Clinton aides prepare for her to concede U.S. presidential bid

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London, June 2 : Senior advisers to Senator Hillary Clinton have prepared the ground for her to abandon her 2008 presidential ambitions within days and not dispute the Democratic nomination all the way to the party convention in August.

Hillary Clinton's victory in Puerto Rico was overwhelming, but the turnout was much lower than expected.

Although she won by a wide margin over Barack Obama in yesterday's Puerto Rico primary - with 85 per cent of the vote in, she was leading by 36 percentage points - the former First Lady made no mention in her victory speech of taking her fight beyond this week.

Instead, she made a final appeal to some 178 uncommitted "super-delegates" - party officials whose convention votes are not tied to the primaries - that she would be the stronger general election candidate against John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

"The decision will fall on those leaders in our party empowered by the rules to vote in the Democratic convention," The Telegraph quoted her as saying in San Juan.

Obama is expected to declare himself the party's candidate against John McCain as early as Tuesday, when South Dakota and Montana become the final states to hold their primaries or failing that within the 48 hours after.

Obama's aides were working furiously yesterday to amass the two dozen or so "super-delegates" - party officials whose convention votes are not tied to the primaries - he would need to ensure that the South Dakota and Montana results give him a majority.

Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, said the nomination would be decided this week.

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