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. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    I have four important questions for Bush, McCain and the GOP!

    1. Is Iran stronger or weaker since Bush’s invasions of Iraq?

    2. Has Osama bin Laden been killed or captured since Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    3. Are we paying less for gas now or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    4. Is our economy better of now or before Bush’s invasion of Iraq?

    If you answer these questions truthfully, is there any way you want to continue down the same foreign policy blunders of the last seven years?

    This is a not a difficult question, most 3rd graders could answer this one.

    May 19, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. Yankee Dog

    Go Go Big O. I love the way this guy fights. Just wait till the general election, then we'll see what he is made of. He has already taken the fight to McNuts, and has all but dispatched Billary (campaigning against a former POTUS and 1st Lady). Now he is going to have to go up against McNutso and Bush and Co. This guy is tough, honest, truthful, and is on the way to transforming the Presidency. No more lies, no more cheating repugs. We have had enough, and this is the guy to make the change....sweep the bastards away and cleanse this country from the evil brought upon us by Bush and his cabal.

    May 19, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Kenneth M


    May 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. kevin - jacksonville fl

    It's time the Clinton supporters stop whining and acting childish. Nobody stole the nomination from Hillary, she just lost it to a better campaingner and candidate. To say "I won't vote for Obama" and not vote for Obama would be voting against your own and your childrens best interest. Get over yourself, the democratic party can do without whishy washy supporters who can only support the candidate of their choice.

    May 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. chris

    There is about 15% of people who would never vote for BHO. They are solidly represented by those that post vitriol about him in these blogs. BHO is not an idiot. You guys are already accounted for in the math. So go vote McCain. But don't you worry after 4 years of President Obama, that 15% will be down to at least 10.

    May 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. MM

    Stop the bickering. Obama supporters - stop picking on Clinton supporters and Clinton. It has been an exciting primary. It looks like it is drawing to a close. Be gracious winners. Clinton supporters - stop implying that Obama supporters are part of a cult and don't research the issues. They have the right to their opinions. And all democrats - support the democrat nominee or we will have 4 to 8 more years of this Republican trash. Imagine what a democrat president and a democrat congress can do together!

    May 19, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Freida NYC

    Barack is something else... He is already declaring himself as the "Democratic nominee" how arrogant is that?

    May 19, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. Phillip

    Every time I hear about a Hillary supporter who is planning to vote for McCain in the general, I get so pissed off.

    So you Hillary supporters would be willing to subject the U.S., and the world, to what would essentially amount to 4 (or 8) more years of the Bush presidency? You would willingly perpetuate the Iraq war until (at least) the year 2013, and possibly bring us to war with Iran– essentially annihilate the nation (financially and otherwise) through war– just out of spite? Just so you will be able to say "I told you so" to everyone you know who voted for Obama?

    It's disappointing to see that so many Democrats lack the brainpower necessary to see that save for a few microscopic policy differences, Hillary and Obama are the same candidate. It's disappointing to see that so many are petty enough to do something like this over two candidates who are essentially the same. Maybe these people should just stay in the Republican Party after November; they certainly sound like true Republicans.

    May 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. Karen Beaumont, TX

    I can tell you of two presidents that had little experience but were great Presidents-Lincoln and Roosevelt. Sometimes too much experience hardens a person. Sometimes that person is too much the "old way" of thinking. A new America would like to see more diplomacy and less war. A new America would like to see politicians acting like adults (and treating the American people as adults) instead of like high school rah-rahs. No candidate is perfect but Obama is young, has lots of energy, and he has shown a real knack for organization. If one is willing to go to his web site and take the time one can read his plans for the country.
    And it will be so nice to have someone INTELLIGENT as President.

    May 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. James

    Obama already won.

    Obama/Sebelius '08

    May 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. If you were smart...

    Obama hasn't come out and said he is the winner, with fear of provoking Hillary and her supporters. Those of you who bash Hillary on here are just making his job even more difficult for the general election. Remember, half of the party supports/supported Hillary – not a landslide victory by any means.

    Please do not trash Hillary or her supporters; it's counter-productive and it will only ensure a McCain victory in November.

    I'm a Hillary supporter and I'm not sold by Obama's rhetoric. I believe this party has made a fatal mistake BUT I will watch him over the next few months to see if he has what it takes. The issues are important to me but I won't compromise our country's security with a weak leader. Show me what you got, Obama. Action – not words.

    May 19, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  12. Joe Reg

    The repubs are going down hill.

    Go Obama go!!!

    May 19, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. Independent

    And we will be covering your back Sen. Obama. For every BS thing the Republicans are going to throw, we are ready to defend OUR country. to the Republicans just remember NEVERMORE!

    May 19, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  14. Karen

    He could have been ready even earlier without Clinton's interference.

    May 19, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  15. poyoray

    Obama is a sore loser and whiner, he need to go away.

    Why would anyone want someone elected by a minority?

    May 19, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  16. Joe Reg

    Obama is ordained by God to change
    America and this world.

    Time has come for a change.

    No more Republicans B.S.

    May 19, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. Wan

    "The reason this has worked is because of you. "
    Not because of his words, his vision, his actions.

    Doesn't America need a better leader, one with a plan?

    May 19, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. sacto joe


    A lot of Repubs posing as Democrats are posting hate mail. They're trying to drive a wedge between us!


    May 19, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |


    LMAO, LMFAO....

    I guess she thought the presidency would be hers because her name is Clinton. I guess she thought WRONG !!!


    May 19, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  20. Macdaddy

    Hey Steve Mc, call your proctologist. I believe they found your head. You give Irish Americans a bad name

    May 19, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |

    Thankyou Hillary supporters for showing us how strong our next President, BARACK OBAMA, can be.

    The majority of the world prefers Barack to Hillary.

    OBAMA 08'/12'

    May 19, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. democrat

    As long as you can get away from lying, flip-floping over Rev. Wright,

    As long as you have CNN and MSNBC campaigning for you'

    As long as nobody can say or even think anything bad about you for fear to be called racist.

    You can be as weak, unexperience, unqualify as you can be, with all of that on your side, you don't need to fight, the fairytale campaign will continue

    May 19, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  23. Leslie in NYC

    I am really amazed at some of the comments, but i know the rules. Everyone has a right to there own opinion. I do say it is time to change how things are done. Changes in health care, minmium wages, the cost of GAS. I think we are being taken advantage of. They collect taxes, for what? They say they need to for this and that. Well i have not seen this or that resolved. I see we have to pay for everything over and over again. And the cost of gas will reach 5.00 by July. We Bush begin, the cost of a barrell was a mear $20. And therefore how can people survive, especially with a bleak minimum wage in NY. You might as well say it is legal slavery. It's time for a change. Vote DEM.

    May 19, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. Joe Reg

    Victory is nigh.

    Yes, she has fought valiantly.

    But America is looking for change.

    Obama is the candidate for change.

    May 19, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  25. Frank

    Sure, he will fight but he will end up so beaten up that he won't know what hit him. I don't believe how low the Democrats' and the Democratic Party's standards have become! Why don't we just take some other junior senator or some business man off the streets and have them be our nominee? At least they won't have all the baggage and they will have as much or perhaps a little more experience than this Obama guy? Well, I'll vote McCain and then hopefully in 4 years we will have a better nominee with whom we can trust the future of our country, and then many Democrats that will leave the party now, may come back to it again!

    May 19, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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