Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) passes a statue of Ronald Reagan as she emerges from Tally's Restaurant during a campaign event in Rapid City, S.D., that may be one of her last.
Elise Amendola / AP Enlarge
YANKTON, S.D. - Hillary Clinton pushed through South Dakota yesterday as an air of finality and resignation settled in among her supporters, aides, and financial backers.
Nancy Sutterer, a 52-year-old unemployed technician, implored Mrs. Clinton at a restaurant stop to tackle the economy "wherever you're at, whatever you're doing."
There were abundant signs that her historic run for the presidency was closing out.
"I want to say also that this may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind," former President Clinton said at a stop in Milbank, S.D.
Mrs. Clinton was to end the day yesterday in Sioux Falls with former President Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, before flying east. South Dakota and Montana hold the final primaries today, with 31 delegates at stake.
Mrs. Clinton's advisers privately predicted she would lose both contests. She planned to meet with advisers at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., today, then - in a rare departure from the campaign trail - the New York senator and former first lady planned to hold an end-of-primary rally in New York tonight, inviting donors and offering to fly in field staffers from around the country. She had no other events scheduled for today and aides said she planned to call super delegates in a last-ditch effort to undercut Barack Obama's lead.
Aides emphasized that Mrs. Clinton had no plans to withdraw from the race tonight.
But Clinton field hands said they were told to stand down, without pay, and await instructions. Speaking not for attribution because they didn't want to jeopardize their job searches, many said they were peddling resumes, returning to their hometowns, or seeking out former employers.
Clinton super delegates held a conference call with senior Clinton adviser Harold Ickes yesterday afternoon, a regularly scheduled event that one participant described as part congratulations and part farewell.
Mr. Obama, campaigning in Michigan yesterday, said, "Senator Clinton has run an outstanding race, she is an outstanding public servant, and she and I will be working together in November." He said yesterday he has asked Mrs. Clinton for a meeting on her terms "once the dust settles" from their race.
"The sooner we can bring the party together, the sooner we can start focusing on John McCain in November," Mr. Obama told reporters.