still need Barack Obama even if he was plaid.

    February 13, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Harriet, Glendale Ca

    Dear Marcela Pineda,

    Senator Obama is running as a man, not as a black man. It is people like you who want to drag America back into the past and focus on race. Americans are focussed on winning, not whining about who's not going to vote for Barack because he's black. It's a new day, wake up and join America's team.

    Also, I'm not concerned about black or white, I'm concerned about red. The blood our soldiers are spilling in a place called Iraq.

    February 13, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. June (California Voter)

    People want the page turned so I think they will vote for Barack in the General Election.
    That is the question I had out here that is why I voted for Hillary.
    But the more I hear Barack speak the more I like him.

    February 13, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. C.E., Minnesota

    Marcela, judging by your comment your not from this country so stop trying to spread your hatred in our country. Why dont you pay more attention to your own government instead obsessing over what we are doing in America. Thats what Obama is trying to do break down the racial divides and he is doing a pretty good job so far.

    February 13, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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