May 7, 2008 / 6:39 PM / 11 years ago

Ex-Sen. George McGovern drops Clinton, backs Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Veteran Democratic Party figure George McGovern dropped his support for Hillary Clinton on Wednesday and endorsed Barack Obama, saying the Illinois senator seemed certain to win the party’s nomination for the November presidential election.

McGovern, 85, said he told Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, of his surprise decision in a telephone call, and that Clinton made no attempt to change his mind.

“He just wanted me to know that he thinks that Hillary has made a great race and it’s up to her to decide when she leaves. And I don’t argue with that,” McGovern said.

He was speaking a day after Obama appeared to edge nearer securing the party nomination in the protracted state-by-state contest when he easily defeated Clinton in North Carolina and only narrowly lost to her in Indiana on Tuesday.

McGovern, a former U.S. senator from South Dakota who made a failed bid for the White House in 1972, told Reuters by telephone from his home in Mitchell, South Dakota: “It’s time for us to unite and get ready for the fall campaign.”

With Obama within 200 delegates of wrapping up the nomination, said, “All the mathematics seem to be on his side.”

“Barack Obama has waged a very effective campaign. He’s an unusually capable and talented man. I didn’t frankly know him when I endorsed Hillary last October,” he said.

In endorsing Obama, McGovern said, “I have been very impressed with him, and I’m sure she has been, too.”

Editing by David Storey

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