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. Grace Needed

    Where are you SUPERDELEGATES? We don't know what you are waiting for! If Senator Clinton was to win she would have won months ago on Super Tuesday when she had all the advantages – name recognition, former President campaigning for her and the Democratic machine behind her. Now, Senator Obama has built a formidable lead with more donors, volunteers then ever, I believe. He has followed the rules and gained the pledged delegates to support a majority, as of tomorrow. It is time for the Superdelegates to act and bring this Primary to an effective end.

    May 19, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Let's be perfectly clear: if Obama loses it will not be Hillary's fault – it will be Obama's fault for pursuing this phenomena of a campaign and overtaking the early presumed candidate (Hillary). Hillary is staying in the race because she feels morally obligated; she knows Obama cannot win and knows the superdelegates will realize this. So with that said, let's all be thankful that for the first time ever, we had the pleasure of seeing this country's first black presidential nominee vie for the presidency, then lose, but that's OK – at least Obama got to run and there's always 2012 for the Dems.

    May 19, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  3. Joe Reg

    Hillary has fought courageously worthy of a Senator.

    But America is looking for change.

    Obama is winning all the way.

    Go Obama go!!!

    May 19, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. Allison Marie

    No, he's not ready, and with all the cheating going on by the Obama camp, Florida & Michigan are not looking good for a general election.

    Clinton is a much better candidate and would do better in a general election than Obama.

    The Republican bias media wanted Obama, they will tear him up, if he thought Clinton's powder puff campaign was ruff, he hasn't a clue the GOP will eat him for breakfast.

    I live in Florida and everyone is pretty outraged with our civil rights being stripped away and all.

    Uncounted in Florida, boycotted by Obama Camp

    May 19, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  5. Cal from Chicago

    Obamanians-–how can you support someone who looks the other way when over 400 people were gunned down the last few months right in his backyard-that's right Chicago-–

    He just doesn't care and he doesn't care about you--only his place in history.

    If he wants to negotiate, why not start with the gang leaders in Chicago before he takes on Ahmadinejab and Kim Jong. How about some action from Obama instead of all the BS???

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


    We are one don't let fear destroy us "Yes We Can". Hillary Clinton's Supporters all are welcome join us and we can take the Whitehouse back and improve life for all americans...

    let us join togather

    May 19, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  7. gary


    May 19, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  8. John Smith

    Hillary was "right" on the mark! How can we let "small states" such as Kentucky and West Virginia with uneducated folks determine the outcome of such an importent election? Interestingly, the folks in those states continue to confirm Hillary's position!!!

    May 19, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  9. Cindy in California

    Your Simply the Best.

    May 19, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. rich

    Sheesh. Don't read so much into the past tense usage. They have had an intense contest. Does that mean it is not still continuing? No. Furthermore, he has been extremely careful to say the race is not over.

    For you commenters claiming he is arrogant, please explain. Is it because he's winning? Is it because he is refraining to attack Hillary? Obama has accepted proposals for Michigan. Trouble is, Hillary's only hope is to turn down any offer except the one that awards her delegates there and him none at all.

    May 19, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. Interesting

    Many Clinton supporters are really making her look silly. They are making it harder for the next woman. Who is going to back a woman for president if it's going to divide the party? If Obama cheated then protest. But he didn't. Serious women care about their families and America too much to support McCain.

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


    Please just go somewhere and slink off with Hilary.

    May 19, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. Michael Kirksville MO

    Party loyalty has no place in deciding the most qualified individual for this office. Obama is a pup and grossly unqualified. I don't need inspiring speeches to improve my life. I go to church – not Obama rallies. I, like millions and millions of democrats will be voting Independent this Nov. MARK MY WORDS – WE WILL SEE TO IT THAT OBAMA DOES NOT MAKE IT TO THE PRESIDENCY ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

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

    I can hardly wait. This is going to be great, between McCain and anybody. If he wants to start pointing fingers all they have to do is ask about Phoenix Mafia ties. Gee, does the code name Songbird mean anything to vetern McCain? Or how many planes Wrongway McCain crashed-one which resulted in the death of over 100 sailors? Oh and lets not forget the Keating 5 scandal, or all his lobbist ties. No fool like an old fool.

    May 19, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. Dan

    Claims against Obama's "electibility" are unfounded and irrational – does anyone have a shred of concrete evidence to back these claims up?

    May 19, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. Obama 08

    Obama is doing an incredible job deflecting McCain's accusations...he just hits him right back with strength and conviction...too bad CNN didn't run the continuing exchange especially giving the full context and response.

    Obama took all the hits and smears from the Republicans and the Clintons and he is still standing and winning.

    What the Clinton, Rove, McCain and most of the pundits don't realize is that things like blue and red states, electoral votes, voting blocks CAN change>

    Hopefully voters are as sick of CAN'T and how it always works in Washington as I am.

    May 19, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. Alice

    I must be missing something.

    Despite the inescapable math, Clinton supporters still claim she can win the nomination.

    And despite her abysmal failure when given the opportunity in the 90's to reform health care, Clinton supporters tout her "experience" and health care proposals.

    Clinton supporters: what am I missing?

    May 19, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. Jamaal Kansas

    Hillary continues to lie why is she lyng to the American people before she is even the Nominee she has no chance of ever being president after this election

    May 19, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. Linda GREGORY

    I am confused as to why there is never a reference to Obama being a "White" guy. In this article he refers to himself as a "black guy" and all the talk about history in the making refers to him as the first "black" nominee and potentially the first "black" president. The truth is, whether you are referring to race or skin color, the term "black" is completely inaccurate!
    Barack Obama is a brown skinned man of mixed race. So, those who would or would not vote for a "black" man running for President, get over yourselves. He is the perfect racial combination to bring this country together and have an honest discussion on race relations since he cannot be accused of pandering to his culture.

    May 19, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. Ilona Proud Canadian

    To all Hillary and Barack Supporters!

    Please google.....Clinton quiet about own radical ties...You are in for a huge surprise!

    May 19, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  21. John Smith

    Idiots, idiots,idiots!! Why should Obama be wasting time fighting with Hillary while McCain and the Republicans are trying to tear him down even before he gets started.

    Someone on this blog needs to tell the other states that have not voted
    1. how Hillary can ever win this without further tanishing her reputation
    2. how Obama could be fighting: Hillary, Bill,. Chelsea, Rove, and McCain all by himself
    3. if Hillary had been in the lead, the world would not have been out to get Obama to get out a very long time ago
    4. why racism is more important than the "opportunity" for each and every American citizen
    5. why they would want Hillary to sit in the same office where her husband had an affair with an intern!

    May 19, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |

    I CAN NOT "WAIT" until the voters of enlightenment shut you guys up in NOVEMBER when Obama WINS....

    Talk about a FIGHTER!!! This guy is taking on all comers! Battling hillary and mccain AT THE SAME TIME.... (and uh....) WINNING, by the way....

    it MUST be killing you softly.... (and I'm loving every second of it)

    (People get ready..... there's a train a'comin..... don't need no ticket, just get on board.......)

    May 19, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. Ed from Milwaukee(WI-Swing state)

    Obviously, the Buffet endorsment is good knews he 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 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  24. terryds

    I see and read that you are still as pompous as ever Obama.

    You have not won the nomination yet, as far as we Clinton supporters

    are concerned, she will be the Democratic nominee..

    You can not steal the nomination with your media bias support, your rich WHITE (LOL) men friends and your campaign's manipulated caucuses and the buying of delegates...

    H.R. Clinton will go all the way to the Democratic convention where she will be chosen as the nominee to run against McCain and win the presidency...

    H.R. Clinton 2009-2012, SO IT IS WRITTEN, SO IT IS DONE!!!!!

    May 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  25. Aaron from Riverside, CA

    Geez, this comment section is like the ultimate sore loser list. It's over. Get it through your skull. Obama IS THE NOMINEE. You have to get past the denial stage before you can get to the acceptance stage. The people have decided.

    And for all you morons who plan to vote for McCain because Hillary lost: you are a disgrace. Have you no principles? Will you really throw them to the wind out of spite? If so, you are a JOKE. This isn't a football team, maybe you should actually look at policy sometime and make an INFORMED decision.

    May 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
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