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Clinton: No immediate decision on next steps

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton said she was making no immediate decisions on her next steps
  • Clinton's speech had been viewed as opportunity to step aside
  • Speech sounded like one she had delivered on stump over last few weeks
  • Two prominent Clinton backers say they will line up behind Obama
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton said Tuesday night she would make no immediate decision on her next steps after winning the South Dakota primary but watching rival Sen. Barack Obama pick up enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton congratulated "Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race they have run."

"Our party and our democracy are stronger and more vibrant as a result," she said.

But she stopped short of conceding the race to Obama. Instead, her speech Tuesday night sounded more like the one she had made for several weeks, touting the number of votes that she had won, and how she had won in battleground states that Democrats would have to win to have a chance against Republicans.

"Even when the pundits and naysayers proclaimed week after week that this campaign was over, you kept on voting," she said, adding that she won most of the swing states that would be needed to push a Democratic ticket to the 270 electoral votes to win the presidential election. Video Watch more of Clinton's speech »

Clinton and Obama have been doing a delicate dance over a place for her on the ticket, insiders from both camps say.

Reports from inside her camp leading up to her Tuesday speech said that it would be a conciliatory one and would convey that she "will do whatever she's asked to do," a close friend and adviser of the former first lady said.

In a conference call with New York lawmakers on Tuesday, Clinton said that if she was asked by Obama, she would be interested in serving as his running mate, according to a source who was on the call.

Clinton didn't sound like she planned on ending her campaign immediately.

"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," she told supporters.

She did say she wanted to take steps to heal any wounds that the long campaign might have inflicted on the party.

"I am committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House this November," she said.

Answering the question "What does Hillary want" -- asked by many pundits and Obama supporters as the Illinois senator drew closer to the nomination -- Clinton said that she wanted "what I have always fought for."

"I want to end the war in Iraq," she said. "I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want every child to live up to his or her God-given potential, and I want for the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected and heard and to no longer be invisible."

If Clinton wasn't being conciliatory, two of her highest-profile supporters were.

Democratic strategist James Carville, a CNN contributor, said that he was ready to open his wallet to help Obama.

"As soon as she gets out, I am going to write him a check," Carville said.

Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said he would get behind Obama, too.

"I have helped Democrats now for 30 years, and I will continue to do so," he said.

Both predicted the two rivals would join to try to help unify the party going into the general election, but it will have to be a joint effort.

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"She is going to do her part, and he is going to have to do his part," Carville said.

"They both need each other," McAuliffe said.

CNN's Mark Preston and Candy Crowley contributed to this report

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