Well, after all the speculation and all the various reports, statements and denials, that flew this way and that on Tuesday, at least we now know one thing for sure: Hillary Clinton has no plans to concede the Democratic nomination Tuesday night.
In fact, the speech Clinton gave to a crowd of cheering supporters shortly after she'd been declared the winner of South Dakota's Democratic primary sounded, for the most part, like nothing so much as a victory speech.
Even though just about every media organization is now acknowledging what she did not, that for the moment Obama has secured the support of enough delegates to win the nomination, Clinton's acknowledgement of Obama sounded like a paragraph written for a victory speech, for a nominee-elect thanking a defeated opponent. "I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run," Clinton said, continuing:
Senator Obama has inspired so many Americans to care about politics and empowered so many more to get involved. And our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result. So we are grateful.
And it has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And, tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.
But the speech sounded like a victory declaration not just because of the way she spoke of Obama, but because of the way she spoke of the race itself, as she repeated the same arguments for her candidacy that she's been making to voters and superdelegates over the past weeks and months.
"[I]n the millions of quiet moments, in thousands of places," Clinton said to the crowd and her supporters at home, "you asked yourself a simple question: Who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest president? Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as commander-in-chief and lead our country to better tomorrows?" She went on to discuss the swing states she's won in the primaries, and her claim -- a debatable one -- that she won the national popular vote. These were not the kind of words you'd expect from a candidate getting ready to drop out and looking to do her party's presumptive nominee no harm.
It was only towards the end of her speech that Clinton acknowledged the dire situation in which she finds herself. Rather than declaring herself the nominee, as Obama did Tuesday night -- and which she can not yet do, and almost certainly will not be able to do unless some miracle happens for her and she's able to pull hundreds of delegates away from Obama between now and the Democratic convention in Denver this summer -- she made no promises to her supporters, who had been cheering for her to go on to Denver. "Now, the question is: Where do we go from here? And given how far we've come and where we need to go as a party, it's a question I don't take lightly," Clinton said, going on to add:
This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight...
[T]o the 18 million people who voted for me, and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I want to hear from you. I hope you'll go to my Web site at HillaryClinton.com and share your thoughts with me and help in any way that you can.
And in the coming days, I'll 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.