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. mc

    I am absolutely thrilled that this fine man is ahead of Ms. rodham-clinton–I will be voting democratic this year if he is the nominee and republican if she is the nominee. I get a win-win situation no matter how I look at it.

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

    How about Geroge Bush, Bill Clinton and so on.
    What you say about that?

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. frank

    I'm sorry but I just can't vote for Obama if he will be the nominee.

    February 20, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Mike Jones

    Alecki– he has more than 1 year in the Senate. Face the facts. Hillary banked on this campaign being over on Super Tuesday. She underestimated Obama. Now she is on the outside looking in. If she made this critical of an error in a presidental campaign. What would she do behind the desk in the Oval Office? Stop it already. She will not have enough delegates after 3/4/08. The powers that be in the Democratic party will lean on her to bow out after that. Obama beat her and will beat old man McCain also. Deal with it.

    February 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. Liz

    I'm sprinkling myself with hope dust as I write.

    The Obama Camp is just trying to get out of tomorrow's debate.

    Exit polls indicate Hillary won the Democratic vote in Wisconsin 51-48. That alone is reason to "continue to believe in a place called Hope." It's also reason to believe WI superdelegates can align themselves with Hillary voters rather than the Independents and Republicans who crossed their lines to take Hillary down.

    February 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. suzy

    God help us if he wins.....
    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!

    and CNN – I hold you accountable for part of this.

    February 20, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. David

    Nice to see such desperate attempts from the Clinton camp to spin this election. Same old story, different day.

    February 20, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. California Voter

    Arrogance, I believe begins with Obama.

    At one point, Clinton had a lead similar to Obama's, and he didn't quit, why should she. I think CNN and other media have probably done as much for Obama campaign with their biased reporting - even more than Oprah. Apparently, the American public is looking for a charismatic leader and they see Obama as that person. Beware of charismatic leaders. They can be a mixed bag.

    February 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. cjenee

    He is experienced and ready to do something different. What we have now and what Mrs. Clinton will bring is the same try resulting in the same failure. Lets change what we do and see what happens.

    It is a great day for America!

    February 20, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Jane in OH

    According to CNN, even Obama won all the rest of states, this thing would be still a very close race, virtually tie. The race is far from over. We shall wait and see.

    Hillary, hang in there. WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!!!!

    February 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. Bill

    Where's the sign-up sheet for "Democrats For McCain"?

    February 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. balthus

    For the good of the party, and of our country, it is time for Hillary to concede. Quite simply, polls show Obama handily beating McWarMonger and Hillary losing. In addition, she would likely cost the Democrats seats in the Senate – seats we could win with Obama heading the ticket.

    Her personal attacks on our likely champion must cease NOW. Just this past weekend, she shamelessly and falsely smeared Obama as a plagiariser. Everyone knows McGhoul will be running as a "straight talker" – the exact opposite of someone who plagiarizes. Apparently, HRC has no concern about whether or not a Democrat wins the General Election...unless it is her.

    Now, Hils will most probably go even more negative, putting her own personal ambition before that of our party, and of our country. Before you vote, or send her another nickel, ask yourself if that's the person you really ought to be supporting.

    February 20, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. kate

    Can we not turn this into a repeat of the 2000 election?

    Mitt Romney Did a Gracious Thing for his Party!

    If we don't learn anything else from the Republican Party, can you find it in your heart to fold up your tent and try again in the next election cycle?

    February 20, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Billy Kramer

    Hillary is full of deceit and lies. Her dirty politics will not win this election. It will be hard for her to stop a movement driven by the American People. One of the many reasons she is receiveing less votes is because most Americans feel that she is less likely to win the race against the Republicans.

    Obama 08

    I am voting for change I suggest you do the same.

    February 20, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Natalie SC

    OBAMA '08!!!!!

    February 20, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  16. Honestlady

    @LisaMpls.....how is this arrogance? It's the truth! Hillary has lost 10 in a row and a few of these losses were on her turf....come on now!!!

    @Alecki....Don't blame CNN for Obama's success. Alot of voters don't even watch CNN. People are going to vote for who they want regardless!

    February 20, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. John in Columbus, OH

    Hillary doesn't have the experience and definitelly not the leadership to be President. She'd be a nobody lawyer working for Big Pharma if her husband wasn't Bill. The media keeps giving Clinton chance after chance after chance...after LOSING 10 STRAIGHT!!!

    As Ferris Bueller said, "It's over people. Why are you still here? Go Home." This woman is the worst sportsman and most arrogant SORE LOSER I've seen in politics in a very long time. No integrity whatsoever. If she wants to stay in, learn from Huckabee, at least he isn't taking it SO SERIOUSLY.

    February 20, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. robert

    If Hillary steals the election by superdelegates and other delegate finagling, it has already been reported that there will literally be rioting in the streets in front of the DNC and perhaps nationwide.

    Hillary, you are directly responsible for any injury that occurs if anything like that should happen. You are dividing your party when YOU KNOW YOU CANNOT WIN WITHOUT STEALING OR CHANGING RULES.

    That is not what Democracy looks like.

    And when the riots come, as reported by the news (not my speculation), remember who fanned those flames: Queen Hillary, who continues to exploit the naivete of her voters in a game she can't win... but she can still squeeze money and dignity out of to validate that it wasn't all for naught. She is a fighter, she has said so, and she is displaying the worst sort of arrogance right now, the kind you usually only see in a President like George W. Bush!

    February 20, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. sadcitizen

    It is sad to see last two election, all people went to the far right. Now it seems to the opposite. How can we just be reasonable to elect whoever is the best QAULIFIED for this job for the best interest of this country and people!

    February 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. LisaMpls

    Nathaniel, I disagree with the "wide, wide lead" part of the comment. You know, the headline part. Like someone already said here, a wide, wide lead is what McCain has over Huckabee. Mathematically, Obama can't win with the pledged delegates alone. That right there proves that it is not a wide, wide lead. I agree that he is the frontrunner. I do not agree that it's "lunacy" to think that this race is still close. I wouldn't go so far to say it's essentially a tie, but it is still close.

    February 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  21. Denise

    Obama won the 11th Round – Hillary will take the 12th and the nomination!

    February 20, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  22. JJ ATL


    February 20, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. Tom Wittmann

    Mr. Ickes

    Do not join the exploits of the Clintons if you want to maintain your own prestige.

    As I already stated in other posts, the superdelegates role is to provide, eventually with their votes, a solution if there is a stalemate
    between 3 or more candidates without a majority of pledged delegates.

    If there is such winning candidate, they have no role, and they should abstain, but.If the convoluted roles of the DNC make such necessary, they should simply vote compactly the winning by-pledge candidate,


    February 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. henry clasing

    The U.S. is caught up in a romance. How do you stop that ????

    February 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. hkitty

    Still laughing and shaking my head over the Chris Matthews' interview. It really is priceless!!!

    February 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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