(Reuters) - Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will know when to pull out of the U.S. presidential race in order to unify the party for the general election, the chairman of the Democratic Party said on Monday.
In a round of network television appearances, Howard Dean warned that a prolonged battle between Clinton and Obama could hurt the party's chances in November against Republican John McCain to succeed President George W. Bush.
"Either of these candidates, if it's time for them to go, they'll know it, and they will go," Dean said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"They don't need pushing from people like me or anybody else, or the newspapers or anybody else," he said. "You know when to get in, and you know when to get out. That's just part of the deal."
Clinton, a New York senator, said she thought the tough race had been good for the Democratic Party because it fired up voters' interest.
"So we're going to go through these next contests. We're going to see where we end up. And we will take stock of where we are after they finish," she told reporters during a stop at a fire station in Graham, North Carolina.
Clinton and Obama, a senator from Illinois, are focusing on North Carolina and Indiana -- the next big tests on May 6 as the Democrats inch toward picking a presidential nominee in the state-by-state contest.
Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, is leading Clinton in the popular vote, states won and committed delegates to the party's nominating convention in August.