CHICAGO--Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe lowered Super Tuesday expectations on Monday, predicting that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will win more states and delegates than the Illinois senator.
But behind the scenes, the Obama camp has been aiming to create momentum out of Tuesday's voting -- no matter the outcome -- by being able to claim a number of wins in states, even if the victories did not yield many delegates.
That's why the Obama team decided to spend the past few days stumping in primary and caucus states with relatively few delegates.
Obama will vote this afternoon in Chicago, after flying in from Boston. He tentatively has a basketball game planned with brother-in-law Craig Robinson (Brown University's basketball coach) and former pro player Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer.
Clinton will cast her ballot from her Westchester County home after headlining a virtual town hall blitz telecast on cable and on the Web from New York. It included a segment anchored from her alma mater, Maine South High School in Park Ridge, the Chicago suburb where she grew up.
A Clinton aide I talked to in Los Angeles on Saturday, showing some signs of being road weary, said there was a time when their team thought the Feb. 5 Democratic balloting in 22 states would yield the nominee. Neither side -- Obama's nor Clinton's -- believe Tuesday's results will be conclusive.
"Our path to the nomination never factored in a big day for us on February 5," Plouffe said in his memo. "We fully expect Senator Clinton to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win more states. If we were to be within 100 delegates on that day and win a number of states, we will have met our threshold for success and will be best-positioned to win the nomination in the coming months."
Clinton strategist Mark Penn, in a memo he issued this weekend, noted that "people had very limited information on Sen. Barack Obama as we go into millions of people voting on the two candidates," then quoted from three stories about Obama's work on disclosure of nuclear incidents, what he did to help laid-off workers and his stand on gun control.
Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if Penn had a point, Obama said, "Look, this was the same argument they made when I was running against Hillary Clinton. Mark Penn was saying I would never withstand them. And we seem to be doing all right so far."