George McGovern, the man whom Bobby Kennedy once called “the most decent man in the Senate,” died today at the age of 90 from a combination of medical conditions that had worsened over the last few months.
Regarding his 1972 presidential campaign that ended in a Nixon landslide, McGovern “once joked that he had wanted to run for president in the worst way—and that he had done so.”
Considering that both Nixon and Agnew would end up resigning, he joked, “If we had run in ’74 instead of ’72, it would have been a piece of cake.”
George McGovern was a staunch and proud liberal, a word from which he never shied away. He was a decorated World War II pilot and said, “he learned to hate war by waging it.”
President Bill Clinton was a campaign worker for McGovern’s ’72 campaign and credits him with inspiring him to public service. “I believe no other presidential candidate ever has had such an enduring impact in defeat,” Clinton said in 2006. “Senator, the fires you lit then still burn in countless hearts.”