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. sheryl

    Marc in New York City, I see you to are living in denial!!!!!!

    Obama 08/12!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Zoey

    I will give it to Obama though. He seems to be much more polished and refine going against McCain. About a month ago he look exhausted and disappointed at sometimes. I'm glad to see the old Obama back in action.

    May 19, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. Ardnuas

    SMART voters are watching carefully, and will NOT fall for the hateful tricks the republicans play. Americans are AWESOME when we are UNITED!
    Obama/Hagel ( I want Chuck Hagel to be VP)

    May 19, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. bayo

    no more argument , Obama you have won.

    May 19, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. Tom

    MARC IN THE CITY: I do not know what channel you have been watching, but Obama has said at great length, and in details about his position so stop lying.

    May 19, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  6. Molly

    KEEP FIGHTING HILLARY!!!! MILLIONS SUPPORT & VOTE FOR YOU

    How can obama claim victory – he has NOT won! Just get to the magic number and we will all go away!!! So...until Clinton/Obama have actually WON – BACK OFF!

    May 19, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. HILLARY OR MCCAIN

    Quit trying to say I'm a republican just b/c I will vote for McCain over Obama.

    Sorry, some people are looking for a leader, and John McCain appeals to democrats. He is a moderate Republican.

    I will take a moderate Republican any day over your radical left wing nominee.

    Take it to the convention!

    Hillary 08

    May 19, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Sarah

    Great Mr. presidnet
    Obama 08&12

    May 19, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. It's time

    These are unprecedented times and look for an unprecendented outcome. It is time for the US to step up to the task. BHO can win, just wait and see who turns out to vote.

    May 19, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. Ron R

    Let's see...IF...

    1. I was a republican
    2. They dont count the states that vote by caucus..( i think 6!)
    3. They change the election process in midstream of an election

    THEN I WOULD BE WINNING!!!! So yep, I should be the nominee!!!!

    MAKES SENSE TO ME!!!! lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

    May 19, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  11. Buffalo

    Those Hillary supporters who would not vote for Obama, Please don't vote for him. We don't need your votes. I pray you feel even worser than what a majority of Americans are feeling with this horrible economy. Support Mccain if you may. I do hope you don't regret your decision.

    May 19, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. PhD in NJ

    I can't wait to see the "where's the beef" commercials. Will we ever find out what kind of "change" Obama wants? Trading Obamabots for the Bushies? That's not real change, certainly not change I can believe in. With Buffet's support, Obama certainly won't change how the rich get richer. How is he going to change the way Washington does business – get rid of his biggest Washington supporters like Byrd and Kennedy (the 2 longest sitting Senators)? What a scam! Where is the beef?

    May 19, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. Daniel Santos

    We're With Ya Barack!!

    Obama/American People '08

    May 19, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  14. Freida NYC

    Nobama,

    You are so right! I am a Hillary supporter, and my fiance is an Obama supporter. And I asked him the same question...tell me why you strongly believe Obama should be our next president? And, pathetically his best ans was "Obama says he is going to bring about change" So, to be fair, I then asked him...can you name one particular "change" and the details of it? Again, he said; "Just change, that's what we need in this country."

    Write in Hillary in the Fall.

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. tracker

    TELL THE TRUTH...WAKE UP...OBAMA IS A LIAR AND HAS BEEN ALL ALONG.....I HAVE BEEN A DEMOCRAT MY WHOLE LIFE AND THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I WILL VOTE FOR SOMEONE ELSE...YOU WANT TO BELIEVE IT IS HILLARY AND HER CAMP JUST SAYING IT... YOU NEED A REALITY CHECK...MICHELLE SHOULD STAY OUT OF POLITICS IF SHE CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT...OBAMA COMES OUT DEFENDING HER (WE HAVE HEARD THAT BEFORE) SEEMS TO ME HE IS ALWAYS TRYING TO GET OUT OF HIS LIES...NEXT THEY WILL TRY AND TELL US SHE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT REZKO OR REV. WRIGHT...YOU STILL DON'T GET IT...WE WILL NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA...IT ISN'T HILLARY SPLITTING THE PARTY...IT IS ALL OBAMA....NOT BLACK OR WHITE OBAMA...WE DO NOT LIKE OR TRUST HIM....OUR NEXT PRESIDENT WILL BE A TRUE AMERICAN....THAT LEAVES OBAMA OUT....

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. SUE FANCHER

    TEXAS;go hillary we stand behine you and bill,,We will not vote obama..Hes nice and handsome but he,s 2 young,,he need sometime to grow up,and then i will vote for him

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Dennis

    Senator Obama should be looking towards the November election. At the rate he is acquiring Super Delegates, it will not be long until he is officially the nominee. Once the last primaries close in June, I suspect the pace of Super Delegate endorsements will continue to increase. Senator Clinton cannot catch him in the count for pledged delegates. After tomorrow, she'll only likely have shrunk his lead by 15 delegates. Meanwhile, Senator Obama will be about 70-75 delegates away from claiming the nomination while Senator Clinton will be about 250 delegates away.

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Annette

    First let's settle all the talk about experience, if you have not been a president then you have no experience. If you are a 2nd term president then you have experience. Therefore, is Obama ready for the fall as prepared as he was for the primary.

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Peter Damoah-Afari

    Any living thing should count himself/herself/itself previledge to have the chance to witness the great things that are about to take place in the history of America and humankind.

    The dreams of Dr. King has been fulfilled in abundance. Barack Obama has done what so many Philosophers, Psychologists, Freedom Fighters, Men of God and Great Men of Our Civilisation have predicted.

    Most of the Pharaohs of Egypt were black, but in order not to portray the blackman as somebody with wisdom, historians and some people tried to cover up the influence of black Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. Reliable sources show that King Tut, the boy Pharaoh was black.

    Forgetting about all the cover ups, the truth that a blackman can do great things when given the opportinuty has seen the light of day. Barack Obama will redeem America and the entire world.

    God bless Obama!
    God bless America!
    God bless the white people who voted for Obama !!!
    God bless the entire universe!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. Nancy J

    Yes we can.....and as a 61 yr young white female....I am for Obama....so ladies, get over it and join the down fall of McCain/Bush policies, we will have a better canidate next time....we have learned a lot, but we need a person that her husband is not a ex-president with baggage,

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. Terrence (Winston Salem,NC)

    This is the Al Bundy stance as though he were saying to McCain, "LET'S ROCK!!"

    May 19, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. Tea Party

    Obama's ready for the fall, huh?

    What's he going to do, pummel McCain with a barrage of, "Hope and change, hope and change, hope and change?"

    I heard Obama say in his speech today that a McCain is running for "Bush's third term." That's a pretty funny comment, coming from someone who's running for Carter's second term. Think 1979 was bad? Stick around, 'cause you ain't seen nuttin' yet! 😉

    May 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  23. OBAMA SUPPORTER

    yes he can
    I will be glad when we have one nominee
    obama needs to get on to the general
    good luck
    welcome aboard clinton supporters

    May 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. MD Houston

    At least American's will have a few more months to figure out what this guy really stands for and believes in. Apparently the democrats don't care. They are much more concerned with Affirmative Action than policy.

    May 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Juliemn

    Moderate Dems will go to Moderate Mccain if Obama is the nominee, obama is scary, and part of the farleft radical extremist,as in the new Dem party, that we want NO PART OF

    THE DNC AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAVE SOLD OUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, ALONG WITH THEIR OWN SOULS.

    THEY ARE PATHETIC,SO I WILL BECOME A NEW DEM/REP

    May 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
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