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. Alfredo Sangil

    Hillary won consecutively in Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvannia and Indiana while Hillary cut Obama's lead in North Carolina from 20% down to 14% only.

    Good job Hillary. Wake up superdelegates!

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. Democrat, NC

    Being an obama supporte, I welcome George McGovern's call, but on the other side, I think it will just motivate her to move on with her campaign. Looks like we need to give her some time and not push her to drop out.

    Democrats '08

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Michelle in West Virginia

    Hillary is starting to look REALLY bad, and she's dividing the party.


    It's time to focus on defeating McCain.

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. No degree white woman.

    I really wanted a woman in the White House, these men have made a total mess of things, but once I saw some of her actions, I changed my mind, we can't afford her. #1, I cannot afford her insurance, and don't tell me that it will be affordable, her insurance companies and drug companies will be writing the policies. Yes, Barack has not been in DC very long, but look at the mess we have with the people that have been there for years. We need a change, bad. I just pray he stays safe. Thank you Mr. McGovern, I voted for you.

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. DB

    TICK TICK TICK.....Here we go!

    The dam is breaking!

    It's simlly a matter of time now.

    Obama 08!

    May 7, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Canadian Girl

    Senator McGovern is correct in urging Senator Clinton to abandon her presidential run, as there is no possible way for her to overtake Senator Obama. It is time for the Democratic party to come together and start working towards the general election.

    Like the old saying goes, "You need to know when to hold them, know when to fold them."

    It's time to fold them.

    Obama '08

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. Joel King

    It is far past time.

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. Corey

    I know it hurt for him to say that, but he's right. It's time to focus on McCain.

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. After further review,Texas

    Shucks even he can smell the coffee.

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Jay

    Tell me again: Which state was George McGovern a Senetor from? I expect better basic fact checking from CNN

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Debra

    Hillary, you told us last night "when we start acting like Americans again". I for one, along with my fellow Americans, haven't stopped acting like an American. What about you Mrs. Clinton. When did you stop acting like an American? Was it when you called your fellow Democrat an elitist. Obama, an individual raised by a single parent, took student loans to pay for college, is half black, half white, etc. etc. etc.

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Proud American

    The chips are starting to fall. Obama '08!

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. Bond

    The Clintons only listen to the Clintons.
    1. She is in debt
    2. She has lost twice as many as she has won.
    3. She is hoping for a catastrophic colapse.
    4. She is poor in Math,,, the number don't add up.
    5. The worst of all, she is selfish. I, I, I and the rest can go to hell.

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. Reality

    Not sure about that"still remain friends part" when Hillary needs to stay in the race long enough to have some campaign debts paid.

    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. yeparipa


    May 7, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. 2RAW

    Finally, someone has the courage to speak to the inevitable. Hopefully she will bow out gracefully......and soon.

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. southnh

    McGovern to Hillary...Past "time to go".

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Kayln

    As a Hillary supporter- I feel- Hillary should stay until the end if she has money. I will donate to her campaign. In fact I have just donated to her campaign.

    However, my heart knows that Hillary has lost this nomination. I am realistic. I am now ready to listen to Obama to beat McCain in Fall..

    I will probably never like Obama, however, I kind of know that he will probably adopt most of Hillary's policies than McCain

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. Kelley

    It's time to bow out gracefully while you still can.

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Kiah

    This going to start a hail storm. She had better heed these warnings and do what's best for this party!

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Dems Unite

    Wow....that must have been tough for him. Hillary can still exit with her grace and legacy intact. But some of the upcoming races could get ugly for her.

    It seems like it is pointless for her to continue; especially on borrowed money.

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Marlye


    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. Ludovic

    I will never understand the democratic party rules

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Brian, IN

    Great news!

    May 7, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Sebastiaan

    Thank you mr McGovern,

    Although both candidates are good. from here on the race can just get ugly and the only thing we can do is make sure that in the upcoming months clinton supporters lose their bitternes over the DNC following the pre-set race conditions.

    May 7, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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