Clinton Idol Tells Her to End Race; McGovern Moves to Obama Camp

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Bellantoni, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign yesterday 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 February, 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 yesterday 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 Tuesday "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 is favored by 29 points in a Rasmussen poll taken this week, while 17 percent are 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 yesterday told supporters in an e-mail 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. …