Ending her defiance, Hillary Clinton has finally decided to endorse her rival Barack Obama on Saturday after an unsuccessful, 17-month-old vigorous bid for the Democratic presidential nomination while aides indicated she could be eyeing the vice-president's slot.
"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. The event will be held on Saturday," Clinton campaign official Howard Wolfson told reporters.
The 60-year-old former first lady's decision to formally end the campaign comes at the urging of senior party leaders who want the party to go into the Denver contention in August to elect a nominee unified after Obama on Tuesday night secured the 2,118 delegates to become the first African American to clinch the nomination.
Media reports, which were not confirmed by her campaign, said she has privately told the party leaders that she is prepared to accept the number two slot but Obama, with whom she had a brief talk yesterday, did not give his mind.
He appointed a three-person committee headed by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain charismatic US President John F Kennedy, to search for the vice president or his running mate.
His advisers are evaluating pro and cons of putting Clinton on the ticket but there is formidable opposition to the move among them.
Wolfson statement that she would express support for Obama and call for party unity will set at rest speculation that she might challenge Obama's nomination at the credential meeting in July. Analysts said Clinton has no other choice as most of the super delegates have endorsed Obama and she had little chance of getting anything from the credential committee.
Top leaders and influential lawmakers have told her that any other option would send wrong message to voters especially women and white workers who had supported her throughout her campaign.
Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean and the Democratic congressional leadership released a statement urging the party to rally behind Obama.
The Times quoted one of Clinton's aides as saying 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 Clinton's house for a farewell celebration.
The announcement from Clinton was moved to Saturday to accommodate more supporters who wanted to attend, aides said.
At fund-raiser last evening in New York, Obama said the party can now focus on what needs to be done for the November elections.
Saturday will mark an end to Clinton's roller coaster campaign which started with a disastrous showing in Iowa in January, followed by a win in New Hampshire.
Starting as a favourite, she finished even with Obama, 40, after the Super Tuesday contests on February five but then went downhill. Refusing to give up, she went on to win big states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky but failed to bridge the gap with Obama.