February 13th, 2008
12:10 PM ET
13 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. Newton

    "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."

    This statement should send a shiver down every American's back. Hillary Clinton is fine with subverting the will of the people. Now do you believe she's only in this for herself?

    Also, the DNC is not going to change the rules in midstream by seating the delegates from MI and FL just to please a losing candidate. This egomaniac is willing to do anything to win.

    I'm not wild about Obama, but in this case he's by far the lesser of two evils.

    February 13, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. DJJ

    Mohammed, Don't be upset over the comments. There is a good reason that Mr. Plouffe made those comments, it wasn't based on arrogants, it's based on polls. That's how campaigh managers come up with their strategies. I am personally very impressive with the excellent job Mr. Plouffe had done. They are usually right on the money. They are quick to admit when Obama may not do well in a certain state as well.

    February 13, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Scott M.-Kalamazoo, MI

    Don't get too cocky Mr. Plouffe, you're not there yet and better campaigns than yours have gone up in smoke with much less cockiness.

    February 13, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Terri

    I do agree with McCain's people that Mr. Huckabee can't catch up. I do respect his determination and will, but agree that it is time for him to bow out gracefully. However, it is WAY too early to say the same about Hillary Clinton (much as I's like to). Obama is way ahead in pledged delegates, but there are still several states left, plus the superdelegate factor.

    February 13, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Miss H

    I understand what you mean Mohammed Anjorin.

    I think that Mr. Plouffe's confindence in their campaign (Obama's) could be viewed as arrogance. I think he's pushing it a bit by saying that it is it “next to impossible” for Clinton to capture the Democratic nomination. That's funny though ... we'll see whether or not this is true.

    Obama '08

    February 13, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Viv

    Hillary went after the black vote until the voters made their statement that they want change and black voted for Obama. Now she is going after the latinos ,until they too go for Obama. She'll abandon them as well. Hillary is for Hillary and her biggest concern is not the country , it is the clintons dynasty and their return to the white house. I really have an issue with their agendas and their carelessness about the american people, they just want they want.

    February 13, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Greg

    I agree with that Mohammed. I'm a little put off by these comments. I wish they would just keep going like they have been. There is no reason to rub it in, and in fact that's the kind of politics we don't want in the White House, and the reason we're voting Obama. Reel in your people Obama, don't give Hillary a reason to rally her troops.

    February 13, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. PilotLight

    All he says is change change change change change change...blah blah blah. It's all talk and no action.

    February 13, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Helen Ramatowski

    Obama has obvious momentum, and people want change. No more political dynasties & "politics as usual." Mrs. Clinton mismanaged her secretive and undemocratic effort to establish health care reform in the l990's, and she is not offering a realistic scenario now for coverage for everyone by mandate and regulation. The votes won't be there, nor will the funding materialize. We not only need a Democratic president not beholden to lobbyists, but a Democratic majority in the Congress. Then, and only then, will we get fiscal responsibility, a few major clearcut legislative priorities (not a laundry list), and attention to the longterm needs of the country & society. This country needs to get its groove back, and concentrate on the future, not repackaging the past.

    February 13, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. JoeA - NJ

    For democrats to win the White House, they need Obama and not Billary to go against McCain. McCain will lose because of the unpopular president and all the mess we're in. It will be a status quo of th eold policies. But if democrats nominate Billary, they will lose the White House since she is a polarizing figure, and not liked by many independents, and the younger generation. Obama represents a 'movement' hard to describe, and not just a candidacy. Obama will be the ONE.

    February 13, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. laura

    This race is far from over. How can anyone say that Obama is too far ahead for Hillary to catch up. That is nonsense. There are many more states that have not voted. Hillary and Obama will probably be so close that neither one will have enough delegates to win the nomination. They will have to work something out.

    Hillary for President, Obama as VP. Actually I think Obama would make a better Press Secretary because he is a great speaker. He is all talk, no action. He sounds like he is running for president of the student council. The republicans are going to destroy him if he gets the nomination. This is not American Idol, this is serious and our country has major problems that needs someone to fix them, and that person is Hillary Clinton.

    February 13, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. John Hummel

    @American: Pul-eeze. How often are you going to drag out that tired old dog that won't hunt?

    You already know by now that the 29 "Present" votes that Mr. Obama gave in Illinois on abortion bills meant "No". You probably likely know that under Illinois senate rules, "Present" means "No". You also likely know by now that Planned Parenthood asked Illinois Dems to vote "Present" instead of "No", in order to help pro-choice Dems and even Republicans kill the bills without having to face anti-choice forces back in their districts during an election year.

    You also likely know that both Chicago NOW and Illinois Planned Parenthood thanked Mr. Obama for his actions, and gave him a perfect rating on the issue of supporting a woman's right to choose.

    So, if you still want to drag out "Duh, he voted Present", then you can do so. The only person that you're fooling, however, is yourself if you think that tired and frankly silly attack has any weight with anyone.

    February 13, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. Nugent

    Doesn't that mean that its impossible for Obama to win the nomination too? They're only 25 delegates apart. He'd have to win every contest by the same margins, and just because its happened a couple times this month, it doesn't mean its going to happen again.

    The Obama campaign is getting overconfident. 😛

    February 13, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Phli

    Somebody better wake up and stop obama with a middle name like mohamed people better start thinking is there something to it. If he wins we may all me on our knees praying to mecca or have our heads chopped off for not doing it. My vote is for McCain.

    February 13, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. wisdom002

    All I have to say is that: this is the time of change, and let new faces, new blood enter the white house. We're so tired of dynasty. All these big names are reserved for the past. Give Obama or McCain the chance to be breath the air in the White House. Hillary has to step aside because she won't catch Obama. Trust me.

    February 13, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Josh

    Hillary doesn't really need to catch Obama. The Clintons run the DNC. And I have 3 words for Obama: "Michigan and Florida". HIllary won those states hands down, and yeah, they don't count because the DNC has stripped those states of their delegates. And yeah... Obama wasn't even on the ballat. But again, the Clintons own the DNC. So... Don't be surprised to see a fignt from Clilnton when she loses to get the delegates to count. Just you wait and see. Don't count your chickens quite yet Obama... I think you've forgotten who you're dealing with.

    February 13, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Annamica, OH

    Obame is jumping the gun. The man is only 25 delegates ahead of Clinton. He's starting to sound more like McCain saying Huckabee doesn't stand a chance, except McCain's statement makes a lot more sense. Ever heard the phrase, don't count your chickens until they've hatched Senator Obama?

    February 13, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. Susan

    I don't understand why Senator Clinton can down play the African-American vote because the majority are not voting for her. She plays up the Latino vote however, the firing/resignation of Patti Solis Doyle was really stupid move. On top of that the resignation of Mark Henry further sounds the death nell of the Clintons' campaign. Senator Clinton also discusses the importance of Blue States vs Red States or winning caucus vs non caucus states. I never heard Senator Obama using excuses for losing. Her rhetoric will divide the country, where Senator Obama's words or hope and inspiration bring us together.

    The Clintons are old news and bad news. 20 years of Clinton/Bush is enough.

    His time and our time as one people is now.

    February 13, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. lorraine farrell

    i hope obama wins because he said its time for change and he speaks the word

    February 13, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Steve Biko

    I think Obama's campaign manager should stop speculating on future results and focus on the tough fight that Billary will surely wage...
    The work done so far is not complete ... if it ain't broke don't fix it.Keep up with the good work .Go Obama !

    February 13, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Dottie

    Obama is a breath of fresh air in the stale politics of Washington.
    We've had too many years of Clinton's and Bush's in the White House. I believe that Obama is the better candidate to reach across all lines and bring us back to a place where we can once-again be proud to be Americans!

    We do not need Bill back in the White House . . . I don't care what they call him! It would be a dual-presidency because he'd be calling a lot of the shots. No way!

    Hilary was smug enough to believe, right from the start, that her candidacy was a given. Well, it's not! And, thank goodness, the country is speaking!

    As for experience, Obama has plenty! The only experience that Hilary has that he does not have is that she has slept with a president. Well, maybe not. But she could have if she had wanted to.

    February 13, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Mary

    Hillary will kick Obama's buttocks big time in Texas. He needs to stop talking as if he's the preemptive nominee – this is a crafty strategy – but it's not reality. Place your bets on Hillary winning the Texas Hold Em showdown.

    February 13, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Dale

    Relax Obamacrats! This is a very strategic move and not a case of over confidence at all. By pointing out that it is almost mathematically impossible for Hillary to catch up they are telling the super delegates that now is the time to get on board with the winning candidate. If they don't then they risk being seen as back room saboteurs denying democratic voters their legitimate candidate. The sooner this race is over the sooner we can focus on the general election and take out 100 Year War McCain.

    February 13, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Phil

    Why don't you let my comment run? Are you afraid?

    February 13, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Karen from Minnesota

    Please bloggers: do not equate some of the wins with winning in the electoral college. Yes Obama won in some "red" states but his does not mean that he will win this state in November.

    Republicans know how to win and they will do all they can to get out the vote and use negative campaigning re the Democratic nominee.

    Denver doesn't end the campaigning...it starts it and the stakes greaten, the money increases and the dirty tricks will be seen everywhere.

    I worked on the Kerry campaign and I was amazed at what people did during the campaign.

    let the games begin! Hope you're ready Obama...no more Mr. Niceguy or they'll drive right over you.

    February 13, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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