February 13th, 2008
12:10 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama, McCain camps say opponents can't catch them

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/13/art.obamadel.ap.jpg caption=" The Obama campaign said Wednesday it's nearly impossible now for Clinton to finish with more pledged delegates."](CNN) - As the all-important delegate chase continues, the campaigns of presidential frontrunners Barack Obama and John McCain argued Wednesday that it was now just about mathematically impossible, or already so, for rivals Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee to capture their parties’ presidential nominations.

On a Wednesday morning conference call with reporters, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said that the Illinois senator’s own sweep of Tuesday’s Potomac primaries had made it “next to impossible” for Clinton to capture the Democratic nomination.

The most recent CNN count of Democratic delegates puts Obama ahead of the New York senator, 1,215 to 1,190, a gap of just 25 delegates. That includes both pledged delegates who are distributed proportionately according to election results in their state, and unpledged superdelegates who have made their presidential preference known. Superdelegates are free to cast their vote without regard for the primary or caucus results in their home states.

This cycle, the party’s nominee will need to capture 2,025 delegates. The campaigns of both Clinton and Obama have said that, whatever the upcoming results, both are planning to stay in the race through the national convention, when delegates cast their votes.

But the upcoming primary calendar, said Plouffe, offers Clinton little chance to recover the lead. “The only way she could do it is by winning every contest by 25 to 30 points. You amass delegates by winning by big margins,” he said.

He said that scenario was unlikely, since Obama had won 14 states and the District of Columbia by more than 20 points, while Clinton had won just two states by similar margins. And polling in the upcoming, delegate-rich contests of Ohio and Texas – which the Clinton campaign has said are “critical” – show a far narrower race in both states.

If she does not regain a lead in pledged delegates, she would need to capture an overwhelming majority of superdelegates in order to become the Democratic nominee. Plouffe argued that is unlikely, since superdelegates have begun to say publicly they are reluctant to overrule the results of the pledged delegate count coming into the party’s August convention.

The Clinton campaign has said that the leader in pledged delegates will not necessarily be the party’s nominee, as superdelegate votes have equal weight in the Democratic nominating process. The campaign has also said they will fight to seat delegations from Michigan and Florida, which were stripped of their voting privileges for violating party rules in scheduling their presidential primaries.

Clinton was the only major Democratic candidate to appear on the ballot in Michigan, and she won the votes in both states. On Tuesday, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond also called for the Florida and Michigan delegations to be seated at the Democratic convention.

In a campaign memo sent to reporters, McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis said the Arizona senator’s wins in Tuesday’s Potomac primaries in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. had put the presidential nomination out of reach for Huckabee, saying that the former Arkansas governor needed more delegates than the number up for grabs in the remaining GOP contests.

Davis said there are only 774 delegates available in remaining votes. According to the latest CNN count, Mike Huckabee has 217 delegates – leaving him 974 votes short of the party’s requirement of 1,191. McCain currently has 812, leaving him just 379 delegates short of the mark.

McCain, the likely Republican nominee, won all three contests Tuesday night – but dealt with another uncomfortably close race, as conservatives flocked to Huckabee in Virginia. The senator has struggled to win over his party’s conservative base for much of his presidential run.

Huckabee has said he is committed to staying in the race at least until one of the candidates actually reaches the required mark of 1,191.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (355 Responses)
  1. Jazz

    Hear that TX ,OH and PA. No need to vote. Obama has it won already.
    Who's taking you for granted now? Obama obviously doesn't need your votes nor Hillary supporter's votes in November either.
    Eight words for the Obama campaign:

    Independent Senator Joe Lieberman
    President John Mccain

    February 13, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Jessyca

    Obama has more senate experience than Hillary. He has more experience working for people than McCain....his "experience" is war experience. Obama has rallied the American people. This is amazing. Most Americans lost trust in the democratic system after the two faulty elections.....2000-too many chads 2004--"lost votes"-–potentially, 2008-the superdelegates have spoken. The peoples' votes have not counted for years. Utter mayheim and chaos will break out if the people vote for Obama and Clinton wins.....another election dictated and determined by the elite few.

    February 13, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. Mary

    Obama is going to have egg on his pretty face when Texas, Ohio and Pennyslvania go for Hillary! Hillary = True Grit. Obama = Pie In The Sky

    February 13, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Violence

    There we go again with the threat of violence if Mr. Obama does not get in. Gore had the popular vote and still lost the election – you did not see people take to the streets because of it. Really – give up your scare tatics. Obama is not making anyone walk on egg shells either.

    Hillary is strong, smart, decisive, approachable, open to ideas on both sides, a diplomat and loves her country. She is proud to be an American, proud to be a public servant, has respect for our flag and what it stands for, respects the men and women in uniform and proudly ends her speeches with God bless you and God bless America. She will defend us and do all in her power to keep us safe. She will also do all in her power to bring this country good health care and jobs and good education to all. She will fight and go the distance for all of us. She can stand on her own two feet – now this is someone I would want as President defending my country.

    Hillary for President

    February 13, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. June for Hillary

    I have a lot of hope and dreams for our country, and I strongly believe that Hillary is the one who can really make it happen.

    February 13, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
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