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. Bukky, Baltimore

    Please DONT BOAST Mr. Plouffe. I am an Obama supporter. Boasting is very unbecoming of this campaign... Boast in the White House... but for now shut up and fight.

    February 13, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. Bob, Florida - RFO

    It ain't over till its over! Stay focused and the people will stay with us!

    Our time is now!

    Go Barack '08

    February 13, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. Lisa

    I think the comment from Obama's campaign regarding the inability of Clinton to recapture the lead in the delegate count is a thinly veiled attempt to distract and dishearten potential Clinton supporters from continuing to support what Obama's campaign suggests is a cause that is lost. I would prefer that Obama spend more time outlining in a substantive manner what his positions are on the issues that voters should be asking about – not "how much hope" and "yes, we can". I would like to hear more about "how we will" – let's have some substance to back up the inspiration.

    February 13, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. H

    Sooner or later, american peole will see who Obama is when he is in a winning position. People already Hilary for a long time, at least we can tell her style of leadership. How much rish Obama will provide to us? Who knows?

    February 13, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. Ray

    I actually think this is a smart move.

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

    To the Obama campaign it has always been a big numbers game while the Clinton campaign focuses on issues.Despicable gloating.

    February 13, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Bruce Ross

    I don't know how helpful it is to rally Clinton supports at this time, but I must say that Obama is winning the popular vote by over a half million and winning the pledged delegate count by over 100 delegates. Why then is he losing the Super Delegate count to Clinton? He has been able to overtake her in delegates even though she has over 100 more super delegates than he does.

    February 13, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Don

    So let me get this correct, the superdelegates are free to cast their vote without regard for the primary or caucus results in their home states. They can vote different than the people's vote in the primary or caucus. What happen to the Democratic party's principle that every vote counts. Sounds like the Democratic party is again talking out both sides of their mouth to me. "Trust the people except when it doesn't suit you".

    February 13, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. EricTx

    We Latino's in Texas need to come together and vote obama. I was leaning toward hilary till I see she forced our fellow own, Solis Doyle to step down (fired for all purposes). Is this what we can expect. Hilary giving us Latino voters promises and then when she gets our vote, throwing us to the side because she got what she wanted. We need to come together as Latino's and make a stand. I am voting obama

    February 13, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. reality check

    ok, gingerbread man, so once you get the prize what are you going to do? Oh wait, that's right , you don't have any definitive plans. Long on inspiration and citing what ails the country, but no solutions for the country.

    February 13, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. KM

    Wow, that guy has a lot of gall. Interesting to see how he will soon react to having to eat his own words.

    February 13, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. d

    As the saying goes, "Never say never".

    February 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. MT

    I am stunned that Mr. Plouffe would make such an idiotic comment at this stage. Personally, I don't think it would be out of line for Obama to ask for his resignation.

    February 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. pam

    I must agree with the previous statement that's been made. I feel

    February 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Mike T

    It's just posturing. I understand your point but I think it's best to err on the side of overconfidence than to appear nervous.

    February 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. larry buchas, new britain, ct

    Good point, Mohammed.

    I say the Florida & Michigan states have a do over, caucus rules if necessary. The voters of these states should be counted and seated at the convention. Obviously, the previous votes shouldn't count due to candidates agreement not to campaign. Why punish the electorate?

    Let's be fair and fix it right this time. Otherwise, we're headed toward a super delegate showdown and everone suffers.

    February 13, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. Mary

    Why do you care? H. Overall, it is a politic game. The voters know nothing but their feeling. There is less intelligent people in this country. What you can do?

    February 13, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. Dem in AZ

    She may not be able mathematically to win – but neither can he, last time I looked (i.e., last night). Both sides have no choice but to carry on, as much as one wishes the other would quit. It at least makes things interesting.

    February 13, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. diana gilson

    shame shame hasnt your mother ever told you to never count your chickens befor the hatch......you never know

    February 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. njz

    i must strongly agree with the last writer. in reading the comments by david plouffe, i was immediately struck by the thought that voters have a way of turning against the candidate (or his camp) who displays overconfidence or, dare i say, cockiness. and, if we have learned anything during this campaign season, it is that we are all better off waiting to see the results than to predict them. as an obama supporter, i ask that you resist such rhetoric and, instead, stay on task in the efforts that have drawn more and more to barack obama and his message.

    February 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. Dustin

    I too, as a STRONG Obama supporter cannot see the reason for such arrogant predictions in the face of a difficult battle ahead. Comments such as this are just asking for undecided voters to prove them wrong. We need to be positive and realistic in our fight to put Obama in the White House, and discounting Hillary Clinton is a foolish error.We Obama supporters, both employed and just inspired, need to remain positive and aware of the uncertainty of this race!

    February 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. Brianne

    I agree that he probably shouldn't have come out and said this, but he's right.

    Even if they split the remaining delegates 55-45, in favor of Clinton, (which is more realistic than her winning by 20 or 30 points) she will not have ennough delegates to secure the nomination. He will still be ahead of her in pledged delegates, so even if the super delegates have to decide the race, they're not going to go against the winner of the pledged delegates: the person who has won the most votes.
    If that happens, the DNC better call the National Guard because they're going to have a big problem in the streets the day of the convention.

    February 13, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Pat Shepard

    It does look quite tough for Hillary. Victories in Ohio and Texas will have to be pretty substantial for her to stay competetive.

    Whatever happens I hope the Democratic Party rethinks its superdelegate system. If Obama wins the most pledged delegates and Hillary takes the nomination it will destroy the party.

    February 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. norvef

    I am praying that Obama would win.

    Go Obama!

    February 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. sw

    You cannot have it both way. on one hand you are courting those old politician for endoresment, at another hand you are negativate those superdelegates. on one hand you can say whatever negative thing you want about another candidate, on the other hand, everytime anotehr candidate points out your bad stuff, you cry for foul, for racial attack. It is disgusting!

    February 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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