April 18th, 2008
07:05 PM ET
6 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. CONCERNED DEMOCRAT

    Quote
    Over 67,000 new African-American voters in North Carolina have registered over the same time ...unquote

    And there in lies your answer..........

    April 18, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  2. RHP

    Hillary just comes off as disingenuous,,here in N Carolina and anywhere else.

    April 18, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. Xavier

    I am voting for Hillary because I would like a president that has experienced pressure under fire – running down the tarmac in Bosnia ducking bullets. I am so impressed with her soul searching honesty.
    NOT!!! – I am actually disgusted. I was once placed in the unfortunate situation of being very close to an actual shooting. The fear that grips you before you fall for cover is one that will never ever leave you. Trust me when I say this – it takes a psychotic mind to stand in front of a camera and tell millions of people such a blatant lie.
    Misspoke = Blatant Liar

    April 18, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. Chris in Va.

    What is a Midge?

    April 18, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. mila

    Obama.....the empty promises of change. The over used statement "old politics". His elitist comments his shady connections, the questions about his patriotism....we can go on and on. He is fortunate he has so many people brainwashed. His followers don't care what he does, good or bad, they love him. I don't get it.

    April 18, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. California Voter

    After Obama's less than stellar performance in the most recent debate I'm not surprised he doesn't want to debate in NC. He does best given his inspirational sermons, where no one can question him. He crumbles under pressure and then tries to brush it off the next day as a trivia event. Character matters and if you believe that Obama knew nothing about Rev. Wright's inflammatory comments then you should educate yourself a little about the TUCC. Go to their website.

    April 18, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  7. Jenn

    If your voting for a candidate due to their age, gender or color then you should not be voting. You need to close your eyes & listen to what is going on. It should not matter who celebs. are voting for or is better looking. I have not heard any solutions from Obama he just states the obvious of what is wrong with this country, he does not believe in america, how can anyone vote for someone who goes to a church that preaches hate, does not have anything to do with our flag until scandal breaks out. its seems everyone turns a blind eye to everything negative about this man. He just says what his advisers tell him to say, just like all the other politicians running for office, I think the debate last night proved that when he didn't have the questions in advance for his advisors to write the answers for him. Wonder if he writes he own speeches(probably not). Wake up people they all lie to get what they want. Yes even your god Obama. Lets face it anyone who can bad mouth their own Grandmother & turn his back on her after she raised him can turn his back on anyone & he supposedly loves his Grandmother.

    April 18, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  8. Glenn, Cary, NC

    MD in CT: You accused Senator Clinton of having a pastor who molested a seven-year-old girl. It took me less than 30 seconds to Google the name of the pastor and find out that he has been called "a former Clinton pastor" because he was a pastor in the town of Clinton, NY (named for George Clinton, first governor of the state of NY). There is no connection whatsoever between the man you wrote about and either Senator Clinton or President Clinton. You are unbelievably stupid.

    April 18, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  9. So Cal Gal

    The biggest upset is in the making right now. Say goodnight Hillary!

    April 18, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  10. Voice of Reason

    It would be the second biggest upset, Clinton.

    The Pennsylvania upset (your loss of a 20 point lead) was the first.

    I'd ask you to bow out while you had some dignity left, but that point is LONG gone.

    April 18, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  11. Mary

    You must be a fighter to be President of United States, so that means elect Hillary Clinton, because Obama is weak and not ready.

    Superdelegates get it right-Hillary is electable and Obama isn't electable. Hillary 08 or a mistake

    Indiana we need you to vote for Hillary. It will take all of us to over take Obama and put Hillary in the White House. We must do that or we will elect McCain. Indiana you are very important to this election, Help us so that the following states can make Hillary President.

    North Carolina don't let Obama take you for granted. Your vote is as important as anyones vote and the Hillary camp would love to include you in our count. You are a valueable state so be took for granted. Hillary will fight for you and for your vote,

    Hillary 08 or a big MISTAKE.

    April 18, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  12. nazirmo

    When Obama got Oprah's support everyone talked. Now the polls suggest distrust of Hillary and her character. Do you know that the famous Maya Angelou who is most admired by Oprah is supporting Hillary and she even introduced her at a live event in North Carolina today. Just imagine. Maya would not have thrown her support behind Hillary if she did not have confidence and trust in Hillary's character.

    April 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  13. Ron

    LETS SEE SEN.OBAMA HAS TURNED HIS BACK ON HIS GRANDMOTHER HIS PASTOR, FARRAKHAN, AYERS TONY REZKO REFUSED INVITATIONS TO NEW ORLEANS AND MEMPHIS DISSING THE BLACK COMMUNITY. I THINK THE VOTERS ARE STARTING TO SEE THE PATERN. NOW I NEED YOU, NOW I DON'T. I THINK THE HONEST VOTERS SAW IN THE LAST DEBATE IT WAS NOT THE FORMAT BUT HIS INABILLITY TO GIVE TRUTHFUL CREDIBLE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS THAT MADE HIM LOOK BAD WHY HE CONTINUES TO DENY THINGS HE SAID OR DID IS BEYOND ME THEY HAVE ALL BEEN RESEARCHED AND VERIFIED SOME WE SAW AND HEARD OURSELVES THE MORE OPORTUNITY THE PUBLIC HAVE TO SEE HIM WITHOUT A SCRIPT TO READ FROM THE BETTER CLINTONS CHANCE TO BEAT HIM

    April 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  14. Teresa W. of Newport Bch, CA

    This great news!!!!!!

    Go Obama 08'

    April 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  15. Kris In PA

    Another thing the mainstream media refuses to cover because it just so happens to be good new for Clinton – former New Jersey Governors Jim Florio and Brendan Byrne pledged their support to Hillary Clinton today, after being chosen Thursday as add-on superdelegates. Their show of support comes the same day US Rep. Betty Sutton announced she too would support Clinton as a superdelegate.

    Three superdelegates in one day. But all the press can say is the SDs are moving toward Obama. Apparently not ALL of them are moving that way.

    April 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  16. Laura C

    Don't worry Hill- Take it from this NC voter, we are too smart to fall for you!

    Obama '08

    April 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  17. mr stlouis

    hillary is as dead as that duck she claimed she shot ! oops that was sniper fire duck north carolina.

    April 18, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  18. John

    PA and NC when these votes are counted I expect
    Mr Barack H. Obama to be the Democrats presumptive nominee.
    I am Hoping Mrs Hillary R. Clinton has the good grace to retire from this race and give her and Bills full support to the Next President of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.
    BARACK H. OBAMA

    April 18, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  19. Juanita

    PLEASE make us proud folks in NC and PA!!!! Help bring an end to this implosion of the Democratic Party. Give BO a strong vote of approval so the Democrats can begin the healing process.
    The dirty, mudslinging will come back to haunt us Democrats this fall if the race continues throughout the summer.

    April 18, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  20. carmen

    The Clintons can't lead, they can't follow and they can't get out of the way. Someone should get them hearing aids so they can hear "GET OUT OF TOWN"

    April 18, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  21. John from Las Vegas

    Yes, it would be the upset of the century.....it would also be the biggest fantasy of the century too. (laughing hysterically)

    Right now, it looks like Hillary might loose Pennsylvania, Indiana, and will definately loose NC, ND, and Oregon.

    Would someone tell me why she doesn't just quit now and save us all the grief??

    OBAMA '08......PEACE '09

    April 18, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  22. k ciota, riverton il.

    Back to the previous article about Reich, Where the hell is the loyalty ?
    When Hillary gets elected, she should pay back all these back turning friends and repay the favors, ie Richardson, Kennedy's and the rest of the turncoats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't you have the slightest bit of loyalty in your bones. Did you forget what these people did for this country. With friends like you who needs enemies.

    April 18, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. jt

    No way!

    Most polls show that blacks voted for Obama. Do we call that they are racist, no because you will be called racist. Can they call you a racist, yes...

    But if the voters look beyond race, I think Hillary will win in North Carolina!!

    Hillary is the best!! North Carolina do the right thing. Look who is the best candidate in November!!!

    Hillary!!! She knows her stuff!!

    April 18, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  24. jenny from Idaho

    God I hope they're not hinting at an Edwards endorsement...

    April 18, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  25. Grif

    Wake Island?? That was lost and won again, in 1942? This Election is not of that era... More to do with losing a Country, than Victory in the Pacific....

    April 18, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
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