May 8, NY Times

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton struck a publicly defiant posture on Wednesday about continuing her presidential bid despite waning support from Democratic officials and donors, while some of her advisers acknowledged privately that they remained unsure about the future of her candidacy.

With the political world trained on Mrs. Clinton’s financial and electoral viability, Senator Barack Obama moved closer to becoming the first African-American presidential nominee of a major party. Mr. Obama spent the day at home in Chicago, after increasing his delegate lead in Tuesday’s primaries — a result that led David Plouffe, a top Obama aide, to say on Wednesday, “We can see the finish line here.”

After a disappointingly narrow victory in the Indiana primary on Tuesday night, Mrs. Clinton told advisers that she wanted to start campaigning for next Tuesday’s primary in West Virginia, advisers said; at 3 a.m. Wednesday, aides added a noontime event there. She also was eager to get out of Washington and away from Beltway buzzards circling her candidacy and feeding off fresh tidbits like the disclosure that she had lent her campaign $6 million to keep it afloat, aides said.

Speaking to reporters in West Virginia on Wednesday afternoon, for the first time since her narrow Indiana victory and decisive loss in North Carolina, Mrs. Clinton said that it was “still early” — even though 50 of 56 nominating contests have now been held — and that the “dynamic electoral environment” could still swing the nomination her way.

“I’m staying in this race until there is a nominee, and obviously I’m going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee,” Mrs. Clinton said after her event in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

As adamant as Mrs. Clinton appeared on Wednesday, several advisers said it was still an open question about how long she would stay in the race. Some top fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton said the campaign was all but over, and suggested that she was simply buying time on Wednesday to determine if she could raise enough money and still win over superdelegates, the party leaders who could essentially hand Mr. Obama the nomination.

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photo: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton took the stage on Tuesday night in Indianapolis (Yana Paskova for The New York Times)