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Starting Gate: Poetry In Motion

Will she or won't she drop out of the race? That is the question that has had the political world buzzing over the past 24 hours or so and one that is unlikely to fade if Hillary Clinton doesn't answer it unambiguously after the results of South Dakota and Montana are in tonight.

All three presidential candidates will deliver speeches to rallies of supporters this evening. And the symbolism which will be on display tells you everything you need to know and serves as almost the perfect punctuation to end the primary campaign -- and as a curtain-raiser on the fall contest.

Clinton won't be at the site of her latest victory as she was in Puerto Rico, Kentucky or West Virginia in past weeks. She won't be in Washington, DC, either. Instead, she'll be in her home state of New York. After more than a year of solid campaigning, she will most likely return to her day job of representing the state in the U.S. Senate. What better way to signal that than return to those who elected her?

Barack Obama is traveling to the battleground state of Minnesota, where it's very possible he (or at least his campaign) will claim victory in the nomination battle. And Obama hasn't picked just any venue to appear before what will be a large and raucous audience. He's holding his rally in St. Paul – at the very site where John McCain will accept the GOP nomination at this fall's convention.

It may be a little too much of an in-your-face gesture to some. But make no mistake, Obama has repeatedly insisted throughout this campaign that he will be trying to attract not just Democrats and independents in the general election, but he will try to reach right into the heart of the GOP itself. It's his campaign's way of saying they're not about to cede any territory this fall.

John McCain isn't about to let Obama have the stage all to himself on a night which is shaping up more and more to be the official kickoff of the general election. He'll be holding his own event near New Orleans, a decision with carries meaning of its own.

McCain has sought to use his time during the protracted Democratic battle to both re-establish his own image and seek distance from President Bush and his administration. He was in New Orleans last month as part of his "forgotten Americans" tour which took him to poor and urban parts of the country that probably hasn't seen a Republican presidential candidate for decades – if ever. In that way, McCain too has signaled he won't rely on the base and use the same Republican math that elected Bush twice. Instead, by appearing near the site of one of the administration's biggest failures, he'll join Obama to contest everything.

As exciting and historic as the Democratic primary has been, the McCain-Obama match-up may yet prove even more so. All you really need to do is look at the pictures and listen to the words from the candidates tonight to understand that, sometimes, politics can be poetry in motion.

Around The Track

  • According to the latest CBS News delegate estimate, Obama is just 43 delegates away from the 2,118 needed for the nomination. There are just 31 delegates up for grabs in tonight's South Dakota and Montana primaries but about 200 uncommitted superdelegates remain,.
  • Clinton's campaign tells CBS News' Fernando Suarez that Clinton has no plans to drop her campaign tonight.
  • Undeclared superdelegates are signaling a quick end to the process, reports Politico.
  • Obama edges out McCain in a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 47 percent to 44%.
  • CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder is reporting that John McCain nearly included a pledge to serve just one term as president when he announced his candidacy last year but that it was taken out of the speech. Aides say they have not discussed the idea again for the past year.
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