Hillary Clinton refused to concede the Democratic primary to Barack Obama even after he effectively clinched the nomination, a tactic perhaps aimed at securing the vice presidential slot on his ticket.
As a result, a night Democrats anticipated celebrating Obama’s general election candidacy ended with looming questions about Hillary Clinton’s future as his vice presidential candidate. The next day, a dogged Clinton supporter began a concentrated effort to rally support for Clinton in the slot.
Obama secured the 2,118 delegates needed for the nomination at the conclusion of the party’s final primary contests in Montana and South Dakota Tuesday evening. Clinton did not recognize his achievement in her highly-anticipated speech that evening from her home state of New York.
She only congratulated Obama on the race he had “run” not “won.”
“This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight," she said, indicating she had no immediate plans to dissolve or suspend her campaign. Her supporters erupted, cheering “Denver! Denver! Denver!” as if they were encouraging her to challenge Obama’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in August.
In the run-up to her speech, commentators speculated Clinton would “hold out” a concession, or endorsement in order to become vice president. Or possibly force Obama to pay off her campaign’s multimillion dollar debts.
At a light-hearted moment in her speech Clinton said people often ask, “What does Hillary want? What does she want?” It seemed an opportune time to make a demand for the vice presidential slot. After a pregnant pause, Clinton launched into a slew of policy proposals she “wanted,” like universal health care before she hinting at an upcoming threat. “I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected,” she said.
She didn’t explain how they should ultimately be “respected,” but her supporters unveiled a website, www.womenforfairpolitics.com, to solicit signatures to support her as Obama’s vice president with the campaign’s support. MSNBC reported the site was created by Lanny Davis, a longtime friend of the Clinton’s.
Clinton ended her speech by asking supporters to go to her own presidential website to “share you thoughts with me and help me in any way that you can” in the final moments of her last primary speech. She would soon be “consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way,” Clinton promised.