A graceful exit is never easy in a business as fraught with ego and ambition as presidential politics. Which is why in recent days, quiet calls have started going out to key supporters of Hillary Clinton who are showing signs of wanting to jump ship. Clinton's emissaries point out that she is no longer attacking Barack Obama, and they promise she won't start again. Allow her to ride out the last few primaries, they argue, and she won't do anything to make it difficult for her longtime allies to switch their allegiances when the time comes.
The latest round of calls was a tacit admission that while the battles aren't over, the war has been lost. It also raises the question, What will Clinton's terms of surrender turn out to be? Her husband, for one, seems to have a pretty clear idea what he thinks she should get as a consolation prize. In Bill Clinton's view, she has earned nothing short of an offer to be Obama's running mate, according to some who are close to the former President. Bill "is pushing real hard for this to happen," says a friend. Hillary is more opaque about what she might want, divulging little even to those who see and talk to her every day. "It's as plain as the nose on your face that this whole thing has shifted to a different mode," says a top Clinton strategist. "But I don't know what she wants. I don't know what she's thinking."