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. shane

    did my first coment not make it thru CNN?

    February 13, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. 4 Obama

    Who cares about the Alamo.... get out of the past.... we are looking toward the future. Times have changed and we need to change with it.
    Our time has come. Either you are with us or you are against us.
    Its time to be proactive and be part of the solution not the problem. Broke politics is the problem – Obama is the solution!

    Hillary doesn't give a hill a beans about her supporters personnally... she just wants your vote. Well she isn't getting mine. I want someone with intergrity in the office.

    "A test of leadeship in my mind cannot be judged by whats on a paper resume" BO

    February 13, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Gary

    I find it interesting at this stage of the nominee process that the super delegates have supported Clinton as much as they have, given the popular vote, states won, pledged delegates show Obama ahead and growing support. Whats up with that ?

    February 13, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    There's a reason Obama consistently wins with the most highly educated. He's the smart person's president. Get over the Clintons! Also, we don't have a queen or king in the United States...Ms. Pineda's comment about "ruling" the U.S. This country is in no position to regress. We don't need Queen "off with their heads" Hillary!

    February 13, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. I.D.

    Well said, Doug.

    Has anyone noticed Obama's consistent use of the word "our," to precede words like "...moment," "...country," etc? Whereas, Hillary, repeatedly uses the phrase, "My America"?

    Obama is clearly determined to lead "our country" toward REALiZinG the iDeALs upon which this nation was founded, but that have become so far removed from practical reality. Hillary is an ambitious woman who, no matter how capable, is more concerned with what winnning the Presidency will mean to "her" place in U.S. history, than she is in government "for the people by the people."

    If America elects any President other than Obama... It will get exactly what it deserves; just like it did for electing Bush to a 2nd term.

    February 13, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. kb

    I'm taking it mathematics isn't Obama's strong suit. McCain actually has a solid mathematical argument, Obama's got "hope". Maybe when teachers start going downhill with Obama's "merit pay" plan (see the 1980s in CA) we can all "hope" our kids understand mathematics and science.

    February 13, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Jared

    I'm an Obama supporter but a little confused. I didn't realize he voted for the funding of the Iraq war up until recently? Is that true? I thought he was against the war? I'm really confused.

    February 13, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. RC

    You can fall in love with Obama all you want, but just remember if he becomes president, your pay check will be much lower. In shock you will say "they can't do this", and Obama's reply will be "yes we can".

    February 13, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Carol

    When Hillary was slightly ahead it was a dead heat, now that Obama is slightly ahead hes the frontrunner

    February 13, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Craig of Salisbury

    This primary isn't over yet. There is still time and delegates enough to change the outcome. At this time, the outcome is more favorable to Obama than it is to Clinton, but if the energy that keeps the 'movement' strong begins to wane then the outcome could shift toward Clinton. I do not think that likely, but it could happen.

    Even a subtle shift could force the issue to the super-delegates. That could be a dangerous development. If the super-delegates usurp the voice of the people then we may find that the super-delegates will be responsible for the loss of the general election (don't forget what a disruptive convention can do to an election–remember '68?). The best bet is for the super-delegates to cast their vote in a way that reflects the will of the voter.


    February 13, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. Andrea - Texas

    Senator Clinton is not going to "bow" out of anything. Remember, the race is not over yet. A lot of major changes could take place.

    Senator Clinton is not a quitter.

    We are with you Senator Clinton.

    February 13, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Andrea - Texas

    Senator Clinton has strong supporters in Texas. Don't underestimate her.

    Good Luck, Senator Clinton.

    February 13, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. v.ananthan

    If I want to invest , I will be looking for an experienced economist..

    If I want a teacher for my kids I will look for "experienced teacher."...

    If I am very ill I will look for "experienced doctor..".

    If I want a military commander I will prefer experienced COMMANDER .....

    But If I want a commander- in -chief NO NEED OF EXPERIENCE,
    good speecehes are ENOUGH...

    February 13, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. david

    Obama is making fools out of all of you...and his manager is wrong too.

    February 13, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. S.S

    Blaming 9/11 on Bill Clinton is simply ridiculous.

    February 13, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Ovitshio Branco

    Why are my comments still awaiting moderation? There is no

    inappropriate language. Are you also trying to bias the political

    tickers in favor of your candidate, Clinton???

    February 13, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Larry

    Obama is a good preacher, I mean speaker. Long on the ra ra speeches, promising everything to everyone. Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, any plans of substance to base his plethora of promises on.

    Politicians who motivate are a dime a dozen during election campaigns. People get caught up in their motivational skills and are deeply disappointed after the eclection is over.

    Careful my American friends, you will get what you vote for.

    Vote for substance and plans, not speeches and all inclusive promises!

    February 13, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Richard Butler - Atlanta, GA

    This is the fourth time I have tried to leave a comment on the political ticker, and the fourth time that my comment has not been posted- what do I have to do differently? Why does it always say that my comment is being moderated for two days, while thousands of other people post silly things like, "Obama is a loser".

    February 13, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Obama Looser

    Obama will going to loose at the end..................... He do not have experience...............

    February 13, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. Chris

    Yes, Hillary's experienced in working the political machine and battling with the right. Basically the Dem version of Bush. I don't know how Democrats can call Bush a hated liar, and now they're backing the Clintons.

    Let's restore nonpartisan respect to the Oval Office, and prove America doesn't HAVE to be run by the SAME FAMILIES for two decades - that we have brains and a new name can break through.

    February 13, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. Joe

    Hey Jared, Obama was against the war before he was for the war! Yes, he has supported the war from the time he entered the Senate by approving bills to finance it. Unfortunately, not many of his supporters probably realize this because he's too busy preaching "yes we can".

    February 13, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. mitchell in alaska

    i think it is important to remember that Obama's camp is speaking about pledged delegates not super delegates. It will be hard for Clinton to catch him in pledged delegates.

    Its time for change.

    Obama '08

    February 13, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. Audrey

    Obama supporters are in more of the fantacies. Like picking celebraties whom they like... No need for a substance or issues... Wake up people!! This is a country that needs solutions for real people. That's why I'm supporting Hillary 100% all the way.

    February 13, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    CNN why can't I post a comment?

    February 13, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. KB

    Next week on "Survivor – White House"

    Obama holds tight to his immunity idol, but will it hurt his chances to compete in Tribal Council?
    Can Hillary win the final endurance challenge to face Mc Cain and take Obama's immunity?
    Huckabee trying to outwit and outplay McCain?
    Will there be a shakeup in alliances?
    Will Ron Paul stay on Exile Island?

    Tune in next week...

    February 13, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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