May 7th, 2008
11:43 AM ET
10 years ago

McGovern to Clinton: Time to go

 McGovern endorsed Clinton in October.

McGovern endorsed Clinton in October.

(CNN) - Former Sen. George McGovern urged Hillary Clinton Wednesday to drop out of the Democratic presidential race.

McGovern, who had endorsed Clinton, told CNN he was switching his support to endorse Barack Obama.

“It certainly was not out of any less respect for Senator Clinton,” McGovern told CNN in a telephone interview early Wednesday afternoon about his decision to switch his support to Barack Obama. “I think she has waged a really courageous and valiant campaign. She will have my affection and admiration for all of my days.

“But I think mathematically the race is all but won by Barack Obama and the time has come for all of us to unite and get ready for the general election in the fall.”

McGovern also told CNN he had just spoken to former President Bill Clinton about his decision to back Obama – a conversation he described as “very good.”

“I have had many conversations with him over the years, none better than today," McGovern said. "He did me the honor of talking to me about this. There will be no hard feelings with him or Senator Clinton.”

McGovern said he has not spoken to Sen. Clinton today, because he thought she would be too exhausted after Tuesday’s primary but plans to talk to her in the future.”

McGovern is not a Democratic superdelegate, though he is the first major Clinton supporter to publicly suggest the New York senator should abandon her presidential bid following Tuesday night's results.

Responding to the news, Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said "Senator Clinton appreciates Senator McGovern's friendship, but believes the voters in the upcoming states should have their voices heard in this process."

McGovern formally endorsed Clinton last October, saying then, "I think that if we can elect her president, she'll be a greater president even than her brilliant husband."

McGovern is a longtime friend of both Clintons and his decision is a personal blow to the New York senator and her husband. The couple's long political career has its roots in McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign, during which both Clintons were dispatched to Texas to run the candidate's operation there.

McGovern also remains a popular figure in the Democratic Party and especially in the State of South Dakota, which holds its primary June 3.

soundoff (559 Responses)
  1. DrDan

    Quit all this talk about ending the race now! I live in Oregon and want to vote in a meaningful way for a presidential candidate. If the DNC doesn't want a tight race to the end, then schedule ALL the primaries on super tuesday.

    May 7, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Bill

    It's time to stop the bleeding and unite the party. I applaud George McGovern for leading the way. MSNBC has already declared Barack Obama as the nominee and the math is either undaunting or impossible, depending on which formula you use. Come on Super Delegates, it's time to UNITE>

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  3. Abrown

    She really should.

    Obama has the popular vote lead, the delagate lead, Is raising twice as much money as she is (she is loaning her campaign money).

    She can't win. She will only hurt Obama by splitting the democratic base.

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. scott


    You should have dropped out years ago.....from public site !

    Go Alan Keyes........

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. Robert

    This is a good thing to do and I too will change and support Sen.Obama, we need to put this race in the past and focus on the party as a hold to win the White House in November!!!

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Joseph-Texas

    Hilary...its over sweetie. Let's focus on bringing the party together so that we don't get a 3rd term of BUSH.

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. NC voter


    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. shan

    Yes sir...time has come to make a gentle move out of this race. There is no point in running when you know she won't win..unless otherwise in some cunning way....We all know she is just hurting the dems.

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Jon in Atlanta


    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. melikeyhill

    i agree hillary should drop out now.....

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Tyler in Raleigh, NC

    When ever your friends are telling you to get out for the sake of the party..... its over. She is risking the party, her friendships and the general election to stroke her ego.

    Im an Independent so breaking up the party sounds great to me, but I can not believe that lows she is willing to go through to do it. I voted for Obama in NC because I think he is the best choice this time (since Ron Paul can not win).

    Hillary has proven she will pander to anyone and say anything to win, but enough have realized that she is not the solution.

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. bss

    what a schmuck. Hillary keep going, the next states you will win by incredibly large margins. lets see what these trolls are saying then.

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. Jason - KY

    If she was not willing to listen to professional economists what makes him think that she is going to listen to him?

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Rick from Bowie

    She wants to debate Lincoln-style as opposed to doing the right thing for the party. I truly expected her to shift her support to Obama last night–the right thing to do- and focus on getting the Democratic nominee in the White House.

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. democratic party is sorry

    If he can win with just his supporters I wish him lots of luck. Oh and PA will not turn out after they were called racist for supporting Clinton. Obama's people were trying to pull a fast one on America last night in the county outside Obamas backyard. The truth is he still only has 51 % of the vote and the REP are seeming pretty happy right about now. They are getting the cake layed in their lap. oh well...

    I will say this... she might not take the vp job but if Obama doesn't at least offer it to her then he won't win in November. I don't care who he puts on his ticket

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Excuse Me

    I am confident that there are more Democrats that ARE superdelegates who have sound minds and bodies since Hillary Clinton does not. I'm certain we will be seeing more of this type of thing.

    Why ISN'T he a superdelegate?

    May 7, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. victor mutelekesha

    it is clear that Mrs Clinton will not stop here. this will be surely a set back for the democrats, even more damaging for Clintons own political carer, in my view, it seems it is more about herself than the America she claim to be fighting for, she wants at all cost to complete the Bush-clinton-Bush-clinton?? formation and nothing else.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. Will In Virginia

    Senator Clinton is as stubburn as stubburn gets. She will not listen, the end result will be a further divided democratic party and her legacy in history will be forever tarnished.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. pittsburgh bob

    hopefully others will follow his lead. i can certainly respect her desire to finish out the race. if i was racing in a marathon, only at mile 20 when my opponent was about to cross the finish line, i'd still finish for self pride. but in that scenario, i'm not HURTING anyone else. unless she goes out and tanks the next few elections to intentionally make obama look strong (yeah, that might happen) she is hurting obama and the party's chances in november. lets minimize the damage that her 'me or no one' attitude has caused so far.

    obama 08

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. Megatron

    just like I told Optimus Prime... it's over Clinton!

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. alex

    You know everyone. You have to respect Hillary's tenacity no matter which way you look at it. I like her despite of what pundits say and I voted for her in the Maryland primary. However, I know feel that Obama is the nominee and even though I didn't support him in Maryland, I'm learning to live with the fact that he is our nominee and will conjure enough decency to vote for him.

    Black 23 year old college student for Hillary but will vote for Barrack.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Dayahka

    Clinton should get out of the race not because of the current election but because she has disgraced herself and her country with her comment about obliterating another country with nuclear weapons. This is the most irresponsible comment I've ever heard (going back to Ike). The comment disqualifies her from public office of any kind. She should be censured by the US Senate, should resign as senator, and should be barred from any future political office–and take her husband with her.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. George, Los Angeles

    Quitting is not the American way. We play to the end of the game. I admire Hillary Clinton for her tenacity. I even wish her well. In sports, and politics, we have had some incredible comeback.

    Hillary – don't listen to anyone. Play to the end of the game. After all, it'll be another Republican in the White House in November anyway if Barack Obama is the nominee.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Marty, Orlando

    Yes, please tell all the Clinton backers to say
    enough is enough.
    Let's bring the party together so we can beat McCain.

    Yes – We – Can

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. anon

    And so it begins.

    To the Clinton supports who are screaming they will vote for McCain. Consider this – for every one of you that says that, you will be replaced by an independent or a cross-over Republican – and maybe even both.

    Stick that in ya pipe and smoke it!

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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