May 19th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Analysis: Obama ready for fall fight

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama has been focusing lately on campaigning in general election states."]
WASHINGTON DC (CNN)– He’s not declaring victory in the Democratic primaries, but if you listen to Barack Obama, you get a clear sense he’s more than ready for a fall fight with John McCain.

“Everybody is surprised that I am standing here. Lets face it, nobody thought a 46 year old black guy named Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee. The reason this has worked is because of you. You decided you wanted to take your government back and that is what we are going to be fighting for all the way through November,” the Senator from Illinois told the crowd at a rally in Oregon Sunday.

An interesting choice of words from a candidate who lately has been careful to not proclaim victory in his long and bitter battle with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

But there’s more.

"Senator Clinton and I have had a terrific contest and she has been a formidable candidate,” Obama said Sunday while being questioned by reporters. The slip into the past tense is telling.

Obama’s choice of where he holds primary night campaign rallies is also a sign that he’s looking ahead to the general election.

Last Tuesday, as Clinton was racking up a landslide victory in the West Virginia primary, Obama held a campaign event in Missouri, which long ago held its primary. But Missouri is what’s known as a battleground or swing state, a state that could go either way in the general election. Tuesday Obama’s holds a rally in Iowa, which kicked off the primary season with its caucuses on January 3rd. Obama won that contest, helping to propel him to Democratic frontrunner status. Iowa is also another battleground state (President Bush took the state by 10,000 votes in 2004) that the Democrats would love to win this November.

Obama will also point out Tuesday night the he’s won half of the total number of pledged delegates. There are 3,253 pledged delegates and Obama, even if he has a poor showing in the Kentucky and Oregon primaries, he should easily top the 1,627 delegates needed to make that claim. Pledged delegates are those won by the candidates in the primary and caucus contests, as opposed to 795 super delegates, whose votes are not tied to any primary or caucus results. Super delegates are Democratic governors, members of Congress and party officials.

While winning half of the pledged delegates is nice, the number he needs to reach to clinch the nomination is 2,026.

Since neither candidate is expected to win that many delegates by the end of the primary season on June 3rd, it’s going to come down to the super delegates to put either Obama or Clinton over the top.

“You know, we thought it (Iowa) was a terrific way to kind of bring things full circle. We still have some contests left, but if Kentucky and Oregon go as we hope, then we think we will have a majority of pledged delegates at that point, and that's a pretty significant mark. That means that after contests in every state, or almost every state and the territories that we are we have received the majority of the delegates that are assigned by voters,” Obama told reporters Sunday.

But even though he leads Clinton in delegates won, states won, and the popular vote in the primary and caucus contests held so far this campaign season, Obama says Tuesday’s declaration in Iowa doesn’t mean the primary battle’s over.

"It doesn't mean we declare victory because I won't be the nominee until we have enough, a combination of both pledged delegates and super delegates to hit the mark. But what it does mean is that voters have given us the majority of delegates that they can assign. And obviously that is what this primary and caucus process is about,” said Obama.

And Obama’s campaign for the primaries continues. He’s spending Monday in Montana, which along with South Dakota, closes out the primary calendar on June third.

If the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination is almost over, no one’s telling Clinton.

Campaigning in Kentucky Monday, Clinton said “I’m going to make [my case] until we have a nominee, but we’re not going to have one today and we’re not going to have one tomorrow and we’re not going to have one the next day.”

She continues to make her argument that she leads in the popular vote, saying “right now, more people have voted for me than have voted for my opponent. More people have voted for me than for anybody ever running for president before. So we have a very close contest.”

But there’s some creative math at work here. For Clinton to have the lead in the popular vote, primary states but not caucus states are counted. And the popular vote totals in Florida and Michigan are also counted. And since Obama’s name wasn’t on the Michigan ballot, he would receive no votes in that state’s contest. The problem with this equation is that neither Florida nor Michigan’s results are being counted right now by the Democratic Party, since both states broke party rules by moving their primaries up to January.

Clinton’s other argument is that she’s won the states that matter and that she would stack up stronger against John McCain come November.

“The states I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans I would be nominee right now. We have different rules so what we’ve got to figure out is who can win 270 electoral votes. My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes. Now we both have won some states that are going to be hard for us to win in the fall like TX and OK. But I still have a cushion if you look at all the states that I have won and take out those that may not be in our column come the fall. My opponent has 217 electoral votes from places like Alaska and Idaho and Utah and Kansas and Nebraska and many of his votes and his delegates come from caucus states which have a relatively low turnout,” Clinton told voters in Kentucky Monday.

So far both of Clinton’s arguments appear to be falling on deaf ears. And it’s doubtful that Tuesday’s results in Kentucky and Oregon will change the shape of the race.

soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. WOW in 08

    I find it rediculous that someone who grew up in a single parent home on food stamps is somehow labeled an "elitist." get real, hillary dems.

    May 19, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. v.ananthan

    Obama wants to live the american dream....

    And he wants the voters to vote for him to realize that dream...



    -Hillary 08.

    May 19, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  3. UNITED states




    YES WE CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  4. KE

    Hillary is going strong. She does not have to declare a victory untill all the votes are casted and are counted.

    May 19, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  5. mwood

    "Senator Clinton and I have had a terrific contest and she has been a formidable candidate,” Obama said Sunday while being questioned by reporters. The slip into the past tense is telling.

    Just for the record, that's not past tense. It's present perfect tense.

    May 19, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Proud American

    Lets take back our country. Give them hell Senator Obama!!!

    May 19, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. Michael

    You know it sure would be nice if some people would actually take the time to look at the facts instead of spouting off inane babble. 1. There is not a soul on this planet who can say for certain whether Clinton or Obama can beat McCain. 2. If you pay attention to the polls then they suggest McCain shouldn’t stand a chance, however he is almost neck and neck with Obama and Clinton. 3. Read the rules for the DNC before you start talking about it, the rules are clear, there is no ambiguity. Florida and Michigan broke the rules, why is that so hard to understand? 4. We have a choice, four more years of Bush Policy or a new direction under Obama or Clinton, all of you with bruised feelings for your candidate need to figure out what is more important, your hurt feelings or this country’s future.

    May 19, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. Andrew Inneh

    Why do people kept on refering to Obama as a black man only. Why do they not call him a whte man also?. He was born of a white woman.
    Clinton would have been in the leed if she was competing with another person. African Americans would have voted for the name Clinton I know this for sure. Who ever Democrats chooses will win McCain if only they are united. Go Go OBAMA for all blacks, whites, Asians, Indians, Spanics and every one.

    May 19, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. Kent

    I wonder or the label "probalbe presumptive nominee" were on Hillary? I wonder, what would it be like if now the shoe were on other foot? Going by the tone of the Clinton campaign when the outlook was brighter and factoring in personality, I suspect that the shoe would be stomping down in triumph over Obama. However, this is not the case right now and Obama is being gracious and considerate in allowing Clinton to travel to the end of this path.

    May 19, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. 58 white old ladies for OBAMA





    May 19, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. Catherine

    Wow, CNN, you're scaring me. I thought only Time Magazine and MSNBC did this kind of thing. Stop saying that he's won before Michigan, Florida, Oregon, Kentucky, South Dakota, Montana, and Puerto Rico have been counted. Also, you should realize that Obama's words cannot be taken as fact, as all speeches are subjective. So why don't you just stop jumping to conclusions and let the race end on its own? The media doesn't need to stick its nose in it; that's what the general election is for.

    May 19, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. Jim

    He better get ready for a fight in June first.

    I can't tell you how glad I am that Obama will lose in Nov. He allowed people to trash Hillary all the way. If he were a man with any cajones he wouldn't allow it. Bye Bye Obama.

    Hillary or McCain.

    May 19, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  13. marie c

    It's not over!!! Kentucky vote big!!! HILLARY!!!! Let's take this to the convention and let the delegates decide. The popular vote is still speaking for HILLARY!!!! Obama, go back to Illinois!!!

    May 19, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. 1926

    I missed it. What did cry baby Obama threaten the Replubican Part y with if they didnt lay off Michelle? Sounded like a threat to me. Owww, be afraid, be very afraid.

    May 19, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  15. David Goldman for OBAMA



    May 19, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Wow ... nothing is better than those people who say they will vote for McCain over Obama if Hilary loses.

    She can have students hand picked to ask predetermined questions during college visits, and she can lie about getting shot at in Bosnia, and you will still vote for her. She can even change the rules, or try, in the middle of the ball game, and that is OK too. But if she loses fair and square and asks you to vote for Obama, you would rather vote for McCain. lol ... good enough to vote for as the leader of your country, not good enough to listen to.

    Funny ... he leads the popular vote. He has won more states. He has more superdelegates. He has the backing of many more prominent politicans and others. But Hilary is more electable? That makes alot of sense. You should be politicians yourselves or giving your expert opinions in a studio somewhere instead of posting on

    May 19, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    This is awesome. Go Hill!!!! Keep on pushing the issue that you lead in popular vote over Obama. Don't stop/quit to be nominated as the Dem pres nominee so comes Nov. McCain will win the election. O ya, don't forget also to keep on fighting within the party until Nov. so no Dem candidate will be on the ballot and again, comes Nov. McCain wins the presidential election. Loving it!!!!!!!!!! Go Hill with your fight against Obama, make sure that MI and FL will be counted. If they're not counted, make sure that you Dems focus on that comes Nov. instead of battling McCain. Make sure that McCain will becoming the next US Pres, ok Hill?

    May 19, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  18. CWatson

    It's like Bosnia all over again. Hillary's delusional. It's over.

    President Obama .. sounds good to me.

    May 19, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  19. Ed from Milwaukee(WI-Swing state)

    Obviously, Buffet knows when to put his judgment and money behind a good profitable investment. He clearly knows that Senator Obama is the presumptive nominee and the one who understands the subtleties to being an effective leader. Obama leads in all categories and Hillary’s false claim of popular vote is ridiculous, even if you seat the delegates they way she wants them she is still behind in popular vote by over 100,000 people.

    Hillary supporters (mostly uneducated and uniformed) please!; Barack is easily the most electable democratic candidate in the party. Obama's so called inexperience lead to him making good judgment and not following the crowd. He voted against a false-unethical war that has ultimately crippled our economy, decimated our military, increased oil prices and countless soldiers’ lives. Why don’t bitter Hillary supporters get that through their thick skulls?

    Here’s a question for the Cafferty files. How would the founding fathers (not John Adams) fill knowing that when our constitution was written, Africans were considered to be 3/5ths human. Now a mixed European African American is on his way to the white house?

    May 19, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. Bill

    Just an FYI: Senator Obama has a great deal of experience. Just do your homework.

    He has the experience, temperment, and judgement to lead this country out of the hole the current set of politics has dug for us.

    Do everyone a favor: Stop the hate and start the research. Obama is not the horrible person some people make him out to be. He has what it takes to be the President.

    May 19, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. Jane L.

    Obama hasn't had to fight yet; that's for sure. With CNN and MSNBC so in love with him and constantly telling their viewers what a winner he is, with his sexist remarks glossed over while the slightest hint of racism is blown out of proportion, what he's won in this primary so far has been handed to him. He's going to be completely dumbfounded when the day comes that he does have to fight for something.
    Now the media is telling us that if Sen. Clinton cannot unify the party that he's divided, it will be she who will be at fault if he loses in November. This gets more absurd by the minute.

    May 19, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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