Former U.S. presidential candidate and Senator George McGovern dies aged 90

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

George McGovern speaking at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum for his book tour August 26, 2009.
Image: Scott C. Clarkson.

Former 1972 U.S. election Democratic Presidential candidate and United States Senator from South Dakota George McGovern died Sunday at the age of 90 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He died at 5:15 am local time (1015 UTC).

McGovern's 1972 running mate was originally Thomas Eagleton, however, due to revelations about Eagleton's psychiatric past, he was replaced by Sargent Shriver. McGovern and his running mate Shriver lost to U.S. President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. McGovern got only 17 electoral votes. In 1992, he spoke of possibly running for president one last time; however, he judged a younger candidate without his political history would be better.

McGovern was a senator for South Dakota from 1963 to 1981. He was the first Democrat elected in South Dakota to that position since 1930.

He was head of the Food for Peace program under President John F. Kennedy. Later, he was United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture from 1998 to 2001. McGovern and Bob Dole received the 2008 World Food Prize for creating a program for international child nutrition and education.

His family made a statement about his death: "Our wonderful father, George McGovern, passed away peacefully at the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, SD, surrounded by our family and life-long friends".

Many politicians have made comments and tributes about McGovern's death:

U.S. President Barack Obama said, "George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved. ... And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. ... Michelle and I share our thoughts and prayers with his family."

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said, on behalf of himself and Second Lady Jill Biden, "Jill and I are profoundly saddened to hear about George McGovern's passing. I was honored to serve with him, to know him, and to call him a friend. ... Above all, George McGovern was a generous, kind, honorable man. He will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family today."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said, "We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend George McGovern. The world has lost a tireless advocate for human rights and dignity. We first met George while campaigning for him in 1972. ... Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

U.S. Senator John Kerry said, "George McGovern was a voice of clarity and conviction at a time [the Vietnam War] when America needed it most."

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich said, on CNN, "George actually was a very complicated person. He had served as a bomber pilot in World War II, he was not a pacifist and his argument over Vietnam was about that particular war."

McGovern was born as George Stanley McGovern on July 19, 1922 in Avon, South Dakota. He was raised in Mitchell, South Dakota. He married Eleanor McGovern, and their marriage lasted 64 years until her death at the age of 85 in 2007. During World War II he served as a bomber pilot. They had five children — four daughters and one son.