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Obama Team Sees 'Wide Lead' Over Clinton

By Jonathan Weisman
He didn't come out and say it, but Sen. Barack Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, came close this morning to asking Hillary Rodham Clinton to drop out of the race.

By Plouffe's count, Obama's wins yesterday in Wisconsin and Hawaii gave him a 159-delegate lead among pledged delegates, a margin he sees as insurmountable in the Democrats' proportional delegate system. To catch up, Clinton would have to win the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas by 30-point blowouts, followed by a 40-point blowout in Pennsylvania.

"This is a wide, wide lead right now," Plouffe insisted. "The Clinton campaign keeps saying the race is essentially tied. That's just lunacy."

He encouraged reporters to ask the Clinton campaign how exactly she could make up that margin. Obama's 17-point victory in Wisconsin exceeded all expectations, he said. And the worst-case scenario for Texas and Ohio is a narrow Clinton win that trims the pledged-delegate lead to around 150.

By Plouffe's math, that's not enough. From here out, Clinton would have to win 73 percent of the remaining delegates to take the lead.

But what about the superdelegates, those pesky elected Democrats, party officials and movers and shakers who are not bound by the voters?

"They keep offering alternative theories to how they're going to win the nomination which have nothing to do with the voting," Plouffe said. "I've got to tell you, the voters are tired of that."

By Washington Post editors  |  February 20, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
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Posted by: qnvcroil wiom | April 16, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Houston had nothing whatsoever to do with liftoffs. That solves that! They should give the $1.5 to me. I'll send my Paypal address.

Posted by: JerseyDevil4ever | February 22, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Hillary is fired up. She's ready to go. And Obama is ready to show her the door.

Thanks to the good people of Wisconsin for rewarding a candidate who actually shows up to campaign, and punishing one who thinks attack-dog politics is the way to go.

Posted by: badcat97 | February 20, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Independents unite!


Because they are there.

Posted by: saintsubversive | February 20, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The Obama campaign is right. She can win both TX and OH by 25 pt and Obama will still have a 40-50 pledge delegates lead. Her only chance is to go to the convention with Obama holding a thin pledge delegate lead 20-30, which is a virtual tie, and have the super overturn the lead. That will break the party apart! DNC needs to ask the CLINTONS to tell them how they will win the pledged delegates.
The super can end it by signaling to her that they will not overturn the will of the people.
Mitt Romney was in a better position and dropped out.

Posted by: al_164_1999 | February 20, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

There is still a win-win for Obama and Hillary camps. Hillary is a no go on VP. (I 2nd Wesley Clark idea...).

But, what about a senior cabinet position - she might even make a good sec of state (or sec of education, or sec of energy or sec of health and human services...).

Obama is inspirational and a great communicator - those are good qualities in a pres. Hillary is wonky and detail oriented - these are good qualities for a senior level cabinet member.

I'm an independent but Billary seems to be playing all or nothing - there are other options in between where she can still have a major leadership position with authority and where she can do good work for the country.

Let's move on and get to work.

Posted by: jasonh1 | February 20, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

No chance that Hillary's "Keystone Cops" outfit will be able to figure out how to get their declining voter base to cast enough votes in the incredibly confusing Texas prima-caucus. Obama's ground game will again deliver for him, winning Texas.

I also love how her new "Night Shift" add preaches to her choir - white women. Way to broaden your base.

Hillary = toast.

Posted by: WillM1 | February 20, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

It is as though she is running in order to steal the nomination out of the hands of the voters. That will make a nice bulleted item on her resume. Hillary, make yourself proud.

Posted by: katefranklin60 | February 20, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

A few of the words Clinton can not blame Obama plagiarised are 'I CONGRATULATE YOU ON YOUR WIN'. Because those are words Obama does not have to use, the words that Hillary has been using very often recently and she has a patent pending.

Posted by: JohnMcCormick | February 20, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama will seal the deal and make McCain look like yesterday's left overs if he suits up the equally eloquent, retired 4 star general, Westley Clark!

Nothing like a 4-star general to cover yer Barack!

Posted by: primarywatcher | February 20, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

This is what the HillBillys had to say about their Wisconsin lose. "We never liked the Wisconsin cheese. We buy our cheese from California". Now Hillary is on a mission to find the village. The same village where she raised her daugther. But now she wants to go to that village and find whether the post of the president of PTA is available for her starting from 'day one' of the next school year. Because there is nothing like being a president on 'day one'.

Posted by: ChunkyMonkey1 | February 20, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse


First of all, the correct term is 'super delegates' or 'unpledged delegates.' 'Automatic delegates' is something that Clinton's campaign made up out of nowhere a few weeks ago. It's sort of like Republicans rudely referring to the 'Democrat Party.' It makes you sound like someone with an agenda not to be taken seriously.

More importantly, you are wrong about the importance of a majority of pledged delegates in practical terms. The super delegates are all politicians. It's their job to look at what their constituents want and go the way that the wind blows. Why would they decide to take the big loser of the actual elections and unite to hand her the nomination? What possible reason would they have for doing this? These delegates see both candidates as plausible Presidents. Most of them are going to vote for whomever most of the voters wanted. They are politicians. That's what they do.

Most of these people remember the 1968 Democratic National Convention quite well and they don't want a rehash. The '68 disaster was caused by the fact that a brokered convention gave the nomination to someone who hadn't actually won the primaries. Everyone was furious, the party was fractured and Hubert Humphrey got himself a worthless nomination. Worthless because a candidate whom the actual voters rejected in the primaries never had a real chance of leading a united party against Richard Nixon.

The kind of situation that you seem to be suggesting, whereby Clinton loses the actual elections but grabs the nomination through some sort of back room deals, would be 1968 all over again. A total disaster that would leave Democratic party voters completely disenfranchised and furious. It is unrealistic and undesirable even from the perspective of advancing Senator Clinton's career.

Posted by: JacksonLanders | February 20, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I believe the tapes will show that "we have liftoff" was not preceded by "Houston". This may be a derivative work but not an outright copy.

Manned space launches were and continue to be controlled out of Cape Canaveral/Kennedy/whatever they call it now until the mission was fully launched. Houston took over only after the launch was "official".

So "we have liftoff" was a Florida thing. Different from Apollo 13's "Houston, we have a problem." But you might start hearing this latter phrase from the Clinton camp any day now!

Posted by: 33rdStreet | February 20, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh and Obama won't be a shoo-in. He would be the most liberal president since Carter..and that was a great presidency wasn't it? Moderate is the name of the game and he isn't it. America isn't about liberal anymore. I say that as someone who is a democrat. And once all of America zereos in on the separatist black church he belongs to, to Al Sharpton waiting in the wings, to his wife with her hard edge like the one Hillary is attacked for, get ready. McCain must be doing a happy dance about now.

Posted by: deminFLA | February 20, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The rule is NOT whoever has the MOST pledged delegates wins. The rule is whoever gets to 2025 wins. Neither Obama or Hillary will get there. Is it automatic delegates, is it some other method that calls the race? But Obama's camp simply deciding it's the pledged delegate lead is rodiculous and yet the puupy dog press goes right along with it. I for one am not paying the higher taxes an Obama presidency will entail and will vote republican before I vote Obama. Hillary actually has something to say. But she's not a man, so why listen right?

Posted by: deminFLA | February 20, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Donors to Hillary are the ones who need a "reality check." At this point, spending money to attack Obama can only help the Republicans in November. To avoid that, donors need to cut off Hillary's cash flow, because the Clintons are too reckless and selfish to act for the greater good. Hillary donors who continue to fund a desperate, slash-and-burn attack on Obama ought to put in a call to Ralph Nader and ask him whether he has any regrets.

Posted by: xxxxxx37 | February 20, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Say what you want, or try to spin it which ever way you want, but here's the bottom line" Obama has won 25 states and Hillary won 10 states (not counting MI & FL).

How on Earth does Hillary think she can win? She is NOT going to blow out Obama by 30 or 40 points in any state! The only other way she could try to out-maneuver Obama is by stealing the Superdelegates, but do the Democrats want to overturn the will of people? His dominance cannot be questioned.

One last point: the idea of a primary is to find the most electable candidate for each political party. If Obama is bringing out record voters in EVERY SINGLE STATE, why wouldn't the Democrats want someone like that on their ticket? Hillary is way too polarizing a figure, and you can see that in the way she has lost state after state. Obama gives the public the clearest choice in a race with McCain.

With the manifest unhappiness with the Bush Administration, and McCain allying himself with it, Obama should be a shoo-in to become our next President.

Posted by: winoohno | February 20, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Not only is there no way for Clinton to catch up in pledged delegates, but there's virtually no way she's even going to make it close. She needs to leave the race.

Posted by: davestickler | February 20, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the appears to wide, as this indicators also point to:

Barack vs. Hillary- The Google Effect:

Posted by: davidmwe | February 20, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

If NAFTA Clinton had won the last 10 Primarys and caucus would the media have given the victory to the laughing horse.....EEEEHHHHAWWW

Posted by: bioenergyman | February 20, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

If superdelegates don't begin making it clear that they are supporting the pledged delegate winner, they can look in the mirror in June to find those responsible for tearing the Democratic party apart.

Posted by: jameswhanger | February 20, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Fired UP:

Obama wins Wisconsin and Hawaii.

Call *that* plagiarism.

Now the Clinton camp can most *assuredly* use the phrase: Ready to go.

If you haven't been to a rally, or have, and want to take it with you, you can get the entire Obama rally setlist--all the way from U2's "City of Blinding Lights", to which Obama takes the stage, to the Obama victory anthem "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" at ITunes, here:

Posted by: caraprado1 | February 20, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

The Cult of Her Own Personality

To my fellow Democratic Party American's; we have a dark specter crossing the landscape of our Party. Divisive primary politics aside, we have a radical element among our membership. This element is becoming more evident with each and every loss that they rack up, in that they are pulling apart of our Party. This element is showing that the pulling apart, and possible fracturing of our great Party, for what seems to be nothing more then feelings of self-entitlement toward the nomination, is a justifiable cost for their goals and aspirations.

"Senator Obama's words are contradicted by deeds. He said he would -- he pledged to take public financing as now Senator McCain has pledged. He has just reversed that pledge.
--Hillary Clinton surrogate Lanny Davis, CNN Late Edition, Feb. 17. 2008.

Again, I feel it necessary that we examine the true benefit of tying the hands of a possible Republican challenger, in this case Sen. Obama, when it comes to financing a general presidential campaign. Is it a responsible move for a Party member to actively fight against another possible presidential candidate in such a way?

Is it wise for the Party to allow ourselves to enter into a most important election with one arm tied behind our backs? Of course it is not a smart political move, yet this dangerous element in our Party feels it is fair game to attack a fellow Party member on such a matter. And, in a sense, help the opposition's presidential candidate's campaign.

By rejecting public funds, which no major party candidate has done for a general election since public funding for elections was instituted in the 1970's, Sen. Obama will be putting himself at an obvious disadvantage. Not just because Sen. Obama would have to return more money then McCain. Sen. Obama has raised $6.1 million toward the general campaign, compared to the $2.2 million that McCain has raised, but his grassroots fundraising machine is massive and not nearly close to being tapped out. This would be not just poor politics on the part of Sen. Obama, but it would be irresponsible to the Party to do such a thing.

The Democratic Party has a wonderful advantage against the Republican nomination this election year cycle when it comes to funding. A tool, which if not utilized, would be a politically reckless action on the part of a presidential Party candidate.

What we are facing with this dangerous Party element, is a high ranking member of the Party that is willing, and desirous, that we concede such an advantage for what? Is it for a possible underlying feeling of presidential self-entitlement? Is it a campaign's last ditch effort to win? A do or die burn fest? Whatever the reasoning behind such a destructive move on the part of Sen. Clinton, it is nonetheless, a very dangerous ploy for such little possible gain.

Is this the kind of politics that we need in the party, let alone in America? The idea which seems to resonate with the American populace is that we need to move away from the typical day to day operations of our political leaders. We need to have a Party, and a Country, that is truly for the people by the people. Not a country controlled by the minority of its citizenry, or by its far right leaning religious minority, nor even by the money-throwing special interest groups, all of which attempt to circumvent the will and betterment of the majority of Americans. No, this is not the type of Party that we should be. This is not what the Democratic Party is all about.

What we are facing is a path that can take us either into a future, which is based on the belief, and yes hope, that we can do truly wonderful things if we pull together, or a future that concedes we have reached the pinnacle of American greatness, and we must go back to the way it was before these disastrous last 7 years. The idea and belief that America should be governed from the bottom up, and not the top down, is a crossroads sign post which we must use to choose our great nations future.

I, personally, will give the benefit of the doubt, and look to what great things we can hope to do with this belief and faith. The past was good, and we were served well by its purveyors, but it was just that, the past. To whatever future we find ourselves living in is yet to be seen, yet the leader of our Party is clear. The time is now to realize the fact that we have our leader for the campaign to reclaim the Presidency of the United States, and we must show unity and support behind Sen. Obama if we are to succeed. The alternative will be more of the same support for the status quo, which is both detrimental, and unacceptable to the American way of life.

--- Matthew McGovern

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 20, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

This just in ---

Mark Penn is launching a new attack ad that demonstrates another example of Obama's plagiarism...

This is really BIG. It's worth 500 delegates.

Penn claims to have proof positive that Obama did not invent the phrase ...

"Houston - WE HAVE LIFT OFF"

In fact, as we speak -- (after being tipped off by John Glenn) Penn and his crack team of plagiarism investigators are reviewing all NASA voice communication tapes back to the Mercury launches.

The $1,500,000 Penn will spend for that review will be as well spent as the policy booklet investment. (And, we all know how significant the policy booklet is going to be.)

It will win Texas. It will win Ohio. It will win Wisconsin (never mind).

Penn is ABSOLUTELY positive that he's heard "Houston - we have lift off" before Obama stated publically those words last night. So is John Glenn.

Ahaaaa Haa. Now they have him.

When this story breaks it will save Penn's job. It will change the world.

Hillary will once again be the inevitable, come-back, experienced, ready on day one, solutions - commander-in-queen of the free world.

Stop the presses. Alert the media.

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | February 20, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

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