Obama: "We have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates"

In a speech Tuesday night, Barack Obama didn't quite declare victory, but he did mark an important milestone.

By Alex Koppelman
May 21, 2008 6:40AM (UTC)
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Barack Obama has just made the declaration that his campaign had been promising and pundits and observers had been waiting for. Speaking to a crowd in Iowa, the first state to hold a nominating contest this year, Obama said:

You came out on a cold winter's night in January, in numbers that this country has never seen, and you stood for change. You stood for change, and because you did, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And tonight, Iowa, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

This assertion isn't entirely unchallenged. First off, Obama may have jumped the gun slightly -- NBC News, at least, puts him a delegate away from the mark he cites. He will undoubtedly make up the difference as the night goes on, however. Also, the Clinton camp is now using its own set of delegate math, which is at odds with from the math employed by both the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party. The Clinton campaign wants the disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan counted, and that would mean a different total number of delegates and of course a different number required to reach a majority of pledged delegates. There is a possibility, though, that Obama could hit that mark as well after all the results are in from Oregon and delegates are allocated from both Oregon and Kentucky.


Also, it's interesting to note the language he used, referring to "a majority of delegates elected by the American people" rather than "pledged delegates." The former, obviously, has a more democratic connotation to it. The Clinton campaign has done something similar -- it refers to "automatic delegates" instead of "superdelegates."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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