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. Jewish Women for Obama

    It's about time... Her only motivation for staying in would be to divide the party... If she does, she'll not even get re-elected into the senate, and every democrat will hate her forever...

    Hillary, I still love you – please give it a rest!

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  2. An Agnostic Democrat

    The Clintons will not only destroy the party and country, but they will abandon any shred of decency they have left to fulfill their scorched earth ambitions even if that requires the sacrifice of old friends and allies.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. 60 old white lady, Mo

    For the good of the party... Hillary please listen to others... Just go away.... You have no chance to overtake Obama... don't be so selfish ...

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. C from the D

    Thank you Mr. McGovern. It is absolutely time to unite the party and thank you for being a leader and attempting to do so. If the tables were turned, I, being a young, educated, black, male (all demographics that obama wins in for those of you keeping score at home), would want Obama to drop out and throw his support behind Hill so we can beat McCain in the fall.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. ABC=Anybody But Clinton

    Thank you Senator McGovern. I hope she heeds the call.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Sam

    She needs people to save her from herself....thank you McGovern

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

    Keep it coming and she will get it it...
    I hope she hears the to end it sooner than later...
    Even if all the primaries that are coming go Hillary's way 60% incluing the supperdelegates Hillary will get 1977 total delegates compared to 2034 delegates for Obama.

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. Obama IS the Nominee

    I hope we can harness some of that Clinton fighting spirit and point it towards the Republicans!!!!

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. Primary is ending soon

    A wise man

    May 7, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. Coloradoan

    Hillary Clinto needs to take advice from the Amityville Horror.

    Get OUT!!

    Get OUT!!

    Get OUT!!

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. Chris

    Finally, a voice of reason steps in.

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Anonymous

    did you mean south dakota?

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. NoMoreObamaSupporter-PA

    Another Judas!

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Brooklyn

    Wise move. She needs to leave gracefully and support now!

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. G

    What does it say when all your loyal supporters leave you for someone else? They must think that Obama has what it takes to win or are at least trying to save the democratic party from possible defeat in 2008.

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. laura, CA

    Truthfully not much has changed as far as each Dems totals. They are still relatively neck & neck, but when the FL & MI debacle is settled they'll be reverse neck & neck.
    NEITHER candidate has won the nomination and NEITHER can, it's just not possible mathematically.

    People like McGovern are trying to become more relevant themselves rather than offering any sort of insight.

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. Stephen

    The writing is on the wall, Clinton.

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Kevin

    Look at the divide between blacks and whites. Obama is not electable.

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. Daniel

    Hillary isn't going to let a little thing like Logic or Math get in her way. Within 24 hours, I bet Obama picks up at least 10 Supers from the undeclared pile, and perhaps 1 or 2 switching from the Hill-Bill camp.

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. terrance mullin

    McGovern was from South Dakota, kind of a basic mistake.

    May 7, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. V4OBAMA

    it's time to get this GENERAL ELECTION started.

    Ya'll Ready?

    May 7, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. NC for Hillary

    Sad, but true....all good things must come to an end.

    Democrats in 08!

    May 7, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. Tammy

    Well I hope she listens to you. She hasn't listened to anyone else.
    If she was truly wanting to help her party win the election she'd fall in and support Obama so that they could prepare for beating McCain. She obviously doesn't know when it's time to quit and start helping your fellow Democrat.
    I wouldn't be surprised if she quits the Democratic party and tries to run as an Independent.
    This just shows me once again that it's all about her and not about making sure a Democrat wins the election.

    May 7, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Steve

    While it's important that votes be counted, and everyone get a chance to vote, it is over for Clinton. Unless Obama drops out, she cannot win without overwhelming landslides in all remaining contests. That is such a remote chance that even a compulsive gambler won't bet on it. Clinton's campaign is also pretty much out of money. Most candidates in her position would take the exit door at this point, and for good reason.

    Everyone's votes WILL get counted (including Florida and Michigan) in the general election.

    May 7, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. Independent99999

    Great Call. That is what I expected her to do. Gracefully bowing out.

    It is a SHAME on HILARY that she is still out there running

    May 7, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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