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After Campaign, What's Next for Hillary Clinton?

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After Campaign, What's Next for Hillary Clinton?

Election 2008

After Campaign, What's Next for Hillary Clinton?

After Campaign, What's Next for Hillary Clinton?

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In a midday speech Saturday, Hillary Clinton is expected to suspend her campaign and give her support to Barack Obama. Now there's speculation on what she'll do next.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Senator Hillary Clinton is expected to suspend her campaign for president this morning, thank her staff, and endorse Barack Obama as the presumptive Democratic nominee. As the primaries ended Tuesday night, Senator Clinton acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the next move.

Senator HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (Democrat, New York): You know, I understand that a lot of people are asking, what does Hillary want? What does she want?

SIMON: NPR's David Welna put that question to some of the senator's colleagues and has this report.

DAVID WELNA: It would be hard to overstate how much Hillary Clinton's future has been discussed in the halls of Congress and beyond this week.

Representative LOUISE SLAUGHTER (Democrat, New York): I have heard so much speculation and so many things, it's almost like they expect her to levitate.

WELNA: New York House Democrat Louise Slaughter says her friend Hillary Clinton is at the moment experiencing the profound disorientation of a fast-moving campaign skitting to a halt.

Rep. SLAUGHTER: Once that one's over, you're absolutely lost. You don't know what do I do next, and I know that she in no way has come to any conclusion on that question.

WELNA: But others have reached their own conclusions about what Clinton should do. Here's another New Yorker, House Democrat Carolyn McCarthy.

Representative CAROLYN MCCARTHY (Democrat, New York): I would love her to stay as my New York State senator. Hopefully she will do that, and this will give her the time to finish up the work that she has started and go on from where she wants to go.

WELNA: Some supporters say Clinton should use the political capital she has gained to champion causes in the Senate such as universal health care. Hubert Humphrey did that after losing the 1972 presidential primary and so did Ted Kennedy in 1980. Princeton political historian Julian Zelizer points to a more recent example. Republican John McCain lost his party's primary eight years ago.

Professor JULIAN ZELIZER (History, Princeton): When he went back to the Senate, I don't think he used his capital particularly well. But I do think he came out of that run with a new level of support and enthusiasm and some clout to be able to cut deals that he otherwise wouldn't have had.

WELNA: Others say Clinton would make a good Senate majority leader, but Harry Reid already holds that post and is well liked. Obama ally Dick Durbin is the Senate's number two Democrat. He scoffs at talk of Clinton holding a leadership post.

Senator DICK DURBIN (Democrat, Illinois): We honestly - maybe we have an inflated view of our role on this world, but we honestly believe that being a senator from a great state like New York gives you plenty of opportunity to be involved in the biggest issues of our time. She has some terrific committee assignments. She was a great senator before she ran for president. She'll be a great senator afterwards.

Representative CAROLYN MALONEY (Democrat, New York): I think she would make a magnificent addition to the Supreme Court.

WELNA: New York House Democrat Carolyn Maloney is among those touting Clinton for the high court. There is also talk of her running for governor of New York, but New York Democrat Eliot Angle(ph) doubts that's where Clinton's headed.

Representative ELIOT ENGEL (Democrat, New York): She's smart. She is collegial. She is capable. She's hard working, and those are all attributes that would make a great governor, but I'd be very surprised if she had any interest in the governorship.

WELNA: Jose Serrano, another New York House Democrats, says it's obvious what the next move should be.

Senator JOSE SERRANO (Democrat, New York) It's not what Hillary Clinton should do, but what Senator Obama should do. I think Senator Obama should offer her the vice presidency, and I would then like her to be open to the idea and accept it. I think it's a winning team.

WELNA: But many others doubt that will happen. New York's Senior Senator Chuck Schumer sees Clinton definitely campaigning on behalf of Obama and other Democrats this year.

Senator CHUCK SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): Senator Clinton will play an extremely positive role. She wants to win. She has a great deal of skill. She's been through the campaigns. I know that the Obama campaign, and certainly, we in the Senate want to utilize all of her talents and all of her support, and I think it will be given unstintingly.

WELNA: That new role could well begin later today. David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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