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. Bruce Ross

    I know something about tailspins, and it's pretty clear Senator Clinton is in one... It's disappointing that she would launch desperate, flailing and false attacks in an attempt to maintain relevance." I must say... in full disclosure, it was Mccain who chose those words.

    February 20, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. jyfranca

    I think if hillary loses then this year we'll get two lessons.
    1.Giuliani strategy of neglect small state and embrace big states failed.
    2.Hillary strategy of neglect caucuses and small state primaries failed too.
    I think it will be a good lessons to politicians in future

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Brian

    If the shady pasted Mr. Ickes's says anything that does not show Obama in a bad light then it's time to be afraid of what's coming next.....the Clinton camp does not know how to play fair.
    I saw/heard Mr. Obama last night in Houston.....we should be fortunate as a country to have him lead. He insires everyone to be the best they can be.

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Matt

    Arrogance? I'd call the Obama camp confident and realistic.

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. Don from IN

    At this point I may vote for someone with one year fast food experience before Hillary or McCain. Oh, and I have not been proud to be an American for awhile, I want real change. I think this is what America is supposed to be about. This country may not last much longer with the status quo. That is so sad for America!

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Will Gainesville, FL

    Barack Obama has a wide lead in pledged delegates, in the popular vote, and overal delegate count. Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race for the sake of the Democratic Party. I am afraid, however, she will remain in the race until the convention, doing any sneaky thing that she can in order to steal delegates away from Obama and win the nomination

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. Mirror

    Arrogance? Try realism.

    One year in the Senate? Again, another HRC supporter not doing their research or homework. Obama has 12 years of elected office, to Clinton's seven years. Yawn.

    Senator Barack Obama:
    1996-2004 (Illinois State Senator)
    2005-2008 (United States Senator)
    12 Years of Elected Office Experience (FYI – George W. Bush had 6 years in office before the presidency)

    Senator Hillary Clinton:
    2001-2008 (United States Senator)
    7 Years of Elected Office Experience

    Barack Obama is more experienced to be President of the United States.

    35 – 7 = 28 years of zero elected office experience for Hillary Clinton.

    Again, what 35 years of experience is Hillary talking about?

    Here are the remaining 28 years –

    8 Years (Lawyer)
    12 Years (First Lady of Arkansas)
    8 Years (First Lady of the U.S.)
    28 Years of Zero Elected Office Experience
    Since when is 20 years of being a first lady relevant experience for being president?

    Senator Barack Obama, Not Only By Virtue Of His Character, Honesty, And Competence, But Also By Virtue Of His Experience, Is Clearly More Qualified To Be President Of The United States.

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. B from Miami, FL

    "Lunacy"? I think David Plouffe is getting confused with the lunar eclipse about to take place tonight.

    Hillary '08

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. narah

    Amen to the no universal health care comment.
    Universal health care means health care rationing.
    Ever wondered why canadians ,who have universal health care, come accross the border for surgery?

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. Peter

    Lisa when you do well it is not arrogance and Alecki – I how you employer doesn't not say that when you are up for promotion. With all that experience, what has she changed in America. Let's get real people!

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. Cody Watson

    Oh give me a break, JFK and Lincoln didn't have so much expierence when they took office but lets see...did they do anything worth mentioning?...Perhaps to you, aboloshing slavery and putting a man on the moon are walks in the park...

    February 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  12. Rich

    You might not want to say that the leader in pledged delegates should automatically win the nomination...but it sure seems like a good idea for it to work out that way unless you want to anger a lot of people.

    February 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Rockymo

    Sour grapes on the Clinton Team...people are sick and tired of politics and dynasties as usual. Look at the messes created by people in political office for years..and then look at what so called in-experienced candidates like Swarzenegger and Bloomberg have done...a much better job and work with people on both sides of the aisle.

    February 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Independant

    Just reminds me , as how Politics of Chicago work.

    Like we hear a ? What is one thing he ever acomplished , since being a Senator ?_____________________________________Correct.

    Besides chats, with Charvez an Fidel .

    His BIG CHANGE < Probabley would be , I WILL BRING IN CHARVEZ TO BE MY VP. AN they would lower Gas prices..

    Both are a Crock of ______.

    February 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    i'm glad there's a sense of toughness on the Obama camp. this shows the people that they are not just going to give in to Clinton attacks.

    February 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Eli

    Only an ARROGANT man or person who thinks AMERICA owes him would be in the senate not even one term and think he could run for PRESIDENT. WE NEED TO WAKE UP!!! This man may speak well and be an inspirational speaker but if that is all it takes then we have several teachers and preachers we need to send to Washington, actually I have a neighbor (we call him a con artist) that would do well. I would hate the day I see Michelle Obama in the WHITE HOUSE. They would probably invite Louis Farrakhan and their good friend from Chicago (you know the one that has recently been indicted) to the White House.

    February 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. gt

    and plouffe is stating the obvious...

    If anyone has been arrogant here its been Mrs. Clinton..

    February 20, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Kate

    The anger coming out of Hillary Clinton supporters on all blogs shows an ominous similarity between Hillary the candidate and her supporters. Rather than bow out gracefully, take the entire party down with you. This tactic of attack has failed time and time again and this Clintons continue to employ them. The next thing they will claim is that Obama is part of a right wing conspiracy. This is pathetic.

    February 20, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Miles

    Obama has had 10 straight wins and STILL can't break away from Clinton with more than a lead of 75 delegates and Clinton has still had a larger lead to date over Obama then Obama has had over Hillary!!!

    I'm laughing!!!


    February 20, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. seyi

    Wide Wide lead! In addition to all of Hillary's lack of campaign structure it' s bad enough her campaign can't do simple math. For those who support her... Ask your self a question... IF she couldnt succesfully manage a simple campaign for presidency after all her years of so called political experience... How can she manage the greatest country in the world. If she cant do the math, her supporters should!

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Doc Jerome

    Why such disdain for Sen. Obama? What is so sad about his campaign or how he has run it? Both candidates give stomp speeches and outline their positions on policy. People have the same opportunity to research both records while in the U.S. Senate. What is the problem?

    The guy overcame her celebrity and political machine to emerge as the front runner. He has withstood the relentless attacks of a former President, along with death threats and god knows what else in running for office.

    Give the man his due credit. He was a relative unknown a year ago, and now he is on the verge of becoming the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States of America. Give the man his due credit.

    That is the essence of America. Give the man his due credit.

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. Praetorian, Ft. Myers, FL

    What a travesty.
    Are there really that many Americans willing to be led by empty rhetoric in a march towards socialism?

    One thing is certain.
    Conservatives in all political parties will need to prepare diligently to fight the battle to keep America for the American people–and prevent this wacko from getting into office.

    The answer to poverty is NOT to be found in a government program.
    The answer to healthcare is NOT more government involvement.
    The answer to our safety and security is being diligent against our enemies and providing diplomacy from a position of power.

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Julie, Binghamton, NY

    I really really dislike the DNC right now- how much different would this race be in Michigan and Florida went through a normal primary process! Obama wouldn't be so confident right now if that was the case!

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Wendy

    At least he isn't so desperate that he has to resort to cheating and rewriting all the rules to make sure that he wins. He is much better that Hil/Bill. I don't trust them as far as I can see them. Another term of them would be another 4 or 8 years of nothing getting done in Washinton and the country feeling that no one cares about their needs. If Obama doesn't do anything else but make us feel better about our country than he has my vote!!!

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Laura

    But even more- Senator Obama also has the proven strategy to bring an end to the partisan politics that keeps so much good legislation from ever becoming law. It is time for Americans to look for the best inside themselves again, to look toward the best this nation can be, to work together to rebuild America from the ground up. Americans have always been a people committed to working together, facing the odds, and doing the hard work needed to succeed. America, you can do this now!

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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