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. Lola

    I'm not voting for arrogant, spoiled and empty puppet Obama.

    April 18, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  2. jason

    dems, it's time to stop fighting with each other. don't you think the repubs are loving this? let's work smarter and get unified so we can take back the white house in the GE.

    April 18, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  3. andy in illinois

    unknown, eh?
    you got the inter-web, you obviously know who Obama is.
    if you dont know by now, then are you really trying?
    by NOT knowing your candidates, you are the one doing yourself the injustice.
    seems like that staement shows how naive you are.
    good luck

    April 18, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  4. Jane, NC

    With Senator Obama's refusal to debate in NC and with the demographics in his favor, he's definitely taken us for granted. I hope Senator Clinton's voters will come out in force.

    April 18, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  5. elysha

    Oboma is full of hot air and will say anything to go his way. Hillary 08. We don't need a want to be and never will be a M.L.K.

    April 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  6. Bill

    There will be more news concerning nafta. This time the truth comes out. A very high rankig Clinton official was the one who told Canada that it was just political talk, not to worry about it. A name was given this time. I do know it was not Penn. Were was Nafta and Penn during the debate? This Independent is leaning more and more towards Obama, even if I am a typical white person and of the age that Bill seems to think is going to carry his wife to the election.

    April 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |

    It won't happen, keep dreaming you Hitleryites, she is done. does she always wear those stupid pants suits, she looks pathetic.

    April 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. kristine for hillary 08


    April 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. scott from ny

    Hey Smitty, you need to do something like get the Pope's endorsrnent, pay $1000 per person to vote for clintion, and to get Bush and Rumsfeid to endorse Obama. Happy dreans to you.

    April 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  10. timetofart

    When Hillary starts wearing her hair like the Texas FLDS women I'll vote for her.

    April 18, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  11. Mariann Pepitone

    The Truth: Take this. If Obama wins the presidency he better be sure he is well protected because we have had only white people as our president.. And there may be people out there just waiting for that. JFK once said he wasn't going to hide from the public because if someone wants you bad enough they will get you sooner or later. And if he doesn't get the nomination will the blacks riot and tear up the area's because he lost? That't their way of life. If they don't get what they want there goes the neighborhood.

    April 18, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I'm tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton's so-called "experience" when dealing with this country's problems.

    What experience has Hillary had being president?

    Almost as valid as her under sniper fire.

    April 18, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  13. FrankSZ

    Wait, she is already talking about NC? What happened to PA?

    Isn't this like someone who looses every game and keep saying, "wait until the next one" ?

    If USA would have a 100 states she wouldn't stop, even if she would be down to the 99th one.

    I have a suggestion: Get out of the D-party and form a new one called the "Clintonites". See how far you go with that one.

    April 18, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  14. Susan / PA


    Mich and Fl broke the rules all on there own...the delegates will be seated in some form in August...but the actual votes wont count.

    I refuse to teach my grandchildren that it is OK to break the rules and then be rewarded.

    Both states broke the rules and have NO right in the outcome of this race..period.

    April 18, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  15. DemocracyNow2008

    Hillary is hoping to win North Carolina but she is about 3-4 points only in PA's latest Polls .

    I guess Pennsylvania will not be a big win so she's moving on to say North Carolina is the important State to win.

    Then if she loses her supporters will say its not that important.

    Obama will win big in North Carolina and maybe even upset her in Pennsylvania.

    What happened to a big win in PA?

    Not Happening and Obama will pick up alot of delegates in both States.

    Obama 08/12

    April 18, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  16. Debate Fatigued

    What???? Another debate???? Isn't 21 MORE THAN SUFFICIENT? (or is it 22?)

    If people still have not made up their minds who to support or know the positions of each candidate by the over 20 debates that have ALREADY been nationally and internationally televised, plus all the information on their respective positions on the important issues that matter to the American people from the official websites of the candidates, plus all the news stories (biased or not, do your own research), then America is in deep trouble!

    The "debates" are becoming a national entertainment, especially when non-issues are considered "topics to discuss, debate & inform" such as the ABC sponsored "debate".

    April 18, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  17. Cherie

    Hey Obama Supporters...what's he paying you? A penney per post?
    Because, really...I cant think of one good reason to elect this man..Let's see, he attends a racist and anti-American church (but, you all make excuses and turn a blind eye), He aligns himself with crooks and former terrorists (but, that's ok too!), He basically says that small town people are so bitter that they turn to guns, religion and racisim (but, really what he's trying to say is that we are so stupid that we cant think of anything else to vent our frustrations), and He has a wife who has said she has NEVER been proud of this country, until now! (But, you'll excuse that too!), What has he truly accomplished? Can you name something really life changing for the people of this country? I bet you cant......sooooo, stop drinking the kool-aid and stop living in his Fantasy world!
    Hillary '08

    April 18, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  18. Lisa

    Honestly people. I understand the whole thing about thinking Obama is a "change" we need. BUT is he the RIGHT change we NEED? I come from a small community and attend a rather small church NOTHING like the HUGE church Obama does. But, we all still talk about sermons or things that go in our church. Do you honestly believe, even tho he says he wasn't in church, (but also wants us to believe he is a weekly church go-erand very involved with the church as well as his family) that he didn't speak to ANYONE in the congregation about the vile remarks his FRIEND, FAMILY ADVISOR, AND PASTOR made? Correct me if I am wrong, when Wright made those comments, wasn't he IN office as a senator? Representing the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? The same America that Wright blamed for 9/11?? How in the hell do you NOT hear that from your fellow parishoners and friends? especially if you are soooo involved in that church. And WHY would you want your children to listen to such crap? The same country you preach you and your family owe so much to? I'm sorry, you don't respect, befriend, listen to someone like that and NOT believe what he's preaching. And if you don't, you distance yourself from that person. We had a priest who said some very ignorant things about some parishoners in our church. And you know what? A bunch of us were offended by his remarks and changed churches until he left. We now have a wonderful caring priest who Loves God and this country AND all people. He sees no-one differently and does NOT think America caused 9/11. Come on people, step out of your box and think things thru. Do we honestly want someone like that leading our country?

    April 18, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  19. Celeste Guerrero

    Anderson, why are you makimg a big deal out of Robert Reich, he isn;t even a super delegate and the big story is Hillary gained three real super delegates today. Why not report that?

    April 18, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  20. Zeppo!

    Count MICHIGAN and FLORIDA for the sake of Democracy.

    Howard Dean should be fired, he is a failure. He should go back to being a Gyno!

    April 18, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  21. Mastafa, Raleigh NC

    Correct me if I'm wrong but is part of the reason that Hillary will have a tough time in NC because the voters are educated. If Hillary fears educated voters then her campaign is really in trouble.

    April 18, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. bitter and frustrated.

    God may be wearing pj's but he ain't sleeping. And lying lips are an obomination unto the Lord. Hillary is evil, lying, and coniving and she will never get back into that white house.

    April 18, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  23. No Way Obama08

    Biggest upset of the Century indeed - Obama winning the Presidency.

    At the rate he is imploding, he will be lucky to get his senate seat back.

    Hillary '08

    Take the train? Nah, we can walk along the tracks being laid by Obamas poor performances.

    April 18, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  24. Michael Guinn , Ventura, CA

    Does the term "When pigs fly!" mean anything to ya?
    Not gonna happen- period.

    April 18, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  25. Chris in Va.

    If she talks like a Republican,
    acts like a Republican,
    looks like a Republican,
    has no ethics like a Republican,
    and lies like a Republican......

    April 18, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
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