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Veteran US politician George McGovern passes away

Veteran US politician George McGovern passes away

VETERAN U.S. politician George McGovern, who spoke out against the Vietnam War and who had failed to unseat President Nixon, has passed away. He was 90.

Mr. McGovern had been a Democratic Senator for South Dakota when he secured his party’s nominiation to run for the Presidency against Richard Nixon in 1972. He had failed to win the nomination in 1968.

The former U.S Army Air Force bomber pilot, who had been decorated for his service in World War Two, was an unashamed liberal who had campaigned for an end to the Vietnam War.

But his election campaign, which was to result in a resounding defeat, was not helped by the fact that he had been forced to ditch his running mate, Senator Thomas Eagleton, following revelations the vice presidential nominee had undergone treatment for depression.

Despite some details of the Watergate Scandal being known in the run-up to the election, voters were not put off voting for Nixon. But the full facts surrounding the President’s involvement in the scandal were not to emerge until after the election and subsequently led to Mr. Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

Later, Mr. McGovern was to observe: “If we had run in ’74 instead of ’72, it would have been a piece of cake”.

He was to make one last attempt to win the Demoncratic nomination for the 1984 Presidential election, but lost out to Walter Mondale.

Mr. McGovern could not be described as having been a showman. Instead, the man who had once studied to be a Methodist minister to follow in his father’s footsteps, relied on a plain no-nonsense style to communicate his beliefs to the electorate.

Before becoming a senator, Mr. McGovern had played a leading role in helping to establish the Food for Peace Program — which involved US produce being sent as aid. President Kennedy had appointed him as its first director in 1961.

Mr. McGovern continued to serve as a Senator for South Dakota until being unseated in 1981, at which point he turned to teaching as well as promoting liberal values and issues.

He went on to create, with former Republican Senator Bob Dole, an international food for education and child nutrition program for which the pair shared the 2008 World Food Prize.

President Obama led tributes to the veteran politician. He described Mr. McGovern as “a statesman of great conscience and conviction.”

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary also paid tribute. They described him as having been “a tireless advocate for human rights and dignity” and went on to highlight the work the former senator had carried out to help alleviate hunger.

To view an interview in which Mr. McGovern discussed the effect the Watergate Scandal had on U.S. politics, click here.

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