Page last updated at 03:43 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 04:43 UK

Defiant Clinton ponders options

By Laura Trevelyan
BBC News, New York

Hillary Clinton in New York 3 June
Hillary Clinton is keeping her options open

Inside the cavernous sports hall at Baruch college in Manhattan, the mood among Hillary Clinton's supporters was subdued and distinctly sombre.

"Hillary, our nominee," they chanted - but without the wild enthusiasm that has characterised other gatherings of her faithful I have been at.

I Won't Back Down was the song blaring out of the loudspeakers - fitting the mood of the crowd precisely.

One woman who has been on the road with the campaign told me this had been a historic candidacy.

She said she hoped Mrs Clinton would fight on to the convention - as the way the Michigan delegates had been awarded was unfair.

Just then American networks began projecting that Barack Obama had enough super-delegates to become the democratic party nominee.

Then the low-key atmosphere began to lift, as the blue curtain to the side of the official stage twitched, a clear sign Hillary Clinton was on her way.

Family hugs

First Terry McAuliffe, her campaign manager, introduced her, exuberant over the victory in South Dakota.

"Are you ready for the next president of the United States?" he asked, to thunderous applause.

Hillary Clinton: 'I will be making no decisions tonight'

Hillary Clinton, in a bright blue suit, stepped onto the stage with her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea.

As she talked of how grateful she was, a red-faced Bill hugged Chelsea.

"Our campaign has more popular votes than any primary candidate ever," Mrs Clinton said to tremendous cheers.

Never mind that the Obama camp would dispute this, as it does not include the caucus votes or allow for the fact that in Michigan he was not even on the ballot.

The crowd hung on her every word, waiting to hear what next.

"Where do we go from here?" she asked - adding that it was a question she did not "take lightly".

"Denver, Denver," the crowd chanted - a reference to the Democratic convention in August.

"I will be making no decisions tonight," she went on, saying she would consult with her supporters and party leaders on how to move forward in the best interests of the party and the country.

As the speech ended, the crowd cheered and the song Simply The Best was played loudly.

Chelsea Clinton danced along on stage and pointed at her mother.

Under pressure

So what now?

Will Hillary Clinton really try and persuade the Democratic Party's super-delegates that she has won the most votes even though Barack Obama has won the most delegates?

Or is she simply waiting for a moment of her own choosing to bow out?

She has a day or so to exert influence, perhaps to bargain for the vice-presidential slot.

But before too long the pressure for her to concede and endorse Mr Obama will grow.

Nothing in this campaign has been predictable, so it is fitting that the end should not be either.

As Terry McAuliffe told me as he left the room, Mr Obama has the most delegates, but she has the most votes.

She conceded nothing tonight, he underlined.

Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
McCain - Republican
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