Hillary Rodham Clinton will end her bid for the White House and formally endorse Barack Obama this weekend, her campaign said Friday, a day after a private meeting between the rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton is to make her endorsement in a speech in Washington on Saturday, four days after Obama clinched the nomination _ a hard-fought battle that created rifts party leaders now hope Clinton's public show of support will help heal.
The two U.S. senators met privately at the home of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein Thursday night to discuss the campaign going forward. Feinstein said they arrived separately and sat face-to-face in her living room, and Feinstein left them alone. Neither campaign has given further details.
But Feinstein told reporters Friday that Clinton called her Thursday afternoon and asked if she and Obama could meet at her home. The two former rivals arrived and left separately, Feinstein said, and had no staff in the room with them as they talked. Feinstein showed them into her living room, then left them alone and went upstairs to do her own work.
"They called me when it was over," Feinstein said. "I came down and said, `Good night everybody, I hope you had a good meeting.' They were laughing, and that was it."
On Friday, Clinton's campaign said she would deliver her formal endorsement of Obama at a noon gathering at the National Building Museum and urge Democrats to unite behind his candidacy. Obama secured the 2,118 delegates needed to win the nomination Tuesday after primaries in Montana and South Dakota.
At home in Chicago for the weekend, Obama made a surprise appearance Friday at a downtown rally promoting Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics and then gave the staff at his campaign headquarters a private pep talk. A reporter outside the closed session heard him say, "If I had lost Iowa, it would have been over."
Clinton spent much of Friday working on her concession speech. Aides described the process as painstaking and emotional but said there was no question Clinton would enthusiastically endorse Obama in the speech.
She also was holding a party at her Washington home Friday night to thank and bid farewell to her campaign staff.
Obama is still under pressure from Clinton's supporters to offer her the vice presidential slot on his ticket. However, he said Thursday he will not be rushed into a decision.
Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, disavowed efforts by supporters pushing for Obama to choose her, but she has told lawmakers privately that she would be interested in the vice presidential nomination.
Democrat Charles Schumer, the other senator from New York, told ABC television network on Friday that Clinton has said she would be Obama's running mate if he offers it, but "if he chooses someone else she will work just as hard for the party in November."
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who earlier dropped out of the Democratic White House race, has ruled out being Obama's running mate, according to interviews with leading Spanish newspapers El Mundo and El Pais published Friday. Edwards, who is visiting Madrid, endorsed Obama in May after months of courting by both Democratic hopefuls.
Clinton was once seen as unbeatable for the Democratic presidential nomination, but her hopes of becoming the first woman U.S. president faded as Obama chipped away at her early lead to become the first black presidential nominee from a major U.S. party.
In the latest show of support for Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a high-ranking Democrat who had remained uncommitted throughout the primaries, endorsed him in a statement Friday, calling the first-term senator "a once-in-a-generation leader."
Obama told reporters his search for a running mate will be secret. He has chosen a three-person team that includes Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of late President John F. Kennedy, to vet potential vice president candidates.
If Obama made Clinton his running mate, it might help him tap into her core supporters, who have so far eluded him, including masses of working-class voters in swing states, Hispanics and older voters, especially women.
Obama's general election battle against Republican John McCain, a veteran senator who sewed up the Republican nomination in March, is likely to focus on Iraq and McCain's relationship with the unpopular President George W. Bush. McCain backs the war; Obama wants to set a date to pull out U.S. troops.
McCain was airing commercials in battleground states in which he says: "I'm running for president to keep the country I love safe."
The Republican presidential candidate, who has been running advertisements in key states since late March, will start running the new ad Friday and Saturday.
"Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war," McCain says in the ad. "I was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years as a POW (prisoner of war). Some of the friends I served with never came home. I hate war. And I know how terrible its costs are."