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. Sean in NY

    And so it begins...

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. carlo

    Wow. That's rough.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Chris

    McGovern is right. It's just time. I had hoped that Clinton would be more interested in the unity of the Democratic Party than in her own personal motives. The VP slot is still open. I suggest she work a deal to take that. Obama '08.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Terry

    "Brilliant husband"

    Get serious, he squandered possibly the best opportunity for the democrats to change this country because he didn't understand nor appreciate the tenacity of his enemies.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. Sharon

    McGovern is from South Dakota, thank you.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Good job Mc Govern this is a real man with back bone! To many other Superdelegates are spineless to support Obama when needed.

    The Clintons intimidate and threaten Superdelegates if they endorse Obama, they will feel the Clinton raft if they do so. All the Democratic Party leaders are either scared of them or afraid of the dirt they will release on them. If you notice none of the so called power brokers will tell Hillary that she should exit. Including:

    Howard Dean
    Al Gore
    James Carter
    John Edwards
    Nancy Pelosi
    Harry Reed

    They are all powerless and will do nothing to stop Bill and Hillary’s slash and burn politics. It has stopped Obama’s momentum he is being forced to fall in line with Clintons rule changes. No party leader has the guts or the courage to put an end to this thing. If all the renaming Superdelegates would stand up all at once and say enough is enough, then maybe just maybe we could win in November. However, courage is hard to find these days among the SO CALLED DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADERS!

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. kia

    Thank you Mr. McGovern. We need your support in the this fight to bring about changes to Washington. Welcome to this fast train.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. tom

    It is time Hillary – Move aside and try again in 2012 –
    The GOP is loving this as the Politcial Donkeys continue to kick each other. Bow out – you gave it all you had – Now let your party unite

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. jyh1920

    Whoa....You heard the man... Time to go.....

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. Lee

    If McGovern had the balls Hillary has, maybe he would have been elected back in the day,

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Mike in Columbus

    I thought her speech last night was amazing!!

    Its completely amazing to me that she could actually declare last night a victory.
    "Full speed ahead to the White House."
    Are you kidding me? There is no way I could vote for this woman... because she (and her campaign) are clearly insane.

    She was beat by over 200k votes last night (including both states), crushed in N.C. and only took Indiana because of the cross-over republican "operation chaos" vote.

    When will reality sink in?

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. Kim, NM Democrat

    Thank you, George! I hope other senior statesmen/women of the Democratic party speak up as well. Hillary gave it a go, but the handwriting is truly on the wall. Maybe if she behaves herself over the next few weeks, there could be a significant role for her int the next (Obama) adminstration, and she can start to repair the damage done to the Clinton legacy. It's all on her now to keep it positive and not split the party any further.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. Obama supporters are sad

    Are any of you Obama supportes getting this?

    Continue the silly and think Obama is going to win in November with fractions of the party. I was heart broken when Kerry lost last election after working so hard and I want to be in winning side this time and Obama with exactly half the party will not going to prevail. He needs Hillary as VP or it will be McCain... GO AHEAD TRY TO WIN THIS ONE WITHOUT FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN... GO AHEAD...

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. HillarySkank on myspace

    Hillary's position: Build them up when they support her, discount them when they leave her and move to Barack.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. Obama 08

    A clear message to the super delegates.

    Clinton supporteres we welcome you with open arms...lets kiss and make up and take the strong fight that you've displayed to McCain!

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Kenneth Rios

    I thought the policy of the Titanic was women and children first.

    May 7, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. MKO

    I mean really......She is like a roach. She will not go away. Give up already! The popular vote is not on her side.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Keith R.

    The beginning of a windfall...

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Jeff


    For those of you claiming that African Americans are voting for Obama because of race. . . .remember, AA's have always voted for Democrats, and there is a 18% AA population in this country. That would not alone get Obama to the nomination.

    Also, Lanny Davis, you should apoogize for your antics last night. You acted like a 5 year old. Grow up!!!

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Mary

    The whole truth about Barack Obama and his corrupt campaign have been hidden from the American voters far too long. Check out the Chicago newspapers. Now, even some of the reporters are getting threats for revealing the truth.
    If Obama wins, America loses.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. jerell

    This is the possible beginning of a chain effect.

    Quick question: How is he not a superdelegate?

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. sophia nyc

    Time to bow out gracefully, Hillary.. before your ENTIRE political career is toast. We may not even re-elect you in NY at this point.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. Kerri

    Now is the time to bow out gracefully (if such a thing exists, for her). It's practically impossible for her to win. She needs to step aside for the good of the party and of the country. Hard to believe she'd be someone who would put the needs of the country above her own desires based on her conduct during this primary.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  24. H. MacArthur

    Sometimes it takes an elder, such as our fathers, and in Hillary's case
    her role model, to tell her the truth.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  25. Ignorant Hillary Supporter

    Geez Obama, neither candidate can get to the finish line of 2208 delegates. Its time Obama dropped out for the good of the party.


    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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