WASHINGTON — Sen. Hillary Clinton will bring her presidential campaign to an end on Saturday when she'll express support for Sen. Barack Obama and call for Democratic Party unity at an event she's holding in Washington.
A senior Clinton aide who asked not to be named said Clinton will "suspend" her campaign, though that term was not used in an official statement from her campaign Wednesday night. That statement, from Phil Singer, the campaign's deputy spokesman, said only that "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."
Initially the Clinton event was set for Friday, but it was changed to Saturday a couple of hours later to allow more time for her supporters to gather.
On Tuesday, after Obama secured the Democratic nomination, Clinton said at a rally in New York that she had made no decision about what's next for her campaign and asked supporters to e-mail their input.
"She genuinely wanted several days...and there was no intent to use the e-mail to generate leverage or pressure," said Lanny Davis, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, told MSNBC. "She believes that she needed time."
But she apparently changed here mind after holding a conference call with about 20 House Democratic members Wednesday afternoon and they expressed concern about what her uncertain campaign status was doing to the party. Obama clinched the nomination by securing commitments from far more than the 2,118 delegates needed, and Clinton's refusal to concede defeat threatened to sustain a divisive rift in party ranks that could harm its chances in November.
Participants on the call said that Clinton told them that it was "time to bring the party together" and admitted that there were "two wings in the party right now." She said it was her duty to "unite them," one participant said on condition of anonymity because it was a private call. He said Clinton did not discuss abandoning or suspending her campaign during that call.
Most Clinton campaign officials stopped short of saying she was exiting the presidential sweepstakes, but a senior aide, asked for comment, told McClatchy in an e-mail that "You can quote an unnamed senior aide as saying she will suspend her campaign."
Clinton visited her campaign headquarters in suburban Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to thank her workers there, but also told them that Friday would be their last day of work.
Asked at a fundraiser in New York City how it felt now that Clinton appears to acknowledge that he is the nominee, Obama said: "Truth is, I haven't had time to think about it. This weekend, I'm going home, talk it over with Michele and we're going on a date."
Inside, he told the crowd, "Your junior senator from New York engaged in an extraordinary campaign. Now that the interfamily squabble is done, all of can focus on what needs to be done in November."
esday to appear with Obama at two rallies scheduled Thursday in Virginia.