Thursday, June 05, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES Clinton Ready to End Bid and Endorse Obama

Clinton Ready to End Bid and Endorse Obama


James Estrin/The New York Times

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton at a rally in New York on Tuesday.

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Published: June 5, 2008

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will endorse Senator Barack Obamaon Saturday, bringing a close to her 17-month campaign for the White House, aides said. Her decision came after Democrats urged her Wednesday to leave the race and allow the party to coalesce around Mr. Obama.


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Times Topics: Hillary Rodham ClintonTimes Topics: Barack Obama


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Senator Barack Obama, now the prospective Democratic nominee, outside the Capitol on Wednesday. He told reporters that he and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton were "going to have a conversation in the coming weeks."

Howard Wolfson, one of Mrs. Clinton's chief strategists, and other aides said she would express support for Mr. Obama and party unity at an event in Washington that day. One adviser said Mrs. Clinton would concede defeat, congratulate Mr. Obama and proclaim him the party's nominee, while pledging to do what was needed to assure his victory in November.

Her decision came after a day of conversations with supporters on Capitol Hill about her future now that Mr. Obama had clinched the nomination. Mrs. Clinton had, in a speech after Tuesday night's primaries, suggested she wanted to wait before deciding about her future, but in conversations Wednesday, her aides said, she was urged to step aside.

"We pledged to support her to the end," RepresentativeCharles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat who has been a patron of Mrs. Clinton since she first ran for the Senate, said in an interview. "Our problem is not being able to determine when the hell the end is."

Mrs. Clinton's decision came as some of her most prominent supporters — including former Vice PresidentWalter F. Mondale — announced they were now backing Mr. Obama. "I was for Hillary — I wasn't against Obama, who I think is very talented," Mr. Mondale said. "I'm glad we made a decision and I hope we can unite our party and move forward."

One of Mrs. Clinton's aides said they were told that except for her senior advisers, there was no reason to report to work after Friday, and that they were invited to Mrs. Clinton's house for a farewell celebration. The announcement from Mrs. Clinton was moved to Saturday to accommodate more supporters who wanted to attend, aides said.

"Senator Clinton will be hosting an event in Washington, D.C., to thank her supporters and express her support for Senator Obama and party unity," Mr. Wolfson said.

Mr. Obama, not waiting for a formal concession from Mrs. Clinton, announced a three-member vice-presidential selection committee that will include Caroline Kennedy, who has become a close personal adviser since endorsing him four months ago.

With some Democrats promoting Mrs. Clinton as Mr. Obama's No. 2, his aides said they would move slowly in the search, allowing passions from the bruising primary battles to cool.

"Now that the interfamily squabble is done," Mr. Obama said Wednesday evening at a Manhattan fund-raiser, "all of us can focus on what needs to be done in November." Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton crossed paths briefly in Washington. As he left the Capitol, Mr. Obama told reporters, "We're going to have a conversation in the coming weeks."

Mr. Obama appeared before theAmerican Israel Public Affairs Committee, where, tacking to the right, he described a far tougher series of sanctions he would be willing to impose on Iran than he had outlined heretofore.

Mrs. Clinton, in a later appearance before the group, moved to reassure an audience clearly nervous about Mr. Obama's views on Israeli security. "I know that Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel," she said.

Turning to the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, Mr. Obama's likely opponent, and Mr. Obama both said they were interested in holding a series of debates this summer.

Aides to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton said that at least some of Mrs. Clinton's fund-raisers would move to join the Obama campaign. Still, with the realization of defeat still settling in, it appeared that most of her major financial backers were holding back until they got a clearer signal from Mrs. Clinton of her intentions.

"I'm being aggressively courted by folks in the Obama campaign," said Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia lawyer, who is a national finance co-chairman. "I've told them all, 'Everybody relax. Take a deep breath. There's time enough here.' "

On Thursday, Mr. Obama planned to head to the southwestern tip of Virginia, in Appalachia, to begin courting voters in a state that traditionally goes Republican but could be a battleground in the fall. Then, he intends to take a few days to strategize privately about the general-election campaign.

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