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Clinton's still in the race – and competitive, aides say

Wolfson and Garin argue that she's the stronger Democrat in the fall election.

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Battered by political pundits saying the Democratic presidential primary race is over, Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign toughened its public stance on how long she would continue to battle Sen. Barack Obama for the nomination.

"We do not believe a nominee will be chosen unless or until somebody gets to 2,209 [delegates], which is the number including Florida and Michigan. So if that has happened by June 3, then someone will be the nominee. If that hasn't, then the nomination fight continues," Howard Wolfson, Senator Clinton's communications director, told a Monitor-sponsored breakfast on Friday.

Earlier this week, Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe told NBC's "Today" program that after the last primary on June 3, "This is going to come to a conclusion." He said superdelegates who are party insiders and elected officials "are going to move very quickly," to select a nominee.

"We are not oblivious to the environment in which we are operating. But this is very much like a tennis match," Clinton's chief strategist, Geoff Garin, told reporters at the breakfast. "Sometimes, even when people are down two sets to love and down a couple of games in the third set, they end up winning by the fifth set. So Senator Clinton goes on with the same energy and commitment."

While the aides talked to a room full of reporters, their real audience was the group of uncommitted superdelegates, whose votes are needed to put a candidate over the top in the race for the Democratic nomination.

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