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)

    Unfortunately for all of America, we are so used to the blare of commericals selling substandard merchandise on TV and Radio that we fall for the hollow, non-detailed words of Obama. He has spent his entire tenure in the US Senate positioning himself for this race. What has he done for this country. . besides giving us meaningless buzzwords. He is GW Bush in Democratic clothes. Maybe a bit more agile verbally, but he will be a disaster for this country.

    February 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. Tim

    Obama is inspiring, but his words are nothing but empty. Below is the wall street's view about his economic plan on keeping multi-national corp in the US

    “I would say that this plan is borderline unimplementable,” said a Democratic economist in Washington. “It is also puzzling. Normally presidential candidates only come up with plans that are unrealistic when they are losing. But Obama is now the favourite.”

    ~from an article in crossingwallstreet

    February 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. Nathaniel

    Lisa, what exactly do you disagree with regarding David Plouffe's comments? Obama has a pledged delegate lead of over 130 votes. Is that arrogance or fact?

    February 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. I agree - sad!

    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.

    And they didn't mention that he is leaving out millions of Americans on health care....and they didn't mention he voted for the committees and leadership of the PAC's to be able to hire spouses and family members of any candidate or Federal Office holder.

    Now doesn't that really make him a Washington insider??? Senator CLinton by the way did not vote for that little bit of inside Washington politics.

    And....well, one could on I suppose. Just one last one though – and now he is wavering on his commitment to campaign financing that he made the promise to. Mc Cain will eat him up!

    Shameful behavior this early on in the process. Just image how lousy it will be if he gets nominated. Well, if that happens – Democrats will loose the White House again.

    February 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. NY

    This is so sad for the United States. Apparently we didn't learn our lesson from our current leader.

    February 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Soldiergal

    Look, folks…
    If you really are Democrats, do you really think staying in Iraq for the next 100 years is the best way to respond no matter who wins our nomination? Truthfully? Threatening to vote for McCain is well and good but do you want your children or grandchildren to wind up fighting for oil, or bombing Iran, or any of the rest of it?

    No matter how we feel, Obama or Clinton, we're going to have to suck it up in November and get our act together, or we'll wind up with 8 more years of Bush/McCain. Let's not be a party of sore losers.

    February 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Tod McGinley,Sun City Center, Florida

    When are they going to learn that Florida, & Michigan have to count. When the people vote, that should mean something. Is this going to be a fixed election, & not be legal by the people. I go to the polls to vote, not just for the fun of it. Please be fair about this, & don't cheat us. Thank you!

    February 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. Brian G

    Not the time to get cocky! Being a country boy, I believe in the old adege: Don't count yer chickens before they're hatched.

    But I sure do hope you kin incubate 'em a bit more!

    February 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    I relish the demise of this shrill and divisive woman at the hands of a jiving peddler of hope and little more, but I certainly won't vote for either of them and their unrealistic and unaffordable social agendas.

    February 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Lee, Mays Landing New Jersey

    If the Clintons were to campaign positively, without destruction or division, it would be one thing.

    But all they are doing now is damaging the Democratic Party, and damaging themselves. They ought to save face and bow out with grace in the next few days.

    February 20, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. kathleen, illinois

    I enjoyed seeing the names of all the Superdelegates on the DNC list of Superdelagates. Note: Some Superdelegates do not want published who they have voted for. WHY? What about transparency in elections? Do the Voters have the right to know who can change their

    February 20, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Rev. Christine Glover

    We should never be super confident no matter what the "numbers" say. Just run the race and wait and see what happens.

    As far as Michigan and Florida are concerned. Hillary doesn't play by the rules. She was very deceptive after agreeing to go along with the DNC regarding these states. She tried to get an advantage over both her components.

    I don't know why her supporters can't see that she is very devisive and not a team player. Nor does she respect her own committment and her loyalty to the leaders of her party.

    This is not a characteristic I would like to see in my president. She has had her turn in the whitehouse. Give someone else a chance.

    February 20, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Roz

    Doesn't look like a "wide, wide lead" to me. I only count 70 combined delegates at this time. About the same amount that Hillary was ahead for most of the time in the beginning.

    February 20, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. True Democrat SC

    Let's not get cocky now!!! There is still lots of work to be done.

    Obama '08!!

    February 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. cindy barba

    As a voter from Illinois, if Obama is the nominee my husband and I will not vote for him. We can's think of a single accomplishment that he made. He even admitted that his finger slipped 8 times when he was trying to vote on a bill. We believe that it's the media that has made him so popular. Even my 90 year old mother stopped watching CNN, Fox and NBC. She also stopped watching Oprah with my daughter. I believe that there are many people who feel like I do and will make the right choice in the November election. If Obama and McCain run, we strom Democrats will vote Republican.

    February 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Barack Oprah

    Go Obama!!
    I want to see the worst president ever and you can be.
    "YES WE CAN"

    February 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Johnson

    Alecki he has been in the senate for 5 yrs. Please know your stuff before you speak. 2nd of all CNN is just stating what others have said. They aren't making up or fabricating anything so I don't see how people could think that the media has a bias for one candidate or another just for positing something that a candidate or a candidate supporter has stated. So until people actually understand whats going on and actually know something about Obama/Hillary besides what he/she has said in the debates there can be no conversation with people who back either candidate.

    February 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Dave, Santa Barbara CA

    Many supporters of the Clintons keep saying the media are for Obama. How do you explain that the NY Times endorsed her pretty early on?

    February 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Independent

    The media too likes to say it is a close race because it's a better story to sell. But everyone who has time to follow the electron closely, I believe, is smart enough to know the truth: Clinton is the Huckubee of the Democratic Party: she is all about ego. But worse than Huckubee she has shown no respect for the office of the presidency in how she has been running. She is all about attacking with petty charges. Her campaign tactics have been a disgrace and quite disrespectful to our highest office.

    February 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Reggie

    We have to be careful here Dems, Hillary supporters need to rein themselves in and not allow hate to propel McCain into the Presidency. Hillary is for the Dem Party as well as Obama so don't go beyond the limits in your support because you will find yourself, by yourself. Obama has run a good campaign. Hillary miscalculated Edwards and Obama. She banked everything on California and it did not work out. People, if you want to see who has the experience, the best meter for that is how they both are running their campaigns. I'm a Obama convert from Hillary. What did it for me is that fact the she had to loan her own campaign $5M. That's a red light for mismanagement of an organization that is small compared to 50 states. That's a problem because if you can't managed a campaign, how will you manage the country?

    February 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Cwer

    Hillary is grasping at straws now. They now this thing is over.

    JUST IN: the TEAMSTERS just endorsed Obama.

    Good bye and good night Hillary.

    As the kids like to say, "It's ovaaahh!"

    February 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Bayou Joe

    When the Party faithful gets together at the convention they will bring reality into the picture. Hillary will pull this one out with the help of Bill and the super delegates. NE was going to win the super bowl too.
    and look what happened. Go Hillary.

    February 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. YinYang not Boom Bang

    Exaggeration isn’t that politics as usual, we need to get beyond slogans and one-liners that mislead the voters. Really there is very little difference between Obama and Clinton on the issues or the goals of the Democratic Party compared to the changes that will be made in the Legislative process. Obama has more youthful male yang energy and Clinton has more mature yin supportive energy. Clinton is the most conservative on budget, economy, family and nourishing and protecting the military. The nation suffers from hyper yang burn out False Fire, yin depletion. It time for apple pie and motherhood, yin support, this is what the Democratic Platform is all about. Nourish the essence of the Nation not another hit of yang.

    February 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. changing times

    Alecki: Obama has spent 10 years in elected office. 8 years in Illinois Senate and 2 in US Senate. He has authored or co-authored over 800 bills. Do some reading would you please!

    February 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. AustinTX

    Guess all of hrc's negative ads really worked . . . for Obama.

    February 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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