May 19th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 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. Obama forever!

    What a wonderful time to be alive! Obama will lead us to the promised land. He is such a revelation and I can't understand how all of you who support that witch can't see Obama for the blessing that he is. I don't know where our great nation would be without such an amazing leader. There is something truly special about him that inspires me with such hope.

    President Barack Obama in 2008, 2012

    May 19, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. Tjaye

    He should be standing there. It's really good to see that the rest of the nation is not like West Virginia and Kentucky. We care more about the issues than the color of his skin.

    Go America!! Go Dems!! Go Obama O-8!!

    May 19, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Hillary 08!!!!!!!

    He will NOT win in November!!!

    May 19, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. wyliffe

    Ready to go for OBAMA in the fall. McCain has simply lost bearings.

    May 19, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. FRANK


    May 19, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. Chief lagosboy, NJ

    We are all ready for Grandpa McCain the Warmonger!
    Congratulation Obama, we are almost home!

    Our President Obama 08’ & 12’

    May 19, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Steve Mc

    OBAMA IS NOT ELECTABLE>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The DNC and MEDIA have interfered with this election!

    Clinton or Mc Cain in November!!!!

    May 19, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. Stacy Clarks



    DEMOCRATS IN 08!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Seth in Florida

    My head really does hurt. You can't change the rules in the middle of the game. Clinton is simply trying to strong-arm her way into the VP spot. She must realize that every day she insists she is ahead, she hurts herself. She is obviously behind in all metrics and cannot catch up.

    May 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. HYPOCRACY 08

    Ready for a fight...

    Just don't mention my wife...

    Obama/Ayers 08

    May 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Almost Over

    That's right Barack, 'call those things that be not as though they were. Romans 4:17

    This is a man of FAITH.

    You ARE the democratic nominee.

    Obama 08

    May 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. fairandstraight

    Regardless to what anyone try to make people believe, this guy is awesome. He is sincerely loved and supported by many from all walks of life.

    How can Sen. Clinton claim the votes in Florida and Michigan that broke the rules but don't think the votes should count in caucus states that followed the rules? I am glad the superdelegates are educated and not as easy to be deceived.

    May 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. Jeanne

    I think Obama is ready for the fall and ready to engage McCain & the Republicans. It also looks like a majority of Democrats are with him and ready to go. The Democrats have a good chance of winning big in November so don't mess it up with internal bickering. Edwards did the Democrats a big favor last week and now it's time for others to do the same. It's time to come together, unite, and form a unified coalition of supporters to defeat the Republicans in the fall.

    May 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Hold On Mr. Elitist

    Just another example of Obama's arrogance. Nobody has gotten to the magic number, MI and FL have yet to be seated, and there are still several more contests. I like how Obama continues to tell those that have yet to vote or those whose votes he is suppressing, that their votes are insignificant or better yet, irrelevant. His talk in the past tense is part of his psychological warfare to make people believe that he is the second coming of Jesus. What a joke! When a nominee is chosen, then speak in the past tense. Until then, just shut up!!! Obama is an elitist and out of touch with American's. Hillary... KEEP FIGHTING ALL THE WAY TO THE CONVENTION!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Please DNC do not select Obama as the nominee. He will lose to Mccain I cannot see why you guys don't see this.

    May 19, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. suzy

    he's going to have a huge fall fight on his hands......

    May 19, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Phong Nguyen

    Not so fast everybody! Let's take one step at a time! Why do we want to push aside voters in the remaining primaries when neither of the two candidates has acquired the required number of delegates and the issues of Florida and Michigan have not been resolved??? Why do we want to bury the issues under the rugs so soon??? Blame it on the media and the supporters of S. Obama!!! Go ahead and bury the issues and then get ready to pay in November!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. Lorenzo

    Let's make it happen Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Molly

    Guess that's all it takes – to say so!!
    Obama is SO ARROGANT!!! he has NOT won.
    If he wants to be the nominee – it's easy – JUST WIN!! kock her out –
    seems like he keeps saying he is the nominee – BUT – then we have another state that VOTES NO!!! Just like KY will do.

    Obam is NOT qualified
    Clinton is QUALIFIED

    May 19, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Beverly, NYC

    Hillary, if you like the Republicans rules so much , please feel free to change parties and take your whiney supporters with you. If we were palying by their rules Barrack would be the nominee, remember his 10 wins in a row in February? November is different from the primaries, operation Chaos republicans will not be voting for the Democrat.

    May 19, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. Steve Mc

    Why don't you print that picture of him with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Clinton or Mc Cain in November!

    May 19, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. suzy

    What really amazes me is that he still feels like he is the nominee when he's losing primaries!

    May 19, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. A. P.

    From New York City:

    Obama has always been ready. He is ready. And he will remain ready for all.

    What kind of question is it?

    This election is about the young people. Those old politics must end and they will end when Obama becomes our next president!

    May 19, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. Freida NYC

    He will never be ready!

    May 19, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. RickytheGriff

    For the love of our children and future generations do not vote for McCain.

    A vote for John McCain is a vote for more years of bloodshed in pointless wars.

    A vote for John McCain is a vote for the continued distruction of our economy.

    A vote for John McCain is to distroy the Bill of Rights.

    Democrats MUST work together!

    May 19, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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