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. k.t

    STOP THE HATIN it's just a beauty contest and he just happen to be the best lookin out the three!!!! a blind man could see that!!!

    February 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. John

    It's obsvious that Clintons do not understand ideological implications in this election. They have been trying to proove that american people know how political process work but really they do not know what americans want!

    Message from Canada

    February 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. Ron, TX

    Alecki, being President isn't an honor bestowed on people because of their "experience". Being president is a job given to the person best able to make the CORRECT decisions with the BEST judgment.

    Obama's judgment is impeccable. He got Iraq right. He got Pakistan right (that Al Quaeda leader we killed a few weeks ago in Pakistan, that was covert US CIA action, without permission from the Pakistani government, exactly what Obama outlined was necessary). Clinton continues to make mistakes, can't control her surrogates, can't run her own campaign without going overbudget...

    February 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. GaryB

    I think while Hillary is stumping around south Texas courting the hispanic vote, she ought to pay ole Willie a visit in Luckenbach and have him teach her the lyrics to 'Party's Over'!

    February 20, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Kristy

    Lisa and Alecki, you're both mistaken. Obama's camp wasn't being arrogant, they were explaining the math of things. She would have to win by 70% in those states to catch him – that's the point.

    Also, Alecki, you are mistaken on the amount of time Obama has been a Senator.

    Check your facts, people.

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. Josh

    Why do you constantly come back to CNN if Clintons supporters are so angry towards CNN? You get angry and start going more to CNN? that really what they want.

    Excuses are running thin arn't they. Obama had such a better campagin but Clinton supporters do not see it that way. Clinton pays more money to T.V. Ads other than actually people on the ground. Thats where the diffrenece lays, Clinton is trying to ride on her name. I live in Arizona and I have only saw two signs for Clinton while even though Obama lost Arizona there where hundreds of Obama signs. She just got out worked.

    Remeber some of the best Presidents never even was part of congress. Bill Clinton wasn't in office, but its ok becuase you just want to throw everything to the wall. Sad part of America is everyone so stubbornd to see the other side.

    Obama is going to win, and if you want 1000 more years in Iraq then vote for McCain

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. Murry

    Thank you, Mr. Plouffe! Excellent job! Charge on!

    Obama 08

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Jason

    I don't know if I would believe a word that comes out of the arrogant Obama camp. Frankly I am starting to have my doubts about CNN aswell. Obama must have bought a lot of people out. His empty message of hope is a disgrace to the country. You want real hope, vote for Hillary Clinton.

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. Anthony

    Get over it! Obama is a candidate for the people. She has sparked interest in politics again and given hope to people.

    Two families (Bush's and Clinton's) have run our country for the past 20 years, and nothing has changed!!!

    Do we really want to allow another member of those families to continue to run America in the ground? Smarten up people!

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. John

    Alecki – Obama was elected in 2004. And anyway, I'd rather have an inspiring leader than somebody whose biggest selling point is that she knows which arms to twist. This country needs inspiration.

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Dionne, NY

    Go Obama!

    Hey, Clinton people, stop being sore losers and get on board. Had it been the other way around, I would be on board with Hillary.

    Whether we supported John, Barack or Hillary, we should stick with our party in November.

    Hillary needs to discuss her policy differences rather than going negative towards Barack as it will ultimately hurt the party. The republicans will use the same attacks against him.

    Can't we all just get along?

    DEMOCRATS 08' 12'

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. Andrea

    Good for Obama! Most of America doesn't want to slip backwards with the Clintons as the primary results show. Obama is doing well by working hard and connecting with voters. No reason not to claim what has been won and earned. Go Obama!!

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Chris

    Dear Senator Obama: Before releasing your surrogates out there be sure they have their talking points. Letting someone go on air to represent you without knowing any of your accomplishments really shows your lack of experience. Don't make those mistakes when you run against the Republican machine. They will chew you up and spit you out. Better take a quick course in experience! Good luck, you are going to need it!

    February 20, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Matt

    He's merely stating fact. I realize that Clinton supporters can only understand spin, but there's this thing called math. This "math" suggests that Clinton would need to win over 65% of the vote in the three remaining big states to get a pledged delegate lead.

    February 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Raum

    This is bad news for Clinton supporters. The fact that Hillary probably won't get the nomination is setting it. But what I don't get is all the Obama hate, especially if you consider yourself a democrat.

    February 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. LeAnn

    Hilary says she'll be ready on "DAY 1" if elected president....
    But she wasn't even prepared for the day after Super Tuesday! Just look at the way her campaign is falling apart! lol It's hilarious that there are people still out there gulible enough to beleive her crap and these little games she is playing! Give me a break!

    It is what it is... and the numbers don't lie. I think it's time Mrs. Clinton takes a seat!

    February 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. margie

    It's sad that the confidence in the Obama camp is viewed as "arrogance". Was Hirary arrogant when she was "surprised" that Obama has taken not only her white male vote, but has also crept into the white females she was counting on? Don't be a hater. That's so UN-American!

    February 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. LadyLeo

    Way to go Obama!!

    February 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. Duh

    If Florida and Michigan were not stolen from Hillary, she would be in the lead. These will be returned and she will win- Republicans are playing the Dems once again. This will be another 2000 if the Democrats don't wake up!

    February 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. Jim, Burlington

    No more Clintons,

    No more Bushes,

    America deserves better.

    February 20, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Jason

    I'm not totally sure why Hillary supporters are so "all or nothing".

    Hillary probably not a good VP pick for Obama (Wes Clark is what he needs) but Hillary could have a senior level/cabinet position in an Obama white house. She might even make a good sec of state or sec of energy (where energy is probably our #1 priority, or sec of health and human services (where she can help with what will be a major accomplishment of the next administration...).

    It's time to start thinking about working together, moving on and getting down to business.

    Don't forget – campaign aside – historically presidents that are strong communicators and inspirational have been strong presidents. Wonkish/detail oriented people make great cabinet level people who have a LOT of power and influence.

    Let's move on!

    February 20, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Adam, Los Angeles

    Don't cork the champagne just yet. We still need to unite this party and that will not be an easy task.

    February 20, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. Patrick

    Yes, but in terms of the popular vote, each of them have over 10 million votes, with just a slight lead by Obama. This race is a lot closer than the media and Obama camp wants you to think!

    February 20, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Colo

    I agree this is sad.
    For whatever reason CNN is refusing to post negative coments about Obama. Thank you CNN and a BIG Thanks to all Obama voters.

    You are setting the country up for another four years with Republicans.
    Another four years with “learn as you go”

    Thanks a lot to all of you.

    I'll get back to you in a year.......don't ever forget, I told you so !!!

    February 20, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Nate

    Alecki: There ain't nothing wrong with that. Men like Obama don't come everyday , so grab him while you got a chance.

    February 20, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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