Hillary might concede delegate lead to Obama (Update)

This Tuesday evening Hillary Clinton might be conceding the delegate race to Barack Obama and effectively suspending her campaign. While she will not officially drop her bid, she may tonight concede that Obama has the delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Note: This story has since been disputed by the Clinton campaign: Report from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – Hillary Rodham Clinton will concede Tuesday night that Barack Obama has the delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, campaign officials said, effectively ending her bid to be the nation’s first female president.

Obama is 40 delegates shy of clinching the nomination, but he is widely expected to make up the difference Tuesday with superdelegate support and votes in South Dakota and Montana. Once he reaches the magic number of 2,118, Clinton will acknowledge that he has secured the necessary delegates to be the nominee.

The former first lady will stop short of formally suspending or ending her race in her speech in New York City.

She will pledge to continue to speak out on issues like health care. But for all intents and purposes, the two senior officials said, the campaign is over.

Most campaign staff will be let go and will be paid through June 15, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge her plans.

The advisers said Clinton has made a strategic decision to not formally end her campaign, giving her leverage to negotiate with Obama on various matters including a possible vice presidential nomination for her. She also wants to press him on issues he should focus on in the fall, such as health care.

Universal health care, Clinton’s signature issue as first lady in the 1990s, was a point of dispute between Obama and the New York senator during their epic nomination fight.

Clinton was at home in Chappaqua, N.Y., with her husband, former President Clinton, and was placing calls to friends and supporters.

On NBC’s “Today Show,” Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said that once Obama gets the majority of convention delegates, “I think Hillary Clinton will congratulate him and call him the nominee.”

She will not officially end her campaign, mainly for the reason of negotiating debt payoff perhaps with Obama. If she officially suspends it, she will have no more leverage.

However, this is major news in that she has may concede him the nomination, or at least she might when she speaks tonight.

More as this story develops and, of course, the South Dakota and Montana primary results starting at 8pm eastern. We’ll also have Hillary Clinton’s speech and Obama’s eventual victory speech in full later tonight.

Polls close:

South Dakota – 8pm eastern
Montana – 9pm eastern

Update

The new Associated Press tally has Obama now hitting the 2,118 delegate mark thanks to the deluge of superdelegates committing today, story from Breitbart:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House.

Campaigning on an insistent call for change, Obama outlasted former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a historic race that sparked record turnout in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial divisions within the party.

The AP tally was based on public commitments from delegates as well as more than a dozen private commitments. It also included a minimum number of delegates Obama was guaranteed even if he lost the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.

The 46-year-old first-term senator will face Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the fall campaign to become the 44th president.

Clinton was ready to concede that her rival had amassed the delegates needed to triumph, according to officials in her campaign. These officials said the New York senator did not intend to suspend or end her candidacy in a speech Tuesday night in New York. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been authorized to divulge her plans.

This whole thing will be sorted out over the next 24 hours with the primaries ending and the final superdelegates committing. I’m thinking that by tomorrow, Obama will have enough reason to ask for Hillary’s succession based on support from the Democratic Party and the media.

Clinton supporter/surrogate Terry McAuliffe says she will conced if Obama hits 2,118, from The Hill:

Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (N.Y.) campaign chairman, said Tuesday that he believes that, once Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) reaches the number of delegates necessary to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, the former first lady “will congratulate him and call him the nominee.”

McAuliffe, who appeared on NBC’s Today Show, touted Clinton’s success in the popular vote when anchor Meredith Vieira interrupted to say: “But, then again, it is not about the votes, it is about that number, 2,118 delegates,” to which he replied “sure.”

Vieira followed up, asking “If Barack Obama reaches that number today or tomorrow, do you believe that Senator Clinton is prepared to concede?”

McAuliffe responded: “Yes, I think if Senator Obama gets the number, I think Hillary Clinton will congratulate him and call him the nominee.”

The Associated Press reported that Clinton would concede Tuesday night. However, the campaign quickly released a statement saying that the article is incorrect and that Clinton would not concede the nomination this evening.

Obama is expected to reach the threshold of 2118 delegates as early as Tuesday with a combination of new superdelegates and pledged delegates won in the South Dakota and Montana primaries, but McAuliffe noted that “we haven’t gotten to that number yet.”

I’m thinking that her campaign retracted any statement about concession to prevent a loss in South Dakota, which she’s expected to win tonight quite handily.

More tonight as it develops along with primary results starting around 8pm eastern.