February 20th, 2008
03:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama adviser: Our campaign has a 'wide, wide lead'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/20/art.obama2.ap.jpg caption=" The Obama campaign says it is nearly impossible for Clinton to catch up in pledged delegates."](CNN) - Hillary Clinton's campaign said Wednesday morning that Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential frontrunner – and the Illinois senator’s campaign said the race was just about over.

The morning after Obama won his 10th straight victory over Clinton, his campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters that the New York senator would need to win massive, double-digit victories in upcoming contests to even begin to erase her current delegate deficit.

He added that his campaign's most conservative estimate for the critical March 4 contests would still leave Obama with a lead of about 150 pledged delegates. (See CNN's latest delegate estimate here)

Clinton, Plouffe said on a morning conference call, would have to win three out of every four remaining pledged delegates to begin to be competitive in that area.

“This is a wide, wide lead right now…I am amused when the Clinton campaign continues to say: Well, it’s essentially a tie. I mean that’s just lunacy,” said Plouffe. “We have opened up a big and meaningful pledged delegate lead. They are going to have to win landslides from here on out to erase it.”

Related: Clinton campaign launches new offensive on delegate counting

He said the campaign expected the negative tone of the race to increase in the coming weeks, and he accused the Clinton campaign of attempting to “rewrite the rules” because of their current disadvantage in pledged delegates, which are distributed according to vote totals.

Clinton senior adviser Harold Ickes told reporters Wednesday that he believes the New York senator trails Obama by at least 75 delegates.

Regardless of the results in the remaining primary season contests – including March 4 votes in Ohio and Texas that her campaign had called “critical” – Ickes emphasized in a morning conference call that both Obama and Clinton would need “a number of automatic delegates” to claim the Democratic nomination.

In recent weeks, Ickes and other Clinton advisers have begun using the term ‘automatic delegates’ to refer to individuals commonly known as ‘superdelegates’ – elected officials and other party leaders who are free to cast their ballot for any candidate they wish, regardless of the election result in their state, and can change their pick at any time up until the final vote.

Most superdelegates have yet to state publicly which candidate they plan to support. Since Obama and Clinton will both need to claim a majority of this group to become the party’s nominee, said Ickes, the Illinois senator’s campaign should not continue to say that the pledged delegate leader should automatically win the nomination.

Clinton currently leads Obama among this group, although Obama leads in both pledged delegates and in the overall delegate count.

But, Ickes added, "We think Mr. Obama is the frontrunner."

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (290 Responses)
  1. Hirotomi Takemitsu

    This is unbelievable. I have never (even though this is only my 3rd election to actually vote in) seen such infantile baby nonsense than I have from Hillary Clinton and her surrogates. I have never seen such bickering, arguing, complaining, baiting, back-stabbing, slandering, mud-slinging, down n' dirty innuendo and character attacks as I have from Hillary and her team against Barack Obama. And now this "new Math" put forward by Hillary and her team regarding delegates.
    It used to be as of two weeks or so ago that Hillary was claiming that She would have the nomination even if she were behind in pledged delegates because she could count on her "Superdelegates" who would at that time put her way in the lead. But now, since Barack Obama has proven himself to be the candidate the people really want, Hillary would not be able to win even with her "Superdelegates"....she's so far behind. So now She's claling for breaking the Democratic Party Rules and Guidelines to allow for the delegates she won from Florida and Michigan to be seated at the convention. She thinks that with them, She could win.
    The shortsightedness of that is, with Barack winning so many primaries....and possibly in major large states coming up as well, Hillary could very well still come up short, even with the Florida and Michigan delegates. And Barack Obama would be our Democratic nominee for President.
    Many people I have spoken with who used to be for Hillary are now for Obama....many because they hate the way Hillary and Bill have conducted this campaign. They have never seen such sleeze. And such phoney stuff like Hillary's crying routines.
    If even my relatives in Japan have e-mailed me in shock over the underhanded tactics of Hillary, then it has to be pretty bad if people over there can see Hillary for what she is.
    For the sake of the Democratic Party, and the USA, I hope that the Democratic National Committee refuses any of Hillary's campaign to get Florida or Michigan delegates seated. I hope Barack Obama wins the nomination....because the whole world will know he got it fair and square.
    The same could in no way be said of Hillary Clinton.

    February 20, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Brad

    First McCain supporters please tell me where he is different than Bush? No really, McCain is all about Reaganomics (which as failed for the last 7 years and failed from 1980 to 1994), all about Iraq (which had nothing to do with 9-11 and no WMD), supports the CIA torturing suspects (in America we consider "suspects" to innocent people until proven guilty in a court of LAW) and does not express a desire to bring those that did attack America on 9-11 to justice (anyone on the Republican side remember Bin Laden?). He is nothing but "W" old and will not bring nothing but 4 more years of failed policies to the White House. I will support any Democrat over McCain.

    February 20, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. Margaret Navarrete

    If Hillary wants to know what Baracks accomplishments maybe she should look it up, as I have read, he sponsored 152 bills and resolutions and cosponsored 427 more.
    Hillary says she has experience, what kind? Being in the White House and a senator for 7years, so what.
    GO BARACK OBAMA 2008!!!!!!!!!!

    February 20, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. Tom

    What amuses me is how easily so many can be so easily duped. As if any of these candidates will affect any meaningful change in Washington.

    I'm sick of this entire campaign and it's only February. Yuck.

    February 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. DG

    I am disappointed in Mr. Plouffe's comment. In light of this and Michelle Obama's comment about never before being proud of America, I am convinced that this primary is only serving to divide the Democratic party. Instead of focusing on ousting the Republicans from the White House, the Clinton and Obama camps keep trying to elevate their own place in history by undermining and destroying each other. Despite being a life-long democrat, I am hoping for a third party candidate who can lead our country out of this dark time in its history.

    February 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. You're not serious

    Wake up America! Have you REALLY listened to Obama's empty promises? Our nation cannot afford having a president that has no experience and is clueless as to what leading a country entails. This is no time to learn as you go. He's too young and too arrogant. Maybe in eight years – but not now.

    February 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Mike

    If Hillary loses, I will be voting for McCain just to spite you Obama supporters. Screw America... like it isn't screwed in it's present stage. Just let another Cold War start.

    February 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. From CA

    Hillary will win in a big margin in both Texas and Ohio.
    She has got a big support in both states.

    Hillary '08

    February 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. cat8myhome

    So tell me Texan for Obama, why should Clinton
    'bow out' before Texas? Are you afraid she'll win in Texas?
    As someone already pointed out here, a candidate wins when they have 2,025 delegates, not when they have just a 150 delegate lead.
    Mr. Obama is tarting to appear a little arrogant to me now, that is not the way to win friends and influence people.

    February 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. benj

    Diane, you must vote even if it is for Mccain. I am a democrat but will vote republican for sure if Obama is winner. Obama is shucking and jiving his way into the big house. He is so arrogant that he probably thinks his s- dont stink.

    February 20, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. PJW

    WHAT do you people see in Hillary Clinton?? She speaks in a monotone with a deadpan expression and buggy eyes. She has nothing like the poise her husband ha(d). She bought a Senate seat in a state she had no history of residency in. The biggest job she was given as First Lady FAILED miserably (healthcare reform), and her Travelgate fiasco revealed she has no people skills. Claiming "experience" because sitting in the Senate has made her bum two years numb-er than her opponent's is nonsense.

    What kind of following would this person have had she not been married to the most popular prez since Kennedy? The only rationale I can figure is that her adoring hordes are actually trying to resurrect the feel-good days of the 90's. They failed to do so by backing Gore in 2000, and this 2008 attempt won't succeed either.

    When she finally realizes she's fallen way short of election, she'll drop the sham marriage to her increasingly irrelevant husband and quickly fade into obscurity.

    February 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Sandra

    Hi. I voted for Hillary in Arizona. We won and I was happy for that. My hsuband kept telling me this and telling me that. I was stubborn. After seeing Hillary's attitude and her constant attacks in Wisconsin, forcing Obama to defend himself, I understand now that she is just that type of person. I know a few of them at work. Not willing to admit a mistake, strongheaded, and never willing to accept losing. I like a strongheaded person, but she is not being smart and she is not being respectful. I have lost my respect for Hillary. She does not even appear to be respecting the people that vote for her. Her campaign is a mess! Wake up people, this woman would be a disaster in the White House!

    February 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Godley777

    Senator Obama's Accomplishments:

    1> Voting against the use of military force against Iraq; a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the US.

    2> Running a very successful campaign against a very popular past president and his accomplished spouse; winning primaries/caucuses 2 to 1 in states where the population is 90+percent caucasian.

    3> Author of 2 very successful books; 1 of which is still on the current best seller list.

    4> First African American President of The United States of America!

    February 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Drew


    Hillary doesn't have the experience? Like being governor of NY wasn't enough.

    Nonetheless, go Obama. It would be nice to have a fresh perspective in the White House for a change

    February 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Math is here!

    Voters from FL and MI will be disappointed. So am I for them. If they are considered then Hilary would have been in the lead!!!!!! DOn't they have any say in Electing the president of their country. They should not be ignored.

    February 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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