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. dddanga

    Pennsylvania will end up being around 54-46 Clinton, and she'll end up losing the rest of the states save maybe Kentucky. Is that a good argument? Really? Obama needs to ignore this madwoman and her crazy campaign people because even if he loses Pennsylvania, it won't be by a large enough margin, and Clinton will get to Denver behind Obama in delegates as well as the popular vote. Oh, but she will continue to let her minions (read Ferraro) use disgusting racist remarks and maybe cry some more and possibly say McCain is better than Obama a couple more times. Game on woman, if you want to drag the Party through filth, be my guest. Your legacy as well as your husband's however will be over.

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

    Obama is right as usual about the coward Clinton. So what else is new.

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

    yes, hillary should win pennsylvania b/c it's a DEMOCRATIC primary. dont have independents and republicans to save him. real democrats want hillary. fair weather democrats want obama.

    March 12, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. clinton muehlenbrock

    Geez they are trying to ignore the fact that 60% of hillary's voters will vote for barack if he has the nomination and that guarantees victory in almost every state republican and democrat lol geez. Common sense here guys lol

    March 12, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. AJ

    Again Clinton and her camp fail to realize that this is a battle for the nomination right now. She needs to win by HUGE numbers to gain MORE delegates. This isn't about states won in the primary season. But she would have us believe that its about winning the big blue states now, states that, no matter who wins the democratic ticket, will be won by the democrats.

    At this point with the exception of 4 states and the TX caucus, Obama has beaten Clinton by more than 15% of the vote in the states he won. And more than not he has blown her out of the water. Clinton on the other hand, with the exception of 2 states, has not been able to beat Obama by more than 20% in any of the "big states" she won. Including NY and CA!

    You can check out any delegate map and do the calculations yourself.

    March 12, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. suzy

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 12, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. New York expat in Santo Domingo

    If Phil Singer is so small-minded to think that if Hillary does win in PA (which is to be determined, which is why we vote in the first place and not merely annoint a nominee), that in the GENERAL ELECTION the Democratic nominee won't win the same state, then he's a political mercinary, not a true Democrat.

    Here's the civic lesson CNN should be giving: Primary voters are dedicated voters. As such, those who express party loyalty in a Primary GENERALLY vote in the General Election and GENERALLY vote with their party. THAT is why this has been an exciting primary season, because of the large Democratic turnout which shows an invigorated base. Then, what is desired, is to turn that same enthusiasm up a notch at the Convention and carry it over to the General Election. This is important not only to the Presidential election, but to all Party elections for ALL offices (known as the "shirt-tail" effect).

    What has happened this year is that Hillary has brought out some of her own dedicated voters and the Obama "movement" has invigorated a whole new group of voters not previously engaged in the process.

    What is at stake now, Mr. Singer, is whether Hillary polarizes the Party such that she'll dampen turnout and hand over the election to McSame. Obama has shown restraint and leadership by not falling prey to the Clinton shinanagins. I hope he is rewarded for it in PA, so Hillary can mull over and think about how her politics of hope turned into politics of shame. For the Party's sake, I hope we take this Primary base, are unified by Obama, rally behind him, and sweep elections in ALL CONTESTS.

    And, yes, even though I'm an expat, I am a citizen, I pay taxes, and I vote (in my latest jurisdiction, NY).

    March 12, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. esther .

    Make it happen Obama, we are counting on you. Do not let her, Hillary, get away with even one small untruth that is released to the public.

    Fight back, we are behind you all the way.

    March 12, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. evans o.oseki, norway


    March 12, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. One America

    Note to Hillary Camp:

    Barack will win the general election with the help of my vote, and millions of other voters. We are quite frankly, tired of the politics of the past from Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

    We'll save you a seat at the inaugural.

    One America–Obama 08

    March 12, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Kelley

    So all the states that he has won are irrelevant? Geraldine has diverted the focus fromt he campaign.I am so ready for Obama to be in NC. One more note is are any of the campaigns actually talking about issues anymore or are they just punching counter punching?

    March 12, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. hkitty

    Obama's strategy in winning in hard-core red states is flawed to its very core!! Dems signing on for him, will see another Rep in the WH in 2009. That's really just a fact.

    March 12, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. J

    to answer singer: the same way he has been winning the popular vote, the most contests (including texas, yes he won texas) and the most pledged delegates.

    March 12, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Kentucky

    True, Hillary did well in the state of Ohio, but not in the county's where There is a large concentration of industry. Pennsylvania like Michigan has an economy based on Industry more so than Ohio. The people that have lost their jobs in those states have not forgotten the words of Ross Perot about NAFTA. He said that if any president supported NAFTA that there would b e a "sucking sound" in this country, it would be all your jobs leaving the country for countries that pay lower wages. He was right and there is no disputing that. The Clinton's supported and defended that trade agreement. They put alot of people out of work when they made that decision. Its now time to put the Clinton's out of work! Sorry Hillary, its pay back time!!!

    March 12, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. PeterO

    Plouffe is correct. I did some calculations based on state polls and the electoral map. Republicans hold 133 electoral votes no matter who the dem. candidate is. Democrates hold 143 no matter who the candidate is. Hillary picks up 6 for swinging Arkansas from red to blue, and Obama would pick up 21 for swinging CO, NV and OR from red to blue. Hillary picks up 33 for swinging MA and PA from swing to blue, and Obama picks up 21 for swinging DE, HI, MD and NH from swing to blue. At this point Hillary should have a solid 182 and Obama would have 185. They both have equal chance at swing states FL, MI, MO, and OH for another possible 75. There are two states that are blue for Hillary and swing for Obama which equal 33 votes, and four states that are blue for Obama and swing for Hillary which equal 21 votes.

    The real eye opener is that Obama puts eight otherwise republican states, or 62 votes, into swing vote possibility whereas Hillary only puts five otherwise republican states, or 44 votes, into swing possibility. The end result is that Hillary is in play for a possible 322 votes, and Obama is in play for a possible 355.

    When you need 270 to win it's better to be in play for as many as possible.

    March 12, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Wayne

    Obama is right. This is a NATIONAL campaign. It would be great if only the states you win matter but there are 50 states and in order to win a national election you have to compete in all 50. Obama's 50 state strategy has reeped dividends. He now has won 29 states to Clintons 14. Why is this campaign even going on...he has a 161 delegate lead. There is no way she can beat him in terms of votes.

    March 12, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Roger B from Portland, OR

    The Clinton campaign continues to confuse.

    First of all, how stupid is that last comment? Hey Singer, the road to the White House also goes through 49 other states...most of which, OBAMA WON!

    Look, it is mathmatically impossible for Clinton to catch up. Even if she won ALL the remaining states by margins larger than 20%, there is no mathmatical way she will over take Obama in pledged delegates. This is including revotes in Michigan and Florida (and no, there is no way those elections can be considered valid).

    March 12, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. Tom for moving on

    so true. Ms Clinton is a desperate candidate and it is time to heal the party and move on. She can only win by dividing the party. Is it worth it?

    March 12, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Angelika

    I'm tired of the "only big states matter" argument. Obama can win the White House with or without PA, but come fall, who will they vote for when Hillary's in trouble?

    March 12, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. Carlos

    If Clinton doesn't win the state the state does not matter.

    Obama/Colin Powell '08!

    March 12, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Scott

    It doesnt matter that Clinton won the big states of New York, New Jersey and California. Any democrat will win those states in a general election. The only state that she has won that is relevant at this point is Ohio, I do give her a lot of credit for that. But she also needs to show that she can win in other battleground and traditionally Republican states if the Dems are to win the nomination.

    March 12, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Naijaboy

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

    that one na yarns?

    March 12, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Jim Kansas

    Tend to agree with Clinton's people. I really do not see Obama carrying many of the states he has won in the primaries in the general election. But an Obama run for the White House in the general election does help McCain quite alot.

    March 12, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. Sridhar Prasad

    Is Hillary running for the president of America or only the states of PA, TX and OH?

    In a democartic process, the final winner of the Democratic party has to be the candidate who has secures more votes and more pledged delegates put together from all the 52 states of America.

    Obama's strong wins in states where Democrats have not done well in the past is a plus. In the general elections, there is very good prospect of Democrats winning these states as well in addition to the usual democaritc states, thereby increasing the odds of winning the presidency.

    March 12, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Edd

    Desperate times call for Desperate measures....

    Here's a message to Obama & all his blinded supporters:

    Beat us is CA, Beat us in NV, Beat us Ohio & TX, Beat us FL! Beat us in PA! Close the deal! If you can, we will gladly endorse you!!!!!!!!!

    How many Idaho or Mississippi can you fit in Ca or Ohio?

    Bottomline is: YOU CANNOT WIN IN BIG BLUE STATES!!!!!!!!

    Enough of the big speeches, enough of the rhetorics! Meet us in PA!!!!!

    March 12, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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