April 18th, 2008
07:05 PM ET
7 years ago

Clinton aide: NC win would be 'biggest upset of the century'

Clinton aides are saying Obama has a major advantage in the state.
Clinton aides are saying Obama has a major advantage in the state.

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (CNN) – Hillary Clinton's campaign Friday looked to lower expectations for the upcoming North Carolina primary, telling reporters that a Clinton win here on May 6 would be "the biggest upset of the century."

Ace Smith, the campaign's North Carolina state director, told a group of reporters at Wake Forest University that Obama "starts very strong here," an advantage owed to the state's Democratic cocktail of African-American voters and affluent, educated professionals concentrated around the Raleigh-Durham area.

With the heightened attention being paid to the primary, the state's Democratic voter rolls are swelling. Since January 1, nearly 110,000 North Carolinians have signed up to vote as Democrats in the semi-open primary, and nearly 69,000 have signed up as unaffiliated voters, according to the state board of elections.

In addition, more than 19,000 Republicans have switched parties and registered as either Democrat or unaffiliated in order to participate in the contest since the beginning of the year. Over 67,000 new African-American voters in North Carolina have registered over the same time period.

"Our measure of success is knocking this down to single digits," Smith said of the race, estimating that as many as 1.5 million people could vote in the contest, which will award 115 pledged delegates.

Asked if Clinton can win the primary, Smith said, "No, that would be the biggest upset of the century."

Earlier this year, Obama scored overwhelming victories in two bordering states with very similar demographics: South Carolina and Virginia.

Despite that, Smith was optimistic about the role unaffiliated voters – who can take part in the primary along with Democrats – will play in the contest.

He argued that Obama "has lost traction" among independent voters since the nomination fight began. Clinton and Obama ran roughly even among independent voters in the March 4 contests of Texas and Ohio.

Smith, who managed Clinton's operations in California and Texas, said the New York senator is looking to perform well in the eastern and western parts of the state, rural regions with small towns that have seen visits from former president Bill Clinton. The campaign has also run two television ads here.

Smith criticized Obama for hedging on whether or not he will agree to participate in another debate to be hosted in North Carolina, despite pressure from prominent local Democrats like Gov. Mike Easley and former Gov. Jim Hunt.

"He is looking to brush off the state of North Carolina," Smith said of Obama's reluctance to commit to a debate in the state.

– CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • North Carolina
soundoff (328 Responses)
  1. ted

    CNN WHY HAS THERE BEEN NO MENTION OF CLINTON PICKING UP 3 SUPER DELEGATES TODAY.

    April 18, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  2. Tubby The Tuba

    Hillary is supposed to win Pennsylvania. She was supposed to win in by double digits, at one point early on by 30, and now she is down to 5, and could lose the state because she is out of touch with the real people. Those would be the ones who have lost their jobs, medical insurance, homes and cars and are "BITTER". Those people need to go to the polls and vote for their only chance, OBAMA! And for those fools who decide not to vote for the Democratic platform can simply do without health insurance and eventually their homes. To think one would not be bitter with our government's forgeting these people, but our goverment is there to support the big business' even though they have created this situation for the home owners is ridiculous!

    April 18, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  3. Bart in SC

    Wow, the ugly never stops on this blog. We have two great candidates to choose from and we are fighting like cats and dogs. I have my favorite but I am sick of the hatred I see on the blogs. Both campaigns have strong arguments to why they should get the nomination. The popular vote that separates them is around .04%. Plus the popular vote is not how the primary/causus system works. So, the way I see it both sides are going to scream the other camp "
    stole" the nomination. And the DNC has alot of blame in this process.

    April 18, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  4. Mark Lodes

    The Sun Shines Down the Same on Me & You

    April 18, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. gregg45

    so a caucus of say like 50.000 people who voted in washington is a popular vote,, wow, that few for so other many,,, he wins caucus after caucus after , u get it,, less than 2 percent of a caucus state votes, so whom might be getting the popular vote,,he will win nc ,, does any 1 remember the last time we voted democratic,, i do i live here in nc,,, nov goes red ,,, has since 1976,, so let him win,, he will not in nov 08... vote with your mind america,, wake up b4 its too late,, hillary 4 the wise and the hopeful,, look to your preacher on sunday if you want obama, vote 4 hillary if you want a leader,, gregg bosworth in pinehurst nc, thank you

    April 18, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  6. Jeremy from TX

    Clinton's compaing is running on the life support supplied by Republicans...Republicans are desperately trying to keep Hillary in the race so that she'll dig her own grave and McCrane will then claim that as "economic progress"....

    April 18, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  7. Dee B

    Hillary 2008!

    You go girl....You rock! HIllary will win. I have no doubt about that.

    NO bama bama!

    April 18, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  8. Grif

    The Biggest upset of Eight Years.. Century? You need to, Go back to school..... Century, minus 92yrs ....

    April 18, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  9. Phoenician

    Dear Luke-il,

    And you, apparently, never heard about 'British English'. It's spelled REALISE.

    Get some education, before talking about "empty suits", politics and spelling :)

    April 18, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  10. Ellen Larocco

    Hillary 08 dont believe obama lies

    April 18, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  11. Ellen Larocco

    Pa. here....45 years as a democrat...vote american vote HILLARY

    April 18, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  12. thisniss

    Obama will win NC because NC got screwed over by the Clinton administration by the 90's, and because all the voters here are tired of being written off as "unimportant" or in some way less than "genuine democrats" because we're not voting for her. Instead of describing us as demographics (african americans and educated voters, which, yeah, we are), how about looking at the fact that we just happen to think Obama is the better candidate? Before John Edwards dropped out, he was leading in NC, with Clinton and Obama roughly tied. People here aren't voting by demographic, they're voting for the person who will do the best job for us as President.

    We are *also* voting for the candidate who is most likely to help our "downticket" races in the fall. Regardless of how the rest of the country sees us, NC is a true "purple" state, and the right Democratic candidate can help expand our Congressional delegation, help us replace Liddy Dole in the Senate, and – believe it – turn our state "blue" in the Presidential election, too. Clinton offers us NONE of those possibilities. She will polarize support for Republican candidates here, and will hurt all democrats running for office. But Obama will help all the NC Dems, and he also stands a very good chance of defeating McCain here in the fall, too.

    So please stop telling us that NC is voting on our demographics, or because we're some kind of Obama "cultists." NC voters are supporting Obama in such great numbers because we are smart and rational, and it's only too clear that he is the best choice for our state and our country.

    April 18, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  13. Ellen Larocco

    a bunch of bitter old dems like riech obama ...its a man thing

    April 18, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  14. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Clinton complains that Obama needs to "toughen up", I say to you Hillary don't transfer the weaknesses that you have for your husband on the campaign trail. Tell Bill about it, Obama is not your husband. Get a life with Bill, not with voters. I can understand your anger because I had the same problems you had with a husband, but it was me who "toughen up" on my own, not with the husband that caused the problem. Hillary has a serious problem, and it ain't Obama.

    April 18, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. Ellen Larocco

    WHY DONT MEN WANT A WOMAN????????sexist

    April 18, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  16. pet

    REMEMBER HILARYS LIES SAID DIRECTLY TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE:

    1. SNIPER FIRE=DIRECT AND DELIBERATE LIE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE-HE STILL GOES AROUND AND SAID SHE IS OLD AND TIRED SO THATS WHY THE MISTAKE=ANOTHER LIE TO SUPPORT AN EARLIER LIE
    2. HOSPITAL STORY ABOUT WOMEN THAT DIED=TURNED OUT TO BE FALSE YET SHE WENT AROUND THE WHOLE COUNTRY TO SUPPORT HER HEALTH CARE PLAN WITH THIS MISTRUTH
    3. BILL CLINTON LIED ABOUT MONICA LEWINSKY ON NATIONAL TELEVISION DIRECTLY TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. HE SAYS ORAL SEX IS NOT SEX, THAT WAS HIS EXCUSE.
    4. TRY TO APPEAR AS THE POPULIST AND YET SUPPORTED NAFTA WITH HER HUSBAND WHO SIGNED IT.
    5. TRYING TO SAY OBAMA IS ELITIST=ANOTHER LIE SHE KNOWS ITS NOT TRUE.

    NOW COMPARE THIS TO THE SILLY "BITTER" COMMENT. THERE IS NO COMPARISON.

    THIS TIME WE CAUGHT HER, IMAGINE HOW MANY TIMES SHE HAS LIED AND WAS NOT CAUGHT.

    SHE REPEATED IT SO MANY TIMES. TRIED TO DENY IT, UNTIL THE TAPE CAME OUT.

    THIS IS UNFORGIVABLE, BECAUSE ITS A DIRECT LIE. HOW CAN YOU TRUST HER, A LYING PRESIDENT?

    WHEN WILL YOU AMERICAN PEOPLE WAKE UP?????

    April 18, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  17. Grif

    Now we know what a mess you're in.. What with the Messia, Obama. What happened in 2001, and the Twin Tower's... America, and the rest's illusions of the World. They'r all locked into one 10yr Period...
    Where were you in September 2001????

    April 18, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  18. TunnelVision

    Isn't it IRONIC??
    According to former Pres. Bill Clinton, 'SAVVY' people vote for Hillary.. while people who know Bill and Hillary support OBAMA..

    April 18, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  19. An American in Canada

    FrankSZ April 18th, 2008 10:31 pm ET

    Wait, she is already talking about NC? What happened to PA?

    Isn't this like someone who looses every game and keep saying, "wait until the next one" ?

    If USA would have a 100 states she wouldn't stop, even if she would be down to the 99th one.

    I have a suggestion: Get out of the D-party and form a new one called the "Clintonites". See how far you go with that one.
    ******************************************

    frank SZ

    congratulations, you are another BARACK BITTER BLOGGERS.

    WE COULD HEAR YOUR BITTERNESS IN YOUR WORDS.
    REMEMBER FRANK., WORDS ARE JUST WORDS?

    HOW ABOUT BITTERNESS?

    April 18, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  20. Again it's about race!

    Is it really, again, about "the state's Democratic cocktail of African-American voters"? Not about issues - and Hillary's continually SPELLED OUT programs - NO - again about the African American vote! How sad! So now we're deciding the election on an "African-Americn "cocktail"? How very, very significant to our country's success!

    April 18, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  21. elise

    I hope the hard working good women and men of North Carolina take a good hard look at the candidates and make a statement to vote for the most experienced, best candidate of all three running for President and vote for Hillary Clinton. Make history vote this woman into the White House we will have leadership that will change the world for the better.

    April 18, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  22. Go, Hillary!

    You're the best!

    April 18, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  23. Never Obama -- Never!

    I will NEVER, EVER vote for Obama. He's just and "empty suit," as the current U.S. Senate described his record there.

    April 18, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  24. PENNSYLVANIA TO NORTH CAROLINA

    I know yet ANOTHER debate would bring money to whatever local station airs it down there.....but c'mon......NO ONE want to hear this same rhetoric over and over again.
    Barack wants to campaign....he wants to spend time there to MEET the people and LISTEN to them.....Hillary wants to debate because......she likes to debate.
    She's a debater....she thrives on battle. Not good.
    Barack isn't about that....he's about listening and acting.
    ENOUGH STUPID DEBATES!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 18, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  25. By the way, who cares about Reich?

    He's a very, very little man - who contributed very, very little!

    April 18, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
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