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. FactCheck

    Please, please all you "Clinton or McCain" type, please go ahead and vote for McCain. Us Obama supporters are well off and can withstand another 4 years of high gas prices, outsourcing of jobs, cuts in healthcare and continued war if McCain gets elected. By then you will all be homeless and jobless and the DNC can finally turn the page on the likes of you.

    May 19, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Griff

    Obama is ready for the Fall!! Need I say more???

    May 19, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  3. suzanne

    The media and the DNC crowned The Great Obama months ago. They will be in for a huge disappointment if he is elected President. He is so arrogant and unable to accept constructive criticism that he will be completely inaccessible to the press who is currently fawning all over him and the American people. Nobody will be able to question his judgment or his policies and his racist, anti-American wife will be guarding the door of the Oval Office.

    May 19, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. diddy

    I still can't figure out why Hillary supporters are saying they will vote for McCain. Hillary's and Obama's stance on the issues are almost identical. How could you vote for someone who want's the war to continue for 100 years and admitted he is not strong on the economy. He is everything America does not need.

    Obama has proven that we will change the way the government does business. Give the man a chance instead of beating him down because your candidate didn't win. Blame the media, not Obama.

    May 19, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. Tjaye

    OMG! Could the Hillary supporters show their ignorance and lack of information anymore than they already are?? LISTEN Obama is NOT the reason MI & FL are not seated. He simply wants them seated fairly since he wasn't on the ballot. And MI offered a deal two weeks ago with Hillary getting 59 delegates and Obama getting 49 delegates. Obama agreed and Hillary rejected. Which would tell anyone with an ounce of sense that she DOES NOT CARE IF MI & FL are seated and count...She only cares if they can give her the delegates to win. And even WITH them, she won't win. She is USING you people. Support her because its your choice, but please stop making up reasons or regurgitating her spin JUST as an excuse to support a dying campaign.

    Its over! Deal with it! And then DON'T vote for him if you feel that strongly. Just please don't complain about another 4 years of Bush. You get what you deserve. Live with it.

    Obama O-8!

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

    Let the voters' have their say............on to Jun 3rd!

    Go Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!! We support you!

    May 19, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. Roman, Philadelphia

    Dear Hillary supporters, with all due respect, it's over. Hillary is down 190 delegates and there are simply not enough delegates left to reverse the outcome. She has every right to campaign to the end, but after that, I hope you come to realize that Obama has played by the rules fought toe to toe with Hillary and came out victorious. I understand how bitterly dissapointed you must feel, but come November, the nominee who is most in-line with Hillary on every single important issue is going to need your help. I sincerely hope you'll join with Obama supporters to create an unbeatable coalition in November to take this country in a new direction.

    May 19, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Boots on the Ground!

    No weapon formed against him shall prosper! Isn't that obvious?

    May 19, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. arun

    Go Obama. MI and Fl are resolved. They broke the rules so they cannot seat the delegates. Hillary Clinton before Dec 2007 sure did agree with that one. What suddenly changed eh ?

    May 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. independent voter

    Obama supporters are such whiners! So very hateful!

    What a mess we will be in if this inexperienced person is elected!

    May 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Elizabeth, NC

    Past, present, future. What is the difference. Say it as it is my brother. You are the winner for now and will be big time in November. Don't be coy. Yes she was a very formidable candidate. Even Warren Buffet, one of the very richest men in the world has acknowledged you are the winner. YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Good Grief

    Despite all the sour grapes from DINOs, Obama will lead real Democrats into November and McCain will go down in flames. Finally, we can get the hell out of Iraq and deal with our domestic issues, as well as pursuing OBL.

    May 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. working girl

    I'm an Obama supporter, but I think I have to state the obvious- Don't count your chickens 'till they've hatched. Hillary may very well have something up her sleeve.

    May 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. Concerned

    Dems supporters---listen up!

    Most of these hate messages are from the republican supporters trying to divide us. Let's not let them do this to us any longer. Wise up and support our party regardless who the nominee is.

    Vote for McCain and there will never be low gas prices, our troops won't come home, we won't have jobs and as a result we won't have health insurance.

    We are doing ourselves harm and a disservice to our nation/troops if we keep this attitude.

    May 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. love Obama

    He wasn't attacking Bill he was defending himself from Bill. So yes his wife is still off limits.

    And for everyone who says he's losing states why should he be the nominee? Wait until Oregon, South Dakota and Montana vote folks.

    It wasn't Barack's fault FL and MI wont' count. And the only way a re-vote will happen is if its a fair revote. So far Hillary has only come up with solutions that fit her agenda. And then she spins it as though Barack is against hearing their voices. Come with a fair solution and he'll agree.

    May 19, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. BJ

    He's going for a FALL in the fall.

    May 19, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Donna


    May 19, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. A Science Teacher

    If anyone here thinks Obama is more of an elitist than any other politician you must not have a very objective opinion.

    Did you know he and Michelle paid off their student loans only 3 years ago?

    You can't be called an elitist simply because you recognize there are people in this country who can be easily manipulated by fear, religion or both.

    Did you know you more likely to be killed by a shark than a terrorist?

    Don't vote for Democrats!! The sharks will win and eat all Americans while they are still screaming!!

    May 19, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Clinton/McCain

    The reason this has worked is because of the media bias! He's not ready! You're going down in the fall!

    May 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  20. Jim

    Hillary must be the nominee and if the Super delegates don't want a split that will destroy the Dems chances in November they cannot support Obama any longer.

    May 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. Ron R

    Obama 56% McCain watch

    May 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. Finally Decided

    "Barack is talking about lay off his wife. He wasn't saying that when he was attacking Bill Clinton. :
    IS BILL CLINTON HILLARYS WIFE?????????????????

    May 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. Ilene MI

    To all the people who post on here that Obama will not win....I got to wonder...are you Republican generated trouble makers?/

    I think so cause anyone with half a brain knows this man is our savior.
    Not only will he win, he will win by a landslide. It is all but over. Obama will be the next president. Republicans and racists need to get over it.

    May 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. stop the madness

    I for one am glad that he is thinking like a winner and no I don't think it is too soon in fact I think the DNC should have taken a stance along time ago and declared Obama the winner so that he can move on to fighting McCain and the rest of the nasty republicans without continuing to have to play these games with someone that can not win. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!


    May 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |

    My support and prayers are with you OBAMAs!!!!!!!!
    your an inspiration indeed

    may the Lord continue to be with you
    OBAMA '08

    May 19, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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