Dead, George Stanley McGovern on October 21, 2012, he was an American historian, author, U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election.
Born on July 19, 1922, he volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Forces upon the country’s entry into World War II and as a B-24 Liberator pilot flew 35 missions over German-occupied Europe.
Among the medals bestowed upon him was a Distinguished Flying Cross for making a hazardous emergency landing of his damaged plane and saving his crew.
After the war he gained degrees from Dakota Wesleyan University and Northwestern University, culminating in a PhD, and was a history professor.
Throughout his career, McGovern was involved in issues related to agriculture, food, nutrition, and hunger.
As the first director of the Food for Peace program in 1961, McGovern oversaw the distribution of U.S. surpluses to the needy abroad and was instrumental in the creation of the United Nations-run World Food Programme.
As sole chair of the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs from 1968 to 1977, McGovern publicized the problem of hunger within the United States and issued the “McGovern Report”, which led to a new set of nutritional guidelines for Americans.
McGovern later served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture from 1998 to 2001 and was appointed the first UN Global Ambassador on World Hunger by the World Food Programme in 2001.
In 1972, McGovern launched a campaign for President. He was given little chance of winning his party’s nomination, which seemed to be united around U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine.
However, Muskie’s campaign foundered and McGovern ran a close second to Muskie in the Presidential primary in New Hampshire.
Helped by his campaign manager, Gary Hart (later a Senator and Presidential candidate himself), McGovern won several other primaries and the nomination.
His campaign theme was “America, come home.” His main platform, aside from withdraw from Vietnam, was a 37% reduction in defense spending and a guaranteed minimal income for all Americans.
At the convention in Miami, he initially won praise for nominating U.S. Senator ‘Thomas Eagleton’ of Missouri as his running mate.
But his campaign was rocked when it was revealed that Eagleston had been treated for depression in a psychiatric ward many years before.
McGovern initially claimed that he was “1000 percent” behind Eagleston, but later his campaign staff persuaded Eagleston to drop out of contention.
This made McGovern look bad to his most idealistic supporters and haunted him throughout the campaign.
Ultimately, former Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver replaced Eagleston as his running mate, but the damage was done.
Throughout the campaign, he was perceived by the public as a well-meaning but fuzzy minded radical leftist.
Taking advantage of McGovern’s support for amnesty for Vietnam draft dodgers, decriminalizing abortion, and ending Federal drug laws (leaving them to the individual states), Vice President Spiro Agnew labeled McGovern the candidate of “amnesty, abortion, and acid,” and the label stuck.
He went into the motel business, but the business ultimately foundered and he was forced to fold.
McGovern later admitted in late 1990, “I wish I had had a better sense of what it took to [meet a payroll] when I was in Washington.”
In 1991, he surprised nearly everyone when he supported President George Bush’s campaign to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, which culminated in The Persian Gulf War.
McGovern defended this by claiming that Hussein was a great threat to the entire region. In 1994, he was hit with personal tragedy when one of his daughters, Teresa, died of exposure while intoxicated.
She had been an alcoholic for many years who had been unable to overcome the addiction.