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. Caryl

    Somethings even if true are better left unsaid. One of the very few mistakes and hopefully not a major mistake thus far made by the Obama Team.

    February 13, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. Natalie

    Obama is counting his chickens before they hatch.Hillary may be down but she's not out...yet.

    February 13, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Kim

    Are some American voters living with biases that eat out their hearts and hurt their health? Probably, but I would wager that most of these already plan to vote for Senator McCain. I would also wager that Senator McCain would prefer, along with me, that those voters decide without these ancient ridiculous hurtful biases.

    It is more than time for the body politic to become healthy and accept people on their merits instead of rejecting them on tribal differences. Look around you, read some international news and discover that tribalism is no more than a cancer. Has Belgium managed to create a governing coalition yet or are they still divided between the Flems and the French? Are the Scots still demanding separation from the English? Are the Palestinians and the Israelis still damaging (and perhaps destroying) the futures of their children? How about Kenya, which until recently was a bastion of civilization, spilling out of control because people are not of the same tribe? Enough tribalism, through that door lies chaos and the destruction of everything we hold dear - look at Senator Obama for who he is.

    Senator Obama is the right candidate, at the right time, with the right message for these United States of America. Americans only need to open their eyes and let in the light. Yes we can, America– believe it! Obama '08

    February 13, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Asonto Porvea

    In response to the above "Marcela", you sound very ignorant. If all you see is a black person running for president, that is simply racist. Come out the closet.

    February 13, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Prince Davis

    obama 08

    February 13, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Vic

    I'm a proud Texan for Hillary Clinton. My advice to all you "Obamas" is "don't count those chickens before they hatch." But more important than that, is "Remember the Alamo!"

    February 13, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. tmd

    Before you criticize David Plouffe, read the article again. He did not say Obama could capture the nomination before the convention either. With the current delegate total, if Obama won all of the remaining states by an advantage of 55% to Clinton's 45% he would still be over 300 delegates short of the nomination.

    February 13, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Lukas in Michigan

    I agree that is way too early to call the democratic race over.
    What worries me most is at this point I can't see how this race is going to end amicably. I know I would feel cheated if Obama loses now that he is so close to winning, but I all so see how those supporting Hillary would feel cheated if she lose since she is only some 40 delegates behind. Does anyone see a positive future for the democratic party after this highly competitive race? Or is everyone as scared as I am about the possibility of a rift in the democratic party?
    The only solution I can see is if one candidate withdraws to prevent this from happening.

    February 13, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Bjorn Pius

    America needs someone fresh, someone with new ideas, and not someone who has been brainwashed by the ol' Washington ways.

    Europe supports Obama, and so do I.

    America, ... you owe it to us !


    February 13, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Greg

    Don't be so cliche. The Alamo has nothing to do with this campaign. Anyone who brings it up, is trying to tie in history and reference because they lack the imagination to make a new story.

    February 13, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Cph9680

    Please don't get too cocky. We saw George Bush steal two elections and we know that HillBilly has about the same moral standards, I'm sure she's looking for a way to rig the primaries at this very moment

    February 13, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    Maybe Mr. Plouffe's comments are a little over confident. However, why don't Hillary supporters see the arrogance of suggesting that superdelegates would override the will of the people in favor of her? That is extremely cocky and dismissive of the voters. Senator Clinton only cares about the states that she wins. How much do you think she'll care about Texas or Ohio if she loses?

    February 13, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. Thom

    So far, in polls that have asked about the general election in November, Obama does better against McCain than Clinton does. While there is a rationale behind the idea that Clinton is a better general election candidate, this logic does not seem to be playing out. If anything, Obama seems to be a much stronger candidate, showing an ability to pull in typically Republican voters and, as I mentioned above, doing better in polls that pit him against Republicans.

    February 13, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. CW

    The talk is good Mr. Obama. The promises sound so tempting.....

    Scenario: Obama is president, yet, congress is still full of "status quo" politicians. Do you really believe that his "radical" views and policies will ever come to fruition? I'm also a little uncomfortable with his "willingness" to cozy up to Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela's leaders.

    February 13, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Educated Female

    Obama is the best choice...He has the integrity and ability to pull the two (or three if you recognize the Independents) parties together to work toward a common goal for the country.

    Don't you recall when Bill was in office, he lost the House and the Senate for democrats because of the constant issues surrounding him. He also made our country look weak and gave Osama bin Laden the ability to carryout 9/11. Wake up people.

    February 13, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Charles, Houston

    Texas for Hillary- don't count her out!

    February 13, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. ruby marshall

    Now, Hillary became the challenger and the underdog..
    Obama is VERY HAPPY as well as his fanatic supporters..
    The clock is still running, the wheels are still turning, it maybe
    Obama's turn to be at the top now while Hillary is iin the bottom,
    Who knows, if next primary it will be the other way around?

    February 13, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Randal

    I think Obama is a great canidate and would make a great president
    he is obviously a leader and can bring people together and that is very important in a leader.
    With that said, Hillary is the one for the job. She has the skills and resources to become a great president. When it comes down to her and Mccain, the specifics are gonna come out. And the Clintons are good at illustrating thier points.
    But remeber, Obama made it this far, thats saying something. He may have some tricks up his sleeve yet.

    February 13, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  19. Walt


    The Alamo was overrun. Just as Hillary will be. Go Obama!

    February 13, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Obama can't make decisions, Hillary can

    Jimmy Carter–considered to be the most ineffective Democratic President– suffered from bad decisions and a failure to decide. Considering Obama's track record in voting "present" and not making solid decisions, this is great cause for concern. As a New Yorker, I've seen Hillary in action, and she's amazing at making the hard decisions and getting things accomplished.

    February 13, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Ed

    Hillary wasn't even present yesterday in the Senate to vote against giving immunity to telecomm companies that sell us out and to vote on extending more rights to spy on us to the President. She couldn't even (on a day she was getting blown out) bother to stop by the Senate to vote on HUGE issues that are very important to most Democrats who care about civil liberties. Maybe she didn't vote "present" (a legitimate strategy in the Illinois legislature – that she's lying about) – but she didn't vote at all. Way to go Hillary – sell out our civil liberties for your fledgling campaign.

    February 13, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. mike williams

    Hillary , turn out the lights the party over all good thing must come to an end.

    February 13, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. someone help please

    I have been listening to all the victory speeches by Obama, Clinton, and McCain. I heard Clinton and Mccain always finish their speech with "God bless America", but Obama only says "thank you, thank you". Anyone could help clear up what is Obama's believing?

    February 13, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Jeff

    Can someone please tell me what is so special about Obama? He has the same view points as Hillary except when it comes time to vote on anything all he can do is say "Present" How excatly is that going to help this county? Also how can you strip a state of its delegates just because it moved up a date when they vote? The opinions of those people don't count just because of a simple date? How stupid is that!

    February 13, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. D for O


    As a proud Texan, maybe you can help me with a question I've had. Why is "Remember the Alamo" so a rallying cry? Didn't the Alamo fall to Mexican forces? I read that it stalled the forces, and was used as a rallying cry in the rest of the conflict, but really – if I want to remember something great about that conflict how about "Remember San Jacinto"? And how exactly does remembering a mission/fort that fell during a conflict apply to the 2008 election?

    February 13, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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