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. HILLARY OR MCCAIN

    STEVE MC....

    There's a better picture out there of Obama.... You know the one with his hands in his pockets during the pledge of allegiance. It is hillarious. Hillary and Bill Richardson are stading in the backgroud with their hands over their hearts and Obama has his hands in his pockets.

    I can't wait until that picture is a 527 advertisement and I can hear the background music... Oh, Rev Wright preaching God D#MN America...

    This is getting good.... Obamabots=fools

    May 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  2. Richard

    IF obama becomes president, and says he'll reach across to republicans and work with them, why not? Just why not, Have Senator John McCain as his Sec. of Defense. That would solve any and all concerns of Obamas foriegn policy weakness. Now that would be a TICKET to see.

    May 19, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. Daniel, WA

    Obama, did you get any message from kenya.. Don't you want to visit them there.. Better to be KLenyan president. There is a vacancy there...

    May 19, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Frosty

    She is a fighter, I giver her that. Let her finish off the race even though it's already been decided since he won Wisconsin.

    I gotta say West Virginia is a laughable state. That explains why they are less educated and less wealthy than most of the states. Once they learn to deal with political and economical issues (instead of discriminating on basis of skin color), they might see some development in infrastructure and intelligence.

    Los Angeles, CA.

    May 19, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. White Guy for Obama

    Being First Lady of Arkansas and the US does not give one experience. If not mistaken, she has been in the Senate 1 year more than Obama. Is that the experience people speak of?

    Hillary has shown that she is ruthless and cut throat and will do anything to get back in the White House. Don't ya'll remember the last time she left the White House? Stealing stuff that didnt belong to her. She will say and do anything to cater to the needs of the audience she is trying to reach.

    All of those willing to jump ship and vote for McCain in the Fall, do know that your vote will be a vote for 4 more years of Bush's failed policies. Obama and Hillary are more alike than McCain and Hillary. Wake up people and quit whining and back the Democratic nominee. The only good thing Hillary has said in recent weeks was that she planned on uniting the party with the eventual nominee. Her supporters should do the same.

    Obama '08
    YES WE CAN! AND WE WILL!

    May 19, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. The Other Campaign Strategist From 115th St & Amsterdam Ave

    Mr. Obama has been saying that Senator Clinton has been "a formidable competitor" for at least 6 weeks now. I don't thik the words signify a shift.

    He has bested her without being divisive. He has laid a foundation for reconcilliation within the party ... That's what we call SMART...

    What we all see is that despite claims that he would be "eaten alive" by the GOP's mean machine, we see that he knows when and where to pick his fights ... Team Obama will outmanuerver the McCain team.

    May 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Burned Christians in Kenya

    A. P. May 19th, 2008 5:06 pm ET

    From New York City:

    Obama has always been ready. He is ready. And he will remain ready for all.

    What kind of question is it?

    This election is about the young people. Those old politics must end and they will end when Obama becomes our next president!
    ===================================

    He isn't ready for crap!!!

    You tell me what he's done in his political career?

    NOTHING, except vote present in the senate over 130 times.

    May 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. TEO

    Just say it Barack. "It's over Clintons go back to Arkansas where someone may want you. They sure don't want you in NY now either."

    May 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. Linned

    For those of you on the blog calling Senator Obama arrogant – do you know the difference between arrogrance and confidence. If Senator Clinton had the numbers in pledged delegates and the "real" popular vote and became the nominee – I am confident that all of the Senator Obama supporters would have voted for her.

    May 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Daryl

    any chances of him picking rev wright as his running mate?

    May 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Thomas

    “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.

    <<THIS

    May 19, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Sue P / PA

    It is falling on deaf ears because it is not Fact Hillary... Please do us all a favor and bow out with some semblence of dignity. Your campaign surrogates and financial backers have stooped so low. Your latest financial backer tries to bribe superdelegates... Glad he has 1 million dollars to throw away. Tell him to pay your 20 million plus debt off.

    Clinton supporters and Republicans pretending to be Clinton supporters.... Obama WILL win against McCain......with or without your vote!!!

    Our new President.........Obama 08 and 12

    May 19, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Mr. Anson From NY

    If anybody is a democrat, regardless of Hillary or Obama, you should support the party. If you feel you have to go the other way just because you r preferred onr does not get the nominee, then you're not a true democrat and democrat does not need you either.

    It's time for unity!
    It's time to fight the big fight!
    And the time is now

    Democrat 2008

    May 19, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Raihan Islam

    I am still really concerned as to why people would vote for McCain over Obama if they would vote for Clinton over Obama. The logic makes no sense as both Clinton and Obama share almost identical policy positions. You would vote for the president based on personal traits? Think again before Congress and the Supreme Court have to deal with the next executive branch.

    May 19, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. noemi in los angeles

    Fired up, Ready to go!!

    Democrats in the White House 08!!

    May 19, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Beltway Insider

    Operation Chaos is still in effect.

    Do not get played for a fool by the republicans.

    Most of the democratic 'infighting' consists of republican plants posing as democrats.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for 4 more years of Bush, or worse.

    Don't let yourself get used and deceived.

    Vote Democrat '08

    May 19, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. george

    Carmen, Just to enlighten you from your deep sleep. He didn't beat Bill and Hill the Media and all of the Clinton haters beat Hillary. This guy had nothing but a free ride. I'm not one of those so called republicans who is sabotaging the blog. I was a long time Democrat that has now switched to Independant. I'm going too just sit back and laugh when the DEMS loose. McCain is a fellow veteran that most of you far left liberals would know nothing about. At least he served when called upon. I wonder if Obama would have done the same. Something tells me the answer is NO. I'm supporting my fellow Veteran. Was "Hillary 08" now I'm "McCain 08"

    May 19, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. Venus

    Way to go Bam!

    Hillary's supporters are just like Hillary!

    Obama – don't worry about Mc Cain – Americans want you and change!

    A few more weeks – Hillary will completey out of the media!

    May 19, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Not so fast.

    Jesse Ventura got elected GOVENOR with only 37% of the vote.

    Obama has won nothing.

    An independent could walk away with it.

    May 19, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. Burned Christians in Kenya

    A. P. May 19th, 2008 5:06 pm ET

    This election is about the young people. Those old politics must end and they will end when Obama becomes our next president!
    =====================

    See educate yourself.

    Don't you know it was the old school Dems that handpicked Obama back in 2004 for DEANS DOZEN. GOOGLE IT "DEANS DOZEN"

    That is why they are all backing Obama, and thrown Hillary to the curb.

    May 19, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Sidney P.

    He will win by a landslide!!!!! TEXANS FOR OBAMA!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Burned Christians in Kenya

    OLD POLITICS AS USUAL.

    May 19, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. Mar

    HE CAN'T WIN, HE WON'T WIN, HE WILL BE TOAST BY THE END OF THE CONVENTION. NOBAMA, NO WAY.

    May 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. Unbelievable

    Bye Bye Hillary – its time for you to go on home. You have fought the tough fight, there is not denying that, but no amount of creative math is going to change the facts. Obama leads in total delegates, pledged delegates, super delegates, contests won, and yes – he even leads in total popular votes (if you count MI and FL Hillary, you must also count the estimates for the caucus sates – i.e. fair is fair). And Hillary, please, please go back and read the DNC Primary rules – i.e. 1) FL and MI do not count; 2) You must have a majority of delegates (i.e. – not popular vote, not electoral votes). Stop being a sore loser and start supporting the new leadership of the Democratic Party.

    May 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. That's right.

    Once upon a time, Minnesotans were frustrated with politicians. And they sent a big message to the Democratic and Republican parties. His name was Jesse Ventura.

    An independent could absolutely win this thing.

    May 19, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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