[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.plouffe.ap.jpg caption="Plouffe is Obama's campaign manager."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – Obama campaign manager David Plouffe held a press conference at the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Wednesday to illustrate the campaign’s path to victory in November.
Plouffe said that the primary goal is to hold on to the 20 states that John Kerry won, netting him 252 electoral votes. To win the additional 18 needed to reach 270 for the victory, Plouffe outlined a variety of strategies and initiatives, several already underway.
He emphasized a likely victory in Iowa, believing that the momentum created by the January caucus victory could hold and add seven votes to the Obama column.
Plouffe said that contrary to popular belief, victory in Ohio and Florida isn’t necessary to reach 270 but that they would “fight like heck” for the pair.
He pointed to two previously solid Republican states – North Carolina and Virginia – as examples of states they think can be turned blue, saying they plan to put some of their best staff there and if they win either on top of the Kerry states and Iowa, it’s “game, set, match.”
Despite claiming to not put much stock in many national and state polls, Plouffe noted recent polls in important swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio to emphasize the number of ways of reaching 270.
Obama’s 50-state strategy is a centerpiece of his general election effort. Plouffe acknowledged that several core Republican states, like Texas, won’t be in play but said they will staff them nonetheless to help with the large grassroots efforts that have arisen.
He added that word of mouth at the grassroots level – as opposed to just advertising – is very powerful, especially if it’s coming from independents, Republicans or previously inactive Democrats that have decided to work for Obama.
The importance of African-Americans and young people was underscored, especially in a typically Republican state like Georgia that has a big black population that could help Obama take the state, particularly if Libertarian candidate and Georgia native Bob Barr, were to peel votes away from John McCain.
The PowerPoint presentation included a poll that showed 61 percent of Democrats being more enthusiastic than usual about the election, while just 35 percent of Republicans said the same.
Plouffe said that the goal going forward was to play off the enthusiasm to recruit volunteers, solicit donations and – perhaps most importantly – register voters and make sure they turn out in November. He also reiterated the need to educate voters not only about Obama’s personal history, but McCain’s stance on key issues that Plouffe believes will bring swing voters like women to the Obama camp.
Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant dismissed Plouffe's predictions.
“Like so much about Barack Obama’s campaign, his campaign manager’s words don’t match reality," he said. "Obama wheezed across the finish line of his party’s nomination, losing the majority of primaries since March 4, including key general election battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Obama continues to struggle with conservative Democrats and independents, and a new poll today shows the race a dead heat.”