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. Midge from Ohio

    All of you people who say such stupid things about Senator Clinton are really sad. She has more intelligence in her little finger then you have in your whole body.

    April 18, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. April in Texas

    Hillary wont win NC especially now with the moveon.org situation breaking news all on the Huffington post. Seems like Hillary had her own back dorr meetings recently with Canada as well.. All the good stuff comes out on Fridays but this should be huge news well before NC and even PA come Tuesday.. Do your research people please. If you need links just go to the Obama site and ask as this will be major news come Monday morning..

    Obama 08

    April 18, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. Texas

    Go home, Hillary

    April 18, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  4. luke, IL

    Dear Fred. You're not bright enough to know how to spell "realize". Barack is an empty suit.

    April 18, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  5. kate

    Hey MD in CT
    that pastor was not HIllarys he's from Clinton NY! DUH!
    look it up
    Obama supporters lying again making stuff up.
    Just like Obama in his ads when he claims he doesn't take money from lobbyists (at least 38 come to mind)
    Where are you CNN you allow this crap on here?

    April 18, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  6. Michael

    NC will go Obama's way and for Hillary's camp to speculate a win there before PA is overestimating. Talk about ego.

    Never thought about Clinton, never ever.

    always strong for Obama.

    April 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  7. John

    It doesn't matter if you knock the lead to single digits. Hillary, you need 2/3rds of the remaining pledge delegates just to tie! Depending on the district, that means getting 70-85% of the votes-and that's not going to happen.

    Anything less then 75% in any state, including Penn, is loss for you.

    April 18, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. Sean

    To Sharon Minnesota, who claimed that "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."

    Sharon, I believe that Obama picked up 6 superdelegates in the same time Hillary picked up the 2 you mentioned.

    And for Hillary to catch up to Obama's overall lead, she'll have to win every remaining primary with 65% of the vote. She's only done that once in this nomination race, and it was in Arkansas.

    We need to start being realistic here – Hillary will not win the nomination. If you want a Democrat in the White House, then we need to start rallying behind the candidate who will be the overwhelmingly likely nominee, and that is Obama.

    April 18, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    to it may concern we are very sick of those negative and silly dabates it time to stick to the facts we the people here in north carolina do not believe anything hillary clinton says and you really don;t either

    April 18, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  10. Ilona Proud Canadian

    This is disgusting folks,

    Here we go again, she is now ready to brush off the voters in PA, where she started out with a huge double digit lead, now they don't really matter, because she is hoping to win North Carolina. What is wrong with her strategists? Do they think the voters are ignorant? Please, please, folks save "us" (yes this affects the rest of the world) from this woman!!!

    April 18, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  11. T Baker

    Sorry... have to disagree.. my vote would go to the Giants upsetting the Patriots in the SB this year.... THAT was the biggest upset of the century –

    April 18, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  12. Jagdish kothary, Canada

    wish she would snap out of her sleep !!
    Hubby Bill should take her away on a vacation to Disney World !!

    April 18, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  13. TeamObama

    It would be an upset alright, BUT.........Even if Hillary Clinton won ALL of the remaining contests by 20% points, she would still have less delegates than Barack Obama. Yeah Hillary supporters, this really is over!!!

    April 18, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. TR

    She will NOT win now that she has thrown Moveon and the citizens that are (ovver 3 million of them) under the BUS!!!!

    April 18, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  15. Bob G.

    Let's see. Barry won big in Alabama, Louisiana, Virgina and some other southern states. North Carolina's majority democrats are of the same persuation as the southern states he won.

    Think any dummy can predict an overwhelming victory for Barry based on his base of voters in the south.

    On the other hand, McCain has double digit leads in those states.

    April 18, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. Joyce in Florida

    You go Sharon Minnesota. You are so right. The Obama supporters are so naive it is almost ridiculous. Just look at the comments above from Obama supporters. Kind of lacking in anything; no substance; just like Obama himself. He is NOT the second coming for crying out loud. Wake up people. "Just a thought" and "junebug", I am with you. Hillary Clinton should be the nominee. She is the only one who can win against John McCain. Senator Obama doesn't care about states she has won (especially Florida and Michigan). Now he wants to run away from another debate? He lost the last one and he will lose another. He can't take the heat at all. He is playing the sympathy card and it doesn't fool me for one second. What an arrogant and spoiled person he is. Senator Obama is just talk talk talk. Time for him to go away. HILLARY 08!!!!!!

    April 18, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  17. Mike

    Five months ago, Obama was like a side show on the way to Hillary's coronation. Today it will be the biggest upset of the century if she wins NC!!! Who are the fooling?

    April 18, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  18. MV

    – There are three candidates in the semi-final of the tournament for the "Cammander-in-Chief". for the U.S. That how the intelligent voters look at this election.
    – Who gave Obama the right that.. anyone can question, Hillary and McCain anything on any subjects, but not with Obama? I KNOW I DID NOT AS WELL AS MANY INTELLIGENT VOTERS!
    – Obama might be the nominee of the Democratic Party dues to the party leaders are so anxious to reclaim the White House. Beware, leaders, you will see a lot of Liberman Democrat in November! Obama might win the battles but not the war!

    April 18, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  19. Kevin

    Wait a sec...

    Did this Clinton staffer actually just say: "Obama has an advantage in
    N.C. because people there are educated"? Ponder that one for a bit.

    April 18, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  20. Babs

    Hillary needs to take a step back, and do what's right for the country, unfortuately, she cannot. She is driven to be better than her husband, her credability is her talking out of both sides of her mouth. During the debate she said her grandfather was from that state. She keeps harping on the fact that Obama is a so called "elitist", okay, let's check the bank accounts. Hillary like her husband will say and do whatever it takes to be elected. I don't want "the same old generation of politicans", and I'm older than 60... But don't worry I see several books coming out from her as to why she didn't get elected.

    April 18, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  21. Venus

    I feel good! Like I knew that I would!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Yes! Go Obama! It's great to see a rookie beat the crap out of the Clintons! Let's hope Hillary can stay in long enough to explain to the Americans who have lost thousands of jobs because of her and Bill!
    I want to hear Hillary explain what she does with the $$$-millions of dollars they have been paid selling America out! This past week was for Obama but next week is yours Hillary...
    Ha, ha,ha,ha,haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    April 18, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  22. gene

    Zogby tracking poll shows big surge for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania. Not one mention on MSNBC and CNN. My comments are being sent back to me on my e-mail address and this is the first this has ever happened. I don't undersatnd why? Are any of you Clinton supporters experiencing the same? Go to Salon.Com. This thread has not been pro Clinton, but read the comments now. Nothing like these wouls get through MSNBC and CNN. Here they don't allow you to get too critical of Obama.

    April 18, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  23. maura

    Dear Hillary,

    Do everybody a favor, go back to Bosnia, Ireland or whatever.

    April 18, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  24. PCS / North Carolina

    gary wrote April 18th, 2008 7:44 pm ET


    Men are not biased,women votes overwhelmingly for Hillary. There is nothing wrong with it. just like African American's are voting for Obama, majority European American's are voting for Hillary.

    April 18, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  25. judi

    Once again, Clinton uses words to create her own imaginary reality. I find it interesting that Obama has been so vehemently criticized for his "bitter" comments when Barber quotes H. Clinton as disparaging poor white voters during her time in her "husband's" White House and even used profanity toward them.
    Judi, San Antonio

    April 18, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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