Clinton idol McGovern tells her to end presidential bid
Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign on May 7 steered clear of calls for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to quit the Democratic presidential race, letting one of her political idols deliver the message instead.
Mrs. Clinton vowed to forge ahead, ignoring Democratic icon George McGovern’s request that she step aside for the good of the party.
Obama supporters and his camp highlighted the mathematical impossibility of Mrs. Clinton’s prospects and raised money off her insistence that the Democratic race would proceed.
“It would be inappropriate, awkward and wrong for any of us to tell Senator Clinton when it is time for the race to be over,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat. “This is her decision and it is only her decision, and we are confident that she is going to do the right thing for the Democratic nominee.”
Mr. McGovern, a prominent Clinton supporter and one-time presidential contender, switched to the Obama column and further pushed for the senator from New York to step aside and bridge the party divide.
“It’s important for Democrats to get united to win the general election,” said Mr. McGovern, whose 1972 presidential campaign inspired Mrs. Clinton to her first involvement in politics as an adult.
While Mr. Obama, now fewer than 170 delegates from securing the nomination according to his campaign’s count, took the day off to rest, Mrs. Clinton got back onto the trail and scrambled to pump funds into what has become a long-shot bid for the party nod.
Clinton aides announced that she was forced to loan herself $6.4 million over the past month to keep her campaign ads on television, which, coupled with the $5 million loan she made before Super Tuesday in Feb- ruary, brings her own personal investment in the presidential run to $11.4 million. That’s more than the $10.4 million she earned from her best-selling books.
Her aides also resisted calls for her to end her candidacy and television news personalities who declared Mr. Obama would be the nominee, saying those in “punditocracy” don’t get to decide elections.
“The reality is that many pundits have counted Senator Clinton out many times during this contest,” said spokesman Howard Wolfson. “Voters are more important than pundits.”
Peppered with questions about whether Mrs. Clinton would give up, Mr. Wolfson said there had been “no discussions at any point about not going forward.”
Mrs. Clinton of New York said May 7 that she would remain in the race “until there’s a nominee” and broadcast every possible signal she will fight for the long haul. She suggested that the West Virginia race May 13 “will be one of the most important elections in this entire process,” while her campaign said the contest would “test” Mr. Obama’s ability to win blue-collar workers.
Mrs. Clinton was favored by 29 points in a Rasmussen poll taken last week, while 17 percent were undecided.
Her narrow win in Indiana and huge loss in North Carolina crystallize the reality that she cannot mathematically win the nomination, but Mrs. Clinton told supporters in an email that she is determined to last the final 28 days of the race and mounted an aggressive campaign schedule taking her through three states in two days. Former President Bill Clinton had five West Virginia events on May 8.
“It’s a new day, it’s a new state, it’s a new election,” the former first lady told reporters after a rally in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
While the Clinton team boasted that they had shrunk Mr. Obama’s one-time lead in Indiana to a twopoint victory, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told supporters in a memo that the party nod is “within sight.”
“Barack Obama is now just 169 delegates away from winning the Democratic nomination,” he said, also noting in the fundraising memo that Mrs. Clinton loaned herself money. The e-mail mentioned that she and Mr. Clinton have earned $109 million since leaving the White House.
“Barack has already won more votes, more delegates, and more than twice as many states as Senator Clinton, whose path to the nomination has grown extremely narrow. But these loans show that her campaign will continue to contest the remaining primaries vigorously,” he wrote, urging donations.
Mr. Wolfson said Mrs. Clinton loaned herself $5 million on April 11 before the contest in Pennsylvania, another $1 million May 1 and $420,000 on the eve of the primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. He characterized them as “a sign of Senator Clinton’s commitment to the race” and said he would not rule out continued cash infusions through the remaining contests.
Mr. Wolfson said Mrs. Clinton had a good fundraising month — including $10 million raised online after her Pennsylvania victory — but noted that Mr. Obama, who has reached the milestone of 1.5 million individual donors, had a “better” month. Mrs. Clinton mentioned her Web site — which has been transformed into a donation page — every time she appeared on television on May 6 and 7.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton autographs an Obama campaign sign after a rally in Shepherdstown, W.Va. “It’s a new day, it’s a new state, it’s a new election,” she told supporters.