George McGovern, Liberal Icon, Dead at 90
George S. McGovern, liberal Democratic leader and three-term South Dakota senator, died Sunday night in hospice care in Sioux Falls, S.D., at the age of 90, reports the Washington Post.
McGovern is famous for losing the 1972 presidential candidacy to Republican Richard Nixon in a crushing defeat. Of the 50 states, he only won in one.
After fighting in World War II, the senator held a strong anti-war stance and had become a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War. He also made it his agenda to fight against poverty and support civil rights. While these causes contributed to his epic loss in the polls in 1972, some political historians argued they ushered in a new era for the Democratic Party.
“In many ways, he revolutionized the Democratic Party,” said Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University. “His followers drove out the old guard. Some would say it was the end of the old Democrats, but others would say, no, it opened up the party to women and others.”
On Sunday President Obama made a statement on the decorated war hero. “George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved,” he said. “He signed up to fight in World War II, and became a decorated bomber pilot over the battlefields of Europe. 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, and Michelle and I share our thoughts and prayers with his family.”
McGovern is survived by three daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His wife of over six decades, Eleanor Stegeberg, died in 2007, and two of his children died of alcoholism, Teresa McGovern in 1994, and Steven McGovern in July.
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