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. hope

    please dont get too comfortable. i am a supporter but i also know there is a long way to go yet

    February 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Kemic

    As an Obama supporter, I can appreciate the fact that the hard work is about to begin. Yes, the Clinton campaign has issues and the Clinton machine uses some rather archaic tactics, but it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

    February 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Bruce Ross

    I don't know how helpful it is to rally Clinton supporters 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. I hope the super delegates don't take this election.

    February 13, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. JMS

    Obama and his camp is crazy to think that the Clinton campaign has suddenly lost the ability to beat him. This is the FIRST time he has been in the lead since the primaries began. He seems to live in a land of make believe.....this is not someone that I want as a President of the United States.
    Also, why is he so affraid to debate with Hillary. Funny how all he wants to do is make speaches and not answer questions on the issues! This man would NOT make a very good President. If he goes on to win the Presidency I guess we should prepare for the same ole things we have been dealing with for the past eight years!

    February 13, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. fair

    I just can not see that is a movement, rather is playing with people's emotion about last 7 years. First Russian president had his movement to take over the government. After that, Russia failed miseably. If you consider have a new president is a movement, sorry, I can not see. A real movement is for changing the world to a better place, change our live better in the States. So far, Senator Obama has not showed us if he can do that.

    February 13, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. jyfranca

    Obama too fast,dont jump in conclusion there is long way to go my dear.Clintons are tough

    February 13, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. Chitown

    Mohammed, I agree with you completely. Humility is much more attractive than overconfidence (which can too easily slip into arrogance).

    February 13, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Adam, LV, NV

    Wow, last I checked, it was impossible for EITHER of them to get the nomination without the superdelegates.... Wow, just arrogant.... Not very smart, look at what happened the last time he started bragging and being a "sore winner".

    This is exactly what cost you in NH, when will people learn. It was not the crying, it was the fact that he said, "See I told ya", and NH voters said "No you didn't"....

    February 13, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Jim Isaac

    Re: Florida and Michigan: This is typical Billary, the rules don't apply to me, and if you call me on it, you are part of a vast right wing conspiracy to prevent me from saying anything and doing anything to get elected.

    I predict Julian Bond and the NAACP are going to regret backing Billary.

    February 13, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Texan

    The battle for the base is breaking for Obama. As Obama is now trouncing Hillary in all of the categories that she counted among core constituencies (with the exception of white women and latinos – who he won by 5% in Maryland), isn't it just a little more than momentum? Hillary is starting to resemble a fated Guiliani, conceding all remaining contests in February as she tries to shore up a few delegate-rich states in March... Guiliani at least had a shot w/ transplanted New Yorkers in Florida. But since Obama is carving into every one of Hillary's base constituencies, she really appears to be circling the drain. Only the political theft of superdelegates could save her now.

    Obama 08

    February 13, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Alison, FL

    I agree..no gloating right now please...you might jinx it!!

    February 13, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. Eye Opener

    Now that Seantor Obama is clearly ahead and can no longer claim the "underdog" status, the press should subject him to the kind of scrutiny Senator Clinton and her campaign had been subjected to all this time.
    The promise of change and the rhetoric of hope, audacious or otherwise, need to be backed up by substance and concrete ideas on how to solve this country's problems.
    The establishment in Washington is an old boys club so entrenched, that it would take more than hope to effect real change.

    An by the way, the 90% of the black vote that went to Senator Obama in the last Potomac races is undisputable proof that RACE is a major factor in this election. It is naive to think that it is not.

    February 13, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. William Stickney

    This race has a way to go and it behoves both candidates and their supporters to keep it from going negative so that reconciliation is not possible at the end.

    Obama has the momentum and Clinton has to regroup and stop making mistakes- I worry her Texas/Ohio strategy sounds an awful lot likeGuiliani's Florida strategy.

    February 13, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Mar

    Obama can talk the talk but can he walk the walk. All you Obama supporters out there you better hope and pray that he can walk the walk – causing talking gets us no where!!!! This is not about black and white which everyone has made it be. This is not about man versus woman which everyone has made it be. This is about not turning the clocks back to racial wars in the United States, back to discrimination against women in the United States. Everyone better examine their minds and make sure that this is not just a "fad" that everyone wants to follow but a solution to the discrimination against all Americans both here and abroad!!

    February 13, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. bernard, macon, ga.

    I would like to plead with the Obama Team, please don't fall into that trap and give the media any excuse to print or say anything negative. I support Obama 100% and he is winning and I've seen it happen too many times where the media can't wait to throw darts at the person on top. Just as stated in the other comment. Obama has worked too hard to let something like gloating block him from the White House. Obama camp, please don't hurt your candidate. Stay the course! It's not a done deal yet.

    February 13, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. JUDAS

    PLEASE lets not get arrogant, you have people looking for a reason to vote for hillary so lets just cool our jets "right now". its a humbling, positve energy exp that is spreading across the land "CAN YOU FEEL IT". is the theme that should resonate out of your camp. also my i repeat COME OUT OF PREACHER MODE jack legged preacher mode at that.reflect before you speak KEEP IT SHORT AND KEEP IT REAL. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE GOTTEN THE NATION IN A FREEFALL.

    February 13, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. sonya

    don't worry...if barack gets the nomination, the republicans will stop him in his tracks. barack, being the most liberal senator out there, will not be able to hide behind his pretty speeches. he'll be forced to answer the tough questions. who will he have to blame then??

    February 13, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |

    I agree Mohammed-–We've got work to do. Let the Clinton camp waste time making comments.

    February 13, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    hey dave, do you really think a 25 delegate lead makes obama unbeatable?
    now that sounds like a fairy tale to me.

    February 13, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Kathryn Irby - Metairie, LA

    I tend to agree with Obama's camp. He is on his way to becoming our next President of the United States in 2008!!!! He is a brilliant intellectual and will bring everyone together. Go Obama in 2008!!!

    Kathryn Irby
    Metairie, LA

    February 13, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. PAL

    I agree with Mr. Anjorin above. Don't sell the pelt before you have slain the bear. A lot of work remains to be done. And, whether Mr. Obama wins or not, a lot of fences will have to be mended to carry the primary turnout into the election... and more.

    February 13, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. harry K


    They way you are disrespecting Hillary is an outrage But when we say something about OBAMA , your camp tell us we are racists ..
    My friend you celebrate to fast before The Fat lady from Texas sign!!!

    February 13, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Perry

    Yes that is very good point M. Anjorin, but he was refering to the PLEDGE delegates which he has a more outstanding lead. But it is not wise too get overconfident, you see how the Clintons were before the primaries; and look at them now.

    February 13, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. Andrew

    Mohammed Anjorin: There is nothing to be "appalled" about. It is posturing. Perhaps it was a bit arrogant but I am sure that they know that they still need to fight hard. Also, making you look inevitable brings voters to your side because everyone wants to have voted for the winner.

    February 13, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. @,Orlando,Fl

    Listen,all Obama supporter: who will laugh to the end in Nov? that 's John McCain. If Obama is the Demc nomiee,lots people like my family are going to vote for John McCain.

    February 13, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15