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. Erick

    They do realize that we are only 8 years into this respective century right?

    April 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. MD in CT

    Since the media, including CNN, has harped repeatedly on the "Reverend Issue" as an attack subject against Obama, why has no one
    brought up that the Clinton pastor, Rev. William Procanick, is IN JAIL
    FOR MOLESTING A 7-YEAR OLD GIRL AND LYING ABOUT? Did they see signs of this when they listed to his sermons on marriage and faithfullness? President Clinton seemed to learn something from his pastor about proper sexcual behavior or are their parallel behavior only coincidental?

    April 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  3. Michael, North Carolina

    Sen. Obama will win the state of North Carolina easily. The demographics of this state are set up simliar to Virginia, and South Carolina. So if he can get at least 50% or more of the white male vote, here in the state, then I would say he would easily win North Carolina by 20 or more points. I just ask the good people of North Carolina to contiune to encourage their friends, and the young people to come out and vote. EVERY VOTES COUNTS.


    April 18, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  4. SueB

    Hopefully the smart people of PA will decide this thing and Hillary will be out of the race so we can all get back to normal!! Of course, if Obama wins PA , the Clintons will move the goal posts to whoever wins NC and/or Indiana. Lose those, it'll be Guam! Lose Guam, it will be whoever can come up with the biggest tall tale to tell the American people will be the nominee–I knew she had a reason for her sniper-lies!!!

    April 18, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. OR for Obama

    Sharon Minnesota...you make me laugh. Go Obama!!!

    April 18, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. Susan MO

    We hope the people of beautiful North Carolina will consider what Obama did.......how he insulted the people of Pennsylvania, and then 'made light of it', which is basically laughing in their faces.

    We do not need a president who insults the people.

    First thought about Obama, but not now.

    Now strongely for Hillary Clinton.

    April 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  7. wayne

    I hope Obama takes 90 delegates from this state. Whatever momentum Clinton will gain from Pennsylvania will be erased by the landslide victory Obama will have. The spin from the Clinton camp doesnt change people minds only prove the facts: Clinton's supporters always try to move the goal post in their favor. They were the first one who stated Obama only is winning by narrow margins and didnt give him credit for his wins. Then on top of that they count wins base on popular vote, but the party doesnt usually elect on popular vote. You need delegates to win the nomination. They claim Clinton won Ohio and Texas.. Well, Obama won Texas–Popular vote doesnt mean anything delegates are the spades in this card game. The party has been claiming she would win Pennsylvania by double digits. Ok, dont move the goal post. By the way, Obama still leads in Popular vote, states won, and delegates.. Once again, the Clinton camp is making an argument that doesnt count. We need Florida and Michigan to count.. Is that the only way Clinton can win, when Obama's name is not on the ballot(Michigan)? Wake up and smell the roses.. I predict all the superdelegates who are holding office that endorse Clinton will need to find another career after their terms run out.. The unemployment line isnt too friendly nowadays.. Be careful, dont sign your life away. OBAMA forever!!

    April 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. Audrey in SF

    you know what else would be the biggest upset of the century?

    OBAMA in PA!!!! c'mon Pennsylvania, bring it home!!

    April 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. Marion, NC

    When the dog bites
    When the bee stings
    When I'm feeling sad
    I simply remember my favorite things
    And then I don't feel so bad
    -Rogers/ Hammerstein

    My one favorite thing is to have Barack win the DNC nominiation.

    Obama 08

    April 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. Tyler

    Too bad she doesn't stand a chance. At least she can drop out gracefully after losing.

    April 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  11. Grif

    Custer must have been a Democrat... Beware of Big Mc's. Little Big Horn...

    April 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. Ann

    Susan MO April 18th, 2008 7:51 pm ET

    So long, goodbye.. anyway you have no idea where are you heading.

    April 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  13. Erin - WA

    Flag pins, abortion, and "God Bless America". That is all I care about and I will vote for any candidate that is on the right side of these. I don't care how stupid or corrupt they are.

    April 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  14. christopher

    Sharon what the heck are you talking about. She gain 2 superdelegates and he gain 8. Over the course of 4 months he has gain many more supers than she. He is ahead in delegates and the popular vote. Please know the facts before typing. Average polls have Obama leading in NC by about 14%. Huge upset, ya think. Why is he even speaking about this. Lets just end this now, for the parties sake. Question to Billary supporters, give me a heavy weight superdelegate in the last month you have garnered. Even members of your husbands administration don't like you or are in your corner. I only hope you can keep your congressional seat.

    April 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. Walt, Belton,TX

    Considering the Clintons are not above cheating on any scale, I wouldn't kiss them off yet. They only too well know you can buy votes, and super delegates are up for sale. Lord knows, it wouldn't be the first time for them................................

    April 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  16. richard

    OBAMA 08 .... DONE DEAL

    April 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  17. Sheilah, NC

    North Carolina would be the biggest upset of the century. IF we were still thinking about you, but we're not. We have other things to think about, and guess what Hillary, they don't include your sorry, selfish-self.

    Vote big in North Carolina for Barack Obama. Go to the polls and come back big for America.

    Obama 08

    April 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. FB

    Hillary was up over 20 points in PA only weeks ago and Obama managed to close the gap. Obama is still holding a double digit in NC and Hillary can't seem to make a dent.

    Do yourselves a favor and check on Hillary's track record. It's full of expertise on scandals and shady politics. Carbon copy of Bush's administration. She's got everyone fooled.

    April 18, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  19. A True black American

    A vote for Obama is a vote for invasion of the Unied States by -----------– for you to understand this ---------- it is very easy if you know what Former president Carter is doing presenly then you have the rihgt answers. Obama will start from where Carter ended it from and his will be more worse as Carter is endorsing him for the same purpose of dialoging with--------------------------.GOD SAVE THIS AMERICA FROM OBAMA AND CARTER AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I will not say what say what ----------- is because CNN as a result of their being bias will not post my comments

    April 18, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. Todd In farmcountry Pennsylvania

    but yet dropping 20 points in Pennsylvania is yeah... whatever. Hay at least I won... Obama was down 20 or so points just a couple weeks ago.. So, by their own logic, if Obama wins Pennsylvania, wouldn't that be the biggest upset of the century...

    PS, NC polls aren't moving...

    April 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  21. John, NC

    This is almost laughable. Obama will win NC and we are doing what we can to make sure of that! Dream on!

    April 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  22. Ostriches burying our heads in the sand

    "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."

    Wishful thinking!!! Some people sure live in Lala Land!

    April 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  23. Susan MO


    Sharon: What are you smoking. I guess you are not good at Math

    We hope the people of beautiful North Carolina will consider what Clinton did…….how he insulted the people of Pennsylvania, and then 'made light of it', which is basically laughing in their faces. With all her lies

    We do need a President OBAMA.

    First thought about Clinton, but not now.

    Now strongly for Barack OBAMA.

    April 18, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. Ridgeway

    All of you folks whooping and hollering for these two goobers take a breath before you hyperventilate. Stay calm and post a list of their congressional accomplishments. I think making the list will calm you. It will take no time at all.

    April 18, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. Grif

    Sitting Bull Obama???? No.... The Rampaging Bull, and the Matador McCain. Be prepared.. For the Bull Fight, in November. El Torro??? Thje Bull, alway's dies in the end. You have to have, a little more Spunk than Obama was born with....

    April 18, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
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