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Clinton to end historic bid for White House

New York Senator Hillary Clinton will end a race that brought her closer than any woman in history to the U.S. presidency and announce her endorsement of Illinois Senator Barack Obama on June 7, her campaign said.

"Senator Clinton will be hosting an event in Washington, DC, to thank her supporters and express her support for Senator Obama and party unity,`` her campaign said in a statement e- mailed to reporters late yesterday.

The announcement came a day after Obama, 46, clinched the nomination by amassing the required number of delegates to the Democratic national convention in August. Party leaders said they expect Clinton, 60, to help Obama campaign against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

"She told me, in a small meeting, that if Obama were the nominee she would campaign her heart out,`` said James Blanchard, a former Michigan governor and co-chair of Clinton`s Michigan campaign.

Blanchard said he would work to bring the Democratic Party together now that the historic race between Clinton and Obama is coming to an end. While many of Clinton`s supporters are calling for a joint ticket, Blanchard said that wouldn`t be the only way for Clinton to play a role.

`Party Unity`

"She wants to make sure the 18 million people who voted for her and worked for her are respected and listened to and consulted,`` he said. `I don`t think that necessarily means being a running mate. They need each other for party unity.``

Clinton`s plans were still in some confusion late yesterday. Even as advisers were confirming that she planned a concession event on June 6, the campaign sent out an email saying it would instead be June 7. `This event will be held on Saturday to accommodate more of Senator Clinton`s supporters who want to attend,`` the campaign said.

Many Advantages

Obama overcame the many advantages Clinton had when she entered the race in January 2007. She had one of the best names in Democratic politics because of the popularity of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as well as a deep well of fundraisers and supporters throughout the country.

Obama was at $28,500-a-plate fundraiser in New York last night when asked about the news of Clinton`s withdrawal.

"Truth is, I haven`t had time to think about it,`` Obama said outside the event at 820 Park Avenue in Manhattan. "This weekend, I`m going home, talk it over with Michelle and we`re going on a date,`` he said, referring to his wife.

Inside the event, held at the apartment of Jane Hartley and BlackRock Inc. co-founder Ralph Schlosstein, Obama told the approximately 100 guests that ``now that the interparty squabble is done`` Democrats could "focus on what needs to be done in November.``

In the end, the Clinton campaign suffered from a lack of planning and a failure to fully comprehend the power of Obama`s message of change. Obama racked up victories in caucus states by energizing hundreds of volunteer activists; Clinton hardly contested many of the caucus states and as a result fell well behind in the delegate count.

Obama Builds Lead

After racking up 11 straight victories in February, Obama entered March with a strong lead in the popular vote and the number of delegates to the national convention. Clinton revived her candidacy with victories in the March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries and the April 22 contest in Pennsylvania.

Obama joked about his opponent`s tenacity while playing basketball with a supporter`s son in Indiana on May 1. "He`s tough,`` Obama said of the 14-year-old that day. "He keeps on coming back. He`s like Hillary.``

The beginning of the end came on May 6, when Clinton barely eked out a victory in Indiana and lost North Carolina to Obama by 14 points, leaving her far behind in delegates with only a handful of primaries remaining.

As the voting wrapped up on June 3, Clinton had kind words for her adversary even as she put off a concession.

"It has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend,`` she said.

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