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

    How arrogant! Let's do some math: 2,025 delegates needed for nomination, Obama with about a 20-25 delegate lead, and only a little over halfway to 2,025. It is this type of arrogance that will cause this candidacy to fail. Americans don't want arrogance in the White House, we have endured two terms of that with W. Obama, please stick to your message and don't count your chickens before they have hatched. It is very UN-Presidential of you.

    February 13, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. JR

    I support you Obama, but I wouldn't get so cocky if I were you.

    February 13, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Ace, MD

    I've been a life-long republican and now i have to admit that I have become an Obama-can The Republican side offers no good choice, adn well I simply can't vote for Billary. I hope Obama picks a sensible VP (edwards woudn't be a bad pick)

    February 13, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Harry Tubman

    I am a life-long Democrat living in Virginia. I have never voted for a Republican for President in my life (8 national elections). I voted for Obama yesterday and will vote for him again in the national election. If HRC gets the nomination, I will vote for McCain in the national election. There are many white gentlemen here who will vote as I will.

    February 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Nick

    That may be one of the boldest statements I've heard from Mr. Plouffe. Hope its true!

    February 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Joe

    Please don't get ahead of yourselves. Keep focused. These are the Clintons we're talking about, not some neophyte politico. They are the most skilled political force in years, and really haven't lost anything yet. I'm all for Obama and I just donated again, but just don't get complacent – and don't underestimate the lengths to which the Clintons may go in times of desperation. I don't mean for that to be a disparaging remark about the Clintons, I'm just saying...she has been the "presumptive" nominee for over a year now and it only now begins to slip through her fingers? It was reported that in all their planning and preparation, they NEVER ONCE considered an exit strategy. NEVER ONCE contemplated not being the nominee. NEVER ONCE allowed for the possibility that her crowning as nominee would be derailed by another candidate. If your YEARS of comprehensive planning never even contemplated the possibility of falling short for the nomination, then this whole thing has to be a HUGE shock. They're liable to try anything – and the Obama people need to be prepared for it.

    February 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. roy

    this is not just an election. this is a movement......a movement the people who have been so long shut out finally have. this is finally a time the people get to take part in the government. nobody better watches out for the people but the people. back door capital hill deals can now be a thing of the past. take part in the OBAMAMANIA that calls for the people to choose their own destiny.......a destiny to stop poverty, poor education, war, greenhouse gases, under the table deals, corruption and a weak economy. join this movement now!

    February 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Go Obama

    And for the Hillary supporters who will try to argue this like crazy- Obama's campaign manager is right- she can no longer win outright by number of delegates, that was his message.

    It's not personal, it's just business...

    February 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Steve Miles

    CNN: That map showing who took whther Clinton or Obama took each state is as poorly thought out as last week's headline that the Democrat's race was deadlocked.

    The issue is not number of states, it is number of delegates. Clinton's wins are thiner than Obama's. Because of population density among other things, land area has nothing to do with conveying the magnitude or nature of support.

    You might consider going to some retired campaign experts instead of political pundits to help you understand and communicate the dynamics of campaigns.

    February 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Donny,CantonOH

    STOP OBAMA!!! This is the most unqualified, inexperienced peson that has ever run for the presidency. He's almost as frightening as George W. Bush!

    February 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Chris

    I'm a Hillary supporter, but it looks like it might be time to jump ship. I thought you were the candidate Hillary, but there's no way I can support a candidate who has less elected delegates!

    Democrats '08!

    February 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Rachel P. - CA

    I'm a big Obama supporter, but I think it's really dangerous to say that Clinton can't catch them. She will stay and fight this to the end I think, and there's still a lot more to go. He's winning right now, but not by a huge margin. Let's keep acting like we're behind, and then we can say we've won when we get those 2000+ delegates.
    As the saying goes, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."

    February 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. jill american

    Sad day.

    I don't see much difference between McCain and Obama – two Christian Conservatives that kanoodle with religious hate mongers.

    February 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Msstep

    I think they should be careful what they say...nothing is over until it's over and 25 pts. are NOTHING!

    February 13, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. JA Cook

    Go Hillary!

    I really mean it, GO!

    And take Bill with you.

    February 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Angelica Barrios

    the media has given obama a free ride, why dont they look harder at his record, plus his message is only hope, but no substance.

    February 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. sivananthi

    OBAMA can say anything and can getaway with that because he doesn^t get into controversies………………

    LOOK AT Obama's voting record

    IT^S SO EASY *******************"



    AFTER 4 YEARS ….

    YES WE CAN………………..

    February 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Nate

    I hope Hillary likes the taste of dirt and dust.

    February 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. Jessica Sharp, in Maryland

    David Plouffe, I'm on your side, but please – shut your mouth. People who make such projections tend to end up eating a lot of crow later on. Please don't jinx us!

    February 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. Bradd Anderson, Columbia, MO

    Careful...no one likes an arrogant winner, especially before they have won. We all remember how "inevidable" Hillary's victory was. Show humility, stick to your message, and everything should be ok.

    February 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. NCB

    The Race is not over! Wake up Obama Followers. I had rented this documentary recently of Jonestown, because we know a close family member of Jim Jones and were curious ,I was young when this happened.. I then had been reading all of these blogs that had comments about Jonestown and I must say, the Simularities are HUGE. (Though I do not think Obama is a whacko who would make everyone drink kool aid or some other weird things that he did) But,. as the movie says Jones attracted followers by his sermons/speeches and made everyone feel that "they" were special. He used a lot of WE can make the difference, We can Believe, WE, WE, WE. Rent the movie. Or read the book.

    February 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Means and Ends

    I am voting for Obama, but don't think it is a great idea for Plouffe to start declaring victory already.

    On Michigan and Florida, I don't think it is right for them to be left out of the convention. I also don't think it is right to count them as they are now – being as they are the result (in Michigan's case) of a system that had only Clinton and Kucinich on the ballot and (in Flroida's case) a beauty pageant basaed on name recognition with no campaigning allowed. Something has to be done to either re-run primaries are hold less expensive caucuses. HRC campaign won't like either – especially the latter – but I think if we step away from the rhetoric of supporting our respective candidates unconditionally, we can probably come together to find a fair way to avoid disenfranchizing all those voters while allowing a fair contest to be held in those states.

    February 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Becky

    let Bo say what ever he wants
    Quite arrogant to imply that Hillary doesnt stand a chance
    If she said the same of him She and Bill would be called racist
    Lets wait and see whats left of Bo once the republicans go after him and his mate
    He has agree to 2 debates out of the requested 5
    What is he so afraid of??A great speaker he is as long as he is doing all the talking
    In a debate he stutters searching for words and over talks every one in an attempt to avoid answering straight up questions
    Will the host ask him about his mates latest comments about the Clintons
    Will the hosts have the back bone to ask him if he can control his mate who seems to think she is Jackie Kennedy?
    Will they ask him about his mates having to think about supporting Hillary should she be the nominee??

    February 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. ben


    February 13, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. jclife

    If the democratic party adds MI. & Fl. Hillary would be in the lead!

    February 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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