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. Darlene from CT

    STOP, STOP!!! OBAMA all the way. He's been a sitting bull and he's not stooping to her level. Just what we need for America!

    April 18, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  2. JOHN


    April 18, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  3. Geo

    Clinton continues to make a fool of herself. Clinton can say whatever she wants to say. The bottom line is people do not trust her. After this mess, the people of NY will not want her back. I can't blame them. She made a bunch of false promises there too.

    April 18, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Clinton people...its over. Sure, you're having fun posting this ridiculousness, much of it grossly distorted.

    Its funny how the supporters of a candidate tend to behave similar to their candidate.
    Clinton supporters post inaccurate numbers, distortions, and "name calling" on a regular basis.
    They believe Michigan's delegates should be counted even though the primary would then have been held under false pretense.

    Please, folks, when Clinton doesn't win 75% of the vote in Pennsylvania and gets even closer to the realm of impossibility, start pressuring your candidate to end her run. As it stands, she needs nearly every SuperDelegate in order to win. Meanwhile, she's bleeding SuperDel's.

    April 18, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  5. Mark

    The only true surprise is the alleged (crowned) nominee of the democratic party has been kicked in many state elections and is trailing with no hope of catching up at this point...now that is an upset. And please knock the crap off on Michigan and Florida votes not being counted since they broke the rules that set up long before the election, but I guess people tend to forget about that fact. And as I recall...one candidate wasn't on the ballot, i.e, in Michigan.

    And lastly, all those little states do add up not just winning the big ones.

    April 18, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  6. Washington, DC

    I started as a semi-Hillary supporter because I thought, because I am a woman, I "should" support her. To anyone reading this, especially if you are undecided, please DO NOT FALL for her spin, her politics, her inauthentic self. We have a rare opportunity to elect a man of the finest intelligence, of real moral character, who has good policies for all Americans and plans to make them a reality in the lives of all. Obama is the President of the people, for the people and will stand with the people to bring our great nation to a refreshingly "new place in the 21st century" - The Clintons did some very good things in the 90's, but truthfully it wasn't all good and done by them. The economy is very cyclical and parts of it are largely out of the control of the President. You have to look at policy, and leadership and I hope all undecided people, and anyone reading this who is already decided, really thinks about what kind of opportunity we have before us - it's time for a new politics in Washington. Do not go for more of the same old, same old by supporting Clinton. It's not that she's horrible - she isn't, we simply have a better choice. Obama 08.

    April 18, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  7. tom

    Did you ever see the Monty Python scene in which a hapless knight battles to a completely limbless state, and still pitifully calls out challenges and insults as the victor move on? Mrs. Clinton must finally see her situation for what it is, abd walk away with her dignity while she still can.

    April 18, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  8. Jim B

    Actually when Barack beats Annie in PA it will be the upset.

    April 18, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    How long will the press continue to think they can decide this race? Just another Hillary slam and another love sonnet to Obama. Let's face it people...if Obama manages to get the nomination, say welcome to President McCain. Obama will not will the general election against anyone, period. I ALWAYS vote democrat and I've decided that if Obama does get the nomination I will have to vote against him and vote for McCain. The idea makes me sick but I see no other choice. Obama is not only an elitist but is FAR from ready to run this country. Where's the experience? I haven't seen nearly enough yet and I've reviewed his credentials again and again. Thanks to the press, we're looking now at at least 4 if not more years of a Republican in the White House. Why can't they stop all this bashing and negative Hillary reporting and let the PEOPLE decide for themselves. So sad, how easily the people of this country are swayed by the talking heads.

    April 18, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. funnygrl

    why don't you were a flag pin? uh, uh, uh, uh (count 'em)

    What is he going to do against McCain in the general election? Maybe they can give him a teleprompter so he can actually hold his own in a debate?

    April 18, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  11. Indiana Bob

    Of course NC will go for Obama. With blacks voting 90% for the black candidate, Hillary can't win southern states on political issues. Most Democrats in southern states are black. She can't change her race in this racist campaign. Of course those same southern states that Obama is winning handily, and gave him the lead in deligates, will vote Republican in the general. Of course many big name politicians are backing Obama so they can secure the black vote for their own political future. Hillary would have been the Democratic nominee until Obama made this a racist campaign and stole the primary. That won't work in the general. Unlike Hillary, the Republicans will not hesitate to fight racism with racism. If Obama wins, the Democratics lose in the general.

    April 18, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  12. Ryan

    Of course it would be an upset if she wins in NC, but not the biggest. Obama will have a huge upset if he keeps gainingin PA where she was up by double digits.
    Im also tired of people complaining about Florida and Michigan. Obama was not on the ballot so he could not even be voted for and both decided not to run in Florida so why would it be counted.

    April 18, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  13. Goldie

    Folks, let's get a grip. We don't know anything about Obama. We need someone who's going to get us out of the Bush mess, not create another one. His lofty ideas can only work with a pragmatist. It's time for a women to fix things. Give her a chance.

    April 18, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  14. Jonathan Swift

    Kate, Please provide the names of those lobbyists. You don't need to post all 38, just 8 would do. Thanks, it is so important that we stick to the facts.

    April 18, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  15. ian

    I am a huge Obama supporter, but I think it's shameful to see all these alleged Democrats turning on each other.

    What's more important, people, ending the war in Iraq or having your favorite personality in the White House?!? Get over it, people!: Vote, Count, then vote Democratic!

    End this madness, please.

    April 18, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  16. FNJ in Pa

    Sharon Minnesota-

    You are seriously one something. Trying reading facts!Obama has picked up 5 superdelegates in the past 2 days. He is down by what 15 or so superdelegates. He was down by 30+ a few months ago. SHE IS NOT WINNING IN POPULAR VOTE OR STATES WON! Get your head out of Hillary's butt. She may win PA but not by much I guarantee it. They can poll adults with home phones all they want to....dont underestimate people like me (22 years old) who cannot be polled because we have cell phones not home phones. The movement in Pittsburgh for Barack is overwhelming.

    ALL ALONE....I have swayed my dad to change from Republican to vote Obama. My mom is voting Obama. My Cousin changed from Independent to vote Obama. My 2 brothers. 1 of my best friends and 7 co workers. And besides my parents we are all under 28 years old.


    April 18, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  17. sam texas

    Clinton is such a looooooser all she does is cry cry cry
    she will never win the nomination and will probaly never win her senate seat after this in new york, the clintons are just spoiled power hungry mud slinging thugs, and should be kicked out of our party

    April 18, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  18. I AM

    Hillary by all standards human, it would appear that ther is in your game – no shame. You have said from your own mouth that your worthy opponent is capable of leading the country and beating McCain. Why thenare you still tearing at the fiber of the Democratic party?
    By yourr own admission, you have sounded the knell for withdrawal. It would seem you do not know how to bow out. Simple! Say, "Senator Obabam it has been quite a challenge trying to prick your tires. They are well insulated. See you in you years! That will give me more time to prepare and gain valued experience. Thanks for all you have done for my early 2012 campaigning." Then depart with Billary and Chelsea.
    There will not be a sandwiched Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton dynasty! Us Americans may be sentimentalists but not everlasting foolish!

    April 18, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  19. sam texas

    susan mo
    you are also such a looser she will not win so just stop you crying you sound just like the clintons is it susan or realy is this monica??????

    April 18, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  20. Angela Frodella

    Sorry guys, don't count Hillary out just yet. This woman is a survivor and smart! She deserves to be our President, not Obama. I don't even know what he stands for, but I know HIllary would fight tooth and nail for the American People. Forget all of the other political crap, when it comes down to it, she will get the job done and won't rest until things are right for America. I really truly feel that in my heart. Give her a chance!

    April 18, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  21. Ken Out West

    When Hillary finally decides to go home....where will she go? Illinois? New York? Arkansas? Washington DC? Pennsylvania?

    Will she speak like a yankee? A southerner? An easterner?

    She is such a flippin' sham artist and professional liar, that it is hard to figure that one out.

    But nonetheless.....please do go home Hillary. America is tired already.

    April 18, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  22. Vig

    Hillary is leadership material. Obama is professorial material. You want someone to take on the terrorist and not smile their way through – Hillary is the one. You want action instead of words, words, words – Hillary is the one. You want independence, guts, brains, experience, Hillary is the one. Give me that trash talking, beer guzzling, whiskey shot, gun toting heroine, Hillary is the one. Hillary is the real deal.

    April 18, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  23. K.Celina IL for Hillary

    Obama is as in any spech well prepared to go after Hillary, but He is the one who is talkative and childish !!!!
    I don't see in him Presidential figur !!!! No !!!! to Obama !!!!!

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

    April 18, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  24. Michigan Voter

    I'm votin' for da man who's gonna occupy dat country in de middeast. cuz we's needs gas.

    April 18, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  25. David B JAX FL

    Hillary will say or do anything to win....I wouldn't put it past her to have Obama bumped off. Thank God we finally have someone worth voting for, instead of just voting against the other person running. Thank you Barack for running the best campaign that I have ever seen. God Bless you Barack, and God Bless these United States of America. Let's be proud once again to be American.

    April 18, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
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