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. TK

    C'mon dems face the reality. HRC can't win, she is just ruining the dems chance of winning in November. Lets just unite and accept the facts. The media will go on milking this drama forever, lets just say enough!

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Hillary

    she will drop out this week, I will put money on this.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Ed Lynn

    Senator Clinton, it's been a valiantly fought battle, but it's definately time to step beside Senator Obama, and the rest of the Democratic party, instead of continuing to stand against him and the wind of change that is now blowing too fiercely to withstand. It's time to heal the division in the Democratic Party, and work together to heal the damage done by the Republicans over the last 7 years.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Paul

    Taking political advice from McGovern is like taking medical advice from Dr. Kervorkian...

    Hang in there Hillary, don't let the bastards get you down.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. kyril

    When George McGovern tells you that it is time to quit then it is time to quit. No one knows more about losing than McGovern.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. NC voter

    I just want to say...

    For all the insensitive obama supporters out there

    I hope you realize that by taunting clinton supporters you are only encouraging them to vote mccain.

    I go back and forth between mccain and obama and I have to say it is the gaul and 'audacity' of antagonizing us clinton supporters that TURNS ME OFF from obama.

    May 7, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Ross, Brooklyn, NY

    Here is why Hillary Clinton should step down:

    She had a big head start and blew it – She has been running for president since she left the white house. The Clintons should have a lot of "experience" running political campaigns yet she is behind in popular votes, pledged delegates, contests won and even fund raising. She is behind in popular votes even if you seat Florida and Michigan as is.

    The voters have decided that they don't want Hillary. The Clintons should acknowledge that fact and graciously step aside and help to unify the party.

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. LB

    I wish Hillary would bow out gracefully. This is hurting the Democratic party.

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. carmen

    We'll see how long he remains a "good" friend. I think they have a name for friends like him, Judas.

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Black Veteran For Obama

    Not a Super Delegate............................But Believe Me..................They Are On The Way.

    All Aboard..............The Obama Train Is Coming!!!!!

    Ain't No Stopping Us Now....................!!!

    Obama 08

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. KiloWhiskey

    Good bye Joe, me gotta' go, me oh myoh

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. Dave

    Given her apparent inability to accept that this is, in fact, the end of the Clinton dynasty, I doubt she'll listen...but I suppose there's always hope!

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Eric Ellison

    Hillary Clinton, it is time for you to quit. You will be vice president of the U.S. I am democrat, but I don't listen to Nancy Pelosi on this issue. We need to come together, now.

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. Karen in Cape Cod

    In respectful deference to George McGovern, I do not think that a man who LOST a presidential election should be advising any candidate on what direction they should take in this election!

    May 7, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Alexandra

    Thank you Mcgovern.
    Now other superdelegates, please put Hillary out of her misery and come out in droves to support Obama.

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. Josh

    Well can we say Judas McGovern?! Why do all these people keep flip-flopping on who they support? Can anyone in this country make a decision and stick to it, or am I the only one who can do that?

    I hate how the media has practically beat up the Clinton family this ENTIRE CAMPAIGN, and hopefully good will prevail over evil and Hillary will win the nomination. I am very disappointed in Americans right now, especially the African-American community who are voting for a candidate based on skin colour alone. My heart wants to say that this is not why they are voting for Obama but when 9 out of 10 AA's vote for him, my brain is telling me that this is EXACTLY why they are voting for him. Martin Luther King Jr. IS ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE!

    If America ends up choosing Obama for president, this country will go downhill even worse than it has under Bush, and honestly, America will deserve it!

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  17. no more Hill-Billys

    thank you.
    any more?

    switch now before this gets even worse.

    obama 08

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  18. seyi

    And it starts... The party elders have finally smelt the coffee. Hillary, it is time to start planning an exit strategy...

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. brooklanite

    just listen to both speeches given last night by both candidate and make your decision. it's funny that Clinton supporters call Obama supporters mean and brutal but seventy some percentage of Obama fans are willing to vote for her if she wins the nomination but les percentage of Clinton fans are ready to support Obama ... thats shows how closed minded that group is

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Interesting

    They'd have to render her to Guantanamo to make her stop. She won't stop.

    I could understand if the people supported her, but she's going to be starring down $20 million in debt by WV & then expect Obama to pick up the tab. That's crazy!!!

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. KMAN

    Thank you Sir!

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Mike

    When you're a progressive democrat, and Geo. McGovern says it's time to go, then it's truly time to go, Hillary. You fought the good fight, but it's time to cut bait and support the fall election of Obama.

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. SFMNTeacher

    Nonesense.....fight to the bitter end!

    Clinton '08!!

    May 7, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. kissnahug

    Thank you for trying to knock some sense in her. Hopefully Superdelegates will start to switch their votes over to Obama

    OBAMA 08!!!

    May 7, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. Paizley

    For the love of the Dem. Party drop out Hillary! You tried, it's not happening. You are doing more harm than help to your party.

    Obama in 08'!!!!!!

    May 7, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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