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. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Obama better be prepared to answer questions on specific proposals he plans to introduce.

    Hillary will call him out in Austin.

    Hillary has more experience at this level than any of them, because she served as an advisor to Bill. She's been there, done that!

    Don't sweat McCain – he's the Bob Dole of 2008....."Hey, Mellon...we need ya!" McCain suppoorts the war in Iraq; I'd ram it down his throat!

    February 20, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. neil, tampa, florida

    If you believe in pols has anyone seen the pol showing McCain handily defeating Clinton is she gets the nomination. Does the Democratic party want to commit suicide AGAIN??? Hillary should do the right thing and step away to let Obama become the next president instead of continuing this bruising battle while McCain gathers steam.
    Of course, all the Clintons care about are themselves and not this country so that will never happen.

    February 20, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. Obama in Lead

    No doubt Obama is in Lead because they have ignored the people of FL and Michigan. There was a huge turnout for Hilary. This is just a Blunder!! If the voices of 600000 people in MI and 1.75 million people of FL were heard then Hilary would have been in the Lead!! Don't they get it?? It is just a simple math. Voices of FL and MI should be heard!!

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. carol conley

    It is very sad that Mr.Obama has even gotten this far. I am a democrat and will not be voting this year if he wins the nomination. I do not vote for Republicans. We (the Democrats) had a canidate who could get us back on track and are settling someone with no experience. We are in enough of a mess without him to make it worse and he will. This was a Democracy.

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Misty

    Please! Can't we get along.
    Barack is winning fair and square.
    Hillary Clinton and her cronies should stop whining and acknowledge a good competition and a Fair Winner. She has thrown every dirt she can muster on him and he has come out unscathed. I wonder what else they are cooking up against him.

    Go and Stay in New York Hillary. You are a good Senator of New York.

    February 20, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. JimZ


    Yeah.. THAT'S gonna be real good for our country.

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. Andy

    I have voted in five presidential elections in my life. Every time there has been a Bush or a Clinton in the race. I appreciate what Bill and Hillary did for this country in 8 years, and I admire them.... but do they really expect and feel they deserve another 8? The call for change is MORE than just clever talk, or buzz-worthy rhetoric. Being a "progressive" implies that one seeks new ideas and embraces a emerging and changing world. Its time to turn the page. Obama represents a new direction and in the end is a very intelligent person and an excellent candidate... Don't hate him because he is standing in Hillary and Bill's way, consider instead that he is trying to lead, not impede.

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Omabista NYC

    CORRECTION:...... to "AM's" comment about Michelle Obama's comment about America:

    You stated that she said, "...EVER proud of my country...."

    The word she used was "...REALLY proud of my country..."


    This is a typical Hillary move....stop hatin' on Obama....

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. John, Washington DC

    What's really amazing is that people are still willing to give Hillary money.

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Ron, NJ

    If she can't get her "big" wins on March 4th she should quit because then her chances would be nill.

    February 20, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Bridget

    I started off excited about Obama but after listening to all his speeches I believe all he can ever deliver is speeches, I opt for a President with expereince. George Bush had on the job training and look at the mess we are in. As a Democrat I hate the thought of voting for a Republican, but John McCain, the next best candidate with experience is getting to look better and better.

    February 20, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. Andrew

    The example of arrogance is that Clinton Campaign only prepared to win the large states and underestimated the ground roots efforts of 50 states on Obama's behalf. Obama has from the beginning decided to bring us into his efforts to win. Hillary was not aware of this until it was to late. Hillary then fired those that she could blame. The fact is, she is to blame.

    What no one seems to understand, Obama’s campaign for the presidential election is only the first stage of a multi-level partnership of the people with Washington in to the future. We, with his direction as our leader, will put the pressure on congress and the senate to move on his proposals. We are the ones that will make the change. We are the ones that will take the ideas for the future communicated through 21st century technologies and push change or remove those that will impede the people. We are the ones we have been waiting for to put a man like Barack Obama as our Leader and our Commander in Chief of the United States of America.

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. CJ, Albany, NY

    It's now clear that she's not going to win. She had to win by insurmountable amounts in the remaining states which I don't see happening. She needs to accept defeat and rally behind Obama in order to unify the party. Right, isn't that what Clinton's rhetoric has been all along..Unify the party. She's doing a great job(sarcasm) of not turning to Republican tactics and hitting him with everything she's got...O wait she's been doing that for a few weeks now.

    America – government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE ~ Abe Lincoln

    Hillary, let the people decide, not the superdelegates..do us a favor and get out!

    Obama '08

    McCain don't stand a chance, old fart!

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. jason s

    All of the candidates need to have the same opportunity to go and campaign in a state in order for its' delegates to count, if that is what everybody together decides....to lie, steal, cheat, and bribe to win the presidency. as hill would propose, would only lower the already low bar Bush has set...

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. Omabista NYC

    All of you Hillary lovers are all spreading hate...you all are a true reflection of what she has been embracing since the downfall of her campaign.....YOU ALL SOUND LIKE SORE LOSERS!

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Amy

    Obama is truly a self made man and can appreciate the struggle of life at the bottom and the effort people make to pull themselves up. U.S. government going back way too far has ignored the average citizen. I don't trust my future with a wealthy woman (or man) who has led a privileged life to understand my daily struggle. She can't relate! She's a shape shifter that will do whatever is necessary and won't quit. An otherwise commendable trait but it's destroying the Democratic party and she and Bill obviously don't care. They want to stand in the wreckage of the Democratic party and try to win it all. Please stop Hillary. You've changed your campaigns more times than I care to count and you're starting to look more than a little desperate.

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. Jane, College Park

    'Desparately seeking' Hillary

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  18. LisaMpls

    I will support Obama in the general election if he gets the nomination, but I don't want to have to hold my nose to do it. He [and his campaign] needs to eat a piece of humble pie. Here is some of my reasoning:

    Arrogance = characterizing a lead as "wide, wide" when it isn't.

    Arrogance = lecturing the superdelegates on how to vote [will he tell Kerry, Kennedy and Patrick to switch to Clinton because MA went overwhelmingly for her?].

    Arrogance = not feeling the need to explain portions of plans but criticizing opponent's for the same thing [e.g., Hillary's universal mandate vs. Obama's mandate for children].

    Arrogance = squandering the position as chairperson of the European Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs [not holding a single policy meeting].

    Arrogance = running on the platform that he is better than all other politicians because they are "Washington" and he is not [and then touting bigwig Washington backers just the same].

    You get what I mean. I am just not pleased with the tone of his campaign at times. Hopefully this answers your criticisms of my earlier comment.

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. Elder

    Why Obama doesn't want florida and Michigan count.
    Beside he broke the rule in florida and he took his name out michigan primary. This whole primaries and caucuses is unconstitutional.
    Obama broke our nation constitution rights.

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. tevis

    Hillary's recent behavior is reminiscent of the former Iraqi information minister–the guy who kept insisting on television that Saddam's forces were routing the evil Americans, while you could see American tanks approaching from the distance. In my view, her utter inability to accept reality (kind of like our current president, huh?) confirms that the American people are making the right decision by rejecting her.

    February 20, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Eli

    The questions I want answered is why did the Democratic National Committee feel that stripping these two states from all their power would be an adequate punishment for moving its dates ahead?

    Florida and Michigan moved its dates up to be competitive, to be more prominent figures in the race and on the news. Competition. Isn't this the core of our nation? If so, why are we punishing it?

    February 20, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. ddt

    For a Democratic candidate to win the nominee, he needs over 2025 votes. Baraka Hussen Obama has not got that yet. Do you guys remember a black congress man who asked other black super delegates men and women to support Baraka Hussen Obama because they wouldn't be counted as the ones who stopped a blackman to be president. I would like to see Hillary Rodman Clinton ask all those white men and women super delegates who would be counted as one stopped a White woman to be a president for the first time in 200 years under mens' rule.

    February 20, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Vietnam_Vet71

    Get off the ship and stop SwiftBoating–use fact not slanderous comments!

    February 20, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Judy

    He is definitely the pied piper, remember what happened in that scenario.

    February 20, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Jess

    Many supporters of the democratic candidates seem so vulnerable and angry? I was hoping the younger voters of America would not be fooled by the media hype and celebrity backing in choosing a president. When did the political debates turn into Oscar night? When did the presidential candidates become leading actors in a Hollywood blockbuster? Please be careful in your decisions, the media has already decided the president for you. It influences our thoughts and actions towards ourselves and eachother. We need to recognize this in order to move forward. Emotions can mislead us, vote with your mind not your heart.

    February 20, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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