May 7th, 2008
11:43 AM ET
7 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. Greg

    It is fine for her to finish the race but she (and her team) need to stop the negative attacks.

    They also need to refrain from trying to force a showdown with the DNC on Florida and Michigan. They know the score there.

    May 7, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Ross

    North Dakota senator? Silly me, I thought it was South Dakota, than again, what do I know, I only lived in South Dakota for 22 of my 25 years of life and only studied McGovern's life and career.

    May 7, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. DemocratsUnited

    Clinton needs to understand that these people aren't traitors. These peopl aren't turning AGAINST her. they are acting in the best interest of the party. Look how quickly all of McCain's republican enemies rallied around him. They came together quick. It's time for the democrats to put this nastiness, ugliness and bitterness behind them. The quicker we get the nominee, the quicker we can focus on the many McCain gaffes.

    May 7, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. Unshrub

    Even if they give Hillary FL and MI Obama will still ahve more popular vote and more delegates. She can not win.

    May 7, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. AB

    By we should be calling her 'the ex-presidential candidate for the democratic party". And don't forget the only time hill tells the truth is when she is lying.

    May 7, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. Brian, RI

    Wow.

    May 7, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. FB

    I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more Hillary supporters doing the same. It's been a great "fight" but now it's time for her to be rational and fight for the democratic party.

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. CNN=Hillary Clinton

    --lol, r u kidding?

    1--she'll go till the last democrat is dead on this plant-–
    2--she wants more $$$ from her supporters--
    3--she is like a horror movie that never ends.--

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. joyce

    McGovern was a South Dakota govenor, not North Dakota.

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Jeff

    Letter to Hillary,

    Please stop ripping apart our great party and graciously (if that is possible for you) drop out. It is over, you are done.

    Democrats in 08

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Dan in CO

    That would be South Dakota, not North Dakota.

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Monte Brown

    McGovern, like Kerry, didn't win the General. The same thing will happen to Obama if the supers don't wise up and give Hillary the nom.

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Veterans for Obama

    **Attention Obama Supporters**

    The nomination for Barack is all but secured. It is imperitive that we keep our dignity and not allow ourselves to be dragged to the gutter by those who see their candidate's campaign imploding. Lets reach out to the Clinton supporters and explain to them why WE are so enthusiastic about the man we hope to call President next year. On policy, they are almost identical. Race and gender are the only hurdles that our opponets will have to grapple with, but in the end, I'm confident America is better than that. It is to time unite.

    Democrats in '08!

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Lee

    Wow.....back your bags honey!!

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. canada

    it is glad to see that not all the supporters of Clintons are like James Carvel, or Lanny Davis. It is the hope of Democratic party.

    Thanks, Senator McGovern

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Jay Fray

    Of course, Hillary refuses to accept the truth, and is only harming democrats because of her selfish sense of entitlement.

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Christopher

    AND.....................you're done.

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. AB

    By now we should be calling her 'the ex-presidential candidate for the democratic party ticket". And don't forget the only time hill tells the truth is when she is lying.

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Unshrub

    CNN. Learn your states. It's South Dakota not North Dakota. I hope your other facts are more accurate. Whew!

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  20. Lee

    Wow…..pack your bags honey!!

    May 7, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Grant

    It is, I am sure that CNN is working furiously to keep her in the race though....Word on the blogs, real news, is that Axelrod has chatted with Wolfson, I think they are going to give her the chance to bow out gracefully, if she stays in, by Thursday, they will release the hounds and roll out the Supers to end this, THEY HAVE THEM..John Edwards is expectedly shortly to follow the overwhelming will of NC and endorse Obama and bring his delegates over, which adds close to 20 more.....Sorry CNN this is OVER! Keep hauling out Lanny Davis, Carville and Begala though, last night was an embarrasment to your network and truly a low point...FIRE BLITZER!!!! He is not objective and his 2 hours of impossible scenarios are become laughable...

    Please post

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. Samuel

    Yes, it is time no matter how hard it is. Sen. Hillary will do herself good and that of the democratic party if she goes now rather than later. I believed in her and I still do but the naked fact is that it appears to be over and she should acknowledge that. Please do not let people blame you for a lost for OBAMA in November. Just go in dignity and in respect.

    I rest my case.

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. Laura

    I no longer consider my self a democrat. I will be changing my voter registration card to independent and will be voting for McCain. I can not vote or support a man who claims he has the experience and love to run this country when he can’t even manage to speak about or state what he really stands for. Hillary Clinton was the person for me and the strength of this country. I am ashamed to call my self a democrat after the disloyalty this party has shown her.

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Greg

    It is fine for her to finish the race but she (and her team) need to stop the negative attacks.

    They also need to refrain from trying to force a showdown with the DNC on Florida and Michigan. They know the score there.

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. Blaising

    The first of what should be wave of Obama endorsements today and tomorrow.

    Citnon, you're done! Back away from the Crown Royal and get out...

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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