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George McGovern, Clinton backer, says U.S. readier for a black president than a female one

March 25, 2008 |  9:08 pm

George McGovern, the Democratic nominee for president in 1972 who managed to lose every single state except one to Richard M. Nixon, has an opinion about the ongoing Democratic struggle in 2008.

Should anyone listen? Anyway, McGovern, who lost not only his own home state of South Dakota but even Minnesota and ChFormer South Dakota Senator George McGovern in 1972 on his way to losing 49 of the 50 states in the presidential election has the opinion it's easier for a black to be elected president than a woman, even though he's endorsed Hillary Clintonicago's historically Democratic Cook County while capturing only Massachusetts, says Sen. Barack Obama would have an easier time of winning the White House than Sen. Hillary Clinton would.

Thanks so much, George. No doubt Sen. Clinton's thank-you e-mail is on its way even now. Because McGovern has endorsed Clinton. An entire year ago he said she was the best candidate. But he now says her opponent would have an easier time of defeating Republican Sen. John McCain.

Put that in your superdelegate newsletter.

"I have a feeling that in this country, where we're at today in our thinking, it's going to be harder to elect a woman than to elect a black man," McGovern told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "I wish that weren't true ... I'd love to see Hillary as president."

McGovern said he occasionally chats with men who don't think a woman is ready for the responsibility. "Some guy will say, 'Well, I think that's too big a job for a woman; I don't think she can handle those terrorists,"' he said, adding that he seldom hears the same said about a black man.

"I think we've never had a woman so well-qualified that's on the national scene," McGovern added. The retired senator from South Dakota, who ran on his opposition to the war in Vietnam and opposes the war in Iraq, said he also likes Obama, but didn't know much about him when he endorsed Clinton last year. "I think very highly of him now," McGovern said of the Illinois senator.

-- Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau.