March 12th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama camp: Clinton won't compete in battlegrounds

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Obama campaign says Clinton can't compete in key states."](CNN) - Barack Obama’s presidential campaign manager said Wednesday Hillary Clinton’s campaign had “waved the white flag” in what he said was a potential fall battleground state.

The Clinton campaign responded that Obama’s team was looking to divert focus from the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, where the New York senator has held a significant advantage in most recent polls.

They have pointed out that many of the states that Obama has won by large margins during the primary process are not states the Democratic Party is likely to carry this fall, with senior adviser Harold Ickes telling the New York Times Wednesday that Obama’s victories there would be “virtually irrelevant to the general election.”

On a conference call with reporters, Plouffe did look to lower expectations in Pennsylvania. “We do not view this as a race now solely about the state of Pennsylvania,” he said, adding that the Clinton campaign was “the prohibitive favorite. They should win by a healthy margin given where they start.

“We’ll campaign hard there, we’ll try and get as many votes and delegates as we can, but our campaign will not be defined by Pennsylvania.”

He added that that the Clinton campaign’s contention that a Democrat could not win a fall bout in North Carolina – a state where Obama is expected to do well when primary voters head to the polls in May – “speaks to their weakness in the general election.

“We think we can win the state of North Carolina. Clinton has already waved the white flag... North Carolina will be a central battleground if Obama is our nominee," said Plouffe. The campaign also released an assessment of Obama’s general election chances in some of the biggest states.

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer immediately responded: “The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania. So if Barack Obama can’t win there, how will he win the general election?”

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (241 Responses)
  1. Balaiso, Everett, WA


    March 12, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. CLK from Texas

    I don't get the arguments they Clinton campaign is making. If Obama is the nominee, most Democrats (not all) will vote for the Democrat. I can't see a lot of Democrats crossing over to vote McCain. Again, the Clintons are sounding illogical and desperate.

    As a Texan, I am a Republican. However, if Obama is the candidate, I guarantee you that my family, myself, and a lot of my Republican friends will cross over for him. We like him. But we will help McCain if Hilary is the nominee.

    March 12, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Austin, Texas

    no, you can't

    March 12, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. CW in DC

    Isn't this the same thing Clinton's people said about Iowa, Ohio, and Texas? Pick a state already.. jeez!! They can't have it both ways and say the small states don't count (in essence saying their votes don't matter), but yet try and fight tooth and nail to get MI and FL seated. They make my head hurt.

    March 12, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. Kat

    Apparently, there's a bit of clairvoyance at play here. How can anyone predict whether or not Obama would win against a Rep. candidate in the general election ?? The races , so far, have been Obama v. Clinton.......Mr. Singer's statement makes no sense, as we have no idea of how Obama would do against a Republican opponent . The polls DO have him winning by up to 10% over McCain, should an election be held tomorrow. Hilliary would not fare as well...........

    March 12, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. Katherine

    So, the democrats who vote for Hillary in the PA primary would vote Republican in the general? That's the argument? Otherwise, it's kind of irrelevant who wins the primary.

    March 12, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. therealist

    Why should Obama be more concerned with the blue states? Like their going to vote red in Nov??

    March 12, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. RSL

    Well that stands to reason. Who cares if Obama won Wyoming. He won't carry the state. Never mind that the state voted for Mitt Romney and Fred Thomsan. They had already dropped out of the race. The Media should try to stop attacking Clinton. However, they should at least be as critical of Obama just like they are of McCain and Clinton.

    God help me, I am defending a Clinton.

    March 12, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. JA Cook

    The only states that matter are the ones that Hillary wins.

    All other states are inconsequential and shouldn't count. No one really cares about their votes.

    Michigan and Florida should count too. Their votes do matter and their voices should be heard.

    March 12, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. wait a minute

    I was just in Pittsburgh for a week-long workshop in late 2007.
    The consensus I got from the local people was not a very hopeful future.

    I was told doctors were leaving the state for other states, jobs were disappearing and former miners were driving buses or waiting tables if they are lucky.

    The more important part is that young college graduates want to leave the state altogether, because there is little hope left in the Pittsburgh area. I also watched Governor Rendell's speeches in the hotel as I'd like to know what kind of governor he is for PA. I hope the people have a better opinion for 2008. Which candidate can convince and actually serve PA better?

    March 12, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Goodheart

    Who is his campaign to talk? What hypocricy. Obama doesn't want a re-vote in Florida or Michigan because he knows he will lose. He wants to play by the rules and steal the nomination.

    The less people that vote, the better he does. That's why he's won so many caucuses and ran up his delegate count (not everyone votes in caucuses). Take that with no Florida and Michigan votes, he's hardly the Democrats choice.

    March 12, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Charlotte

    If Obama thinks he can win the general election, he is in for a rude awakening. Where a mere fraction of the state voters turn out in a caucus, Obamas tatics won't work in the general election, there aren't any caucuses. In states that held caucuses Obama did very well, in states with a primary not so good. Furthermore, he has yet to win a big blue state. This does not bode well for him in the general election. Maybe he would like to CHANGE the general election to an all caucus election. The older generation and the infirmed cannot stand for hours to caucus, that is the only reason he won most of those. In Nevada, where people could vote at their place of employment he didn't do so well, now did he?

    March 12, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. OGA

    Obama may redefine battle ground states in November if he secure the nomination, but the question is, would that compensate for possible losses in traditional democratic stronghold?

    March 12, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. B Palladino

    I would like to know if Senator Clinton's staff is clairvoyant, first they predict that you have to win in Ohio to win the presidential election, now they say the path to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is through Pennsylvania, I'm confused, is it Ohio or Pennsylvania? With this much clairvoyance among the Clinton staff, why do we need the primaries and caucuses, their crystal balls have spoken, forget the voters of The United States of America.....

    March 12, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. JD

    The problem with OHIO and Texas, is there were many cross over Republicans who voted for Clinton. So I would not take her wins there as laid in stone come the fall . Nobody will energize the Republicans more then Hillary Clinton .

    And for all the "quiet" from the Obama Camp on the horror show of the Clintons, Monica, Paula, Jennifer, Whitewater, Vince Foster, Hillary stealing things from the White House then returning them –the Republicans are dying for the Clintons to go down in flames.

    March 12, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. foday

    The path to 1600 pennsylvania avenue is in Washington not Pennsylvania state. I guess phil singer does not know the names of the street in washington. To remind phil Singer Oboma worn the path to 1600 pennsylvania Ave. show sign of leading to the white house. Phil look for an other respond. If you are saying the path to 1600 avenue goes through pennsylvania you did not know what say because that street is not in pennsylvania state. By the Phil can you tell your campaign to stop dividing the party or we will all become losers to Mccain.

    March 12, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. Pon Mao

    DNC established a rule long time ago, MI and FL knowingly break the rule, therefore should be punished. If they can get away with breaking the rule without punishment, then where is DNC's credibility? Next time if some other states decide to change the rule, will DNC be able to object to that?

    Clinton knows about the rule, and she agreed to it before. Now she's behind in delegate count, and she wants to change the rule to suit her needs? How disgusting!

    March 12, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Eric

    that's stupid, i mean how many democrats are going to vote for John McCain over either Obama and Clinton. Losing a state in the primaries doesn't make it automatic to lose in the general election.

    March 12, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. CB

    Undervalue, Underestimate and Marginalize must be the new Clinton Campaign Team's slogan under consideration although, a "Borg" style, “We are the Clinton's, Resistance is Futile" fits snugger. Hillary doesn't want to shed any light on the fact she is getting her proverbial tail kicked in over half the states. She was only won states where she can effectively incite fear and division, expertly manipulating the media. Hillary, the sands of time are not on your side. The bells for change have started tolling for you across America. Get one more choir dance in before your swansong. Like it or not Obama is the People's Choice.

    March 12, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. JA Cook

    “The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania. So if Barack Obama can’t win there, how will he win the general election?”

    Democrat versus Democrat is not the same as Democrat versus Republican in the Fall.

    March 12, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Melanie

    I really hate how this woman thinks so highly of herself....

    March 12, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Adam

    Yes Obama, But most of those were Cacuses and we know how fair those can be. Like I missed mine in Denver because I had to work during the time they were going on. Guess my vote did not matter to Obama.

    March 12, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. Black Male Dem

    I have been reading many comments. I am so shocked to see so many "anyone but Obama" democrats posting messages. For those who don't know Republicans are divided right now because many of them are disenfranchised by McCain. But one thing they all agree on is "They HATE the Clintons". If Hillary is the nominee she will UNITE the Republican party just because of who she is. How will that help her to win Red States???? This puzzles me to no end (along with her phantom 35 years of experience). Obama has many moderate republicans and independents in his corner. Wouldn't that help him in red states?

    Also, if you watched the debates you should see that the policies between the two of them are so similar that during half of the debates they are agreeing with each other. So if you like Hillary because of her policies, then you should like most of Obama's policies as well. As an Obama supporter, I would not jump ship and vote for John "Bush" McCain if she won. So why are Hillary supports claiming to be ready to jump ship. I can't say it is racism, but I can say that it sure smells like it.

    March 12, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Adam

    There is a huge difference in losing Penn. in a primary and losing Penn. in the general election. I always laugh when I here the Clinton campaign state they have won in states they need to win in the fall. I mean, come on, do they really think that Obama wouldn't carry California or New York in the general election? It is true the Democratic nominee will need to win key states like Ohio and Penn., however, they will be using the Democratic platform against the Republican platform. There is a major difference in those two. I wish this would end soon because it is dividing the party. The campaigns and their followers (myself included at times) have been overly critical. Its time to bring the party together and focus on the common enemy.

    March 12, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. Debbie

    Hasn't the Hillary campaign learned yet that they are not running or driving this election but the people are? And how is it that when she
    knows she's going to lose a state she moves on to campaign in another but when Obama mentions future primaries he's trying to avoid something? Listen to her and her campaign. Most of the time
    the negative comments to Obama are really what they're feeling about themselves. Be careful counting states (people) out. It will come back to haunt you later. And because Hillary and her campaign counts people out, it lets you know that she is not running to become a president for the people of the US but just like the republicans were
    a president for the rich, she'll become a president for specific states.
    Listen to her and her campaign. The more she talks the more she
    exposes her true self.

    March 12, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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