May 19th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Analysis: Obama ready for fall fight

Obama has been focusing lately on campaigning in general election states.

Obama has been focusing lately on campaigning in general election states.

WASHINGTON DC (CNN)– He’s not declaring victory in the Democratic primaries, but if you listen to Barack Obama, you get a clear sense he’s more than ready for a fall fight with John McCain.

“Everybody is surprised that I am standing here. Lets face it, nobody thought a 46 year old black guy named Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee. The reason this has worked is because of you. You decided you wanted to take your government back and that is what we are going to be fighting for all the way through November,” the Senator from Illinois told the crowd at a rally in Oregon Sunday.

An interesting choice of words from a candidate who lately has been careful to not proclaim victory in his long and bitter battle with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

But there’s more.

"Senator Clinton and I have had a terrific contest and she has been a formidable candidate,” Obama said Sunday while being questioned by reporters. The slip into the past tense is telling.

Obama’s choice of where he holds primary night campaign rallies is also a sign that he’s looking ahead to the general election.

Last Tuesday, as Clinton was racking up a landslide victory in the West Virginia primary, Obama held a campaign event in Missouri, which long ago held its primary. But Missouri is what’s known as a battleground or swing state, a state that could go either way in the general election. Tuesday Obama’s holds a rally in Iowa, which kicked off the primary season with its caucuses on January 3rd. Obama won that contest, helping to propel him to Democratic frontrunner status. Iowa is also another battleground state (President Bush took the state by 10,000 votes in 2004) that the Democrats would love to win this November.

Obama will also point out Tuesday night the he’s won half of the total number of pledged delegates. There are 3,253 pledged delegates and Obama, even if he has a poor showing in the Kentucky and Oregon primaries, he should easily top the 1,627 delegates needed to make that claim. Pledged delegates are those won by the candidates in the primary and caucus contests, as opposed to 795 super delegates, whose votes are not tied to any primary or caucus results. Super delegates are Democratic governors, members of Congress and party officials.

While winning half of the pledged delegates is nice, the number he needs to reach to clinch the nomination is 2,026.

Since neither candidate is expected to win that many delegates by the end of the primary season on June 3rd, it’s going to come down to the super delegates to put either Obama or Clinton over the top.

“You know, we thought it (Iowa) was a terrific way to kind of bring things full circle. We still have some contests left, but if Kentucky and Oregon go as we hope, then we think we will have a majority of pledged delegates at that point, and that's a pretty significant mark. That means that after contests in every state, or almost every state and the territories that we are we have received the majority of the delegates that are assigned by voters,” Obama told reporters Sunday.

But even though he leads Clinton in delegates won, states won, and the popular vote in the primary and caucus contests held so far this campaign season, Obama says Tuesday’s declaration in Iowa doesn’t mean the primary battle’s over.

"It doesn't mean we declare victory because I won't be the nominee until we have enough, a combination of both pledged delegates and super delegates to hit the mark. But what it does mean is that voters have given us the majority of delegates that they can assign. And obviously that is what this primary and caucus process is about,” said Obama.

And Obama’s campaign for the primaries continues. He’s spending Monday in Montana, which along with South Dakota, closes out the primary calendar on June third.

If the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination is almost over, no one’s telling Clinton.

Campaigning in Kentucky Monday, Clinton said “I’m going to make [my case] until we have a nominee, but we’re not going to have one today and we’re not going to have one tomorrow and we’re not going to have one the next day.”

She continues to make her argument that she leads in the popular vote, saying “right now, more people have voted for me than have voted for my opponent. More people have voted for me than for anybody ever running for president before. So we have a very close contest.”

But there’s some creative math at work here. For Clinton to have the lead in the popular vote, primary states but not caucus states are counted. And the popular vote totals in Florida and Michigan are also counted. And since Obama’s name wasn’t on the Michigan ballot, he would receive no votes in that state’s contest. The problem with this equation is that neither Florida nor Michigan’s results are being counted right now by the Democratic Party, since both states broke party rules by moving their primaries up to January.

Clinton’s other argument is that she’s won the states that matter and that she would stack up stronger against John McCain come November.

“The states I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans I would be nominee right now. We have different rules so what we’ve got to figure out is who can win 270 electoral votes. My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes. Now we both have won some states that are going to be hard for us to win in the fall like TX and OK. But I still have a cushion if you look at all the states that I have won and take out those that may not be in our column come the fall. My opponent has 217 electoral votes from places like Alaska and Idaho and Utah and Kansas and Nebraska and many of his votes and his delegates come from caucus states which have a relatively low turnout,” Clinton told voters in Kentucky Monday.

So far both of Clinton’s arguments appear to be falling on deaf ears. And it’s doubtful that Tuesday’s results in Kentucky and Oregon will change the shape of the race.

soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. gp

    I am once more impresed with his comon sense and judgement. He is so right to let her what she feels has to do.As a child i learned lesson if someboduy is not reasonable enough to discuse with hom you just let them scream and eventualy they will stop when no attention is gained !!!She mighe though need to explain to her voters how she is arguing the same time that every vote counts but same time hopes for mirical to overturn thoe same votes and declare her as leading . That is not only poor math but ONCE AGAIN POOR JUDGEMENT what she is manifesting from very begining over and over..Is she hoping to stay in politics after all that misery ..Go Barack and don't look back , just go...

    May 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Dan (Kirkland, WA)

    The DNC rules committe will meet on May 31st, dole out the delegates from MI and FL, but there's still no way Hillary gets there.

    My sincere hope is that Mrs. Clinton is winding down her campaign in an effort to ease her supporters into the idea that she will not be the nominee and to help them see that a vote for McCain or a non-vote, is a horrible mistake.

    May 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. NoBama

    This guy is so full of it.

    Ask any supporter of his to name something he has accomplished in his "career" and name a single position he has on any issue...and they can't use the words "hope" and "change."

    Don't drink this guy's Kool-Aid. He thinks he's the messiah and it is really scary that so many lemmings are going to vote for him...and they can't tell you anything about his position on the issues.

    He has promised to enact the largest tax increase in history. He is anti-business and anti-trade. He voted against a ban on killing a child born alive after a failed abortion. He says Iran is not the threat we make it out to be and is for sitting down "without preconditions" with the leaders of Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Hamas. Iran will posses nuclear weapons while he is president.

    We will all suffer an attack that will make 9/11 look like a traffic accident if this guy is elected. He is in way over his head and it is unfortunate that so many look to him to become their surrogate mommy.

    It is too bad that in this day and age, so many of you are too lazy to look beyond his "rap" and look at him like he is some rock star. So sad America and shame on you for not digging deeper.

    May 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. tell the truth

    Wow Hilliary. This is sad. I'm a Obama support and would support you in Nov because I do not want any part of McCain but you must stop with the lies. You are not ahead in anything. Please with the misleading information.

    There are some blogger that's giving misleading information also by saying I will vote McCain if Hilliary does not win. There are not Dec but Rep trying to start trouble. Rember you see about 85% of the blogger are saying there are Dec but this is not possible what happen to all the Rep? Think people Obama is winning now why can't he win in Nov. He can win. He will win.

    May 19, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. GO HILL!

    Ya, just like my 12 year old son is ready to run for president.... 🙂

    May 19, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Lisa

    Barack is talking about lay off his wife. He wasn't saying that when he was attacking Bill Clinton. Please DNC do not do this to us, millions of people wants Hillary to win and we will not back Obama. He said we have 57 states and you guys want to select him as our nominee. NOOOOO!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Everett Edwards

    The Democrat Messiah? Can do no wrong?? You Dems are in for a shock!!

    May 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Marc in New York City

    NObama will never win against Hilary or McCain.

    If NObama is the nominee... I will for the first time vote Republican for McCain.

    Nobama has no experience and talks about change...well he needs to change pastor.

    All he talks about is change... no details. He is losing his bearings!

    Go Hil...lanslide tomorrow!

    May 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. carmen

    If he can beat Bill and Hill and their Rove Machine, he can do anything

    May 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Willy

    Obama will not be the pick no matter how hard CNN presses it!

    May 19, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Donovan

    He still has a current fight to contend with....

    May 19, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. GO HILL!

    For all of you guys who claim McCain will be 4 more years of Bush, (BTW I just do not believe McCain is ANY WHERE NEAR Bush), you DO have to admit, for the last 7 years, NOTHING has happened on AMERICAN SOIL. I just don't believe we'd be as safe with BO at the helm. He's tooooooo liberal.

    May 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. The Truth

    Hey, I have never seen Michelle look happy. It seems she has a perennial frown on her face. Maybe it's because she has only been proud of our country one time.

    Apparently the latest polls didn't include FL, MI, Ohio, PA, NY, MA NJ, KY and CA. Probably polled the bitter old farmers in Iowa and Nebraska. Won't it be something if Hillary wins Kentucky when the polls say she is behind by eleven or so points. Amazing how inaccurate the polls can be when they are run by the opposition.

    Give us a break and go Hillary, win one for the Gipper.........

    May 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. steve

    Obama can only win if Clinton is his running candidate. Else the dem vote will be split.

    May 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. EDW

    I'm ready to end the Rupublican reign. I'm ready to end the Bush years of shame. Democrats are you with me????!!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Randy - Denver

    Congratulations on reaching this landmark tomorrow Mr. Obama
    Obama/Sebilious 08

    Ms. Clinton needs to explain to me if counting the votees in Michigan is sooo important to her why did SHE turndown the last offer from the state? It gave her a 10 delegate lead over Mr. Obama in the state of Michigan! She turned it down because, she said, "he recieved NO votes" and she felt she did not get enough of a delegate lead. Ms. clinton he got NO votes because HE FOLLOWED the DNC rules, unlike you, he removed his name from the ballot as requested by the DNC, you snubbed the rules and that is why you got the votes. I ask you this question why is it more important to count those voters who BROKE the rules than the voters who stayed home and did not break the rules? Maybe, and that is ONLY a maybe, when you can explain why you would disenfrancise those who followed the rules, I will grant you some measure of dignity in this contest until then shut your lying mouth!

    The RULES (I KNOW you do not think they apply to you) state he will only need 2026 to be declared the winner.. so when he gets those here in the next week will you bow out? I suspect not since you do not believe the RULES apply to you!

    May 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. ChicoSez

    Why will I vote for McCain over Obama? For the last three months the Obama camp has told me how similar Hillary and the Republicans are and how Barack was completely different. I believed you and have transferred my support from Hillary to the person closest to her beliefs, which according to Obama, is John McCain. And if anybody was really worried about a woman's reproductive rights, you shoulda voted for the woman. The young girls who have abortions are all for Obama, the older women have outgrown the need for this right and don't really care if you kids lose it.
    Go out and fight for it yourself.

    May 19, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. ???

    “The states I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans I would be nominee right now. We have different rules so what we’ve got to figure out is who can win 270 electoral votes. My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes. Now we both have won some states that are going to be hard for us to win in the fall like TX and OK. But I still have a cushion if you look at all the states that I have won and take out those that may not be in our column come the fall. My opponent has 217 electoral votes from places like Alaska and Idaho and Utah and Kansas and Nebraska and many of his votes and his delegates come from caucus states which have a relatively low turnout,” Clinton told voters in Kentucky Monday.

    Yes, and we ALL expect Obama to lose California and New York. By the way, how do you include Michigan as part of your "lead", where you were the only one on the ballot and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror?

    May 19, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. Riley

    It's funny how Hillary goes around saying she wants every vote to count, arguing for the inclusion of Florida and Michigan, yet completely disregards the voters in caucus states when applying her creative math to 'prove' she won the popular vote.

    Hypocritical or what?

    A vote is a vote is a vote Hillary and your math just doesn't add up.

    May 19, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. Debby

    A fight???? I thought he was the candidate for Change and Hope or was that just a politcal ploy to get him elected. Boy Obama barking at the GOP scares me, he sounded like some kind of dictator instead of a uniter.

    May 19, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Ted van Tol

    McCain 1908!

    Obama 2008!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. Denial

    FRANK May 19th, 2008 4:59 pm ET

    HE'LL LOOSE

    ---------------------------------–
    He'll lose frank .. not "Loose" ..................

    anyways DEMOCRATS 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. Kiki in DC

    Well Obama is just speakling the truth, I agree Billary didn't plan on this happen to her, she knew in her mind that she had this primary on lock. But we told her other wise.

    I am speaking on behalf of everyone that has chosen their candidate of choice. We have the right to like or pefer who ever we chose. Why are the Billary basher continue to bash us because we don't agree with their choice. We have reason, just like you and we are sticking to what we believe in. What we believe in is Obama! R-E-S-P-E-C-T that!

    Don't knock it until you climb aboard..........We will be leaving the station on June 3.......... All aboard...........Choo Choo!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. LucieLee

    WTG~!! Barack!! Hillary is sadly delusional...and she should stay in the race....until the delusional germ decides it is time to leave.

    May 19, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  25. love Obama

    Hillary did give a tough fight. I would have been happy voting for her over McCain. But I didn't say I'd be happy voting for her.

    It is time to take Washington back and if everyone forgot about the Clinton spin, forgot about the media sping then you too would love Obama. He stands for winning for the people. He wants to give the government back to the people. He wants the people of the United States making laws and not lobbyists. He wants us oil free. He wants to create more jobs.

    And he is not all rhetoric. He has some great ideas. They're not being reported heavily because bowling, eating sundaes and playing basketball is what the media is focusing on. The issues have already been talked about to death. If you want more issues then watch CNN election center. Go to the candidates websites.

    To all the women who love Hillary, we need you. Please do not make the mistake of voting for McCain because you feel like Obama let you down. he didn't, the DNC did. Obama had no control over any of this. The DNC set the rules and he played by the rules and he's winning.

    Democrats 08!

    May 19, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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