Frankly, it looks to me like she tried to hold on and was rebuffed by the party and her supporters. She asked her supporters in her speech on Tuesday to go to her website and send her their opinion, and my guess is that she didn't get the response she was expecting. That page, by the way, led straight to a form for contributing money to her campaign, which sort of gives away her expectations.
Then yesterday party leaders made it crystal f**king clear what they thought of continuing the race. Of course, we all know what Howard Dean had to say, but he was far from the only one who put in their 2 cents. Here's the real leader of the party, Nancy Pelosi:
It's pretty exciting, a great expansion of participation from young people, from women, from minorities, people in minority communities. And now we have a nominee, and that's pretty exciting. The campaign of Sen. Clinton is one that will go down in the history books as a great one for our country, breaking what I call the marble ceiling, what they call the glass ceiling. Glass is easy compared to the ceiling that she broke. And I couldn't be prouder of her eloquence, her knowledge, her judgment, the stamina that it took to have this campaign. And so I salute her and all of her supporters.
Nancy is more tactful than Howard, but the tone is unmistakable.
Many of her own prominent supporters, like Hilary Rosen and Charlie Rangel, were far less charitable in their opinions of her decision not to concede. According to The Guardian UK, she had a conference call with 22 party leaders who were her supporters yesterday afternoon, and it doesn't sound like it went well, with Rangel visibly angry at her. Rangel, in an interview that day to ABC News:
“Unless she has some good reasons-- which I can’t think of-- I really think we ought to get on with endorsements (of Obama) and dealing with what we have to deal with… so we can move forward,” Rangel said.
Hilary Rosen (in a piece titled: "I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat"):
As hard and as painful as it might have been, she should have conceded, congratulated, endorsed and committed to Barack Obama. Therefore the next 48 hours are now as important to the future reputation of Hillary Clinton as the last year and a half have been.
Looks to me like she grossly overplayed her hand on Tuesday. You may remember that, in her speech that night after Barack clinched the nomination, she focused on how "I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible." My guess is that the party leadership caught her implication (namely, the threat to give her supporters a grudge to carry into November if Obama doesn't give her the Veep slot) and, shall we say, made it clear that such action would not be acceptable.
In fact, Roger Simon and others yesterday said that they think she irreparably damaged her chances of getting on the ticket with that stunt, and the more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to believe them. Hillary is a solid choice for Veep, with her connections and ability to shepherd legislation through Congress and her support among women and Latinos. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people caught her subtle attempt at extorting the spot on the ticket from Obama, even if they only caught it subconsciously, and now it may make him look weak if he gives it to her even if he does so for perfectly legitimate reasons. There is only one way out of this mess that doesn't damage the party's chances in November, and that is the complete, full-throated and unconditional endorsement of Hillary Clinton a month or more before he ultimately chooses somebody else to be his running mate.
Which is exactly what Barack is going to get on Saturday.