April 18th, 2008
07:05 PM ET
14 years ago

Clinton aide: NC win would be 'biggest upset of the century'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/18/art.clinton0419a.ap.jpg caption="Clinton aides are saying Obama has a major advantage in the state."] WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (CNN) - Hillary Clinton's campaign Friday looked to lower expectations for the upcoming North Carolina primary, telling reporters that a Clinton win here on May 6 would be "the biggest upset of the century."

Ace Smith, the campaign's North Carolina state director, told a group of reporters at Wake Forest University that Obama "starts very strong here," an advantage owed to the state's Democratic cocktail of African-American voters and affluent, educated professionals concentrated around the Raleigh-Durham area.

With the heightened attention being paid to the primary, the state's Democratic voter rolls are swelling. Since January 1, nearly 110,000 North Carolinians have signed up to vote as Democrats in the semi-open primary, and nearly 69,000 have signed up as unaffiliated voters, according to the state board of elections.

In addition, more than 19,000 Republicans have switched parties and registered as either Democrat or unaffiliated in order to participate in the contest since the beginning of the year. Over 67,000 new African-American voters in North Carolina have registered over the same time period.

"Our measure of success is knocking this down to single digits," Smith said of the race, estimating that as many as 1.5 million people could vote in the contest, which will award 115 pledged delegates.

Asked if Clinton can win the primary, Smith said, "No, that would be the biggest upset of the century."

Earlier this year, Obama scored overwhelming victories in two bordering states with very similar demographics: South Carolina and Virginia.

Despite that, Smith was optimistic about the role unaffiliated voters – who can take part in the primary along with Democrats – will play in the contest.

He argued that Obama "has lost traction" among independent voters since the nomination fight began. Clinton and Obama ran roughly even among independent voters in the March 4 contests of Texas and Ohio.

Smith, who managed Clinton's operations in California and Texas, said the New York senator is looking to perform well in the eastern and western parts of the state, rural regions with small towns that have seen visits from former president Bill Clinton. The campaign has also run two television ads here.

Smith criticized Obama for hedging on whether or not he will agree to participate in another debate to be hosted in North Carolina, despite pressure from prominent local Democrats like Gov. Mike Easley and former Gov. Jim Hunt.

"He is looking to brush off the state of North Carolina," Smith said of Obama's reluctance to commit to a debate in the state.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • North Carolina
soundoff (328 Responses)
  1. NickNas

    LOLOLOLOL How many times are we supposed to fall for this?

    "If she loses we knew that would happen and that state doesn't count anyway."

    At LEAST come up with NEW BS to entertain us with guys!!!

    Hillary just go away and take this pitiful example of staff you chose with you.

    April 18, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  2. James


    April 18, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  3. Susan MO

    Wishful thinking. Try winning PA first

    OBAMA 08

    April 18, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. Paul

    Sounds like someone who expects to lose. Let's hope so.

    April 18, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. Sharon Minnesota

    As I was saying................

    Hillary was ahead in super delegates by 22 and she picked up 2 more today. After the primaries, she will be way ahead in both delegates, super delegates and popular votes.

    If you count Michigan and Florida right now, you can pack up old Obama's samsonite bags right now and send him back to Chicago.

    Go Hillary 08

    April 18, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  6. Lyz in MD

    Even those lowered expectations aren't very realistic, but the real story is that you're wasting time on another story about the process of campaigning.

    Let's hear about some real issues already.

    April 18, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. gary


    April 18, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. Mr. C

    Here we go Again from the Clinton Camp. trying to say Obama is ignoring the NC people... NC will suprise the clinton camp. obama will win by double digits.

    April 18, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  9. J T

    clinton is a big upset(of the century), shes such a joke

    April 18, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. we wanh hillary, not mccain...screw him.

    I know we can't win. But who cares? At least we have Nader.

    Hillary and Nader.

    April 18, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. Mike J

    She's going to be worse off after NC than she was before PA. She's going to lose NC by A LOT more than she wins PA, if she wins it at all, her lead is down to 3-4 points in most of the polls I've seen.

    April 18, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. True Believer in hope

    John Edwards dropped out way too soon.

    April 18, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. we wanh hillary, not mccain...screw him.

    We already won California and New York, so who gives a crap what North Carolina thinks. They aren't even big enough to make an impact. Let's be real, folks. NC ain't that special.

    Hillary and Nader 2008.

    April 18, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. The Truth

    The truth is if Obama wins the Presidency that will be the biggest upset in the Century...because it is amazing where he is given where hes has come from It's the bigger picture that counts so take That!

    OB '08

    April 18, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. Susan MO





    April 18, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. Misty

    Is Hillary Clinton planning to "WIN" North Carolina because of the Republican switching to Democrat Party and vote for Clinton? Wow!

    This should cause all the Democrats to band and vote for Obama unanimously because he will be the party nominee and will be the President in 'O8 and '12.

    I have had enough of Bill and Hillary (I will wait for Chelsea in 2020: She is a smart and articulate lady– will be fit for being a President someday).

    For Now it is Obama-Obama-Obama!!!!

    April 18, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. Peter of Oregon

    Wow... she's now trying to downplay her double digit lead in the PA election by saying that Obama is spending more on advertisement.

    Of course, it makes sense that he would have to spend more in order to overcome her name recognition given Bill Clinton, her husband, was President of the United States for two terms.

    Where's the scientific analyses that are behind her campaign's claim that it would be the biggest upset of the century if she were to win NC?

    The bottom line is this. Hillary IS suppose to have a decisive, double digit, WIN in PA. Taking attention off of that will not distract the voters from it.

    OBAMA '08

    April 18, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. eyeingtenure

    Well, except for Bradley's primary success in 2000, Clinton in 1992, Nixon over Humphrey in 1968 ... just to name a few.

    April 18, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. richard

    Get it done Hillary America needs you.

    April 18, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. MCD

    Keep on movin that goal post.

    April 18, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. Megan

    Yeah, good luck with that guys.

    April 18, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. Fred

    Clinton is done, She is not bright enough to realise it.

    April 18, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. JAZZ

    And America loves a "come from behind" winner. Look at the issues and do the right thing NC. America needs a problem solver who won't quit on her, not change for change's sake. Vote Hillary '08.

    April 18, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. Bill Pa.

    Hillary all the way........................08........................................

    NC needs Hillary for sure.

    April 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  25. Selina

    I think it's a tad immature and petty for people to vote outside their party if the favored person doesn't win. The Democratic party needs to unite so that the people can take me this country!


    April 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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