February 20th, 2008
03:20 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama adviser: Our campaign has a 'wide, wide lead'

 The Obama campaign says it is nearly impossible for Clinton to catch up in pledged delegates.

The Obama campaign says it is nearly impossible for Clinton to catch up in pledged delegates.

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton's campaign said Wednesday morning that Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential frontrunner – and the Illinois senator’s campaign said the race was just about over.

The morning after Obama won his 10th straight victory over Clinton, his campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters that the New York senator would need to win massive, double-digit victories in upcoming contests to even begin to erase her current delegate deficit.

He added that his campaign's most conservative estimate for the critical March 4 contests would still leave Obama with a lead of about 150 pledged delegates. (See CNN's latest delegate estimate here)

Clinton, Plouffe said on a morning conference call, would have to win three out of every four remaining pledged delegates to begin to be competitive in that area.

“This is a wide, wide lead right now…I am amused when the Clinton campaign continues to say: Well, it’s essentially a tie. I mean that’s just lunacy,” said Plouffe. “We have opened up a big and meaningful pledged delegate lead. They are going to have to win landslides from here on out to erase it.”

Related: Clinton campaign launches new offensive on delegate counting

He said the campaign expected the negative tone of the race to increase in the coming weeks, and he accused the Clinton campaign of attempting to “rewrite the rules” because of their current disadvantage in pledged delegates, which are distributed according to vote totals.

Clinton senior adviser Harold Ickes told reporters Wednesday that he believes the New York senator trails Obama by at least 75 delegates.

Regardless of the results in the remaining primary season contests – including March 4 votes in Ohio and Texas that her campaign had called “critical” – Ickes emphasized in a morning conference call that both Obama and Clinton would need “a number of automatic delegates” to claim the Democratic nomination.

In recent weeks, Ickes and other Clinton advisers have begun using the term ‘automatic delegates’ to refer to individuals commonly known as ‘superdelegates’ – elected officials and other party leaders who are free to cast their ballot for any candidate they wish, regardless of the election result in their state, and can change their pick at any time up until the final vote.

Most superdelegates have yet to state publicly which candidate they plan to support. Since Obama and Clinton will both need to claim a majority of this group to become the party’s nominee, said Ickes, the Illinois senator’s campaign should not continue to say that the pledged delegate leader should automatically win the nomination.

Clinton currently leads Obama among this group, although Obama leads in both pledged delegates and in the overall delegate count.

But, Ickes added, "We think Mr. Obama is the frontrunner."

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (290 Responses)
  1. randy.

    Obama will win the normiation know body cares about what the clintons have to say or what the are planing so do what ever you want obama is still the right choice for the normination he might not hae a euugh experience. But have a good jugdement.and that what matters.

    February 20, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. Joe Fattal

    I am glad to see that America is not a racist country that is used to be years ago. But than Michelle Obama remind us that race was more of an issue that the media try to portray it. Her comment in her speech was too inclined on the race issue when she mentioned that she was more proud now to be American than few years back. That was a racial comment. She is black and Obama also.

    February 20, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. Claude,Calgary

    When Moses lead the his people out of bondage and parted the Red Sea there were many who doubted. This is a real and wonderful moment in American history and its becoming quite clear, the gig for Hillary is over and she should just take her big pension and head to pasture !

    February 20, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. Dee

    Ask Hilary where she got the money for her seldom used house in NY – as well as how much she charges the Secret Service a month for housing their crew whether they are there or not. Maybe she'll release that information, along with her tax figures AFTER the primaries are over !

    February 20, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. From CA

    Since because he is leading in the last few states primary, that doesnt mean that he is going to win.

    Obama has no accomplishments, we dont get carried away by his speech.

    Will vote for Hillary if she is the nominee, or McCain.

    February 20, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. RC in VA

    Dem for 40 years will vote for Mccain over OBama. As for me the devil I know is better than the devil I don't

    February 20, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Peter

    Gotta love the Republicans. I have never voted for a Republican president until this year. Obama? Get real.

    February 20, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. maca

    "Obama momentum "is created by the media.Every time when I turn on my TV,It is OBAMA-preacher , and american people (who elected Mr. Bush) voting for Obama. Woke up people until is not to late.

    The biggest country in the world to have Mr.Obama for President......

    February 20, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Paul Naranjo

    The votes from FLA and MIchigan must count, the democratic party cannot ignore the voice of thousands of its members. That would be really a turn off and a risk for the general election.
    If these votes are acknowledged as they should be, then, Obama would not have his so called lead over Hillary. People should realize that his lack of experience cannot be compared with the skills of Mr McCain. Consequently, he cannot win a general election against a man who has given his entire life to this nation.
    Thus, the only hope for a real change based on works depends on a candidate who has the knowledge, the experience and the skills that Mrs. Clinton has.
    Hillary for President !
    HiIlary Presidente!

    February 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  10. Keith Cornelius

    Obama will be finished now the truth of his empty promises are coming out......If we wanted cheerleading we would vote in a cheer leading team. The fact is this country is in a mess and the world in chaos, this no time to experiment...now if we were coming off the good years of Bill Clinton I would be willing to take the risk but not with the world and economy in chaos. Plus he is to liberal just like Huckabee is to conservative. The two extremes of the two parties are where all the problems come in and the splintering starts.....
    GO HILLARY 08 !!!!!!
    If obama is our nominee then I will vote for McCain the moderate......or just not vote......AMERICA WAKE UP !!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. Mike D

    Clinton supporters get on board! Democrat in the white house '08

    February 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. Diane

    You are need to grow up. I will not vote for someone or something I do not believe in. I believe in Hillary. If she is not the nominee, I will not vote for Obama simply to make the democrats happy. I will not vote.

    February 20, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. Obama's Mama

    When the witch tries to steal the nomination, cuz she can't win the popular vote. Then all hell is going to break loose and we won't be able to go outside for a few weeks as riots will be all across America.

    Way to go Witch......you better not touch my car....I have my baseball bat too...

    February 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. Shannel Ryan

    The wide, wide lead is in reference to the extent to which Sen Clinton would have to win in order to close the pledged delegates gap and nothing more. It's simply math.

    Is there anyone else out here that reads articles in full...or are we out here just looking for sound bites?

    Or perhaps I should say-excuse me..I am just one of those "latte drinking" 36 year old educated females that supports Barack Obama.

    February 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Bebble

    Obama can only "inspire" and if he should become the Democratic candidate he will will be stomped by McCain in the debates. His inexperience is compounded by his arrogance.

    CNN should poll how many Democrats will be switching their votes to McCain should the Obama Train of Destruction continues and he wins the nomination.

    February 20, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Claudette, TX

    Be careful Obamaites....the Patriots thought that they couldn't lose either.

    February 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. MPG

    I am disappointed that the politics of the so-called Democratic party has dwindled to a childish, finger-pointing, petty popularity contest. It seems that both Sen HRC and the Republican/Conservatives have tried (and continue to try) to diminish the ability and capability of Senator Obama to be a great leader because of his "inexperience". Seems to me that frankly, it is the fresh approach that people seem to be leaning towards and they are speaking out in VOLUMES. A great leader has to have the ability to inspire and instill a vision in those whom he/she is charged to lead ("Without Vision the people perish"). Senator Obama is not only articulate, but he's smart...and appears to be wise enough to know that he is not the savior, but has the ability to help people learn to save themselves.......
    Either way, I will be surprised as to the outcome of this contest, but "there will be blood" on the floor at the end of the day and the democratic party may be irrevocably split in the process.

    Oh, and by the way......the Democratic party made a HUGE mistake by punishing the voters of Michigan and Florida in such a manner. I could understand if they decided to seat only half the delegates instead of none of them........Senator Clinton would not make it an issue if she didn't need the votes. However, all the candidates (in the interest of Democracy) should be on the same page on this issue. The votes of the people should count. And, to be fair, if it is decided to count the votes, they should have new ballots with all the candidates' names so that the voting can be fair. Isn't that the "democratic" way?

    Too amused by the some of the so-called democrats/liberals being shown for the hippocrites they are.

    February 20, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Ron C

    40 year Dem but will vote for Mccain over OBAMA

    As for me the devil I know is better than the devil I don't

    February 20, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. E Fabian

    Eventually Obama will be exposed as the inexperienced loud yet charismatic figure he truly is but unfortunately for the US, it may not be until he is in the White House and by then it will be too late.

    I still cannot understand how people can vote for style over substance. But then again, Bush was elected then re-elected into the Presidency so why am I even remotely surprised.

    February 20, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. Cathy

    I am a Obama supporter.

    But whoever gets the Democratic nomination will definitely get my vote. There is no way I am going to vote for McCain and his view on the war alone. No way!!!!

    February 20, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Teresa C

    I think it is not over till it is over and Barak is doing great! I have nothing against him except he has never been tested and doesn't have the experience she does.. We are in a bad time right now and really need a president to walk in and get it done. we need Hillary right now nad not some who can say all the right words, yet not be able to strongly back them up.We are all suffering the problems in this country no matter the race or gender. No time for mistakes.

    February 20, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Jason

    What the campaign manager didn't say was the it is important that the Obama camp disenfranchise all those Michigan and Florida voters or Clinton would be ahead by ALOT…………so I suppose the approach is to disenfranchise those voters for Senator Obama's own personal political gain.

    –Quoted from "I agree –sad!"

    First off, Obama isn't disenfranchising anybody. The states broke the rules and ALL THE CANDIDATES decided as a whole to unseat the delegates. Keep in mind that in one of the states, I believe it was Michigan, that Obama wasn't even on the ballot.

    If you wanna talk about disenfranchising voters, look no further then Hillary's constant push to have superdelegates vote for the person they think "is better for the job" rather then the people's choice. That's disenfranchising the majority of voters IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY forget about Florida and Michigan.

    Let's also remember that Clinton is flip-flopping now that she's behind on a previous decision. Why do you think she voted for it in the first place? Maybe, just maybe she was afraid of the minority vote in both states. I don't like the way she's campaigning AT ALL

    OBAMA 08'

    February 20, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Fan of the Founding Fathers

    Reading these posts reminds me why we are a republic and not a democracy. The genius of the founding fathers and the Electoral College is amazing.

    February 20, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. VA


    February 20, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. DR

    Let Obama and Hillary beat each other up - McCain is waiting in the wings and will school both of these on the issues. Should be nice and messy!

    Go Mac!

    February 20, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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