Clinton’s decision came as some of her most prominent supporters — including former Vice President Walter Mondale — announced they were now backing Obama.
“I was for Hillary — I wasn’t against Obama, who I think is very talented,” Mondale said. “I’m glad we made a decision, and I hope we can unite our party and move forward.”
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to end her historic bid to become the first female president while leaving her options open to retain her delegates and promote her issues, including a signature call for universal health care.
Hours after Sen. Barack Obama sealed the nomination, Democrats coalesced around his candidacy, sending a strong signal to Clinton that it was time to bow out.
The former first lady told House Democrats during a private conference call Wednesday that she will express support for Obama’s candidacy and congratulate him for gathering the necessary delegates to be the party’s nominee.
“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. This event will be held on Saturday to accommodate more of Senator Clinton’s supporters who want to attend,” her communications director Howard Wolfson said.
Also in the speech, Clinton will urge once-warring Democrats to focus on the general election and defeating Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain.
The announcement brought to a close an epic five-month nominating battle pitting the first serious female candidate against the most viable black contender ever.
On Tuesday night, Obama secured the 2,118 delegates needed to claim the Democratic nomination, but Clinton stopped short of acknowledging that milestone.
An adviser said Clinton and her lieutenants had discussed various ways a presidential candidacy can end, including suspending the campaign to retain control of her convention delegates and sustain her visibility in an effort to promote her key issue of health care.