April 18th, 2008
07:05 PM ET
10 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. Marlin

    I still remember how rude she was. And she lied too much. What can you do if you can't trust what she says? She does not deserve to be there. Obama 2008!

    April 18, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  2. Richard, FL

    It is amazing that people think that Dick Cheney, Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton have any intelligence in their fingers. Get real and get an education.

    April 18, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  3. SUE, Michigan

    There you go-record numbers of REPUBLICANS are voting for Obama-and then will switch back to McCain in November. Doesn't anyone care that this will mean a Republican win in Nov.? They think he is beatable...ignore the polls-we need Hillary to win in November!

    April 18, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  4. julie MN

    I hear ya Sharon, GO HILLARY.

    April 18, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. Jeanette


    Thanks, Gary. The only problems with your arguments are: (1) the largest African-American voting segment are women; (2) I didn't receive the memo that the African-American vote was something to be despised, minimalized and jeered at (I guess the Clinton Camp forgot to copy us on it after our historically 30% democratic share elected her husband to the presidency twice); (3) Clinton, as the household name candidate, is very much known. Before you start foaming at the mouth with delight, I suggest checking the national polls to gauge what the overall electorate "knows" about her and how that is working out for her in terms of electability; and (4) Your Eau de Clinton "scent" eminates through my computer screen, starting with your overzealous use of capital letters and ending with your penchant for poor spelling, grammar, and incomplete sentences.

    A final thought, Gary–this message was brought to you by one of those "laughable" black voters and unless the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Voting Act have been repealed absent my knowledge, my vote is just as relevant and powerful as yours.

    Congratulations on your efforts to desecrate the democratic process!!

    April 18, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  6. chris isner

    Clinton supporters, when Senator Clinton accepts inevitable defeat and urges you to vote Obama, will you then still consider voting McCain? Even when the candidtae you so vehemently support begs you not to?

    Clinton will continue to do great work in the Senate and definitely will back Obama wholeheartedly. Obama will sweep McCain in November by a landslide. We will finally have a president who is universally respected.

    April 18, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  7. David in Illinois

    Rise Hillary Rise??? She's not capable of it! She brings herself and this country DOWN by her tactics. It's really too bad, because she's a pretty smart lady in some ways, just not about politics, specifically loyalty to her fellow Democrats. Should McCain beat Obama in the fall, you can place a huge part of the blame on Hillary. She wants it SO bad that she doesn't give a hoot about the country.
    If she would only leave the stage with some dignity....

    April 18, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  8. SUE, Michigan

    You can call the Hillary and her supporters dumb, Fred, but I bet we can spell realize correctly! Oh, and Barack as well.

    Go Hillary-these republicans posting on here are way too obvious!

    April 18, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  9. Arthur Nnaemeka



    April 18, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  10. kaz

    Six months ago we had very favorable openion of Mrs. Clinton and we as democrates liked president Clinton very much. But, after watching Clintons for last 2 months, there is no way we can vote for Mrs. Clinton. It is amazing that the Clintons are not able to see that majority of Americans dislike them. President Clinton can make a name in history by endorsing Obama, Obam is the movement.

    April 18, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. P.G.

    In the news today, Hillary Clinton recieved three endorsements from super delegates: Congresswoman Betty Sutton, Former New Jersey Governor, James Florio, Former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne

    April 18, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  12. Sheila WA

    To all those overly sensitive folks who claim they were offended by Obama's bitter remarks, he was correct. The GOP have become experts on taking our livelyhoods (jobs) away and point fingers at the liberals and Dems by blaming them for being anti-god, pro-choice, anti-school vouchers, anti-gun, ect...They have been using (12yrs) these things that people do care about as wedge issues all the while doing nothing about turning our manufacturing towns into rust belts or fixing our healthcare.. He may have not used the best words to articulate this message, but his message was spot on. So don't be bitter at Obama for pointing this out, he want's you to know that these con-men don't deserve our votes or confidence. We need to unite as a party. If you don't like Hillary or Obama and you just can't vote for them, write in your candidate..McCain doesn't deserve your vote because he is more of the same no matter how many times he flip flops..He is trying to pull the same stunt Reagan did with the Dems in 80 and you see where the Reagan revolution has gotten us today. Not to mention the horrible joke he told a GOP meeting about Chelsea and her parentage.. He doesn't deserve one Dem vote.

    April 18, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  13. Shannon

    I'm just wondering if it would be possible for an Obama supporter to post a comment without name calling or hurling insults. If you are part of the politics of hope and change, I want none of it. Hope and change must mean different things to people, because the hate and name calling I see from the Obama supporters makes me ashamed to be a Democrat.

    April 18, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  14. Edgar

    To all of you Obama supporters, if you can't take the negative then get out of the game and let Real candiate – Hillary begin her fight for the Presidency instead of a wanna be – boy.

    April 18, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. Marie in California

    Go Hillary!

    I'm a lifelong Democrat but I would never vote for Obama under any circumstances, so if he gets the nomination my vote will go to McCain.

    Now, should that happen, my right hand might fall off when I pull the lever for a Republican....but, as I tell myself, a hand is such a very small sacrifice to make for the good of my country.

    No Obamination in the Presidency!

    April 18, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. Mariann Pepitone

    I really don't care about the people in North Carolina, I am not from there and certainly glad that my parents didn't settle in those kind of states. States like NC and SC are so messed up they were not aware of the fact that Obama was mixed up with Ayers & Ayres who went underground because of bombing and were wanted by the feds. He was an attorney for a corrupt businessman and I wouldn't doubt that Obama received thousands in cash that was not reported to the IRS. Going to a racist church with an anti-american pastor who hates white people should be enough evidence for whites to vote for Hillary or McCain. However, this generation of college kids who are on drugs and booze themselves like Obama was don't care about America and don't care that deep down inside Obama is really racial against the white people. He does a good job hiding it from the public and they fall hook and ladder in whatever he says. Even if his speeches are copied from RFK whose book he received from a friend of his. What a background for a candidate running for the presidency of this country and a mess this country will be in if he is elected. Because I would not vote for him if that happens I can just sit back and laugh at the fools.

    April 18, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  17. jimmy vekmen


    April 18, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  18. Shannon

    freshflavor, it's people like you that make it impossible for me and many others to support Obama. You say that people with education and intelligence support Obama, and the rest of the ignorant dems support Clinton, well I've got a college degree and I support Clinton, and I won't be supporting Obama in the general. Keep insulting the rest of us, and good luck in the general, you can't win without us, so don't burn to many bridges. Your idea of hope and change needs some work, you seem more about being petty and mean spirited.

    April 18, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Tim in NY

    I can honestly say I am sick to death of this 'Primary'. Every day that it drags on and allows the Republicans to run an actual Presidential Campaign while this idiocy continues is another day that the Democrats don't have to put together a platform to defeat McCain.

    And I think that's Hillary's goal actually. If she can't be President she'll drag it out until the Democrats have no hope of victory and then say " I told you so" in 4 years.

    April 18, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  20. velcro

    "if you count michigan and florida..."

    good argument, almost woke up to read it all...

    April 18, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  21. Fonzi, an independent.

    I am tired of Clinton and her aides false optimism.They poke jokes at hope yet their campaign is basking on it with all the odds against them.

    April 18, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  22. Think - FL

    "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."


    Translation: There aren't enough gullible, backwoods idiots in NC for Hillary to even come close to winning.

    I wonder what that says about PA.... oops.

    April 18, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  23. Marie

    OBAMA ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 18, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. Jacqueline, NY

    It will be over on Tuesday. They need to prepare a conceeding speech.

    April 18, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  25. Tell It Like It Is

    NC's urban areas have large black populatons that will vote along the racial lines much like SC. There are enough left leaning Yankees here to swing Obama's way in the primary.


    April 18, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
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