(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.
Billary and her supporters will not quit till Mccain wins! It's a scorched earth policy. She is really running for 2012!
Say anything, do anything to win! She's fighting a 90s style election in 2008! That's why the Gas Tax trickery did not work and neither did racially coded messages, even in Indiana!
Thank goodness some peeps are now seeing reason. Hilary heed the call, quit now.
I hope you have an ark, because the flood of EX-Clinton supporters is going to come down!
Keep go Hillary. Dont let these old guys run your campaign. No Hillary...equals no vote for this and many democrats. No Hillary means another Republican for 4 more years.
Yo Hillary, I thought you had the older people demographic in the bag.
McGovern is wrong. Hillary has to fight to the end of the game.
Hillary Clinton 2008 or 2012!
If they want Hillary to quit,they should stop it by comitting themselves to Obama. The superdelagates are wimps just as the democratic party. They have the power to stop it right now. It's a shame that we are going to lose the white house again. Obama is toast.
I think I should have my choice of who to vote for and I think Hillary should go to the end. You sir are a quiter! And all of you who say quit are quiters. I hope we dont get a president like you!
If the democratic party keeps this up I am voting for McCain.
Sorry George, but half of us who voted for you are dead and the other half don't remember who you are. It is sad that politics have to be about race, religion and money. I now fear this will but McBush in the White House.
There ya have it. She's a fighter, and she did the good fight, but sometimes you have to run and retreat to live and fight another day. It's time to finish this race and unite for the true race for the US.
Who would listen to McGovern? Caused me to vote for Richard Nixon. Hillary needs to carry on all the way to Denver. She is the only REAL candidate.
Hilary ran a strong campaign. She's not who we want this time. It's time to face reality, I pray we unite and tear down McCain in the fall.
And so as the gate swings open... the cattle run out.. to greener pastures..
Yes..We..Can.. in 2008
Hillary – be the bigger er man and please go so we can start piecing our party back together!
I agree completely!
Obama is no longer a viable candidate!
We need to let the remaining states vote!
A cult following of Blacks won’t win the General Election!
We are looking forward to years of Peace, Prosperity and a balanced budget!
Ok- it's the beginning of the end for Hillary.
McGovern what kind of a friend are you if you go over to oback. Stick with the one who can do the job right. To me you are not much of a friend I would not want you as one
May be it is time? Unlike other folks who switched to Obama McGovern in a good and honest person.
"she'll be a greater president even than her brilliant husband."
But apparently no better about being truthful.
Na na na na
Na na na na
Hey hey hey
A wise voice calling for the party to unite.
This one hurts.
Although I have supported her, it is time for Hillary to accept the impossibility of winning and that a ""gracious"" exit is in the interest of ALL Democrats and of anybody else who frets about the idea of John McCain at the white House.
The time to unite and to focus exclusively on how to beat John McCain is NOW, not tomorrow or next week. or next month....GAME OVER!
Thank God, wise people can see how we need Barack Obama for the USA and the world.