The Full Wiki

George McGovern: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

George Stanley McGovern (born July 19, 1922) is a former United Statesmarker Representative, Senator, and Democratic presidential nominee. McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election in a landslide to Richard Nixon. As a decorated World War II combat veteran, McGovern was known for his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Appointed (1961) by U.S. President John F. Kennedy as the worldwide director of the Food for Peace program, he remained a longtime leader in ensuring nutrition and food security as a means to fight poverty and political instability. McGovern was appointed United Nations Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001. In 2008, he and Senator Bob Dole were named the 2008 World Food Prize Laureates for their work to promote school-feeding programs globally.

Early life and early education

McGovern was born in the 600-person farming community of Avonmarker, South Dakotamarker. His father, Reverend Joseph C. McGovern (born 1868), was the pastor of the local Wesleyan Methodist church there. Joseph had once worked in mines and then been a professional baseball player in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league organization, but had given the latter up due to the heavy drinking, gambling, and womanizing of his teammates, and entered the seminary instead. George's mother was the former Frances McLean (born c. 1890), who had been born in Torontomarker in Canadamarker; her family had later moved to Calgarymarker and then she came to South Dakota looking for work as a secretary. George was the second oldest of four children of the couple. Joseph McGovern's salary never reached $100 per month, and he often received compensation in the form of potatoes, cabbages, or other food items. He and Frances McGovern were both conservative Republican of the Theodore Roosevelt mold.

The Corn Palace, a longtime sight of McGovern's hometown of Mitchell, South Dakota
Effects of a 1936 Dust Bowl storm in nearby Gregory County, South Dakota
When George was about three years old, the family moved to Calgarymarker for a while to be near Frances' ailing mother, and he formed memories of events such as the Calgary Stampedemarker. While living there, Charles Lindbergh's solo transatlantic flight in 1927 made a great impression upon him, as it did upon many members of his generation. When George was six, the family returned to the U.S. and moved to Mitchell, South Dakotamarker, a community of 12,000. McGovern attended public schools there and was an average student whose only wild behavior was going to the movies (forbidden to good Wesleyans). He was painfully shy as a child and was afraid to speak in class during first grade. Otherwise he had a normal childhood marked by visits to the renowned Mitchell Corn Palacemarker and "a sense of belonging to a particular place and knowing your part in it." He would, however, long remember by the Dust Bowl storms and grasshopper plagues that swept the prairie statesmarker during the Great Depression. The McGovern family lived on the edge of the poverty line for much of the 1920s and 1930s; growing up amid and the lack of affluence gave young George a lifelong sympathy for underpaid workers and struggling farmers. He was influenced by the currents of populism and agrarian unrest in the area and by the "practical divinity" teachings of John Wesley that sought to fight poverty, injustice, and ignorance.

In seventh grade, a gym teacher called him a "physical coward" for being afraid to dive headfirst and somersault over a gymnastics vaulting horse; the incident troubled him psychologically. George attended Mitchell High School, where he was a solid but unspectacular member of the track team. A turning point came when his tenth grade English teacher recruited him for the debate team, which he became quite active on. His high school debate coach proved to be a great influence in his life, and McGovern spent many hours honing his meticulous if colorless forensic style. McGovern and his debating partner won events in his area and gained renown in a state where debating was passionately followed by the general public. Debate changed McGovern's life, giving him a chance to explore ideas to their logical end, broadening his perspective, and instilling a sense of personal and social confidence. He graduated in 1940 in the top ten percent of his class.

McGovern enrolled at small Dakota Wesleyan Universitymarker in Mitchell and became a star student there. He supplemented a forensic scholarship by working a variety of odd jobs. With World War II underway overseas, McGovern still felt insecure about his own courage. To prove himself, McGovern took flying lessons in an Aeronca aircraft and got a pilot's license through the government's Civilian Pilot Training Program. McGovern recalled: "Frankly, I was scared to death on that first solo flight. But when I walked away from it, I had an enormous feeling of satisfaction that I had taken the thing off the ground and landed it without tearing the wings off." In April 1941, McGovern began dating fellow student Eleanor Stegeberg, who had grown up in Woonsocket, South Dakotamarker. (They had first encountered each other during a high school debate in which Eleanor and her twin sister Ila defeated McGovern and his partner.)

McGovern was listening to a radio broadcast of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for a sophomore year music appreciation class when he heard the news of the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbormarker. Within days he drove to Omaha, Nebraskamarker, and volunteered to join the United States Army Air Forces. The military did not yet have enough airfields, aircraft, or instructors to start training all the volunteers, so McGovern stayed at Dakota Wesleyan. George and Eleanor became engaged, but initially decided not to marry until the war was over. During his sophomore year, McGovern won the statewide intercollegiate South Dakota Peace Oratory Contest with a speech called "My Brother's Keeper", which was later selected by the National Council of Churches as of the nation's 12 best orations of 1942. McGovern was also elected president of his sophomore and junior classes. In February 1943, during his junior year, he and a partner won a national debate tournament at North Dakota State Universitymarker that featured competitors from over a hundred schools; upon his return to campus he discovered that the Army had finally called him up.

Military service

Soon thereafter McGovern was sworn in as a private at Fort Snellingmarker in Minnesotamarker. He spent a month at Jefferson Barracks Military Postmarker in Missourimarker and then five months at Southern Illinois Normal Universitymarker in Carbondale, Illinoismarker for ground school training; both the academic work and physical training would be the toughest he would ever experience. He spent two months at a base in San Antonio, Texasmarker and then went to Hatbox Fieldmarker in Muskogee, Oklahomamarker for basic flying school in a single-engined PT-19. Lonely and in love, McGovern married Eleanor Stegeberg on October 31, 1943, while on three-day leave in a ceremony at the small Methodist church in Woonsocket with his father presiding, as the couple decided not to wait any further. After three months in Muskogee, McGovern went to Coffeyville Army Airfieldmarker in Kansasmarker for three months of training on the BT-13. Around April 1944, McGovern went on to advanced flying school at Pampa Army Airfieldmarker in Texasmarker for twin-engine training on the AT-17 and AT-9. Throughout, Air Cadet McGovern showed skill as a pilot, with his exceptionally good depth perception aiding him. Eleanor McGovern followed him to these different stops and was there when he got his wings and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.

McGovern was assigned to Liberal Army Airfieldmarker in Kansas to transition school to learn to fly the B-24 Liberator, an assignment he was pleased with. McGovern recalled later: "Learning how to fly the B-24 was the toughest part of the training. It was a difficult airplane to fly, physically, because in the early part of the war, they didn't have hydraulic controls. If you can imagine driving a Mack truck without any power steering or power brakes, that's about what it was like at the controls. It was the biggest bomber we had at the time." Eleanor was constantly afraid of her husband suffering an accident while training, which claimed a huge toll of airmen during the entire war. This was followed by a stint at Lincoln Army Airfieldmarker in Nebraskamarker, where McGovern met his B-24 crew. The traveling around the country and mixing with people from different backgrounds was a broadening experience for McGovern and others of his generation. The USAAF sped up training times for McGovern and others due to the heavy losses that bombing missions were suffering over Europe. Despite, and partly because of, the risk that McGovern might not come back from combat, the McGoverns decided to have a child and Eleanor became pregnant. In June 1944, McGovern's crew received final training at Mountain Home Army Air Fieldmarker in Idahomarker. They then shipped out via Camp Patrick Henrymarker in Virginiamarker, where McGovern found history books to fill downtime, and overseas on a slow troopship.

A B-24 Liberator of the Fifteenth Air Force's 451st Bombardment Group (not McGovern's group, but also stationed in Italy), on a March 1945 mission over Germany
In September 1944, McGovern joined the 741st Squadron of the 455th Bombardment Group of the Fifteenth Air Force, stationed at San Giovanni Airfield nearby Cerignolamarker in the Apuliamarker region of Italymarker. There he and his crew found a starving, disease-ridden local population wracked by the ill fortunes of war and far worse off than anything they had seen back home during the Depression. Starting on November 11, 1944, McGovern flew 35 missions over enemy territory from there, the first five as co-pilot for an experienced crew and the rest as pilot for his own plane, known as the Dakota Queen after his wife Eleanor. His targets were in Austriamarker, Czechoslovakiamarker, Germanymarker, Hungarymarker, Polandmarker, and northern, German-controlled Italy, and were often either oil refinery complexes or rail marshalling yards, all as part of the U.S. strategic bombing campaign in Europe. The eight- or nine-hour missions were grueling tests of endurance for pilots, and while German fighter aircraft were a diminished threat by then, his missions often faced heavy anti-aircraft artillery fire that filled the sky with flak bursts.

On McGovern's December 15 mission over Linzmarker, his second as pilot, a piece of shrapnel from flak came through the windshield and missed killing him by only a few inches. The following day on a mission to Brüxmarker he nearly collided with another bomber during close-formation flying in complete cloud cover. The day after that he was recommended for a medal after surviving a blown wheel on the always-dangerous B-24 take-off, completing a mission over Germany, and then landing without further damage to the plane. On a December 20 mission against the Škoda Works at Pilsenmarker, McGovern's plane had one engine out and another in flames after being hit by flak. Unable to return to Italy, McGovern was able to land his plane on a British airfield on Vismarker, a small island off the Yugoslav coast controlled by Tito's Partisans. The short field, normally used by small fighter planes, killed many of the bomber crews who tried to make emergency landings there, but McGovern successfully landed, saving his crew and earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In January 1945, McGovern used R&R time to see every sight he could in Romemarker and participate in an audience with the Pope. Bad weather prevented many missions from happening during the winter, and during downtime McGovern spent much time reading and discussing how the war had come about. He resolved that if he survived it, he would become a history professor. In February, McGovern was promoted to First Lieutenant. On March 14, McGovern had an incident over Austriamarker when he accidentally bombed a family farm when a jammed bomb accidentally released above it and destroyed it, which McGovern felt guilty about. (Decades later, after a public appearance in that country, the owner of that farm came to the media to let the Senator know that he was the victim of that incident, but no one was hurt and felt it was worth the price if that event helped achieve the defeat of Nazi Germany in some small way.) On return from the flight, McGovern was told his first child Ann had been born four days earlier. April 25 saw McGovern's 35th mission, to fulfill the USAAF limit for combat, against heavily defended Linz. The sky turned black and red with flak – McGovern later said "Hell can't be any worse than that" – the Dakota Queen was hit multiple times (producing 110 holes in its fuselage and wings) and the hydraulic system was knocked out. McGovern's waist gunner was injured and his flight engineer so terrified that he would be hospitalized with battle fatigue, but McGovern managed to bring back the plane safely with the assistance of an improvised landing technique.

In May and June 1945, following the end of the European war, McGovern flew food relief flights to northern Italy, then flew back to the United States with his crew. McGovern was discharged from the Army Air Forces in July 1945, with the rank of first lieutenant. He was also awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, one instance of which was for the safe landing on his final mission.

Later education and early career

Upon coming home, McGovern returned to Dakota Wesleyan University, aided by the G.I. Bill, and graduated from there in June 1946 with a B.A. degree magna cum laude. For a while he suffered from nightmares about flying through flak barrages or his plane being on fire. He continued with debate, again winning the state Peace Oratory Contest with a speech entitled "From Cave to Cave" that presented a Christian-influenced Wilsonian outlook. The couple's second daughter, Susan, was born in March 1946.

McGovern switched from Wesleyan Methodism to less fundamental regular Methodism. Influenced by Walter Rauschenbusch and the Social Gospel movement, McGovern began divinity studies at Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinoismarker, near Chicagomarker. He preached as a United Methodist student supply minister at Diamond Lake Church in Mundelein, Illinoismarker during 1946 and 1947, but became dissatisfied by the minutiae of his pastoral duties. In late 1947, McGovern left the ministry and enrolled in graduate studies at Northwestern Universitymarker in Evanston, where he also worked as a teaching assistant. He received an M.A. in history in 1949.

McGovern then returned to his alma mater, Dakota Wesleyan Universitymarker, and became a professor of history and political science. With the assistance of a Hearst fellowship for 1949–1950, he continued pursuing graduate studies during summers and other free time. The couple's third daughter, Teresa, was born in June 1949. Eleanor McGovern began to suffer from bouts of depression, but continued to assume the large share of household and child-rearing duties. George McGovern earned a Ph.D in history from Northwestern University in 1953. His 450-page dissertation, The Colorado Coal Strike, 1913–1914, was a sympathetic account of the miners' revolt against Rockefeller interests in the Colorado Coalfield War. His thesis advisor, noted historian Arthur S. Link, later said he had not seen a better student than McGovern in 26 years of teaching.

Nominally a Republican growing up, McGovern began to admire Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II. At Northwestern, his exposure to the work of China scholars John King Fairbank and Owen Lattimore had convinced him that unrest in Southeast Asia was homegrown and that U.S. foreign policy towards Asia was counterproductive. Discouraged by the onset of the Cold War, McGovern was attracted to the 1948 presidential campaign of former Vice President and Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace. He volunteered for Wallace in South Dakota and attended the Wallace Progressive Party's first national convention as a delegate. After deciding there that Wallace was in the control of "fanatics", Communist and otherwise, he did not vote in the general election.

Four years later, in 1952, he heard a radio broadcast of Governor Adlai Stevenson's speech accepting the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. He immediately went into town and registered as a Democrat, then volunteered for Stevenson's campaign the following day. The McGoverns named their only son Steven, born immediately after the 1952 Democratic National Convention, after his new hero. Although Stevenson lost that election, McGovern remained active in politics, believing that "the engine of progress in our time in America is the Democratic Party." In early 1953, McGovern left teaching to become executive secretary of the South Dakota Democratic Party. Democrats in the state were at a low, holding no statewide offices and only 2 of a 110 seats in the state legislature. Friends and political figures had counseled McGovern against making the move, but despite his mild, unassuming manner, McGovern had an ambitious nature and was intent upon starting a political career of his own.

McGovern spent the following years rebuilding and revitalizing the party, building up a large list of voter contacts via frequent travel around the state. Democrats showed improvement in the 1954 elections, winning 25 seats in the state legislature. From 1954 to 1956 he also was on a political organization advisory group for the Democratic National Committee. The McGoverns' fifth and final child, Mary, was born in 1955.

U.S. House of Representatives

George S.
McGovern, date uncertain
In 1956, McGovern sought elective office himself, and ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from South Dakota's 1st congressional district, which consisted of the counties east of the Missouri Rivermarker. He faced four-term incumbent Republican Party Representative Harold O. Lovre. Aided by the voter lists he had earlier accumulated, he ran a low budget campaign, spending $12,000 while borrowing $5,000. McGovern's quiet personality appealed to voters he met, while Lovre suffered from a general unhappiness over Eisenhower administration farm policy. When polls showed McGovern gaining, Lovre's campaign implied that McGovern's support for admitting Red Chinamarker to the United Nations and his past support for Henry Wallace meant that McGovern was a Communist appeaser or sympathizer. In his closing speech, McGovern responded: "I have always despised communism and every other ruthless tyranny over the mind and spirit of man." McGovern staged an upset victory, gaining 116,516 votes to his opponent's 105,835, and became the first Democrat elected to Congress from South Dakota in 22 years. The McGoverns established a home in Chevy Chase, Marylandmarker.

Entering the 85th Congress, McGovern became a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. As a representative, McGovern was attentive to his district. He became a staunch supporter of higher commodity prices, farm price supports, grain storage programs, and beef import controls, believing that such stored commodities programs guarded against drought and similar emergencies. He favored rural development, federal aid to small business and to education, and medical coverage for the aged under Social Security. In 1957, he traveled and studied conditions in the Middle East under a fellowship from the American Christian Palestine Committee. McGovern first allied with the Kennedy family by supporting a House version of Senator John F. Kennedy's eventually unsuccessful labor reform bill.

In his 1958 reelection campaign, McGovern faced a strong challenge from South Dakota's two-term Republican Governor and World War II Medal of Honor winner Joe Foss, who was initially considered a favorite to win. But McGovern ran an effective campaign and prevailed with a slightly larger margin than two years before.

In the 86th Congress, McGovern was assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture. The longtime chair of the committee, Harold D. Cooley, would subsequently say, "I cannot recall a single member of Congress who has fought more vigorously or intelligently for American farmers than Congressman McGovern." He helped pass a new food stamp law. He was one of nine representations from Congress to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly conferences of 1958 and 1959. Along with Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, McGovern strongly advocated a reconstruction of the Agricultural Trade Development Assistance Act that had started under the Eisenhower administration, with a greater emphasis on feeding the hungry around the world and the establishment of an executive office to run it. During his time in the House, McGovern was regarded as a liberal overall, and voted in accordance with the rated positions of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) 34 times and against 3 times. Two of the themes of his House career, improvements for rural America and the war on hunger, would be defining ones of his legislative career and public life.

In 1960, McGovern decided to run for the U.S. Senate and challenge the Republican incumbent Karl Mundt, a formidable figure in South Dakota politics whom McGovern loathed as an old-style McCarthyite. The race centered mostly around rural issues, but John F. Kennedy's Catholicism was a drawback at the top of the ticket in the Protestant state. McGovern made careless charges during the campaign and the press turned against him; he would say eleven years later, "It was my worst campaign. I hated [Mundt] so much I lost my sense of balance." McGovern was defeated in the November 1960 election, gaining 145,217 votes to Mundt's 160,579, but the margin was three times smaller than Kennedy's larger loss to Vice President Richard M. Nixon in the state's presidential contest.

Food for Peace director

McGovern as Food for Peace director in 1961, with President John F. Kennedy
Having relinquished his House seat to run for the Senate, McGovern was available for a position in the new Kennedy administration. McGovern was picked to become a Special Assistant to the President and first director of Kennedy's high-priority Food for Peace program, which realized what McGovern had been advocating in the House. McGovern assumed the post on January 21, 1961.

As director, McGovern urged the greater use of food to enable foreign economic development, saying "We should thank God that we have a food abundance and use the over-supply among the under-privileged at home and abroad." He found space for the program in the Executive Office Buildingmarker rather than be subservient to either the State Departmentmarker or Department of Agriculturemarker. McGovern worked with deputy director James W. Symington and Kennedy advisor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. in visiting South America to discuss surplus grain distribution, and attended meetings of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. In June 1961, McGovern became seriously ill with hepatitis, contracted from an infected White House dispensary needle used to give him inoculations for his South American trip; he was hospitalized and out of action for two months.

By the close of 1961, the Food for Peace program was operating in a dozen countries and 10 million more people had been fed with American surplus than the year before. In February 1962, McGovern visited Indiamarker and saw over a greatly expanded school lunch program due to Food for Peace; subsequently one of five Indian schoolchildren would be fed from it. Pope John XXIII praised McGovern's work during an audience in Rome, and the distribution program was also popular among South Dakota's wheat farmers. Administration was never McGovern's strength, however, and he was restless for another try at the Senate. With the approval of President Kennedy, McGovern resigned his post on July 18, 1962. Kennedy said that under McGovern the program had "become a vital force in the world", improving living conditions and economies of allies and creating "a powerful barrier to the spread of Communism". Schlesinger would later write that Food for Peace had been "the greatest unseen weapon of Kennedy's third-world policy."

U.S. Senator

1962 election and early years as a senator

In April 1962, McGovern announced he would run for election to South Dakota's other Senate seat, intending to face incumbent Republican Francis H. Case. Case died in June, however, and McGovern instead faced an appointed senator, former Lieutenant Governor Joseph H. Bottum. Much of the campaign revolved around policies of the Kennedy administration and its New Frontier; Bottum accused the Kennedy family of trying to buy the Senate seat. McGovern appealed to those worried about the outflux of young people from the state, and had the strong support of the Farmers Union. Polls showed Bottum slightly ahead throughout the race and McGovern was hampered by a recurrence of his hepatitis problem in the final weeks of the campaign. (During this hospitalization, McGovern read Theodore H. White's classic The Making of the President, 1960 and for the first time began thinking about running for the office someday.) Eleanor McGovern campaigned for her ailing husband and may well have saved his chances. The November 1962 election result was very close and required a recount, but McGovern's 127,458 votes prevailed by a margin of 597, making him the first Democratic senator from the state in 26 years and only the third since statehood in 1889.

When he joined the Senate in January 1963 for the 88th Congress, McGovern was seated on the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee and Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. On the Agriculture Committee, McGovern supported high farm prices, full parity, and controls on beef importation, as well as the administration's Feed Grains Acreage Diversion Program. McGovern had a fractious relationship with Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman, who was less sympathetic to farmers; McGovern's 1966 resolution to informally scold Freeman made the senator popular back in his home state. Fellow new senator Edward M. Kennedy saw McGovern as a serious voice on farm policy and often sought McGovern's guidance on agriculture-related votes. McGovern was largely inactive on the Interior Committee until 1967, when he was given chair of the Subcommittee on Indian Affairs. However, Interior chair Henry M. Jackson, who did not get along with McGovern personally or politically, refused to allow McGovern his own staff, greatly limiting his effectiveness. McGovern regretted not accomplishing more for South Dakota's 30,000 Sioux Indians, although after a McGovern-introduced resolution on Indian self-determination passed in 1969, the Oglala Sioux named McGovern "Great White Eagle".

In his first speech on the Senate floor in March 1963, McGovern praised Kennedy's Alliance for Progress initiative, but spoke out against U.S. policy towards Cuba, saying that it suffered from "our Castro fixation". In August 1963, McGovern advocated reducing the $53 billion defense budget by $5 billion; influenced by advisor Seymour Melman, he held a special antipathy towards the doctrine of nuclear "overkill". McGovern would try to reduce defense appropriations or limit military expenditures in almost every year during the 1960s. He also voted against many weapons programs, especially missile and anti-missile systems, and also opposed military assistance to foreign nations. In 1964, McGovern published his first book, War Against Want: America's Food for Peace Program. In it he argued for expanding his old program, and a Senate measure he introduced was eventually passed, adding $700 million to the effort's funding.

Preferring to focus on broad policy matters and speeches, McGovern was not a master of Senate legislative tactics, and developed a reputation among some other senators for "not doing his homework". Described as "a very private, unchummy guy", he was not a member of the Senate "club" nor did he want to be, turning down in 1969 a chance to join the powerful Senate Rules Committee. Relatively few pieces of legislation would bear his name and his legislative accomplishments were generally viewed as modest, although he would try to influence the contents of others' bills. In terms of ideology, McGovern fit squarely within modern American liberalism; through 1967 his ADA senate score was 92, and when unbriefed on a particular matter, he would ask his staff, "What are the liberals doing?"

Opposition to Vietnam War

Senator McGovern on his first trip to South Vietnam, November 1965
In a speech on the Senate floor in September 1963, McGovern became the first senator to challenge the growing U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Bothered by the Buddhist crisis and other recent developments, and his concerns influenced by Vietnam historian Bernard Fall, McGovern said:

However, the speech was little noticed, and McGovern backed away from saying anything publicly for over a year afterward, partly because of the November 1963 assassination of President Kennedymarker and partly to not appear strident. Though more skeptical about it than most senators, McGovern voted in favor of the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which turned out to be an essentially limitless authorization for President Lyndon B. Johnson to escalate U.S. involvement in the war. McGovern thought the commander-in-chief should be given limited authority to retaliate against an attack; subsequently he said his instinct had been to vote no, but that he had voted yes based on Senator J. William Fulbright's urging to stand behind Johnson politically. Indeed, the day after the resolution vote, McGovern spoke concerning his fears that the vote would lead to greater involvement in the war; Wayne Morse, one of only two senators to oppose the resolution, sardonically noted that this fell into the category of "very interesting, but very belated". This would become the vote that McGovern most bitterly regretted.

In January 1965, McGovern made his first major address on Vietnam, saying that "We are not winning in South Vietnam. ... I am very much opposed to the policy, now gaining support in Washington, of extending the war to the north." McGovern instead proposed a five-point plan advocating a negotiated settlement involving a federated Vietnam with local autonomy and a UN presence to guarantee security and fair treatment. The speech gave McGovern national visibility as one of the "doves" in the debate over Vietnam. However, McGovern made moderate-to-hawkish statements at times too, flatly rejecting unconditional withdrawal of U.S. forces and criticizing anti-war draft card burnings as "immature, impractical, and illegal". In November 1965, McGovern travelled to South Vietnam for three weeks. The human carnage he saw in hospital wards deeply upset him, and he became more outspoken about the war upon his return, more convinced than ever that Vietnam was a political not military problem. Now he was ready, as he later said, "not merely to dissent, but to crusade" against the war.

McGovern voted in favor of the Vietnam military appropriations in 1966 through 1968, not wanting to deprive U.S. forces of necessary equipment. Nevertheless, his anti-war rhetoric increased throughout 1967. Over the years, Johnson had invited McGovern and other Senate doves to the White Housemarker for attempts to explain the rationale for his actions in Vietnam; McGovern came away from the final such visit, in August 1967, shaken by the sight of a president "tortured and confused ... by the mess he has gotten into in Vietnam."

1968 presidential and senate campaigns

In August 1967, activist Allard K. Lowenstein founded the Dump Johnson movement, and soon they were seeking a Democratic Party figure to make a primaries campaign challenge against Johnson in the 1968 presidential election. Their first choice was Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who declined, as did another, and by late September 1967 they approached McGovern. After much deliberation McGovern declined, largely because he feared such a run would significantly damage his own chances for reelection to his Senate seat in 1968. A month later the anti-Johnson forces were able to convince Senator Eugene McCarthy to run, who was one of the few "dove" senators not up for reelection that year.

The 1968 Democratic primaries unfolded with McCarthy staging a strong showing and Robert Kennedy entering, followed by Johnson withdrawing and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey running instead. While McGovern favored Kennedy privately, McCarthy and Humphrey were from a neighboring state and publicly McGovern remained neutral throughout. McGovern hosted all three as they campaigned for the June 5 South Dakota Democratic primary, which resulted in a strong win by Kennedy to go along with his win in the crucial California primary that night. McGovern spoke with Kennedy by phone minutes before Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angelesmarker. The death of Bobby Kennedy left McGovern the most emotionally distraught he had ever been to this point in his life.

Within days, some of Kennedy's aides were urging McGovern to run in his place; their antipathy towards McCarthy and ideological opposition to Humphrey made them unwilling to support either candidate. McGovern delayed making a decision, making sure that Ted Kennedy did not want to enter, and with his staff still concerned about the senator's own reelection prospects. Indeed McGovern's voting had changed during 1968, with his ADA rating falling to 43 as he sought more middle-of-the-road stances. In late July, McGovern decision became more complicated when his daughter Teresa was arrested in Rapid City, South Dakotamarker on marijuana possession charges. Based on a recently enacted strict state drugs law, Terry faced a minimum five-year prison sentence if found guilty. McGovern was also convinced that the socially conservative voters of South Dakota would reject him due to his daughter's arrest. Charges against her were subsequently dropped due to a technically invalid search warrant.

McGovern formally announced his candidacy on August 10, 1968 in Washington, two weeks in advance of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, committing himself to "the goals for which Robert Kennedy gave his life." Asked why he was a better choice than McCarthy, he said, "Well – Gene really doesn't want to be President, and I do." At the convention in Chicago, Humphrey was the near-certain choice while McGovern became the initial rallying point for around 300 leaderless Kennedy delegates. The chaotic circumstances of the convention found McGovern denouncing as "police brutality" the Chicago police tactics against demonstrators. It was very difficult for McGovern to gain in delegate strength given the internal politics of the party, and black protest candidate Channing E. Phillips drew off some of his support. In the actual roll call, McGovern came in third with 146½ delegates, far behind Humphrey's 1760¼ and McCarthy's 601.

McGovern endorsed Humphrey at the convention, to the dismay of some anti-war figures who considered it a betrayal. Humphrey went on to lose the general election to Richard Nixon. McGovern returned to his senate reelection race, facing Republican former Governor Archie M. Gubbrud. While South Dakota voters sympathized with McGovern over his daughter's arrest, he initially suffered a substantial drop in popularity over the events in Chicago. However, McGovern conducted a energetic campaign that focused on his service to the state, while Gubbrud ran a lackluster effort. In November, McGovern won 57 percent of the vote in what he would consider the easiest and most decisive victory of his career.

Middle senate years and continued opposition to Vietnam War

During the 1968 Democratic Convention, a motion had been passed to establish a commission to reform the Democratic Party nomination process. In 1969, McGovern was named chairman of the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection; due to the influence of former McCarthy and Kennedy supporters on the staff, the commission significantly reduced the role of party officials and insiders in the nomination process, increased the role of caucuses and primaries, and mandated quotas for proportional black, women, and youth delegate representation. A somewhat unintended consequence of the McGovern Commission's reforms was a massive increase in the number of presidential primaries; this became true for the Republican Party as well. The U.S. presidential nominating process has been different ever since, with scholars debating whether all the changes are for the better.

In the wake of several high-profile reports about hunger and malnutrition in the United States, the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs had been created in July 1968, with McGovern as its chair. Seeking to dramatize the problem, in March 1969 McGovern took the committee to Immokalee, Floridamarker, the base for 20,000 mostly black or Hispanic migrant farm workers. They saw graphic examples of hunger and malnutrition firsthand, but also encountered resistance and complaints about bad publicity from local and state officials. McGovern battled the Nixon administration and southerners in Congress during much of the next year over an expanded food stamp program; he had to compromise on a number of points, but legislation signed in 1970 established the principles of free food stamps and a nationwide standard for eligibility.

McGovern generally lacked both interest and expertise in economics, but was outspoken in reaction to Nixon's imposition of wage and price controls in 1971. McGovern declared: "This administration, which pledged to slow inflation and reduce unemployment, has instead given us the highest rate of inflation and the highest rate of unemployment in a decade."A 1971 60 Minutes detailed his support of desegregation busing while Washington, D.C.marker resident McGovern simultaneously paid tuition for his own daughter to attend Bethesda, Marylandmarker public schools, which were only 3 percent black.

But most of all, McGovern was known for his continued opposition to the Vietnam War. In March 1969, he became the first senator to explicitly criticize the new president's policy there, an action that was seen as a breach of customary protocol by other Senate doves. By the end of 1969, McGovern was calling for an immediate cease-fire and a total withdrawal of all American troops within a year. In October 1969, McGovern was a featured speaker before 100,000 demonstrators in Boston at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, and in November he spoke before 350,000 at Moratorium/Mobilization's anti-war march to the Washington Monument. Afterward, he decided that radicalized peace demonstrations were counterproductive and criticized anti-war figures such as Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Huey Newton, Abby Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin as "reckless" and "irresponsible".

Instead, McGovern focused on legislative means to bring the war to an end. The McGovern–Hatfield Amendment to the annual military procurement bill, co-sponsored by Republican Mark Hatfield of Oregon, required via funding cutoff a complete withdrawal of all American forces from Indochina by the end of 1970. It underwent months of public discussion and alterations to make it acceptable to more senators, including pushing the deadline out to the end of 1971. In May 1970, McGovern obtained a second mortgage on his Washington home in order to fund a half-hour televised panel discussion on the amendment on NBC. The broadcast brought in over $500,000 in donations that furthered work on passage, and eventually the amendment gained the support of the majority of the public in polls. The effort was denounced by opposition groups organized by White House aide Charles Colson, which called McGovern and Hatfield "apostles of retreat and defeat" and "salesmen of surrender" and maintained that only the president could conduct foreign policy. The amendment was defeated in September 1970 by a 55–39 vote, just short of what McGovern had hoped would constitute at least a moral victory. During the floor debate McGovern criticized his colleagues opposing the measure:

The Senate reacted in startled, stunned silence, and some faces showed anger and fury; when one member told McGovern he had been personally offended by the speech, McGovern said, "That's what I meant to do." McGovern believed Vietnam an immoral war that was destroying much of what was pure, hopeful, and different about America's character as a nation.

The defeat of the amendment left McGovern embittered and somewhat more radicalized. He accused Vice President of South Vietnam Nguyen Cao Ky of running a heroin trafficking operation that was addicting American soldiers. In a retort to the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Stennis' suggestion that U.S. troops might have to return to Cambodia, McGovern declared, "I'm tired of old men dreaming up wars for young men to fight. If he wants to use American ground troops in Cambodia, let him lead the charge himself." He denounced Nixon's policy of Vietnamization as "subsidiz[ing] the continued killing of the people of Indochina by technology and mercenaries." In a Playboy interview, he said that Ho Chi Minh was the North Vietnamese George Washington.

McGovern–Hatfield was put up for a vote again in 1971, with somewhat weaker provisions designed to gain more support. In polls, a large majority of the public now favored its intent, and McGovern took his name off a final form of it, as some senators were just objecting to him. Nevertheless, in June 1971 it failed to pass again, gaining only a few more votes than the year before. McGovern was now certain that the only way the war would come to a quick end was if there was a new president.

1972 Presidential campaign

Front-runner Edmund Muskie did worse than expected in the New Hampshire primary and McGovern came in a close second. While Muskie's campaign funding and support dried up, McGovern picked up valuable momentum in the following months. Gary Hart, who became a presidential contender 12 years later, was McGovern's campaign manager and future president Bill Clinton (with assistance from his future wife Hillary Rodham) managed the McGovern campaign's operations in Texas. Despite losing several primaries, including losing Florida to George Wallace, McGovern secured enough delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention to win the party's nomination.

McGovern ran on a platform that advocated withdrawal from the Vietnam War in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war and amnesty for draft evaders who had left the country.

McGovern's platform also included an across-the-board, 37% reduction in defense spending over three years; and a "demogrant" program that would replace the personal income tax exemption with a $1,000 tax credit as a minimum-income floor for every citizen in America, to replace the welfare bureaucracy and complicated maze of existing public-assistance programs. Its concept (a conservative one) was similar to the negative income tax long advocated by economist Milton Friedman and, briefly, by the Nixon Administration in the form of the Family Assistance Program. (The personal income tax exemption later became $1000 under President Reagan.) McGovern's proposal was changed to a $6,500 guaranteed minimum income for Americans, and eventually dropped from the platform. In addition, McGovern supported ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.McGovern became tagged with the label "amnesty, abortion and acid", supposedly reflecting his positions.

Just over two weeks after the 1972 Democratic National Convention, it was revealed that McGovern's running mate, Thomas Eagleton, had received electroshock therapy for clinical depression during the 1960s. Though many people still supported Eagleton's candidacy, an increasing number of influential politicians and columnists questioned his ability to handle the office of Vice President. The resulting negative attention prompted McGovern to accept Eagleton's offer to withdraw from the ticket, replacing him with United States Ambassador to France Sargent Shriver, a brother-in-law of John F. Kennedy. This occurred after McGovern had stated publicly he was still "... behind Eagleton 1000 percent"; reneging on that statement a few days later made McGovern look indecisive. The Eagleton controversy also put the McGovern campaign off message and was speculated at the time to perhaps be a harbinger of what would become McGovern's subsequent landslide loss.

The McGovern Commission changes to the convention rules marginalized the influence of establishment Democratic figures (some of whom had lost the nomination to McGovern). Many refused to support him, with some switching their support to the incumbent President Richard Nixon through a campaign effort called "Democrats for Nixon". In addition, McGovern was repeatedly attacked by associates of Nixon, including the infamous Watergate break-in, which eventually led to Nixon's resignation in 1974.

An infamous incident took place late in the campaign. McGovern was giving a speech and a Nixon admirer kept heckling him. McGovern called the young man over and said "Listen you son of a bitch, why don't you kiss my ass!" When McGovern confirmed this to a journalist and the remark was widely reported, local McGovern organizations responded by issuing "KMA" buttons. Mississippimarker Senator James Eastland later asked the Senator if that was what he had said. When McGovern said yes, Eastland replied that it was the best thing he had ever said in the whole campaign.

In the general election, the McGovern/Shriver ticket suffered a 61%-37% defeat to Nixon– at the time, the second biggest landslide in American history, with Electoral College totals of 520 to 17. McGovern's two electoral vote victories came in Massachusettsmarker and Washington, D.C.marker; McGovern failed to win his home state of South Dakota, a state that had delivered for the Democrats in only three of the previous 18 presidential elections in the twentieth century.

Remaining Senate years

After this loss, McGovern remained in the Senate. When talking to audiences, he frequently said, "For many years, I wanted to run for the Presidency in the worst possible way – and last year I sure did."

In the 1974 U.S. Senate elections, McGovern's Republican opponent was former Air Force pilot and Medal of Honor winner Leo K. Thorsness, who had been repatriated the previous year after six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Despite the two men's different roles in it, the war did not become a significant issue. Instead, the campaign was dominated by farm policy differences and economic concerns over the 1973–75 recession. Thorsness charged McGovern with being a "part-time senator" more concerned with national office and with spending over $2 million on his re-election bid, while McGovern labelled Thorsness a carpetbagger due to his having grown up in Minnesota. In a year in which Democrats were advantaged by the aftereffects of the Watergate scandal, McGovern won re-election in November 1974 with 53 percent of the vote.

McGovern's Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs expanded its scope to include national nutrition policy. In 1977, it issued a new set of nutritional guidelines for Americans that sought to combat leading killer health conditions. Titled Dietary Goals for the United States, but also known as the "McGovern Report", it suggested that Americans eat less fat, less cholesterol, less refined and processed sugars, and more complex carbohydrates and fiber. While many public health officials had said all of this for some time, the committee's issuance of the guidelines gave it higher public profile. The recommendations proved controversial with the cattle, dairy, egg, and sugar industries, including from McGovern's home state. The McGovern committee guidelines led to reorganization of some federal executive functions and became the predecessor to the more detailed Dietary Guidelines for Americans later issued twice a decade by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

During the Iran hostage crisis, he joined with conservative Republicans in authorizing military action to free the hostages.

In the 1980 Senate election in South Dakota, McGovern was one of several liberal Democratic senators targeted for defeat by the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), which put out a year's worth of negative portrayals of McGovern. They and other pro-life groups especially focused on McGovern's support for pro-choice abortion laws. McGovern faced a Democratic primary challenge for the first time, from a pro-life candidate. McGovern's Republican opponent was James Abdnor, a four-term incumbent congressman who held identical positions to McGovern on farm issues, was solidly conservative on national issues, and was well-liked within the state. Abdnor's campaign focused on both McGovern's liberal voting record and what it said was McGovern's lack of involvement in South Dakotan affairs. McGovern made an issue of NCPAC's outside involvement, and that group eventually withdrew from the campaign after Abdnor denounced a letter they had sent out. Far behind in the polls earlier, McGovern outspent Abdnor 2-to-1, hammered away at Abdnor's refusal to debate him (drawing attention to a slight speech defect Abdnor had), and closed the gap for a while. However, in November 1980 McGovern was solidly defeated for re-election, getting only 39 percent of the vote to Abdnor's 58 percent. McGovern became one of many Democratic casualties of that year's Republican sweep, which became known as the "Reagan Revolution".

1984 presidential campaign

McGovern attempted another presidential run in the 1984 Democratic Presidential nomination. Despite having name recognition and winning a surprise third place showing in the Iowa Caucuses amidst a crowded field of candidates, the campaign was largely unsuccessful. He won no primaries and ended his candidacy after failing to reach his announced, 'Super Tuesday' goal of placing first or second in the Massachusetts Primary. (He placed third, behind Gary Hart and former Vice President Walter Mondale.) He later endorsed Mondale, the eventual Democratic nominee.

Despite his withdrawal, McGovern's name remained on the ballot in a number of state primaries throughout the primary season, and his name was placed in nomination at the Democratic Convention. He addressed the Convention's Platform Committee and delivered a rousing speech at the Convention (having received four delegates' votes there.) He went on to actively support the Mondale-Ferraro ticket.

To help pay off his campaign debt, McGovern hosted Saturday Night Live on April 14 (with musical guest Madness).

1992 exploratory campaign

McGovern publicly explored another presidential run for 1992. He predicated the possibility of running on the condition that another, equally outspoken candidate would not emerge. He stated that, unlike in 1984, his objective would be to win, not merely influence the debate. An independent, preliminary campaign organization also solicited supporters in an effort to persuade him to run. He ultimately declined, attributing it to the wishes of his family.

Later activities

From 1981 to 1982, McGovern replaced historian Stephen Ambrose as a professor at the University of New Orleans. In 1990, he was awarded an honorary J.D. degree from the University of Houston law school. McGovern's wartime story was at the center of Ambrose's 2001 best-selling profile of the men who flew B-24s over Germany in World War II, The Wild Blue.

Publicly critical of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, McGovern ultimately spoke in favor of the 1991 war against Iraq (Operation Desert Storm), on the basis that President George H.W. Bush had sought and obtained United Nations approval and an international coalition. During the later invasion and occupation of Iraq under President George W. Bush, McGovern frequently credited former President Bush, his Secretary of State James Baker, and his national security advisor Brent Scowcroft for opposing the latter intervention, and for seeking an international consensus in 1991.

In 1994, his daughter Terry died of hypothermia while intoxicated. McGovern revealed his daughter had battled her alcohol addiction for years. He founded a non-profit organization in her name to help others suffering from alcoholism and authored a book, Terry: My Daughter's Life-and-Death Struggle with Alcoholism.

From 1998 to 2001, he served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization, based in Romemarker, Italymarker (he was succeeded in this post by long-time Democratic Rep. Tony Hall). In 2001, he was appointed UN Global Ambassador on World Hunger by the World Food Programme. McGovern is an honorary life member of the board of Friends of the World Food Program.

On August 9, 2000, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President William Clinton.

McGovern continues to lecture and make public appearances. He previously owned a used book store in his summer home of Stevensvillemarker in Montana'smarker Bitterroot Valleymarker.

On September 4, 2005, he appeared at the Houston Astrodomemarker in support of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. This time, another Houston university, Rice University, awarded him an honorary Ph.D.

On March 22, 2006, McGovern spoke at the University of Virginiamarker's Miller Center of Public Affairs on the topic of world hunger.

On October 5–October 7, 2006, the George and Eleanor McGovern Library and Center for Leadership and Public Service was dedicated at Dakota Wesleyan Universitymarker in Mitchell, South Dakotamarker. Among the dedication's dignitaries were former President Bill Clinton and Allen Neuharth. McGovern currently serves as a Senior Policy Advisor to the law firm of Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz, PC, a food and drug regulatory counseling and lobbying firm in Washington, DC.

McGovern's wife Eleanor died January 25, 2007, at their home in Mitchell, South Dakota.

On July 10, 2007, "An Evening with George McGovern" was held at Dakota Wesleyan Universitymarker in Mitchell, South Dakotamarker, to celebrate McGovern's upcoming 85th birthday. The event was anchored by veteran NBC correspondent Sander Vanocur. When asked by Vanocur about his feelings about the term "McGovernism" to describe a particular liberal philosophy, McGovern quipped, "“Well, I’m one politician that’s in the dictionary, even though it’s as a swear word.”

On July 13–July 14, 2007, a series of events was held in Washington, D.C.marker to honor McGovern on the 35th anniversary of his nomination for president, and shortly before his 85th birthday on July 19. It included a reunion of his 1972 campaign staff and volunteers at the House Caucus Room, a World Hunger Symposium at George Washington Universitymarker, followed by a birthday luncheon. The events were co-sponsored by Friends of the World Food Program and Dakota Wesleyan Universitymarker's George and Eleanor McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service. Hundreds of former staff, volunteers, supporters and friends attended, along with public officials. McGovern addressed the crowds at all three events. Other speakers included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gary Hart, Congressman Jim McGovern, and journalists Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and David Broder. Over $100,000 was raised for the McGovern Legacy Fund, which supports the McGovern-Dole Food Program and Dakota Wesleyan Universitymarker's McGovern Center. The events received national news coverage and were broadcasted in part on C-SPAN on August 4 and 6. (Their timing and coverage was serendipitous as McGovern was already in the news that week, responding to journalists about a newly released White House tape disclosing Nixon's controversial remarks about him on election night 1972.)

Those events were followed by another anniversary event on November 6, 2007, "The '72 Campaign: A Living Legacy", at the 2007 McGovern Conference, sponsored by the McGovern Center at Dakota Wesleyan Universitymarker. It featured presentations by scholarly authors, former McGovern campaign staffers and volunteers, and McGovern himself.

In October 2007 McGovern endorsed U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for the 2008 Democratic Nomination. On May 7, 2008, McGovern switched his endorsement for the Democratic Nomination 2008 from Clinton to Barack Obama, and publicly urged Clinton to withdraw from the race. On May 12, in an opinion article for The New York Times, McGovern stated that Hillary's persistence in the campaign was perfectly allowable. He urged the two candidates to discontinue criticizing each other and instead focus on John McCain. For party unity, he suggested that they make joint appearances in the remaining primary states to raise money for the state parties.

On January 6, 2008, McGovern wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Post calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. The subtitle of the article reads "Nixon was Bad. These Guys Are Worse."

McGovern appeared on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report on March 10, 2008.

On May 17, 2008, George McGovern received an honorary degree from Drury Universitymarker (Springfield, MOmarker) and gave the commencement speech.

On April 6, 2009, Flagler Collegemarker in St. Augustine, Floridamarker celebrated "An Evening with George McGovern." Senator McGovern had recently moved to St. Augustine Beachmarker, Florida as a new seasonal resident, citing the history and beauty of the area (and warm climate) as his reasons for becoming a "snowbird" there.

In May 2009, George McGovern donated $1 million to historic renovations of the Little White Housemarker, Key Westmarker, including a $300,000 air-conditioning system, enabling it to be used for official state visits by the President.

McGovern's book, "Abraham Lincoln" was published by Times Books, and released on December 23, 2008. Throughout 2009, McGovern embarked on a book tour, including a prominent visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museummarker on August 26, 2009, where he was joined by author Gore Vidal.

In popular culture

In 2006, the film One Bright Shining Moment– The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern was released in the United States. Directed by Stephen Vittoria and narrated by Amy Goodman, the documentary chronicles the life and times of George McGovern, focusing on his 1972 bid for the presidency. The film features McGovern, Gloria Steinem, Gore Vidal, Warren Beatty, Howard Zinn and Dick Gregory.

McGovern is also prominently featured in the documentary films The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006) and Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008), among other documentaries.

The entertainment films Nixon (1995), Dick (1999), All the President's Men (1976), and Some Kind of Hero (1982) reference McGovern and his 1972 presidential campaign.

In director Oliver Stone's Nixon, President Nixon (played by Anthony Hopkins) warns about "turning the country over to a pansy poet socialist like George McGovern". The film also includes television footage of McGovern campaigning and his defeat by Nixon.

In producer Robert Redford's All the President's Men, McGovern is described as politically "self-destructive" (along with Muskie and Humphrey), and as offering the vice presidential spot to "everybody" following the Eagleton controversy. The Nixon campaign's covert activities against the presidential campaigns of Muskie and Humphrey are attributed to Nixon's desire to run against McGovern. The film is seasoned with television and newspaper coverage of McGovern's nomination and his handling of the Eagleton affair. Both Nixon and All the President's Men make reference to an attempt by Nixon's campaign to plant McGovern literature on presidential candidate George Wallace's attempted assassin.

In Some Kind of Hero, prisoner-of-war Eddie Keller (played by Richard Pryor) is seen in his North Vietnamese cell reading the July 7, 1972 issue of Life magazine, with the cover story and photograph "An Outspoken Self-Portrait: George McGovern Talks" (even though the scene actually takes place in 1968.)

McGovern guest hosted and acted in several skits on Saturday Night Live on 4/14/84, and guest starred as himself in an episode of the television series Newhart (original airdate 2/5/90). He also briefly appeared as himself in the entertainment film The Candidate (1972).

In the television series All in the Family's third season, its tenth episode ('Mike Comes Into Money'), originally broadcast on 11/4/72 and issued on DVD in 2004, is devoted to Mike and Gloria Stivic's volunteer work for, and donation to, McGovern's presidential campaign, over Archie Bunker's strenuous objection.

In an episode of the television series Futurama in 2003, the disembodied head of Richard Nixon says "what a McGovern I've been!"

Comedian George Carlin said he voted for McGovern in 1972 and never voted again afterward.

In satirist-activist Dick Gregory's final nightclub performance album, Caught in the Act (recorded 8/2-8/4/73), he tells his Massachusetts audience, "Do you realize you were the only state that voted for McGovern? You have the distinction of being able to tell the other forty-nine states, 'We told you'. And I guess black folks are pretty cool too, because he also won Washington, D.C. And when you can't win where you sleep, you are really in trouble."

In impersonator David Frye's album satirizing Watergate, Richard Nixon: A Fantasy (1973), he impersonates McGovern's response to capital punishment for casualties during an attempt by Nixon to escape from prison: "This is George McGovern, and I believe that killing is wrong. But in this case, I'm willing to make an exception."

Charlie Daniels, in his 1973 country music song narrative, 'Uneasy Rider', makes mention of George McGovern as an example of anti-establishment and leftist liberal groups of that era.


Due to his resounding loss to Nixon in the 1972 general election, McGovern was perceived as a "liberal" whose campaign "became synonymous with lost causes." In 1992, nationally syndicated Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene wrote, "Once again politicians– mostly Republicans, but some Democrats, too– are using his name as a synonym for presidential campaigns that are laughable and out of touch with the American people." Despite his reputation as a dovish liberal, McGovern has publicly stated he is not a pacifist.

As Chairman of the Democratic Party's Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection in 1969-1970, McGovern helped institute major changes in Democratic party rules that continue to this day and, to a large degree, were ultimately adopted by the Republican Party as well.

He remains a symbol, or standard-bearer, of the political left, particularly in relation to the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s when the country was torn by U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and the corruption and abuse of power of the Nixon administration. McGovern recognized the mixed results of his 1972 candidacy, saying, "I opened the doors of the Democratic Party and 20 million people walked out." McGovern has also become more forceful in recent years in drawing historical parallels between the Nixon and Bush administrations and the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

McGovern's legacy also includes a commitment to combating hunger both in the United States and around the globe. In addition to numerous domestic programs or legislation, including those regarding nutrition and food stamps, he collaborated with former Senator Bob Dole (R-Kansas) in creating an international school lunch program through The George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (since 2000), which helps fight child hunger and poverty by providing nutritious meals to children in schools in developing countries. This program has since led to greatly increased global interest in and support for school-feeding programs - which benefit girls and young women, in particular - and won McGovern and Dole the 2008 World Food Prize.

Electoral history


  • McGovern, George S., War Against Want: America's Food for Peace Program, Walker & Co., 1964.
  • McGovern, George S., Agricultural Thought in the Twentieth Century, Bobbs-Merrill, 1966.
  • McGovern, George S., A Time of War! A Time of Peace, Vintage Books, 1968. ISBN 0-394-70481-9.
  • McGovern, George S., Guttridge, Leonard F. The Great Coalfield War, Houghton Mifflin, 1972.
  • McGovern, George S., Grassroots: The Autobiography of George McGovern, Random House, 1977. ISBN 0-394-41941-3.
  • McGovern, George S., Terry: My Daughter's Life-And-Death Struggle With Alcoholism, New York: Villard, 1996. ISBN 0-679-44797-0.
  • McGovern, George S., The Third Freedom: Ending Hunger in Our Time, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. ISBN 0-7425-2125-7.
  • McGovern, George S., The Essential America: Our Founders and the Liberal Tradition, Simon & Schuster, 2004. ISBN 0-7432-6927-6.
  • McGovern, George S., Social Security and the Golden Age: An Essay on the New American Demographic, Speaker's Corner Books, 2005. ISBN 1555915892.
  • McGovern, George S. and Polk, William R., Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now, Simon & Schuster, 2006.
  • McGovern, George S., Donald C. Simmons, Jr. and Daniel Gaken. Leadership and Service: An Introduction, Kendall/Hunt Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7575-5109-3.
  • McGovern, Geroge S., Abraham Lincoln, Times Books, 2008. ISBN 978-0805083453.




External links


Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address