WASHINGTON -- With the now yearlong Democratic presidential contest still in flux, the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns continue in states with late primaries, once considered irrelevant to picking the next president. And as the uncertainty of who will win the nomination quickly becomes a reality, the Clinton campaign is forced to set a whole new set of benchmarks, pushing the goalpost further and further back.
After losing Iowa in early January, Clinton put all of her resources into New Hampshire, a state she later won and a win many argue kept Clinton alive in the hunt for the nomination. But as New Hampshire became part of political history, the focus quickly shifted to Super Tuesday on February 5. The Clinton campaign made a big push to win delegate-rich states like California, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. But even as Super Tuesday polls came to a close and no clear winner emerged, rumblings inside the Clinton campaign began as the new prize became Ohio and Texas. A Clinton senior staffer said with great hope that Texas is "the big one."
Now, more than two weeks after the Ohio and Texas contests and with 33 days left until Pennsylvania gets its chance to cast ballots, the campaign continues to move forward, but for how long? A senior Clinton campaign adviser tells CBS News "the campaign will go on until all the states and Puerto Rico have voted."
"It's been a long campaign, but the voters clearly aren't ready for it to end," the adviser added.
Today, the former First Lady makes her first campaign trip to the state of Indiana, a state that has 72 delegates at stake on May 6 and has taken on greater importance in picking the party's nominee.
"Indiana is a competitive state and the economy is the top issue. We feel good about Hillary's prospects there because she is seen as the candidate who knows how to turn the economy around," said the Clinton campaign adviser. But when asked if there was any end in sight to this campaign or any new benchmarks being set, the adviser left little doubt that the campaign is far from over. "We aren't looking at any single state as a particular benchmark. The benchmark is more likely June, after the voting is completed in the remaining contests."
Clinton will hold three events across Indiana today where she will be joined by Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., a Clinton supporter who made an early bid for the White House before withdrawing from the race. Meantime, her opponent, Barack Obama, will spend the next two days looking even further ahead as he visits West Virginia (May 13 primary) and Oregon (May 20 primary).