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. Jon

    I think it's amazing that Clinton and Obama are still so close, with the DNC taking away both Michigan and Florida away from Clinton. Had the Democratic party not established a clear favorite in Obama, Clinton would have been uncatchable.

    February 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. s.b.

    WOW that's spin! How about this? The democrats nominate a presidential candidate that didn't win any major state other than his own, including Texas, Pennsylvania, California, New York, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. You knnow what that's called?

    Political suicide.

    February 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. Elo

    Hmmmm Yeah...Clinton cant catch them hahahaha

    February 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. SC

    The arrogance of Obama's comments are a clear indication that, if he is elected,
    there will be NO CHANGE from the existing arrogance of the current administration.

    February 13, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. John Griswell

    The times they are a changing!

    Fired up and ready to go.

    February 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. David Jones

    "Our Time has Come" – Barack Obama

    We are marching on to TX and OH with our tsunami tidal wave to close the deal!




    GO OBAMA!!!

    February 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. Clinton

    GO GET'EM OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Brian

    Stick a fork in Hillary!

    February 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Dan Ruth

    ...I wish they wouldn't have said this. Obama was doing just fine WITHOUT having to issue such confident statements. Now, they've just given Hillary something to rally around!

    February 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. Gerry

    we already had a cheer leader for past 8 years; be careful what we wish for, else we will have one more with grand talk without substance...do not be bashful of Hillary....atleast for now let us wait and see the primary cycle end...I think Obama is full of enthusisam but no experience whatsoever...republicans for now are waiting for him to be the nominee and then tear him to pieces...so Democrats, be careful...sometimes enthusiasm out of sheer excitement may not mean much in the long run...

    February 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Christiaan, Norman

    Said I heard the words of the higher man say,
    "Babylon, you throne goin' down, goin' down
    Babylon, your throne goin' down."

    February 13, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Anson Ang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    To Barack Obama's Campaign Manager (PLEASE READ THIS SERIOUSLY)

    DO NOT, once again DO NOT be complacent with the wins recently. That old lady (Hilary Clinton) is still very close in terms of delegate count. Instead, you must QUADRUPLE your effort to make sure you lead that old lady with a huge margin in delegate count. NEVER GO EASY till that old lady is DEAD. Show NO MERCY TO HER and keep hitting her till the KNOCK OUT STAGE. Remember, if she get back on trail, then it will be TOO LITTLE TOO LATE.

    February 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. Hawkeye

    Hillary is like our Thanksgiving Turkey, stick a fork in her because she is done. To drag this out further causes a rift in the Democratic party. Just admit you have been soundly trashed and get on with your life of lies and for giving Bill. Todays news is tomorrows garbage, at last a fair review. Poor little white girl. Tried them all and they all failed you.

    February 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. TJ in Texas

    OBAMA all the way! Twenty-four years of a Bush-Clinton era is enough!

    February 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. Anon

    Clinton should bow out gracefully, while she still has a chance.

    February 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. Joann

    Keep counting Hillary out and she will surprise you – you will all get the public reved up to say "Oh yeah" "we'll show you" – that's what the did with Obummer. Whe the lights go out and the cameras go away – I want the president with the experience to start on day one.

    February 13, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. John, Greensboro, NC

    It is time for Hillary to cry again.

    February 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. Bryan Anderson

    Thank God. Barack Obama will be a great President.

    February 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. In the Loop, Chicago

    What I'm taking from this is:

    1) Regardless of what the will of the people is, Clinton is anticipating a nomination based on the Superdelgates' vote.

    2) I need to reconsider my support of the NAACP....come on Mr. Julian Bond.

    February 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. julie

    As a Hillary supporter, I almost hope Obama is the nominee,and president,For all those supporting him now ,they will be the ones yelling the loudest,when they realize they have been had.

    February 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Dan , TX

    We all know better than to predict victory for Obama. If everyone contributes harder, more donations, more phone banking, more neighborhood walks, more community service, we can keep Obama's chances strong. No one really believes this is over.

    Remember, if the FL and MI delegates are seated, that will give Clinton another 10 to 25 delegate swing for her. So counting the MI and FL primary results, it is about tied now.

    February 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Norman, Atlanta Georgia

    Now that's just the sort of arrogance we Hillary supporters are looking for to help us rebound. Wait and see!

    February 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Davy

    Never say that something is impossible....

    February 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. obama

    Voters still need to show up in Texas and Ohio for Barack!!!!!!!!!!!!
    David Plouffe is doing a wonderful job as campain manager but I want the whole staff to remember that a drop of tear made people of New Hamshire lean towards Hilary.

    On top of it Barack supporters, like myself, want Clinton to go to the end of her goal with dignity...............taking it away from her will angry people against Barack.

    Lets keep the ground work in place and let's make it matter of survival in Texas and Ohio. We cannot relax now!!

    OBAMA for President!!

    February 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. Deanna

    We The People…

    Last night’s win and the diversity of Barack Obama’s supporters, makes obvious that “The People” are the real winners in the 2008 Presidential primaries.

    For the first time in history people have the desire / ability to be heard.

    It doesn’t matter if we are a Republican, an Independent or a Democrat…we just simply want to be heard.

    February 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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