Clinton Calls It Quits, Endorses Obama

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Rodham Clinton suspended her pioneering campaign for the presidency and pivoted from her role as determined foe to absolute ally, summoning supporters to use "our energy, our passion, our strength" to put Barack Obama in the White House.

"I endorse him and throw my full support behind him," the former first lady said Saturday, delivering the strong affirmation that her one-time rival and other Democratic leaders hoped to hear after a bruising campaign. Polls show Obama still has considerable work to do to win over Clinton's female backers.

Amid tears from her supporters, Clinton issued a call for unity that emphasized the cultural and political milestones that she and Obama represent.

"Children today will grow up taking for granted that an African-American or a woman can, yes, become the president of the United States," she said.

For Clinton and her backers, it was a poignant moment, the end of an extraordinary run that began with an air of inevitability and certain victory. About 18 million people voted for her; it was the closest a woman has come to capturing a nomination.

"Today as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him and I ask of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me," the New York senator said in her address. Loud boos competed with applause.

In deciding to "suspend" her campaign, Clinton kept some options open. She retains her delegates to the nominating convention and she can continue to raise money. It also means she could reopen her campaign if circumstances change before the Denver convention. But she gave no indication that was her intention.