December 11th, 2008
01:09 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama aide: How Clinton may have won

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Plouffe managed Obama's campaign."]

(CNN) - Would Hillary Clinton have won the prolonged Democratic primary race if David Plouffe was managing her campaign?

Plouffe served as Obama’s campaign manager and is often referred to as the "unsung hero" of the president-elect's White House bid. He was largely responsible for designing the strategy that ultimately dashed Clinton's own ambitions for the Oval office.

Now, the camera-shy Plouffe is revealing what surprised him the most about Clinton’s campaign: the New York senator's strategists willingness to concede a string of caucus states to the Obama camp. In the process Obama won a vast sum of delagates and created a lead in the delegate count that ultimately proved fatal to Clinton's chances.

"We were surprised because at some point it became likely that it was going to be a battle that went on for some time, and delegates that are gained through a caucus are no different than through a primary—so every contest mattered," Plouffe told Portfolio Magazine.

“They ceded the field to us for a long period of time," Plouffe also said. "I think if they had contested those caucus states, we might've won those caucus states but we wouldn't have won them 55-35 [percent]."

Given that the Democratic party appropriates it's delegates proportionately, Ploffe said the wide margins of victory in the caucus states ultimately gave the Obama campaign a nearly insurmountable lead by mid-March.

"I guarantee if they had contested them vigorously, our margins would've been shrunk," he said. "And that's the tale of the campaign. Otherwise we didn't rack up the huge landslide. We did in some of the primary states for sure, Virginia was a big win, Wisconsin was a big win, but those caucuses provided us a huge delegate lead."

soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. JuanM

    She almost did win. However, the sexist attacks by Obama supporters and the media was ruthless. Even so, she only got a few thousand less than Obama.

    December 11, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. Senate Candidate 13

    Didn't really matter... The Clintons are in the Whitehouse anyway...

    December 11, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Cathy Agu

    Darling, keep the information for the book deal .

    December 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. ApplePie

    Let's not talk about an old subject. Let's move on!!

    December 11, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Simmy

    Mr. Plouffe, you are a genius! What is your role in the new administration? You will do well whereever you goes! The best to you and your famiy – you earned it! (Your wife's sooooooo blessed)!

    December 11, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. The right guy ..Till 2016

    You,ve said it all David . And thats the difference between a smart guy and a empty brand name

    December 11, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Champion

    Obama is not the first choice, after all. It is only a matter of campaigning, and funding. Money can buy anything, even the White House. Thought we have discovered a "savior" of the world, or the last angel standing, given all the scandals. He has absolutely nohthing to do with absolutely whatever wrong, or unclean or immoral, whatsoever. Politics in Illinois is a good example for the rest of the world (?)

    December 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Simmy

    Excuse my mis-grammar: Should be "go!" LOL!

    December 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Apples for sale

    She lied too much,period.

    December 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Will-South Dakota


    December 11, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. Chris

    This sounds like the Big 3 and Blockbuster Video...

    They got comfortable and thought they were unbeatable. Now they're barely able to keep up (if even that).

    Leaders don't relax when they're ahead, they continue to lead/innovate!

    December 11, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Franky

    You know, that is partially true but overall, if it wasn't for other primaries(South Carolina, Iowa or Utah for example), my boy probably haven't gone nowhere. Let's face it, we know for a fact that my boy probably wasn't gonna be able to compete in a state like Utah in the playoffs but that win solidify something important...that Conservatives like my boy better than Hillary. Hillary is no stranger to Conservatives, we hate her! We pretty much said, "Hey Hillary! Were gonna shove it up your face!" and that quite frankly, not only gave my boy the recognition but respect...

    I think those were important just like the caucuses. Believe it or not, every strategy taken in his campaign was literally taken very seriously. I think that helped out a lot...

    December 11, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. 801BMF

    Plouffe and Axelrod are the "well-oiled machine" that you rarely saw in the campaign. although, I knew who the guys were because they emailed me everyday. A matter of fact, they still do!

    December 11, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Greg, NY

    "Plouffe is revealing what most surprised him the most about Clinton’s campaign"

    Didn't they teach us not to do this in like third grade?

    December 11, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. David Sewell

    Original headline for this ticker item: "Obama aide: How Clinton may have won". Aha, so it's possible that Hillary Clinton actually did win the election? No... just another writer who doesn't understand the grammar of past counterfactuals. Let's try: "How Clinton might have won". Okay?

    December 11, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. The Anti-Hillary

    Way to go, man! Rub it in her nose every chance you get!!

    GO OBAMA!!!

    December 11, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. Tolu, in Minneapolis

    Wow! How insightful! How much did Obama pay you for this invaluable advice?

    December 11, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. angel

    Clinton did not win....get over it

    December 11, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. lovable liberal

    This is not exactly such breaking news that it couldn't be copy edited. I found four errors in a quick skim, two spelling mistakes and two errors with apostrophes or the lack of them.

    December 11, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. jose

    it would have happen also if "Black Voters" had not voted over 95% for Obama, who is to say that skin color played a role in this!

    December 11, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. RichinVT

    In a nutshell, he nailed it.

    December 11, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. roy

    Yeah, the Cubs could have won the world series too!! How about articles that UNITE people, not divide them by second guessing everything ad nauseum.

    December 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. Adriana

    It doesn't matter anymore,Obama won.It was meant to be his victrory not Hillary's.

    December 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. ApplePie

    To Bush
    On Muslim and Christianity, yes, both worship the same God and talked about the same God, but the Koran was a prodigy of an "Angel' who descended upon Mohammed. This Angel is Lucifer. He gave the Muslims the same teachings and Satan took out the MOST important part of the Scripture – the cruxifiction of Christ and the fact that He is our Saviour. To this day, Muslims do not have a personal relationship with God, but as Christians, through Christ, we can come to knowGod directly, through the forgiveness of sins. (My Grandpa has a great relationship with God. He prays and God sends Him INSTANT VOICE MAILS. He just talks to my Grandpa by having his Angel tell my Grandpa. Yeah, Instant Messenger 🙂

    December 11, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Karen

    And exactly HOW is this helpful at this point in time? As a Hillary supporter who voted for Obama I don't really want to reopen that wound. It's done, let it rest.

    Based upon this article at this point – Plouffe doesn't seem very camera shy OR un-sung hero-ish. Feels like we are in the playground going "nah nah nah nah nah I did better than you". NOT helpful for moving forward and coming together.

    December 11, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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