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. Lolly

    Its long way to go and even Obama will win all other states still they have to go to the convention. Its a win win race and "I salute Hillary for her courage,strength and ability.She is the "champion and woman of the century".

    February 13, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Alecki

    CNN has such bias towards a man we know nothing about.
    Please stop supporting candidates and report the news.

    February 13, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. RENEA


    February 13, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. frank O

    i have never seen a count of how many more delegates are left to go?
    i read everywhere that dnc candidate needs 2025. but how may more delegates (other than the super delegates) are left to go before the convention? does either one of them has a mathematical chance of wrapping up enough delegates before the all primaries end?

    February 13, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Obama speaks nothing but the truth to the American people and will do exactly what he says with the help of all of us. We Americans are inspired and will take back our government that has been treating us like ugly stepchildren. Obama is simply the best.

    February 13, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. Independent voter

    I actually watched Tom Brokaw on MSNBC state that OBama is going to have to add a little substance to his speeches if he wants to close out the nomination. I couldn't believe my ears–a member of the media finally waking up?

    Because everything Obama has been saying is fluff! Wake up people! He may be an inspiring public speaker, but you have to have a plan. How does he presume to change Washington, hmmmm??

    February 13, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Roger

    All the rabid Clinton supporters that will undoubtedly take issue with this article need to keep saying to themselves "President McCain... President McCain". Since that is what they will end up with if Clinton is the nominee. Far more independents (and even some democrats) will jump to that side of the fence if she in nominated than would if Obama is the nominee....

    February 13, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Alecki

    Economy is the most important issue in this country.
    Please listen to Clinton for Universal Health care and her plan for saving the poor.
    Go girl!

    February 13, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. Scott

    As an Obama supporter, I must say that I don't like the Obama camp focusing on this issue. I want him to still go out and earn the nomination. He needs to prove to the majority of the public that he is the best choice. This means he has to debate Hillary in front of the country and he needs to show that he is the strongest candidate. Keep your eyes on the prize.

    February 13, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Ken B.

    The reason Obama is doing so well is that no one, not even the media, is looking at his record in the Senate. He votes virtually identically to Clinton except for some rather interestling exceptions. Obama did not bother to vote on such legislation as: Future Military Funding for Iraq Amendment, Border Fence and Customs Appropriations, Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recomendations Act, SCHIP Reauthorization, Budget Reconciliation Bill, Tax Reconciliation Bill, Student Loan Lender Subsidy Cuts and Student Grants, Expressing Support for Gen. Petraeus and All Members of the Armed Forces, Sense of the Senate on Guantanamo Bay Detainees, Attorney General No Confidence Vote, etc. There are many more examples to cite, to all of which Senator Clinton voted either yes or no, but to which Obama didn't vote at all. These are not examples of the decisive leadership Obama portrays for himself. They are, in fact, examples of a rather cautious, indecisive Senator that is trying not to paint himself into a corner. Thus, the lack of specifics from Obama on his "Change" campaign slogan. This is a man running on charisma and the promise of something great, rather than a substantial record of accomplishment.

    If, in November, the choice is Obama or McCain, this lifelong democrat will chose McCain.

    February 13, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Alecki

    This race isn't over. It needs a long way to go.

    Go Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Sophia, Los Angeles

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.....

    It's over Hillary....you Clintonistas never thought this day would come.
    The little engine that could pull through into the station before the MACHINE....Hahaha

    February 13, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. Why Bother

    I support Barack Obama, but his campaign should use caution when playing the "inevitability" card. This is the tactic that lead to Hillary Clinton's apparent downfall. This is not over yet. Let's not start celebrating until Barack is named as the Democratic Party's nominee.

    February 13, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. David, Dallas Tx

    Well, McCain's numbers certainly demonstrate the impossibility of losing better than Obama's. But I certainly agree that Obama has all the momentum and most of the Democratic campaign contributions. All things considered, I think he's going to end up with the Democratic nomination without much difficulty.

    And given how soundly Obama defeats McCain in mock general election polls, I think Obama is headed to the white house.

    I'm very happy about that. 🙂 We don't need a lying two-faced special interest panderer like Hillary as president. We've already had 8 years of that. The election was hers to lose, and she lost it.

    Go Obama!

    February 13, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. Jordan, New York

    Just a quick note to the Obama supporters who spend a lot of time commenting on these ticker articles. We've got to start being careful with our enthusiasm. Just as we were all annoyed when Clinton supporters piled on undue criticism when Obama was struggling, it'll only hurt our cause to pile it on now that Obama's charging through to the nomination. There are laudable reasons to support Senator Clinton, but the goal of the party over the next few weeks will be to encourage everyone to unite behind the more popular candidate. That won't happen as easily unless we restrain ourselves in our enthusiastic comment-posting.

    February 13, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. David

    Impossible is a strong word–one the Obama campaign may be eating in the near future.

    February 13, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. Jeremy

    The fact that the Clinton's want to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates points to one of the many reasons that people mistrust and hate her. She signed a pledge to not campaign, and disregard those states for breaking her own parties rules. It just shows that she will do or say anything to win. Listening to her speak is just like hearing Bush, you know every word coming out of their mouths is a lie.

    February 13, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. american

    Hillary is the best choice . She will be present and she will do something not just say present.

    February 13, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. Doug

    Every generation had a movement and a moment of change...this is ours, it is our time to elect someone who will change the status quo and allow the US reach a level of respect and awe again to the rest of the world.

    Obama is breaking down barriers that no one, not Republican, Democrat or any other party, can do.

    Billary is not dead yet, but she needs to step aside allow history to run its course. This is not her time, and in four or eight years, it will be past her time. Too bad that she was the nominee fours years ago, too bad she could not run 2 years ago.

    Congratulations to Obama and to all of you who have voted for him...this is our time to take back America and once again call it our own country!

    February 13, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Mohammed Anjorin

    Mr Plouffe ,
    As an Obama supporter, I am appalled that you would make these comments. I understand that you are becoming more confident as your candidate makes impressive showings in the nominations race, however there are crucial races ahead in which the tide could easily turn against you and you must focus on. The races in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania WILL NOT BE EASILY WON and I suggest you and your team continue to do the hard work that needs to be done to win those races and clinch the nomination instead of gloating(and risk the possibility of hubris and laxity creeping into your campaign). Your team has worked too hard and diligently to risk being perceived as overconfident and possibly alienating potential voters of these crucial primaries( and possibly reversing your winning momentum).
    Please continue to do the hard work that needs to be done to win. When you clinch the nomination in Denver, you can be as boisterous as you want.

    February 13, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. Dave

    The Clinton campaign is falling apart. Now they are trying to change the rules they agreed to regarding Michigan and Florida. Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan...so you think it would be fair to seat those delegates? In Florida, candidates were not allowed to campaign. It has been shown that Obama gains on Clinton once he gets a chance to campaign. Plus, it gives him a chance to create "name recognition". A majority of people in Florida would have voted for Clinton because she had better name recognition than Obama had...would it be fair to seat Florida's delegates?

    February 13, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. California Independent

    I agree, neither can be caught. It has been fun watching both parties fall apart. No voters like any of the other candidates.

    Finally we have a real opportunity for an independent candidate.

    February 13, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. lulu

    Well maybe he thinks Hillary cant catch him, which I think she can. He needs to worry about the people that voted for Hillary. I will NOT vote for him. He is arrogant and a dreamer. This DEM. is not hoping on the wave.

    February 13, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Cole

    Though I am an Obama Supporter, I wouldn't speak to fast. We are up against a machine, in the Clintons. They are smart and tactful. We must give them credit for being the masterminds that they are. We just have to play our hand and don't worry about the things going on in the Clinton camp.

    Obama 08'

    February 13, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. Chris

    Obama and his team rock!!! They are playing the 50 state contest rather than win in Cali, New York, Ohio, and Texas...

    Go Obama!!!!

    February 13, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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