George McGovern, a three term US Senator from South Dakota, who lost his presidential bid against President Richard Nixon in 1972, died Sunday morning at the age of 90. Despite the loss, McGovern remained devoted to his liberal ideals.
McGovern's strong stance against the Vietnam War and devotion to liberal causes won him the Democratic nomination in 1972, but then he lost to incumbent President Richard Nixon in one of the most major landslides in US Presidential election history.
Despite his devastating loss, he still held onto the belief that history would prove him right in his strong opposition of not only the "tragically mistaken war in Vietnam," but also the United States' invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, The New York Times reports.
While McGovern's staunch liberal views were a contributing factor to losing so badly to President Nixon, it was not the only reason for his failed campaign. He chose Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton as his running mate. Just 18 days later, after the disclosure that Eagleton had undergone electroshock therapy for depression, McGovern chose to drop him from the ticket, despite his pledge to back him "1,000 percent," The AP reports.
Late political writer Theodore H. White wrote it was quite possibly "the single most damaging faux pas ever made by a presidential candidate."
McGovern would go onto choose R. Sargent Shriver as his new running mate, but he was still extremely frustrated. He felt he had worked feverishly to get his message across, but he just wasn't reaching the people. He carried only Massachusetts and The District of Columbia. He failed to carry his home state of South Dakota.
McGovern would later admit all the mistakes that were made during his campaign. For instance, the former Sen. and presidential candidate always considered himself "a good old South Dakota boy," The NY Times reports. "My dad was a Methodist minister. I went off to war (World War II). I have been married to the same woman forever. I'm what a normal, healthy, ideal American should be like."
In retrospect, McGovern felt his campaign was so narrowly focused on ending the war in Vietnam, that they didn't pay attention to cultivating his image.
Despite is mistakes and ugly loss in 1972, McGovern was always proud to call himself "a liberal," The AP reports.
"I am a liberal and always have been," he said in 2001. "Just not the wild-eyed character the Republicans made me out to be."
McGovern died early Sunday morning. He had been in hospice care for the last few days where he became unresponsive. His passing was announced in a statement by his family.
"Our wonderful father, George McGovern passed away peacefully at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, SD, surrounded by our family and long-time friends," his family said.
"We are blessed to know that our father lived a long, successful, and productive life advocating for the hungry, being a progressive voice for millions and fighting for peace. He continued giving speeches, writing and advising, all the way up to and past his 90th birthday, which he celebrated this past summer," his family continued according to The AP.
Funeral services will be held in Sioux Falls, but no other details have been announced yet.
According to CNN, McGovern's family is requesting that instead of sending flowers, anyone wishing to honor him send donations to Feeding South Dakota.
McGovern was selected to head President John F. Kennedy's For Peace Program in 1961, TIME reports. Always loyal to the cause of fighting world hunger, President Bill Clinton appointed McGovern, who he had campaigned for in 1972, as the UN's first global ambassador for hunger.
George McGovern backed Barack Obama in his 2008 bid to be the democratic presidential nominee. He had originally supported Hillary Clinton, but switched allegiances, CNN reports. He always supported and believe in Obama, but did not always agree with his choices. In 2009, McGovern told Obama to "get out of Afghanistan now!" At a Truthdig event on November 4, 2009, McGovern said he was convinced the war in Afghanistan would "turn sour" and he was convinced nothing good could come of it.
Throughout the years, McGovern was an avid writer and lecturer. He summed up his political philosophy in his last book "What it Means to Be a Democrat", which was released on November 10, 2011.
"Above all, being a Democrat means having compassion for others. It means putting government to work to help the people who need it. It means using all available tools to provide good health care and education, job opportunities, safe neighborhoods, a healthy environment, a promising future."-George Stanley McGovern