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
MD in CT,
I could not believe your comment!!!!!!!!!
I checked for myself, thank you for bringing this to our attention!
Folks I cannot believe the temerity of Sen. Clinton, blasting Sen. Obama over and over again, about Rev. Wright, and here we see that the Clinton's Pastor, Rev. Will Procanick is in jail for molesting a 7yr old!
Please Pennsylvanians, save us from the Clintons
She seems to be "lowering expectations" in every single state now
The "biggest upset of the century" and the nastiest trick on the American people (and, possibly the world) would be electing either McCain or Hillary as President.
To Pamela NC40 – I certainly wouldn't be bragging about voting for a man with terrorist freinds and I certainly would not be taking my children along to watch me contribute to the downfall of the United States of America. How ya gonna explain that to your babies when they have no free country to grow up in?
The only upset I see is Hillary when she fails to win PA by the necessary amount that she needs to win in order to make this contest close for the Superdelegates.
Lets face it. She needs to win ALL STATES by 20+ points and we all know that is not going to happen.
North Carolina will go to Barack Obama by double digits. I would not be surprised if they call the state when the polls close.
As a side note, I do wish those of you who support Hillary begin to act like adults. That goes for some members of the Obama supporters as well. It really is childish.
I hope CNN posts this comment for all to see.
IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII IT AIN'T OVER 'TIL THE FAT LADY SINGS ! IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
GO HILLARY == A REAL WORKING HORSE !
HEY OBAMA , GIVE YOUR FINGER TO YOUR " TYPICAL" WHITE
GRANDMA ! OK , GIRLY MAN !
Wow, 8 years into the century and already predicting that this will be bigger than anything that will follow it? I have never been a Clintonite follower, and I gave up cigars long ago.
Obama 08. If Hillary steals this then McCain 08
Shame on all of the superdelegates support Obama!! Why do you think you are less deserved than this young and unexperienced politician to lead our country? The most important factor is that he is black and the other one is he can lie like no-one sles can. Do you really think he knows how to delieve what he has promised so far? It is all talk!! Shame on all of you have bad mouthed Hilary here as well. Please use the same standards you have judged her on OB. He could not even answered any quesiton the other night with a straight face.
Gee, Midge...are you really sure about that? I think you might want to reconsider your statement. I fill the age requirement for Hillary...being almost 65. And the gender...since not many men are named Anne...and I hold three Masters' Degrees. And, golly gee, Mr. Marvel, I've supported Barak Obama since the beginning.
DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL THAT HILARY SEEMS TO HAVE A GREAT DISDAIN FOR BARRACK??
Politics has always been referred to as dirty. I have witnessed periods of disagreement – but this to me seems personal.
I was originally convinced that Hillary would get my vote. Unfortuately, I noticed that Hillary – more often than any other person – or system attack Barrack for anything – I am talking all the way back to Iowa. To me – she seemed to feel Barrack to be unworthy in general – not just of being in the racem but as a person. I just don't feel any person – regardless of who or what they are or where the have been or where they came from should be treated so disrespectfully. I feel that Hilary has been disrepectful – hateful – unprofessional – and deceitful in her dealings in this race and in her attacks on her opponent. It makes me very sad to say this – and it is so disappointing. If she does not respect him for what ever reason why would she repect anyone who disagrees with her – why would she respect anyone who is different in anyway.
Barrack is not perfect!!!! I do feel he has been more reationary to the attacks and on the defense.
McCain is not perfect!!!! The difference I see with McCain – when he discusses Barrack it seems to be more around the issues than about Barrack as a person.
Pennsylvania voters dont be fooled like ohio was
paul vts clinton on april the 25th
hilary could be charged with perjury and fraud-
just what we need another clinton scandal
Punch and Judy
It's not merely a simple bribe when the president for personal financial gain advances special interests and annoints powerful lobbyists to inform and influence executive orders and decisions. The president, as leader of the party, validates political practices that extend beyond the White House. A stealth machine or a dark cobweb of laws and politics is secured in place to concentrate power in the few, thereby systematizing abuses and reducing the strength of the democratic political process. Voting the wrong president brings about the dis-empowerment of the majority.
A political Punch-and-Judy show to launch Hillary as the puppet president is more than just a ruinous distraction at a time of domestic economic peril and moral bankruptcy abroad, it is the sell-out of American democracy.
Michael West in Germany
rack em up 08 alabama get it no royalty in usa
NC IS FOR OBAMA!!!
When the inexperienced, power-crazy Obama begins to drown this country further than Bush did, we will be all chanting Hillary's name.
That would be fun, wouldn't it?
Just tap your heels together and sing along with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.
There's no place like home!
There's no place like home!
There's no place like home!
There's no place like home!
I wonder why all the smart people are for Obama.
Clinton supporters, get a clue. Not all of us Obama fans are teeny boppers in search of a new idol. Most of us are professionals and blessed with a bit of IQ. Call us elitists if you want. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were elitists too then. This country wasn't started by Roseann Barr.
Irish for O'bama! Obama-Gore, Gore-Obama or even Obama-Pelosi '08!
I am curious to see what happens after this weekend.
If Hillary doesn't finish in the double-digits in Pennsylvania, will she drop out then?
Or is she going to drag this all the way to the convention?
Like McCain, I think she realizes this is her last shot at it.
After this debacle, no one will even think of nominating her in 2008 or 2012.
I would not be surprised if all the dirt about her that has aired in this process is used against her in NY and a well-funded Republican challenger ousts her from the Senate.
Perhaps upstate NY could finaly emerge from its perpetual depression...
All right! I've been asking nicely now for weeks. Give me something either has accomplished in the Senate. I'm tired of Obama sniping at Hillary. He needs to do the Wright thing.
These debates are an utter waste of time! How many times do we have to see the same pedantic performance in order to provide Hillary Clinton with free advertising. Now, she's moaning about Obama outspending her in Pennsylvania – maybe its because people are contributing money to his campaign!! Duh!
Every primary is an "important " one for her as the goalposts get moved further and further into the stands.
Wake up, Hillary, the country doesn't need you, doesn't want you and Bill and you should ride off into the sunset.
Hillary you treat people like trash you start becomming trash. Trash talking out of a woman is not apealing. But I guess you got your commenupings. Its called "CARMEN"
Ever since the debate it has become quite clear to me that some Americans are just plain threatened by a strong, intelligent, capable female. It seems that people have become quite upset that Senator Clinton upstaged Senator Obama, how dare she. Rather than see that she is a strong candidate they continue to demean and vilify her. Rather than look or listen to what she is offering the American people to help us out of the debacle this administration has put us in we would rather call her a liar, evil, negative. Because she can go toe to toe with Obama and look so sharp and Presidential doing so, the media and racist people are at fault. It's funny because Obama and his supporters have constantly yelled about Senator Clinton acting like she is entitled to the nominiation but in fact it is Obama who seems to feel he should just be given the office, Forget an election, install Obama.
CNN, it would be nice if you post at least one of my post. Thank you.
Hillary is smart enough to know NC has a lot of Black people. For Obama to lose there would indeed be an upset. The Blacks are for the black guy period. Obama will have to have a white man as a VP if he has any hope of winning in November. All the Blacks in all the states are not enough to win in November.
Forget it Hillary. You ain't winning in North Carolina.
Only time will tell ........ Just think NC, you guys will be decide the upset of the century.........Vote Hillary get notoriety hahaha