Her path to the nomination inevitable no more, Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to announce she is ending her groundbreaking candidacy and supporting Barack Obama, her rival in a presidential quest for the ages.
Clinton prepared to declare Saturday that she is backing the Illinois senator after Democratic congressional colleagues made clear they had no stomach for a protracted intraparty battle once Obama secured the 2,118 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination.
A presidential contender who announced 17 months ago that she was "in it to win it," the former first lady plans to end her quest with a more humble plea for party unity.
In truth, she had little choice.
"What does Hillary want?" the vanquished Democrat asked.
The vice presidency.
"What does she want?" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton repeated.
In a rousing speech that has become the hallmark of his march from obscurity to the Democratic Presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois accepted the challenge of becoming his party's presumptive nominee and detailed the change that he has promised to bring to the political process.
It was a historic moment in American politics and the nation's history and even Hillary Rodham Clinton's refusal to be gracious and admit defeat could not destroy the significance of the evening.
Defiant in the face of defeat, Hillary Rodham Clinton refused to concede the Democratic nomination for President even as Barack Obama clinched before the polls closed in Montana.
Prepared text by presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama following the last primaries Tuesday.
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois sealed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, a historic step toward his once-improbable goal of becoming the nation's first black president. Hillary Rodham Clinton maneuvered for the vice presidential spot on his fall ticket without conceding her own defeat.
Obama's victory set up a five-month campaign with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a race between a 46-year-old opponent of the Iraq War and a 71-year-old former Vietnam prisoner of war and staunch supporter of the current U.S. military mission.
Both men promptly exchanged criticism over the war in Iraq and sought to claim the mantle of change in a country plainly tired of the status quo.
Hillary Rodham Clinton told colleagues Tuesday she would consider joining Barack Obama as his running mate, and advisers said she was withholding a formal departure from the race partly to use her remaining leverage to press for a spot on the ticket.
On a conference call with other New York lawmakers, Clinton, a New York senator, said she was willing to become Obama's vice presidential nominee if it would help Democrats win the White House, according to several participants in the call.
Clinton's remarks came in response to a question from Democratic Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who said she believed the best way for Obama to win key voting blocs, including Hispanics, would be for him to choose Clinton as his running mate.
Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, ending a grueling marathon to become the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House.
Campaigning on an insistent call for change, Obama outlasted former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a historic race that sparked record turnout in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial and gender divisions within the party.
The tally was based on public declarations from delegates as well as from another 16 who have confirmed their intentions to the AP. It also included 11 delegates Obama was guaranteed as long as he gained 30 percent of the vote in South Dakota and Montana later in the day. It takes 2,118 delegates to clinch the nomination.
Add to former President Clinton's regrets this campaign season a stream of invective while commenting Monday on an unflattering article in Vanity Fair magazine.
"President Clinton was understandably upset about an outrageously unfair article," Jay Carson, a spokesman for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, said after her husband's remarks appeared on the online Huffington Post, "but the language today was inappropriate and he wishes he had not used it."
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, is endorsing Barack Obama for president, his office said on Monday.