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. History buff

    Go Hillary! She is all-around the most qualified and experienced candidate. I hate to think of a Presidency with a weaker person in there.
    ( And that means Obama!)

    Until the votes are counted, speculation is still only speculation.
    Many people don't tell the truth when they are polled.

    April 18, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  2. A H

    Hillary Rodham Clinton added a new trio of superdelegates to her tally on Friday.
    Two former New Jersey governors, Jim Florio and Brendan Byrne, endorsed Mrs. Clinton last year, but they were only selected to be their state’s add-on delegates Thursday. As such, they have the same voting rights as superdelegates and don’t have to vote with the popular vote winner of their state (although Mrs. Clinton won New Jersey anyway).
    Representative Betty Sutton of Ohio also came out in support of Mrs. Clinton. The district she represents is in northeastern Ohio.

    April 18, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  3. NC Engineer

    I'm from NC, I would put $100 on Hillary not winning that state, its just not her kind of state. 1) Its not exactly a blue collar state. 2) it has a heavy minority population. 3) Obama has the overwhelming majority of the endorsements down there and thats not a good look for Billary..

    April 18, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  4. Mama Not for Obama

    Obama knows that Pennsylvania is key to the Democrats winning in November. He simple has not been able to win in any of the key swing states. He has not been able to win any big state. He has outspent Clinton by margins as high as 5 to 1, yet she will still win Pennsylvania. Superdelegates (who are themselves politicians who know how important money is to winning) should realize the significance of Clinton's win in Penn. and other states despite a huge disparity between Obama's lavish spending on ads and her minimal spending on ads.
    If Obama cannot win Pennsylvania with all the money he has thrown around then there is something seriously wrong with his campaign and his ability to win the general election in Nov.

    April 18, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  5. John

    the notion on living on wishful thinking in the obama supps.is abhorent.Like a dog chasing its tail,the supps end in a quagmire,lick their chomps and look forward to the next day for a glimer of hope;like Mr. Reich endorsing Obama-etc. etc.etc.Like a swollen river,it all melts and ebbs. immediately.A risky way of wasting the brains.Well that is where they are,and where they will be stuck! Wishful thinkingand very little else.Good luck King Obama.It is an uphill task all the way to the top.Meet you there.

    April 18, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  6. Ilona Proud Canadian

    Jim,

    I agree with you 100%, way too much baggage! The apple does not fall far from the tree.

    April 18, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  7. Gone Fishin'

    Obama, please don't waste any more of your time debating Mrs. Clinton, a sadly delusional individual – that's a job for a mental health professional.

    April 18, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. disaffected

    MD in CT
    Please use facts. The pastor was from a church in in the town of clinton, NY

    Many of the posts show the dire straits of the public education system in america.

    OBAMA 08

    April 18, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. Lance

    Reich's endorsement of Obama is very significant. If yet another Bill Clinton friend and former cabinet member endorses Obama, what does that say? If I have to explain it to you, you are an idiot.

    April 18, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. Key West Sun

    Instead of shooting a bird at Hillary and stand whining for days about how unfair it was, Would it not make sense to just answer the questions honestly. If he would answer them, all this would go away, Obama people doesn't it seem funny to you that he won't answer.

    April 18, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  11. Ka-EL

    That was not prophetic! It was arrongance. As reported in one of the debates. That is why people don't like you. Hillary is a female version of Bush. Nobody likes him either. How do we expect to get the dollar up with a president no one likes? Pennsylvania do what Texas and the NAFTA liars in Ohio couldn't. How absurd to vote for the woman whose husband signed your woes into law.

    April 18, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  12. vic nashville,Tn

    When presidential election come voters look the character of the candidate
    Really Obama didn’t touch the American voters
    So Hillary 08

    April 18, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  13. Tim

    It is obvious that the ability and experience of Sen. Clinton is much better and stronger than those of Obama, a junior Sen. It is difficult to understand why so many still chose Obama. This may indicate that gender discrimination still exists in US.

    April 18, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  14. An American in Canada

    FUTURE HEADLINES THAT WE CAN BELIEVE IN:
    NORTH CAROLINA CITIZENS GIVE THE PRIMARY
    TO HILLARY R. CLINTON ON A SILVER PLATTER!

    HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT ALL OF THE BITTER BARACK BLOGGER ARE ALL IN FAVOR OF NO MORE DEBATES.

    THEIR CANDIDATE DOES SO POORLY IN DEBATES.

    IN PREVIOUS DEBATES ALL QUESTIONS WERE FIRST PRESENTED TO HILLARY AND THEN OBAMA HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO ANDWER THE SAME QUESTION.

    HOW EASY IS THAT TO FOLLOW, ANSWERS I AGREE WITH HILLARY OR ELABORATE ON HILLARY'S ANSWER AND MAKE IT SOUND LIKE IT WAS YOUR ORIGINAL IDEA.
    I COULD JUST IMAGINE HOW HE GOT SUCH HIGH GRADE IN UNIVERSITY.

    NOW THAT THE MODERATORS ARE ASKING REVELANT QUESTIONS AND POINTED QUESTIONS HE FALTERS ON HIS RESPONSES, HE STUTTERS AND HE TURNS A BITTER SHADE OF GRAY.

    POOR BABY OBAMA, THEY DID NOT PAMPER TO HIS NEEDS,
    POOR BABY OBAMA, ALMOST FAINTED WHEN PRESSED FOR AN ANSWER.
    POOR BABY OBAMA, WHINED AND DAY AFTER THE DEBATE.
    YES, WE UNDERSTAND WHY YOU DO NOT WANT TO DEBATE YOU ARE A WEAK DEBATER AND A WEAK CANDIDATE.

    April 18, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  15. Grif

    Together you stand! And you have never, been together... Divided???

    John is the man, To reconcile all division's... Save the Pain, and Vote McCain...

    April 18, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. peace

    Dear Hillary Supporters, I understand your love for Hillary and as they say love can be blind sometimes. There are a large number of American people who want to change the face of politics and start focusing on the issues. That's old politics and it has gotten us george bush – focusing on fear, negativity and making empty promises. Unfortunately, this is the only brand of politics that the Clintons know. Yes, they both are very bright, but they lack the vision and integrity to address America's problems. Don't you understand how tied in they are to rich special interest groups? How do you think they accumulated their $109M over 8 years? Yes, books and speaking engagements were a part of it but a large part of it was special deals like the $800,000 for the Colombia deal. They have been involved in scandal after scandal and most importantly, the majority of the American people believe Hillary is dishonest. How can she win an election like that? I even understand wanting to vote for a woman, but there will be another woman who comes along who has not just the knowledge and skills to be president, but the integrity as well. Frankly, I'm tired of all of the negativity and politics as usual and it only goes on because we let it – it works! Let's take this country back and address the major problems that we have so we can secure the future for our family and descendants. Hillary has not been able to manage her campaign. How can she manage the company. If you just say NO, then it will send the message to the Republicans that we will not take their negative politics anymore either. In fact, they need to go to a corner and sit down until they apologize to this country for all of the misery they have caused the American people over the past 8 years – taking our homes, sending our daughters to Iraq to be raped by their commanders, killing our young men in Iraq or sending them home seriously injured and then not providing for their needs. Letting the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Putting people in positions where they have to choose between buying food for their families or gasoline for their cars so they can go to work. This is not the country our forefathers and foremothers founded. We can turn it around if we just stand up and say NO!

    April 18, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. John

    MD,claims,Hillary is the race to collect money from American people! Wow what a bunch of livi reactions.Everyone,even grade fives know Obama has fished in Millions of Dollars from all walks of Americans.When is defeated at the nominations,he(Obama) should return the money to the poor and disadvantaged.the fat cats can afford it.

    April 18, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  18. In touch with people

    LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES

    Enough Hillary

    Go back to your Home in NY or Chicago or Scranton or Arkansas or where ever you always claim to be depending on where your campaigning.

    April 18, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  19. john williams san diego, ca.

    Fools for Hillary...for a minute there i thought she was lying to us, but then i remembered she is a comedian on late night t.v.

    April 18, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  20. MMASH in NC

    I'm sure Clinton will be very upset when we're done with her here in NC.

    That's not what they mean? Oh well...

    April 18, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  21. bakersfield

    john edwards will endorse hillary 4 days before n.carolina

    April 18, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  22. Jen in NH

    Hillary is a far superior debater. She is ready to president. Obama is absolutely not ready to be President. This NH voter is voting for Hillary in Nov. If Hillary is not the nominee, then I will write her name in on my ballot. I have always voted for the Democratic candidiates but if Clinton is not the nominee then in this general election I will vote her as a write-in candidiate. I am tired of the Democratic party sticking us with loser nominees. Middle America and key swing states are not going to support the liberal candidiate they need someone who is more moderate and who understands and respects their values. I am tired of my party picking the more liberal candidiate without giving consideration to who can actually win the vital swing states (Ohio, Florida, TN, AK, OK, NH, NM, MI, and PA).

    Write-in Hillary in Nov. if Obama steals this nomination.

    April 18, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  23. jim in pennsylvania

    all voters and especially the pennsylvania and north carolina need to know that hilary has been quoted as saying the blue collar workers who dont vote for her in the pennsylvania Screw em– they arent that important any way.............

    April 18, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  24. Nick Parga

    At the begining of this primary , She looks to me as she was strogle for the American XXI century revolution, but now she is disputing a position at the white house. Goodluck Obama.

    April 18, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  25. Get it Together

    Since Texas and Ohio, I stopped reading the comments because they were depressing. I don't know why I thought today's comments would be any better. Howard Dean wants a decision by July 1. Why? It appears that supporters on both sides won't be able to reconcile before the general election. Might as well take it to the convention. It won't matter. The democrats are not going to win if supporters of both camps keep spewing hateful rhetoric at one another. Frankly, it ticks me off to read it. I am ashamed of all of it. Take the high road people. This is freaking ridiculous and is going to accomplish nothing. On second thought, it will accomplish a Republican victory in November!!!! Is that what you all want? Another 4 years of Bush policy? Because that is what we are about to have if all this nonsense doesn't stop.

    Put your big girl and big boy pants on and start treating one another – and the candidates – with respect in these posts. You are making fools of yourselves and Democrats nationwide.

    Go Democrats!!!!!

    April 18, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
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