Spin! Counterspin!

Before all the polls even closed, the Clinton and Obama campaigns give reporters an earful about their candidates' wonderful nights.

Published February 6, 2008 3:57AM (EST)

Before all the polls were closed on a busy Super Tuesday election night, both the Clinton and Obama campaign strategists took time out to spin reporters.

Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson opened the call by saying "what a great night this is for Democrats" given the "strong turnout" in most states. "We want to congratulate Sen. Obama and his staff," Wolfson said.

Campaign strategist Mark Penn then hailed encouraging results in Northeastern states, especially a surprise win in Ted Kennedy's Massachussetts, as well as victories in "red states" like Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The best news from exit polls seemed to be that "people who decided on the last day tended to support Sen. Clinton," Penn said. They said they were hearing encouraging news from California but it was still too early to talk about it, and wouldn't comment on early Team Obama claims that their candidate may well do better in the delegate count than he does in the popular vote.

A few minutes later, the Obama call began. Campaign manager David Plouffe hailed the evening as "an outstanding night" for Obama, noting that so far he'd won more states than Clinton, and based on the campaign's projections, more delegates. He even stressed how close the races were in states that Clinton won. Comparing Obama's win in Illinois with Clinton's in New York, Plouffe projected that Obama would end up with 15 more delegates than Clinton between the candidates' two home states -- "an unexpected event." And the campaign manager noted that Obama won Connecticut and Delaware, two states where independents weren't allowed to participate in the Democratic primaries.

"We think we've had a terrific night. We may end up winning more states. We think that the delegates are going to be very close," he said. The Obama camp thinks it will have a final projected delegate count at between 3 and 5 in the morning, but cautioned that it could end up a "draw" or a "little bit better than a draw."

Right now, the Obama campaign's projected delegate count is 606 Obama, 535 Clinton.

By Joan Walsh

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Katharine Mieszkowski

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Joan Walsh War Room