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. Maestroh

    I will state up fron that I'm no fan of Hillary and would vote for Obama just out of gratitude of saving us from that. But his tactics now demonstrate that contrary to Hillary's opinion, the man is quite experienced in how to seize momentum and demolish (in p.r. terms anyway) the opposition. Funnily enough, if she did this same thing, it would be proof of her 'lust for power.' Obama does it and it's 'smart politics.'

    It is proof of how opinions of people are suddenly crystallized by what the late Lee Atwater called 'a defining moment.' However, I do suspect that Mr. Obama is suddenly going to find himself necessarily firing back hard shots at the GOP – and losing the luster that he has briefly attained.

    February 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Mary

    Hillary voted for war with Iraq – She voted for "Authorization to Use Force". Can we afford two consecutive Presidents that have BAD JUDGEMENT? – FAIL #1
    Hillary AGAIN voted for the possibility of war with Iran 2007 (She did not learn from Experience) – Can we afford two consecutive Presidents that have BAD JUDGEMENT – FAIL #2

    Hillary Economic Stimulus was off the mark. People laughed, so she then changed it – FLIP FLOP – BAD JUDGEMENT – BAD on Economy – FAIL#3

    Hillary Campaign FINANCE problems – If she can’t handle her own financial problems would you let her handle America’s? NO WAY!!! She is trying to say that its not her fault as she just found out recently!!!

    HILLARY – She has said “The American people can’t afford all my ideas!!!” YOUR RIGHT ON THAT ONE!!!


    February 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Angelina

    This all makes me laugh. Barack Obama has not mentioned his plan or agenda once, yet people are following him like blind mice. All he repeatedly says is "It's time for change!" and everyone falls for him. Hysterical! So sad to see our country going down this road. People! Wake up! Vote on issues, not charisma or skin color! This guy is a hoax and you're falling for it.

    February 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. Kathy

    I'm so sick of people telling the American public what we will or won't, can or can't do. I'm so glad that the head of the Obama campaign has told Americans who the Democratic candidate is going to be. Why doesn't he sit back and let the American public tell him?

    February 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  5. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    Obama offers the hope of change. Clinton offers 'experience.' I think that the American people have had enough of 'experienced politicians,' regardless of which side of the aisle they squat on. We need to chase out the old guard, 'experienced' career politicians and get some new blood in. It's the 21st century, but the current administration runs things under the table and is more in synch with Kruschev's cold war tactics than modern thinking. Good riddance to the corruption and greed that has been rampant in Bush's administration. He's thrown away a budget surplus and strapped us with a $10 trillion debt that we'll be paying for generations. The American budget was $2 trillion in '02 and now Bush is proposing a $3 trillion budget. I can't stand the whining on the right about 'tax and spend' democrats, when they've been spending like drunken monkeys. It's time for CHANGE; it's time for Obama.

    February 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. elections frenzy

    he is really in hate for her, isn't he? How nice is he?
    how far this hate towards her will go?

    February 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. LisaMpls

    Well this Hillary supporter still believes in the impossible!!!

    David Plouffe's statement is funny because, on CNN this morning, one of Obama's senior advisers still said that Obama is the underdog in Ohio and Texas. Is he the underdog in those while still being the frontrunner?

    February 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. G. Robinson

    OBAMA 08

    This is what will be at the end of the day and the race. HALLELUAH!!!!!!

    February 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  9. KW

    Of course Obama is leading because of:


    85-90% of Blacks in every State are Voting for Him ( if that's not Racism, tell me what is)

    Republicans voting for him because they know they have a better chance of defeating Obama than Clinton in November

    And then there is the YOUTH....well, just look at the youth these days and tell me it's not scary to think that they will be choosing our President.

    February 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. alexis

    Clinton's big claim to fame in this campaign has been her experience, that she would be ready on day one. She's had a lot of experience campaigning, running a national campaign for the presidency, and yet she's made several mistakes which I find very telling. She completely underestimated her opponents (refusing to even admit that they might be prepared to be president), and refused to adjust her campaign strategy when it turned out she was not being attacked the way she had expected. The question has arisen about whether she picked her campaign staff based on competency or based on loyalty, something that has gotten George W. Bush in trouble. With every loss, her method of regrouping involves marginalizing the contest, which only goes to marginalize the people of those states. By attempting to seat the delegates in Florida and Michigan under the guise of giving those people a voice, she's only serving to disenfranchise those who did not have access to the necessary information for making their decision. Why punish those who did not participate because they weren't given the opportunity to hear from the candidates? If the campaigns of Clinton and of Obama are at all representative of what they would bring to the presidency, I think Clinton is going to have to stop acting like experience trumps judgment. She's going to have to show she can adapt (and not just by adopting her opponents' talking points), that she can unify, and that she actually respects those who disagree with her.

    February 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. JCL, Kentucky

    I thought Huckabee was the one who didn't study math in school...

    Hey Plouffe, there are only 25 delegates separating Obama and Hillary right now. This is the closest the two of them have been to each other in delegate count during the entire race.

    When Obama was 50 delegates behind, you said he and Hillary were neck and neck...

    After Super Tuesday when Obama was 100 delegates behind, you said it was a dead heat...

    Now that Obama has pulled a slim 25 delegates ahead, you're saying that makes him the front runner and there's no way for Hillary to catch up?

    Hit the math books, Plouffe!!!

    February 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Janet

    And so it goes. Heaven help us all!

    February 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Ed K.

    I live in Virginia and Tuesday made me sick. The republicans came out in the thousands and voted for Obama. These same republicans will vote for McCain in the general election. Looks like they found a way back into the White House. They have their candidate and now they are busy picking the fool they will run against come Fall. They are using the Dems own system to win. The rich / republicans are herding the college kids and the black community like sheep. They know Obama will lose by a landslide. and they also know that most of the mature adults that support Hillary will vote for McCain if Obama gets the Dem's nod. Don't you just love republicans?

    February 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. lavelle Rochester,ny

    It is time for her to concede and bring the democratic party together. This is bigger then the both of them and It's time for the right leader to take this country into the future. We understand lobbyist and media outlets are not ready for change but the American people are. Obama is more then just inspiration and good speeches. He has substance that gets over looked by his ability to lead and bring folks together. Look at the polls look at the states where he has won! These southern states can look at one another and say you know what I can work with African Americans to bring about change. And African Americans can say I can work along side of whites and better myself to bring this country foward. I think MSM down plays the ability of Obama and also his message. He is what this country needs now. And by looking at his campaign he is organzied and should be commended for how well he's ran this campaign.

    February 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. John Angelo

    I, like many Americans, am very turned off by the superdelegate process; I truly don't believe that giving one superdelegate the power of 13,000 "regular" voters is in the best interest of the nation. These superdelegates are obviously not 13,000 times more knowledgeable than your average voters; this greatly belittles the democratic process. A national outcry would be invoked if a candidate won the nomination via the support of superdelegates rather than that of the popular vote – the "regular" voters. The voting power of superdelegates should be abolished or dramatically lessened to echo our nation's freedom and support of true democracy.

    February 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Clayton

    YES WE CAN!!!

    YES WE CAN!!!

    YES WE CAN!!!

    YES WE CAN!!!

    Obama '08

    February 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Viola

    Hey Obama....you guys sound a little arrogant....focus on your message and not the media hype!

    February 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. JT

    Sweep it up Obama... sweep it up!

    February 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. GO Hillary!

    obama's message is ignorant to the real world issues abroad.
    we are sitting bait if he's in.
    i will vote for mccain if needed to protect my children.

    February 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  20. Jay

    Well, the Obama campaign has already declared itself the winner of the Democratic Presidential race. No need to vote anymore, just swear Obama in...lol
    How arrogant and presumptuous.

    February 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. Rico

    This is not only rhetoric by Obama's Campaign but also by the news media. It is intended to sway those voters who are easily impressed and motivated by news coverage and media. If Hillary wins Texas, Ohio and Pa...which recent polls suggest she is poised to do, she could then have the majority of pledged delegates. Even if she doesn't, winning places like Texas, Ohio and PA will give her a huge edge in he popular vote count. If she wins these races then the landscape will change again and states that Obama is currently favored in may become toss ups. The other thing "super delegates" will look at is the states she and he have won. As of yet, Obama has not won a large battleground state. Hillary has. She has won New Jersey, California, New York, New Hampshire, Florida, Michigan, Arizona and Arkansas. All of the bias in the reporting of this primary has left me, as well as many others, sick. Obama is not a bad guy or a candidate. I personally feel that this "one day could be a great president" is running to soon in his very short political career. I also think that he needs more substance to bring about the change that he has been talking about. Hillary is also a fine candidate. For such sexism and bias to be constantly infused through the medias' coverage of these events is heartbreaking and a stab at true democracy. The American people will ultimately choose who they think is the best candidate. Yet they should be allowed to do it with out the bias and interference of news organizations that have quickly begun to sink to the depths of tabloid reporting. Think about this. If Hillary were in the position that Obama is in now, oh wait she was, you would not be hearing this kind of blatant bias filled garbage that now litters the internet and airwaves. She is a Clinton and a powerful women, who apparently scares allot of new organizations, that should not be discounted.

    February 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Ryan C.

    25 delegates is little too slim of a margin to be declaring victory isn't Mr. Plouffe? I didn't hear anyone from your side of the line saying it was impossible for Obama to catch Clinton when she was up by two hundred delegates. If she wins Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania, which she could very well do, she will again be the front runner. God, the arrogance from Obama and the rest of his camp is beyond irritating.

    February 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. Kin

    Hillary's not out of the race. If anything, it'll be nailbiting up to the finish line at the DNC this summer.

    February 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. ME

    Oh YES she CAN

    February 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. Art H

    What if Romney decides to toss in his delegates to the Huckabee campaign – that will give a real shot in the arm to the Republican race, by narrowing the delegate lead and also energizing the conservative base to turn out in large numbers for Huckabee !

    February 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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