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

Obama, McCain camps say opponents can't catch them

 The Obama campaign said Wednesday it's nearly impossible now for Clinton to finish with more pledged delegates.

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. Daniel

    It's interesting that in this election cycle people would be making such bold statements. There is no way to predict what will happen. Best to let time tell and not be so aggressively optimistic.

    February 13, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. kathleen, illinois

    You Go Obama!!!!Yes we can!!!!Obama 2008

    February 13, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. ak

    Hillary can't balance her own budget, how is she going to balance ours? Unless she will loan us 500 Billion to help pay for the war she voted for, she has no business running our country. However, Obama has not won until he has won. If Obama supporters think that it’s a done deal, they will be less likely to go out and vote. That is the danger of being too cocky.

    February 13, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Matt

    Attention Barack Obama and David Plouffe: The American people will make that decision in the coming months. And when all is said and done, while you may still lead in "pledged" delegates, Hillary will lead in the popular vote and combined pledged and superdelegates.

    Can't wait to vote for Hillary here in PA!

    February 13, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. michael (Houston)

    Obama can deliver a great speech. Obviously he has studied MLK's speeches. However, he has no substance. If this fraud is elected, he will be a one term president, followed by a two term republican. Hillary is sincere , intellegent, hard working. She will get results. People like flashy new things, but never check under the hood. If they did with Obama, they would find nothing there. Go Hillary , if not, please save us McCain.

    February 13, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. JohnS

    Ofcourse, I want my "boss" to make me and my coworkers "feel good and hopeful." I do not care about someone's wealth of experience, I want someone who
    1. believes in me
    2. makes me "feel" good
    3. makes me feel hopeful
    4. brings all (or most) coworkers together to GET things done, and
    5. has good "moral judgment"
    6. challenges me to be the BEST that I could be

    that person, for now, is Obama!

    Experience is NOT enough to make me go back home, after work, to my family!!!

    Hillay wants a debate so that she could sit next to a decent, strong, and handsome young man. Debates are frankly useless; do your RESEARCH and read the position papers of these candidates and you can avoid boring debates!!!

    February 13, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Kathryn Irby - Metairie, LA

    Scott, the word is not "cocky", it's "self-confidence". Furthermore, while he's "not there yet", he may as well be! He is destined to become our next President, like it or not!

    The idea that Huckabee, much less McCain, could ever win over Obama is an absolute joke!! LOL!

    Kathryn Irby
    Metairie, LA

    February 13, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Craig

    It is a great race too early to call at this point. Obama is running a great campaign so far, but let's not get carried away yet and proclaim victory. Hilliary still has a lot of juice left and Bill is still on the campaign trail. The key for Obama is gaining more in-roads with the Hispanic and White women voter, where Hilliary is strong. We will need both to work together to take back the White House and get us out of all the messes Bush will leave behind. Still I am impressed Go OBAMA Go!

    February 13, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Majority Rule Moral Rule

    Of course these people do not know much about the Bible since they are in tune with the Koran but the Bible says Pride goes before the fall of a man. It will be too late when the Obama camp wakes up to find all the crossover voters have gone back to the Conservative camp for the sake of their families and their country!

    February 13, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Zach

    Obama's campaign manager is spinning the results. Camp Obama is soon going to realize that America is a multicultural nation. Getting votes from one segment of the population isn't going to cut it. Carrying states which are going to be in the Republican column in the general elections is good for show but has no substance, same as Obama's message of change.

    February 13, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. saire

    Obama is right, they cant catch the American people.

    Hillary is so pathetic. She should drop out.

    February 13, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Steph

    I support Huckabee staying in the race because people do need a choice and we do have the right to voice our opinions and what we are saying is, "John McCain, if you want our votes (now and in a re-election) YOU need to be more conservative!!!"

    As far as the Obama campaign goes, that was very foolish. Here we are, waiting, waiting, waiting to get a better understanding of where he stands on the issues and all he can do is brag and make conjectures that Hillary can't surmount a 25 delegate lead? Go ahead, Barak, just keep talking – we're listening...

    February 13, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Geri

    Where would Obama be without 90% of the black vote? Are they voting race or issues??

    February 13, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Christina

    It's time for Obama. It's time for change. America has spoken.

    February 13, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Justin

    Step aside Clinton or be thrown under the bus.

    February 13, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Limited Funding

    This is desperation...how many debates have there already been 18. And she still hasn't released her records for the so-called support she provided to her husband during his presidency. How do we really know where she stood on the issues?

    February 13, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |


    February 13, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Cherish

    Don't worry, Obama supporters, I will be knocking on wood for the next week after this stunning display of hubris.

    Sheesh. We want to project confidence and win, but we don't want to jinx it!

    February 13, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Christian, Tampa FL

    I'm an Obama supporter and while I think that his campaign is correct about this, I'm not sure that it's wise to put on the mantle of inevitability just yet.

    February 13, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. AJ

    More lies out of the Obama camp. Is it possible for Obama and his followers to tell the truth?

    If Obama gets the nomination, there will be a "Democrats for McCain" movement that will keep this dispicable human beuing out of the white house.

    February 13, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. pat

    if you put obama as the nomnee the republicans will wil win this race this is just what they want, they no they can beat obama, regardless what the polls say, its been there plan all along an the voters fell right into it colon powell will be his running mate an that an unstoppable ticket. your all fools , you are going to lose again because of your stupity. you need to look down the road an read the tea leaves, they set you up. vote hillary texas , ohio, wisconsin save are party dont lit them steal our election again like 2004

    February 13, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Omar

    While no campaign should take their success for granted, I think it's a worse sin to go back on your word, which Hillary has done by actively campaigning for the seating of delegates from primaries she refused to remove her name from the ballots of because - she said - they wouldn't count anyway.

    We have a choice between a candidate who will say anything and do anything to win, and a candidate with a campaign advisor who may be at worst guilty of getting ahead of himself.

    February 13, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Hope, OH.

    stop crying he was talking about PLEDGED delegates

    February 13, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Uncle Sam

    Why the rush to push an unknown and untested candidate into the role of commander-in-chief and leader of the free world? If Mr. Obama is as great as he presents himself to be, then a few more years in the Senate would provide the American people the opportunity to judge more clearly whether he is in fact the right man for the job.

    February 13, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. P. Joseph Walsh

    Dear Senator Obama, please put some clothes pins on the mouth of your Campaign Manager. America does not respond well, as a rule, to bragging or displays of egotism. There are some exceptions (Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali), but they had enough charm and talent to make people overlook their inflated sense of self. I walked 8 blocks on slick sidewalks in Baltimore to vote for you, had I read this statement before, I may have changed my mind. There are examples of people who are accomplished either through hard work or privelege who most Americans admire (Queen Elizabeth, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Gates). They all have one thing in common. They are humble.

    February 13, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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