It was Obama who this time offered gracious words at the close -- but Clinton again "seemed to hint -- as she had appeared to in Austin -- at the possibility of her own defeat," Politico's Ben Smith writes. "It's been an honor to campaign," Clinton said. "I still intend to do everything I can to win, but it has been an honor, because it has been a campaign that is history making."
From here Clinton seeks to stretch out a maddeningly short week, with daily themes -- children, veterans, GOTV -- that suggest a deliberate calmness, notwithstanding the external and internal pressures.
(The Obama campaign, meanwhile, celebrates its millionth donor on Wednesday. One million people have given his campaign money. It is February.)
Speaking of those pressures, this is a tough spiral for Clinton to pull out of. (What is it about the Clinton campaign that frees journalists to publish obituaries this early? It's always worth remembering that Clinton was dead twice before -- going into New Hampshire and Super Tuesday -- yet she's still in the mix.)
"Some close friends and counselors, in fact, now believe the only winning strategy left to the once-presumptive Democratic nominee is an exit strategy," Thomas M. DeFrank writes in the New York Daily News.
"That advice presupposes Clinton is doomed, and for now it's difficult to challenge that conventional wisdom. Six days before the do-or-die Ohio and Texas primaries, the prospects of game-changing blowouts by Clinton are slipping. Even many Clinton optimists admit Barack Obama is poised to capture Texas, and her Ohio lead has dwindled as Obama's claims that her NAFTA embrace exported working-class Buckeye jobs began scoring."
On Tuesday, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., issued the call Clinton may be hearing a lot of in a week or so, depending on what happens in Ohio and Texas. "It's now the hour to come together," he said Tuesday. And he tells ABC's David Wright that he wants off any veepstakes lists: "I'd rather be chairman of the Senate Banking Committee."
A big hint from Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., that he may get off the fence soon: "I don't think this race is over. But I may make a decision and do an endorsement," Richardson told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. He added that he doesn't feel bound to support Clinton just because New Mexico voted for her: "It was very close, Wolf, it was like half a percent. . . . So I think I have flexibility."
Given the current backdrop, the Clinton campaign is focusing more on keeping superdelegates uncommitted than on getting them to support Clinton, Tom Edsall reports for HuffingtonPost. "Top Clinton aides are pleading with uncommitted super delegates to hold off making any commitments, fearful that any commitments they make would be to back Obama, not Clinton," he writes. (How's that for a role reversal?)
If we get that far (April 22), that Pennsylvania firewall is looking about as secure as those crumbling edifices in Ohio and Texas. Clinton's Keystone State lead is down to six points (49-43) after standing at 16 just two weeks ago, per a new Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday.
A new national poll is out Wednesday to underscore the electoral shifts: It's Obama 48, Clinton 42 in the Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times survey, with Obama "increasingly viewed as the Democrat best equipped to beat [John] McCain," Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla writes.