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What will Hillary do next?

  • Story Highlights
  • Barack Obama makes history as the presidential nomination for Democrats
  • In the process he is the first African-American to be chosen by a major US party
  • Backers of Hillary Clinton hope that she will be asked to join the Obama ticket
  • Key are the supporters Clinton can marshal, also her fundraising personnel
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By Jonathan Mann
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(CNN) -- Barack Obama and American voters made history this week. The big question is how long Hillary Clinton will stand in the way.

The next question is what will happen to her, her voters and their money. And she isn't saying.

What she did tell supporters is that she isn't dropping out fast. "I'll be consulting with party leaders and supporters with the best interests of our party and our country guiding our way."

For weeks, we knew that Obama would win the Democratic nomination to the presidency, the first African-American ever to be chosen by a major US party. He was just too far ahead.

But back at the start of the campaign 16 months ago, it was Clinton who was far ahead in the opinion polls. It was Clinton who had every reason to expect that she would be the first: the first woman.

Clinton campaigned hard until the very end. When the primary season concluded this week she even won one of the last two races, in South Dakota. But Obama won the other one, in Montana, and that was more than enough. It was over for her, but she still didn't quit.

Why not force her? Clinton attracted the support of more than 17 million voters. Many have told pollsters they wouldn't vote for Obama if Clinton was defeated. That's roughly half of the Democratic party's turnout - crucial for Obama's campaign, and a tempting target for Republican John McCain to try to pick up.

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The Obama campaign has also made clear it wants to recruit her fundraisers, who helped Clinton collect more than $150 million dollars and could probably muster tens of millions more for him.

So both men are already honoring her at every opportunity, praising her in a way they never did just a few weeks ago.

Clinton's supporters want more than praise -- they're hoping that Obama will ask her to be his vice-presidential candidate. She said privately this week that she would accept.

She may get it, but it will be for Obama to decide and it's hardly a sure thing. The race for the presidency will probably move on without her. She just hasn't agreed to let it happen yet.

All About Hillary ClintonDemocratic PartyBarack ObamaJohn McCainRepublican Party

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