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. Richard Boland

    The "Queen" is naked....but who is going to tell her??? RB

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. Kay-Arizona

    I guess my understanding of what "close friend" or "long time friend" means is different than Mr. McGovern's.

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. R

    there's more states left. I'm very sad at the results yesterday, but why drop now?

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Dave in Atlanta

    That's beuautiful but you aren't a superdelegate man. Until her superdelegates start to defect, I'm gonna say, she should stay in the race.

    – proud Obama supporter

    OBAMA 08

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Pearl O.

    Sometimes truth is hard to accept. i don't think McGovern's advice has any ill feeling in it. So Hillary should accept his advice in good faith.

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. Dem in CA

    I hope she will listen, withdraw, and fully and enthusiastically support Senator Obama as the Democratic nominee. Obama is now obviously the party's choice. So far, she seems to be in deep denial.

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. Mike Guinn

    I catch my very first Presidential vote for this man and I'm still proud that I did so. He is telling the truth here and I think that especially looking at all the numbers (including her financial ones) it's time to heal. She will win WV and Ky, and that's fine. Last night was definetly the writing on the wall.

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Ekirshenbaum

    Who REALLY cares what McGovern says...more male bashing/women are just toooo

    May 7, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Jeanne

    She's too power hungry to consider the idea. Maybe if a few key superdelegates openly come out in support of Obama, she'll realize it's too late for her this time around.

    May 7, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Eric from Rome, Italy

    Hillary has every reason to step down and spare the democratic party this long useless campaign.
    Hope all the superdelegates are gonna come out of their shells and end this chaos

    May 7, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. mg

    Thank you Sir.

    Your grey hair means wisdom and your judgement is dead correct.

    The grey hairs of Bill sadly do not translate to conventional wisdom.

    What other HAND WRITING on the wall do the Clintons need ?????


    May 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Debbie

    The reason Clinton has won lately is because of Rush's Operation Chaos. How else can you expain her poor fundraising abilities.

    May 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Karen

    Hillary....fight on. We want you to be our next president. Don't listen to anyone about dropping out. Obama is not right for our country. He can't beat McCain....only you can and will. Hillary for president!

    May 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    I respect Senator McGovern's decision. If only others would come forward to help end this so Obama can move forward without having to contend with Clinton's ongoing allegations.

    May 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. Yeswecan

    The procession starts to back Obama. But I not surprised at Hiliary wanting to continue. She is truly delusional. I cannot give my country in the hands of somebody who is not rational and cannot see the writing on the wall. .


    May 7, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. barackobama4prez

    Oh, I thought he was a super. this is just symbolic though...still...gotta be rough.

    May 7, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Eyes

    Alleluia. Stop the farce of a primary election where over 1 million republicans registered as a democrat to vote for Hillary and deny the democratic party and the US of their desired candidate Barack Obama. Rush Limbaugh and his evil minions cannot deny the people's choice.

    May 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. Marc in DeKalb, IL

    Thank you for having the good sense to stand up and call for this, and the bravery to put your inclination into action...

    May 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. nathan

    Welcome aboard Senator McGovern

    May 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. sue

    Hilary is way too self-serving to quit. She really believes she can win. She at least stands to make money from the campaign loan, as she will collect interest from same. Book sales and being a senator? Good gig.
    Some of the money has to come from Bill's wallet for shady transactions.These carpet baggers have no shame!!!!!!!!

    May 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. Tori Taylor

    She should not drop out. She is a fighter. Hillary Clinton will not give up on us, and we should not give up on her.

    Hillary '08!

    May 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Les


    GOBAMA 08!

    May 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. ThatsMYBama

    That was respectable. I am sure there will be more to come.

    May 7, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Jeanne from Michigan

    I think this is a sign...the beginning of the end. She needs to concede before more public denouncements come.

    May 7, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. barry

    as a clinton supporter i get it. but the presidency will go to McCain. the party leaders really messed this up....they continue to move to the left when we know the country will move to the center come November...

    May 7, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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