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. Fight on, Hillary!

    Only YOU have the guts, experience, intelligence, perseverance, and knowledge to lead our country forward! Never mind about the "sheep mentality" of Obamarama!

    April 18, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  2. Tim

    Here's the big story, she has to win the remaining states by 65% just to get within 2 points of B.O., and you can FORGET florida and Mich..cause it will be over before that, so just sit back and enjoy the barbq... cause Hillary is cooked.

    April 18, 2008 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  3. JT Dallas TX

    Whatever it takes! Quitters never succeed. NEVER!

    Clinton and Experience O8!

    April 18, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  4. Obama no way!

    He will NOT go "all the way." If he's selected, he will no NOWHERE!

    April 18, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  5. George


    -N.C. Voter

    April 18, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  6. B in NC

    You can't fit the people of NC into neat little categories, no matter what the media says. It's a diverse state and Senator Obama will win big here. I am so proud of all the North Carolinians who are registering to vote for the first time and proud of our state for seeing through the negative campaigning and representing positive change in government.

    April 18, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  7. What has Obama actually proposed?!

    "Hope," "Change." HOW? Wake up and smell the reality!

    April 18, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  8. sage bill

    Hey, Obamamorons,

    Objects in the rear view mirror are larger than they seem.

    Good bye Barrack, the heat is on, you are cracking and the truth about your shady connections will sink you.

    April 18, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  9. jenny

    bye bye NOBAMA!

    April 18, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  10. Hillary Supporter

    Seriously who cares about NC..

    PA and Ohio are the most imp states to win GE

    April 18, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  11. Marc

    He's too much of a coward to debate her. Nuff said.

    April 18, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  12. Brian

    Hillary is not a "come from behind" candidate. She was apparently a "shoe-in" for the nod. Listen, I will vote Democrat either way this turns out, but come on....Hillary needs to get at least one stance straight during the primaries. Are you or Obama complaining about media treatment? Do you support NAFTA? Were you or were you not the front runner at one point? I have no doubt she is a good politician.....but maybe that's the problem. She's a liar and a bad person.

    April 18, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  13. Keith Cornelius

    Hillary, will win by a larger margin then the polls show, just like she did in NH, MA, NJ and so on. All these states had Obama way ahead and he lost by large margins. HGillary will win PA and IN and close the gap in NC......Carter endorses Obama need I say more...this country is in very big trouble if he gets the nomination because you will then definately have another Republican in th WH and the republicans know this. As far as some of these endorsements for Obama please, they are looking for a politcal appointment...Richardson is looking for the VP spot which is so obvious...These people were made becasue of the Clinton presidency and the success of the clinton administration, otherwise you would not even know who these people are which I would suspect most of the obama supporters don't....they don't even know about there own candidate....HOW SAD................GO HILLARY 08

    April 18, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  14. JacknJill

    The only upset that a Hillary win in NC would bring is
    an UPSET Country and Democratic Party that Clinton's STILL want back in the White House!
    Just stop it already!
    You had your 8 years.
    Now it's time to say bye bye, Hillary & Bill!

    April 18, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  15. henriettap

    Hillary will do in North Carolina as she did in South Carolina as soon as she sees that she is really losing she will be out of there on a fast plane she did not even stay around long enough to tell the people there thanks for their votes.She is already trying to play her pitiful roll.While one member of her staff went ot Canada last week you haven't heard that being discussed in the media.She is still saying she has 35 years of experience I guess she has gone from forgetful to amnesia.And while she is talking of Obama getting out of the kitchen if he can't stand the heat ,I suppose she was in there to long when Bill was there and thats why he had so much freedom to do as he pleased with the White House interns .Hillary should try discussing policies more and stop acting like she has a reservation for the oval office.

    April 18, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  16. Val

    Hillary really is from the Twilight Zone !

    April 18, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  17. David

    I would rather re-elect Bush for a third term then have Obama or Hilary be President

    April 18, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  18. Montanan's Love Barack Obama

    Yes ....... We.........Can.......... in....... North Carolina..

    Yes........We.............Can........... In......... Montana on June 3rd..

    Yes...........We.......Can............ in .......NOVEMBER

    Barack the Vote!!!!

    April 19, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  19. Jay, IL

    Some black folks will vote for Obama no matter what.

    April 19, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  20. Scottie

    My 8 year old nephew is smart enugh to figure out Obama is the choice for his future,get past his skin tone and his muslim sounding name and realize he is the real deal,quit making lame excuses people....BAMA 08.....if she was realy ducking sniper fire,we'd have heard about it then

    April 19, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  21. Allen In NC

    gary April 18th, 2008 7:44 pm ET


    Sir..... I'm native american, And my wife is of irish decent... It's not just african americans.... It's the entire world, Not just here in the states.... I see you here a lot.... And there no way you can hand pick through all the comments and not see that the whole world is watching this election.

    It's not about race.... It's about hard working people wanting thier american dream back...

    April 19, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  22. Lisa from GA

    At first it was OH, TEXAS, ETC.. now it is PA... gosh PA,, she dumped you very quickly. Now it is NC, Hillary is just trying to get the numbers down in NC because she knows she is not going to win by much in PA if she wins at all.. blow her out in NC ... she will have to get packin then.. oh ps dont take any furniture this time Hillary......

    April 19, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  23. Obama

    Hi you all this is I your leader, I wanted to thank you for your support and unrelentless negative talk about the Clintons, now don't let them bamboozie you, you just keep on trashing her and demand that she gets out of the race, cause this is starting to cost alot of money. Can we trash the Clintons so more people can hate them, yes we can now remember hope is on the way, just get her!!! thank you and goodnight

    April 19, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  24. Edith Stafford

    Hillary Clinton in her spin against Barack Obama is appealing to the elitist who obvious do not know who God is. STOP IT ALREADY Please do not listen to such low down duty spin from Clinton McCann and Romney they all speak a forky tongue to wheel you into their evil web spin. It has become obvious that these three do not have any common decency or principles Look at Romney he spent some 60 Million of his own money and didn't even get to first base, he would do better if he just keep his mouth closed and be neutral I believe I could of done as well as he did without spending any money. They are all in the backward court high on themself and the pathetic thing is that they are so out of it they don't even reconignize what evil has fallen upon them. They are simply dead to right and wrong. putting themselves high on the pedestal for the great fall. Serve them and all like them right for they have earned it all. Again Barack Obama is the best of them all and all the people who follow behind that which is evil will have to stand before God. Let not you heart be troubled if you believe in God believe also in me. Do unto to others as you wish them do unto you. I beg of you in prayer please,please do not fall prey to the evil spin that is put before you, God has sent us a man who have demonstrated he have the vision and know how to bring people together in a way that is good, please take a good honest look at your self go for that which is mostly in your best interest. OBAMA BABY!!!!!!08

    April 19, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  25. Generation X

    Why vote for someone that was born with a gold spoon in their mouth. If you all complain about the rich, then why vote for some one born rich? OB was born like us. Clintion is a big lie and the Black community isnt standing behind her. Repbulicans will vote for her, then when it Hillary vs McCain, McCain wins!! Why they know Barack will walk all up and down McCain again, and again, and again.

    Vote for someone with a Gold spoon in their mouth just dont complain when the 3rd bush term starts. If McCain wins Gas will it $6 bucks his second year.

    April 19, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
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