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Is Hillary Clinton preparing for the end? Signs say yes

June 2, 2008 | 11:07 am

For political junkies, part of the fun of watching politics is reading the tea leaves. Admit it. Most of you probably saw friends over the weekend -- a little barbecue, maybe, or a kids' sports match.

And if you talked about politics, chances are good the conversation included a little chatter about how and where the Democrats are going to finish up after Tuesday's final votes in Montana and SoNew York Senator Hillary Clinton appears about ready to close the curtain on her one-time frontrunning presidential campaignuth Dakota.

Well, three fresh factoids have caught our eye. First, Hillary Clinton announced this morning that she'll spend Tuesday evening in New York, the city that never sleeps and that she represents in the U.S. Senate. Not in Montana or South Dakota, where people are voting, but New York City.

Second, Bill Clinton told folks in South Dakota this morning that "this may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics, till Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to go around and campaign for her for president."

Third, the folks at Politico report that Mo Elleithee, a Clinton spokesman, tells them that "we just haven't figured out our schedule past Tuesday," so many members of the advance team are being sent home.

(UPDATE: A fourth factoid -- Tom Edsall reports over on Huffington Post that Clinton has taken the "unusual move" of summoning "top donors and backers to attend her speech" Tuesday night in New York.)

Barack Obama has scheduled his own election-night event in St. Paul, site of the September Republican National Convention, and his event can be read as a salvo across the bow for the fall election. What can be inferred from Clinton's picking New York City? Well, it is close to home, and it would be a symbolic place to announce that she is ending her historic run for the White House and devoting her full attentions to the Senate job.

Of course, it could be she just wants to repack a suitcase to start visiting superdelegates in person. But after the Democratic rules committee decision Saturday, the steady seepage of superdelegates Obama's way, and the campaign telling its advance people to take some time off, you gotta wonder.

(UPDATE II: Our colleague Noam Levey reports from South Dakota that Elleithee told reporters aboard the campaign plane this afternoon that "we do not expect a nominee will be clear tomorrow night," signaling that the campaign probably would not end Tuesday. But the Associated Press reports that Clinton advisor Harold Ickes and fundraising director Jonathan Mantz told donors Monday that Clinton probably wouldn't appeal the DNC rules committee decision, and that the campaign expected Obama to secure enough delegates by Wednesday to claim victory.)

-- Scott Martelle

Photo: Associated Press

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