(Reuters) - Hillary Clinton lost a historic and grueling race for the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama on Tuesday but refused to concede, raising questions about what she wants next.
The question was so prevalent, in fact, that Clinton asked it herself during a rally in New York after voting concluded. “I understand that a lot of people are asking, ‘What does Hillary want?’” she said.
“Now the question is: Where do we go from here? Given how far we’ve come and where we need to go as a party, it’s a question I don’t take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight,” the New York senator and former first lady said.
Here are some possible reasons why the former front-runner is delaying a final decision to end her presidential bid.
* After 17 months of campaigning, Clinton is exhausted and could simply need a few days to adjust to the idea that the race is over.
* Clinton told New York lawmakers in a conference call on Tuesday she is open to the idea of being Obama’s running mate in the November presidential election. If she really wants the job, her political clout is greater if she keeps her bid alive.
* Clinton attracted more than 17 million votes in the lengthy nominating race, and Obama needs her supporters if he has any hope of beating Republican John McCain. Clinton may want to keep the pressure on Obama to pay respect to her campaign and accommodate her supporters.
* Clinton, whose campaign is more than $20 million in debt, may need a few more days to look for ways to pay off her campaign debts, including the more than $11 million she has given the campaign from her own pocket.
* She could be looking for the most graceful way to bow out and protect her legacy and that of her husband, former President Bill Clinton. His image in particular has been tarnished by the difficult campaign, particularly in the black community, which backed Obama heavily.
(Writing by John Whitesides; editing by Patricia Wilson)
To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters “Tales from the Trail: 2008” online at http:/blogs.reuters.com/trail08/
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