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. Andrew

    Be careful Obama. Upcoming States include:
    Texas: oil, Bush, and corruption
    Ohio: corporate home of Diebold computers and the scene of much shenanigans in the 2004 Presidential election.

    The Repubs want Hillary to win. Elections observers are needed and computer inspections.

    February 13, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. ao

    ah, i love the confidence. please brag about it more, please. this is a true level of humility, you know, the "uniter" attitude. until march 4th this race is VERY much undecided. If Hill loses in OH or TX, she is in very bad shape, if she wins, race is open with an edge to her. Now Barack has an edge – an edge is NOT winning hands down! Besides, they will have to admit the delegates from MI and especially FL (all people on ballot, Obama run the commercials on cable, Clinton visited on "fund raising really"). They MUST carry FL in general, and no better way to turn off voters than showing them middle finger for their historic turnout at the primary. So all of you radicals from both sides, be quite, talk ISSUES and, those who can, vote on March 4th. Enough Said.

    February 13, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. FL Drew

    In a match up between McCain and Obama I predict a lot of red states will be turning blue. McCain cannot even get the Republican conservative base to support him. It seems that the conservative base truly dislikes McCain, hates Hillary, but doesn't harber any ill will towards Obama. If the match up is between McCain and Obama, many members of the conservative base will simply stay home instead of vote for McCain. More important, based on voter turnout, it is pretty clear that the Democrats are going to take back the White House (Note: Obama had more people voting for him alone in Virginia than all of the Republican candidates had combined) so if any Republican is going to lose, I’m sure the conservative base would be perfectly fine with McCain falling on that sword.

    February 13, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Roger

    So as I understand it:
    The Democratic candidates agree to boycott the Michigan primary, but Clinton's campaign decides to make sure her name is on the ballot "just in case"...

    Florida (my home state, btw) is stripped of it's delegates, so the Democratic candidates agree not to campaign there, until Hilary realizes she's in an actual fight and makes campaign stops there in the days before the contest....

    And now the Clinton campaign's position now is that the pledged delegate count (the ones decided by ACTUAL VOTERS) doesn't matter as long as they can sweet-talk and glad-hand enough superdelegates, as well as now trying to argue that she should get the Michigan and Florida delegates.

    I admit to not being a Hilary fan ever since the "I have always been a Yankees fan" comment. She is cut from the same mold as Romney, a smooth political operative that will say whatever she thinks the people in front of her want to hear (remember Romney and the "lifelong hunter" comments). Their campaign has reached the point of being all about political tricks and accumulating power, and has completely forgotten anything about representing people in any kind of true "democratic" way

    February 13, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. CP

    The people in Obama's camp should really watch what they. Although I'm a Obama supporter, the race is not over yet and they should not discount Hillary just yet.

    February 13, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. Paul

    If the Clinton campaign is counting on superdelegates to get the win over the Obama campaign, then they are clearly not in favor of democracy. The pledged delegate count is a representation of the will of the people. Superdelegates have a responsibility to reflect the wishes of their constituents, but they are not obligated to do so legally. I only hope that whoever gets the nomination does so fairly, otherwize I will leave the Democratic party!

    If Obama wins the pleged delegate count, but Clinton becomes the nominee only because of superdelegates, then she is no better than George Bush. Remember that 'W' had fewer votes than Al Gore in 2000!

    February 13, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Amy

    Your arrogance will destroy you at some point. All this cult of personality developed around Obama reminds of communist countries.

    Maybe he can beat the woman, because America is a misogynist country, but the old man will stop him. Too bad for America to have one more Republican president, though McCain is better than Obama.

    February 13, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Ber

    I truly believe that Obama is a winner. McCain I am afraid of him. He's too old and I from what I've read he has anger outburst. Nobody wants to be a war 100 years. He wil be another Bush. I don't even know how his party can support him. His stubborness will get us all killed. He really needs to go sit-down and just let the young folks do their thing. I hope in the generally election the republicans don't try and pull a fast one. The American people will not stand for that again. This is a very emotional time for everyone. There is too much going wrong in America. People are tired of the dictatorship. We want to truly uphold our constitution and go back to the value system that this country once had. Lies and deception were not part of it.

    February 13, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. gene

    Hillary Clinton arrived in El Paso, Texas yesterday to a rally of 10,000 enthusiastic supporters. One of every three democratic primary voters are hispanic and she has the endorsement and support of the most popular and powerfull hispanic in the state, Henry Cineros as well as most of the political establishment of the state.. She also has the support of several Black political representatives. She will do much better in Dallas with black voters then she has in previous primary elections.

    February 13, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. JRE

    The dream ticket has to be Obama / Huckabee. That way, when these two glorified motivational speakers are in office and the American people are fast running out of Hope, we'll always have a Prayer.

    February 13, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Don't blame me.. I voted for Clinton!

    February 13, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. George T

    I have to say this is true! Mccain has this in the bag. All Huckabee can hope for is the VP.

    Now to more interesting candidates.... Obama also has this in the bag. Why? I live in the big state of Texas (San Marcos) and I am just blown away with Obama supporters and how they 'have his back.' Since Feb. 5th, I have been receiving positive emails, blogs, and ways to help Obama - sometimes at least 30 per day if not more. People are excited and want to help. There is so much momentum and it's positive. There was even one fellow , Leon, who wanted to crash the Clinton event this evening in San Antonio...and he was kindly referred to the fact that tonight is also the planning meeting for Obama's team in San Antonio–and the better choice would be to attend that and get geared up to 'Barack the vote."

    In contrast, my friend, who is a clinton supporter was furious last night at how there is no REAL momentum in our state (TX) for Hillary (compared to what's going on for Obama).

    It's just simple, text book things like I just mentioned -this is why Obama is going to blow through to the nomination and then SWEEP in NOVEMBER.

    Mccain doesn't stand a chance.

    February 13, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. Bill

    I hope Clinton does not pull an underhanded tactic to win the nomination. Everyone knows that she can play dirty. Florida and Michigan accepted the consequences of voting early and took it. I can't just sell my car and then demand it back when I need it.
    Now that I think about it. Sure she can have those delegates and Obama supporters will try that much harder to defeat her.

    February 13, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Gabriel

    Talk about an arrogant campaign and an arrogant candidate.

    Hillary '08

    February 13, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Texan

    Hillary Clinton's campaign is in a tail-spin: fired campaign staff (including Solis, a Latina – that'll play well down here in Texas!), can't even keep track of her campaign money as it went to zero and had to then bail it out with her own money (how can she be expected to run a country when she can't run a campaign), and Obama's run the board for 8 states in a row. Most importantly, Virginia exit polling shows him carving into her base. Obama's on fire, and the only thing Clinton has on hand is a can of gasoline. Do yourself a favor, Hillary – bow out gracefully.

    Obama 08

    February 13, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. 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!!!
    So is that what she would tell America when we are in trouble? I just found out? YIKES!!!
    HILLARY – She has said “The American people can’t afford all my ideas!!!” YOUR RIGHT ON THAT ONE!!!


    February 13, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. David

    Yeah right. Obama camp does some more spinning of facts in order to dissuade voters from voting for Clinton. As far as I can tell Hillary and Obama are about dead even with only 25 delegates separating them according to the latest delegate count, so how can Obama camp say she stands no chance? This is a joke and thank god for Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania, which will deliver for Hillary. Here in Texas we have a "remember the Alamo stance" against nominating all fluff/no substance candidates such as Obama, which in plain English means no way, never, won't happen. It will take a state like Texas to end this adolescent-like Obama madness. We got your back in Texas Hillary.

    February 13, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Don

    Typical. Obama is all about arrogance with no substance. If he is the nominee, we'll be inaugurating President McCain.

    February 13, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Nathen

    I like Obama, but I think it is unwise to count out Clinton yet. Only 25 delegate current separate them and she has the weight of more "superdelegates." Obama needs to continue to run his campaign.

    On a side note, Clinton is going negative. That's bad for her, look what happened when she tried to go negative in South Carolina. Doesn't she know that Obama wants her to go negative because it only strengthens his campaign resolve.

    Obama in '08.

    February 13, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. jack

    obama just neet to scream out a few empty slogans of so called change,
    thats a shame,
    people wake up he is giving empty speaches thats it,
    and thats the reson ho does not like real debates,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    February 13, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. Midge from Ohio

    Obama is a great orator, but that is all he is. He would make a great minister! He is all feel good rah-rah but no substance...he is saying follow me, but he doesn't really know where to go.

    February 13, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. Not Given

    The Clinton Camp knows this and are going to get into real dirty fighting. When it comes to mud, those two are the best.

    I also believe that this is backfire on them.

    February 13, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Joseph Claghorn

    Barring a "miracle", I don't see how Hillary can catch Obama in pledged delegates. She can win with superdelegates, but this would be a sure recipe for failure in the general election. I can already see McCain complaining about how the "mullahs" of the democratic party picked this candidate, not the people. Hillary's best bet for the nomination is to try to win the popular vote, and make the argument that she has more votes, so she should be the nominee, but even with this I don't see a path to victory for her in the fall.

    February 13, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Clinton will destroy Obama in the Debate, Obama continues to avoid and delay any real information or creative and new ideas regarding his platform and the economy. Obama's platform is so weak.

    February 13, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Tom

    While it may be true that Hillary is statistically eliminated, it is stupid to say it. These things are best left under the rug, as to air such commentary reeks of arrogance. Mr. Obama, please advise your camp to please keep quiet and stay the course.

    Obama '08

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