George McGovern, a staunch liberal whose many achievements were overshadowed when late former president Richard M. Nixon all but trampled him in the 1972 election died Sunday at the age of 90.
He died at the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota surrounded by his family and friends, reports CNN. The longtime lawmaker who served South Dakota in the U.S. Senate and house for more than 20 years is best known for his unsuccessful presidential bid, but his family noted he was much more than that.
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.
President Barack Obama praised McGovern as someone who showed the love of his country all his life.
When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace. And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. George was a statesman of great conscience and conviction.
Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico noted McGovern will be remembered for his contributions on agriculture and hunger, and his work for the Democratic Party.
And then the Democratic Party. He transformed the party, the primary system, getting minorities involved. He was a gigantic figure and a classy, good, good guy.
McGovern went from being a decorated war hero to one of the most outspoken foes of the Vietnam War. In 1942, McGovern enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces and flew 35 combat missions as a B-24 bomber pilot in Europe. He ended up being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Ironically, in 1972, he was picked as the Democratic Party nominee, with a platform that included ending the war in Vietnam. He later talked often about the Vietnam War, and often seemed to believe that the lessons learned during that conflict would affect and change the future.
As a U.S. senator during the 1960s, I agonized over the badly mistaken war in Vietnam. After doing all I could to save our troops and the Vietnamese people from a senseless conflict, I finally took my case to the public in my presidential campaign in 1972. Speaking across the nation, I told audiences that the only upside of the tragedy in Vietnam was that its enormous cost in lives and dollars would keep any future administration from going down that road again.I was wrong.
His bid for the presidency came after several terms in the House and Senate. He did lose one bid for the Senate in 1960, at which time President John F. Kennedy named him special assistant to the president and director of the Food for Peace Program.