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. Adindu Obinna, Toronto Canada

    This is very pathetic, I think it is time for Hillary to realize that this is Senator Obama's time to change America for good after the Bush mess. Please Hillary wake up and work with Obama to change things.

    May 7, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. tellinya

    A Patriot.

    May 7, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. David Fisher

    Amen, George. I would love to see her appear on stage with Barack tomorrow uniting the party to support him in November.

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Benjamin from Columbus, Ohio

    What is the DNC rationale for George McGovern not being a Superdelegate? It seems that he would be near the top of the list!

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Mel in Montana

    Yep – it is time to go!

    OBAMA '08 & '12

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. AMP

    He's right, time to fold up and move on! Don't drag this out. If she MUST stay in, tone down the rhetoric! Time for the party to heal!

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. il voter

    Senator, You took right decision. She should bow out gracefully.

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. james

    Hillary, for the sake of the party please back Obama. You have to think about your political future.

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Steve Ford

    "It's 3am and the phone is ringing...

    Do you know where your $11.4 million dollars is?"


    Still, there's always Secretary of State or Governor of New York.

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. HSNP

    Dang, he's still living? I thought he was old in '72.

    May 7, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Brenda, ME

    Sounds like a reasonable request. Obama will win the nomination.

    Obama '08

    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Susan, PA

    Yet another longtime friend jumps ship.

    It's time, Hillary. Past time, actually, but now the writing is on the wall.

    Save whatever dignity you still have left and concede.

    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. John

    And Clinton supporters begin calling him a Judas in 3...2...1...

    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. The Titanic

    McGovern of all people, can recognize a losing campaign. He knows "for whom the bell tolls!"

    Hillary is done!

    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. James, Jefferson City MO

    I agree she should drop out, come on she has already loaned herself a total of 11.4 million.

    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Betty Howell - Atlanta


    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. David Goldman for OBAMA




    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Ben

    It's over, Hillary. You need to step out and help Barack defeat McCain.

    There is no way you can win the nomination. The people have spoken.

    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. nancy

    Thank You, Senator McGovern.

    May 7, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. paul

    thanks for joining a winning team,welcome aboard. tell others to join

    go obama

    May 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. time to go

    Its officially time to go for Mrs Clinton. However I feel that Obama has to pick her as his VP. He winner will be the democratic nominee, however Hillary will choose the winner of the election in November depending on whether she accepts the VP seat or not.

    May 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Why Bother

    Even though I support Barack Obama (and I am against HRC), I am not happy to see her campaign go down in flames. For her sake, I wish she would graciously withdraw from the race. It could not happen soon enough.

    May 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. deb

    McGovern is facing the facts. Hopefully, Clinton will face them, too. I think she would be a much better choice than McCain any day, but this is Obama's time. She needs to accept it and hope for a chance to be Obama's running mate.

    May 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Obama? No!

    CNN, Shame on you!

    McGovern has been a big loser since 1980s. Everyone knows the truth and the fact!

    over 90% of Black people voted for Obama in NC. Is this not the big racial issue?

    Wake up! American people. We need Hillary!

    Hillary, Never give up!

    May 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Lee Garrett, Overland Park, Ks.

    Oh Good Grief!!! Enought already!! Let her take the vote to the "all" the people! Obama can handle it!!! Lets get off of the "quit" merry-go-round!!! I AM GETTING SICK OF THAT!!!

    May 7, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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