WASHINGTON—Though Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) tonight is expected to claim the Democratic presidential nomination, I’ve learned that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) now plans to continue to travel throughout the country to talk about “issues” that are important to her, even if she is not the nominee.
“Don’t think for one second that she is shutting down her operation,” I was told by a person close to Clinton.
The Clinton campaign released a statement Tuesday morning that said Clinton "will not concede the nomination this evening."
Tonight at Baruch College in Manhattan where Clinton will rally her supporters, Clinton is expected to talk about her accomplishments and leave the door open a little bit for her to continue to “fight” for “issues,” such as universal health care.
Obama plans a victory speech in St. Paul, Mn., at the site of the GOP convention where Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) will accept the Republican nomination. Obama is believed to have enough superdelegates lined up to back him that as I write this on Tuesday morning he could claim 2,118 delegates as soon as the polls in South Dakota and Montana close. Clinton is prepared to suspend her campaign--but not make, at this time a formal concession-- once Obama can put the 2,118 delegates on the scoreboard.
This strategy leaves Clinton with a variety of options; she shifts from campaigning for herself --falling short in her bid to be the first female president--to stumping for “issues,” and of, course for Obama in a strong demonstration of party unity.
I am passing along this look ahead to Clinton's short-term strategy as it was just explained to me by a person very close to Clinton; I'm not sure if this helps Clinton or Obama, but I am reflecting a snapshot of what Clinton will be considering in the days ahead.
This "issues" work will let Clinton remain visible as she travels to energize the millions of people who voted for her around “issues” as Obama works to lock their support in for November. These goals are not at odds with each other. This strategy keeps Clinton in a visible—albeit significantly lower profile—role as Obama ponders who to tap to be his running mate.
Obama probably does not want Clinton on his ticket. He would prefer someone who does not fog up the “change” message. Obama would offer Clinton the vice presidency only if he needs her, and that would take a lot of convincing. Still, Obama is claiming victory tonight with a less than powerful finish. Not counting South Dakota and Montana, in the last 14 contests—spread over three months—Obama has six victories to seven wins for Clinton
I am told that Clinton will keep her campaign office open with a downsized staff for the indefinite future.