Former US Presidential Candidate George McGovern Dies

Posted October 21st, 2012 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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George McGovern, a former U.S. lawmaker best known for a devastating defeat in the 1972 presidential election, has died. McGovern passed away at age 90 on Sunday in his native South Dakota. Family members say he had been suffering from a “combination of medical conditions.”

McGovern served terms as a Democratic Congressman and a Senator between 1957 and 1981.

In 1972, he campaigned on a platform opposing the Vietnam war as he challenged then-President Richard Nixon. He suffered one of the most severe defeats in a U.S. presidential election, winning a majority of votes in only one of the 50 U.S. states and in the District of Columbia.

In a 2006 interview with VOA, McGovern said his views on the Vietnam War were shaped by the time he spent as a World-War-Two combat pilot.

“I came out of that war, especially after the atomic bomb was set off — destroying two great cities in Japan — with the feeling that we have got to do something to halt this kind of barbaric enterprise. So, I think almost from the end of World War Two, I have been doing what I can to settle our disputes with other countries, where possible, without going to war.”

McGovern said he saw parallels between the Vietnam War and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“I think it was a great mistake to go into Vietnam, a country that was no threat to the United States and wanted nothing much other than to be recognized as a legitimate government. It was a mistake to go into Iraq, another country that was no threat to us and had nothing to do with the 9-11 attack. Our leaders, some of them, seem to think we are fighting terrorism in Iraq. I think we're causing it.”

In later life, McGovern served as a lecturer, teacher and the U.N. Global Ambassador on World Hunger.

President Barack Obama called McGovern a “statesman of great conscience and conviction.” Former President Bill Clinton and his wife Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said they were deeply saddened to learn of their friend's passing and that “we must continue to draw inspiration from his example and build the world he fought for.”