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George McGovern Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (11)  | Personal Quotes (19)

Overview (4)

Born in Avon, South Dakota, USA
Died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA
Birth NameGeorge Stanley McGovern
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

George McGovern, one of the leading liberals in U.S. politics, was born in a Republican household in a small South Dakota town. His family had some struggles during the Great Depression, but they were able to make ends meet. The young, idealistic man joined the Air Force during World War II and became a bomber pilot. He served with great bravery, flying missions over North Africa and Italy, bombing German military targets, and won citation for his duty. Upon returning home, he graduated from college and became a college teacher, teaching history. Up to that point, he had been relatively non-political, as had his parents. That changed in 1952, when he heard a speech by the Democratic nominee, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, and was so inspired by it that he volunteered for the Stevenson campaign. Stevenson lost to retired General Dwight D. Eisenhower, but McGovern remained active in politics, becoming Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party. Democrats were very much the minority in the state, but McGovern pursued his duties with great zeal, and in 1956 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in an upset, helped by growing dissatisfaction with the Eisenhower administration in the rural Midwest. He was reelected in 1958 and in 1960, was an enthusiastic backer of Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. That same year, McGovern took a gamble by running against Republican U.S. Senator Karl Mundt, who had first been elected in 1948. Although he ran well ahead of what Democrats usually did in the state, he fell short, as Mundt won by a 52% to 48% margin. In 1961, Kennedy appointed McGovern Director of the Food For Peace program, and McGovern was greatly affected by his service in this capacity.

In 1962, McGovern ran for the U.S. Senate again (each state has two U.S. Senators), this time in an open race. He was considered the underdog against Republican Governor Joe Bottum, but managed to win by 597 votes, one of the closest U.S. Senate races in state history. He immediately became one of the Senate's most liberal members, enthusiastically supporting the domestic policies of Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson. His major accomplishment was creation of the Food Stamp program, which was to provide Federal food assistance to impoverished people. But he became increasingly focused on overseas and military affairs. He became an opponent of the growing American involvement in Vietnam and opposed maintaining a large military. In 1968, he was a leading supporter of Robert F. Kennedy and was horrified by the latter's assassination. He was also appalled by the Chicago Police Force's rough treatment of anti-war protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that same year. He was reelected easily that year, winning 57% of the vote. After Richard Nixon took office, McGovern quickly became a proponent of immediate withdraw of all military forces form Vietnam. In 1969, he chaired the commission which instituted reforming the way the Democratic Party nominated its Presidential candidates, dramatically reducing the role of party leaders and political insiders.

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. The Nixon campaign successfully portrayed McGovern as a pacifist and socialist who would endanger national security, wreck the economy, and bankrupt the government. In the election, McGovern lost overwhelmingly. Nixon out-polled him by 61% to 37%, with a plurality of 18 million votes, a record that has yet to be broken. The only state McGovern won was Massachusetts. His only consolation was that a friend and political ally, Congressman James Abourezk, was elected to the South Dakota's other U.S. Senator.

Following the loss, McGovern returned to his Senate duties. Following Nixon's resignation in disgrace in the wake of the Watergate scandal in 1974, he seemed to have been vindicated in his attacks on Nixon's ethics. However, later that year, he had a surprisingly difficult reelection bid, winning by less than expected against a former Vietnam War prisoner, who felt that McGovern had prolonged his captivity. There were many Demcorats elected that year, and McGovern worked closely with them to cut defense spending and reign in intelligence agencies. He also worked to expand government benefits. He was encouraged when Democrats won the White House with the narrow election of former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. But his friend and ally Abourezk was forced to retire in the face of impending defeat in 1978 and polls indicated that McGovern was losing support there, as well. In 1980, McGovern was challenged for reelection by Republican Congressman James Abdnor. While campaigning that year, McGovern ran into two women who angrily complained about his support for defense cuts, then bought some groceries with food stamps. He later remarked that he knew he wouldn't be reelected at that moment. He was right. On election day, Abdnor defeated McGovern by a landslide.

Following his departure from elective office, he was a professor at the University of New Orleans. In 1984, he made a whimsical, late-entering candidacy for President, and narrowly won the primary in Massachusetts, but as expected, lost the nomination to former Vice President Walter Mondale. Also a candidate, and a more successful one, was his former campaign manager, Gary Hart, who won several primaries, although losing the nomination to Mondale. That year, however, then President Ronald Reagan, whose policies McGovern fervently opposed, was reelected by a landslide, nearly as large as Nixon's 1972 margin. For many years, he largely stayed out for the limelight. 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. McGovern became involved in helping the relatives of alcoholics. In 1998, President Bill Clinton as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies, a post he held until 2001.

In more recent years, he has become an advocate for the withdraw of U.S. troops from Iraq.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: anonymous

Spouse (1)

Eleanor Fay Stegeberg (31 October 1943 - 25 January 2007) ( her death) ( 5 children)

Trivia (11)

Was a Democratic nominee for U.S. President in 1972, but was defeated in a landslide when Richard Nixon was re-elected, winning in every state except Massachusetts. Nixon resigned, facing impeachment, less than two years later.
Democrat US senator from South Dakota, 3 January 1963-3 January 1981.
Children: Ann, Susan, Mary, Teresa, Steven.
Attended graduate school at Northwestern University.
In December 1994, his daughter Teresa died of exposure while intoxicated. He later founded a non-profit alcohol research organization in her name, and wrote book in which he discussed Teresa's longtime battle with alcoholism.
As a critic against the Vietnam War, and an advocate of withdrawing the U.S. military from Vietnam, he ran his presidential campaign with the slogan "Come Home America".
Described himself as "1,000 percent" for Thomas Eagleton, when he chose him as his running mate for the presidential race. However, when it was revealed that Eagleton had been hospitalized in the past for depression, and had undergone electroshock therapy, he was replaced with Sargent Shriver.
During an appearance on Larry King Live in January 2007, he publicly revealed that he voted for President Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election, despite Ford's status as a Republican. He said it was because he felt comfortable with Ford and did not know Jimmy Carter very well. However, he admittedly voted for Carter in 1980 against Ronald Reagan, although Carter ultimately lost his re-election bid.
In 1984, twelve years after being nominated for president, he sought the Democratic presidential nomination again, but lost to Walter Mondale. He considered running for president again in 1992, but decided against it.
Democrat US Congressional representative from South Dakota, 3 January 1957-3 January 1961.
Following his service as a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot in WWII and receiving a PhD in history from Northwestern University, McGovern, whose parents were Republican and who had registered as an Independent, volunteered for the 1948 presidential campaign of Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party. Wallace, who served as an extremely popular vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, eventually left the Democratic Party stemming from an anti-democratic ouster orchestrated by Edwin Pauley and conservative elements within the Party, at the 1944 Democratic National Convention (DNC), where he was replaced by Harry S. Truman as Roosevelt's health was failing (thus leading Truman to the presidency rather than Wallace). In 1952, McGovern became a Democrat and a supporter of Adlai Stevenson. McGovern would later face intrigue against him within the Democratic Party during his 1972 presidential bid against President Richard Nixon.

Personal Quotes (19)

You know, sometimes, when they say you're ahead of your time, it's just a polite way of saying you have a real bad sense of timing.
The longer the title, the less important the job.
No man should advocate a course in private that he's ashamed to admit in public.
The whole campaign was a tragic case of mistaken identity.
The trouble was, all people saw on television were a few of my outspoken supporters out front; and they came away thinking that was me.
I am 1000 percent for Thomas Eagleton and I have no intention of dropping him from the ticket.
It's true that I lost to Richard Nixon in the general election by a big margin. But that wasn't my mistake. That was the mistake of the voters.
"I opened the doors of the Democratic Party and 20 million people walked out".
I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
I was so excited when the Massachusetts returns came in, but then there was the rest of the country. And I said, '...I did my job right'. (recalling the outcome of the 1972 presidential election)
[on his McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Nutrition Act]: You can cut the birthrate in half on the strength of a school lunch program that pulls girls into schools.
I used to tell my daughters, 'The one positive thing about Vietnam is that it's such an obvious blunder we'll never go down that road again.' Yet here we are. It doesn't look like we've learned that lesson yet.
The Republicans [of 2012] remind me of 'Send in the Clowns,' but I never expected I'd live long enough to see a politician from either party try to cut Social Security and Medicare. Barack Obama shouldn't cut or compromise on either, and if the Democrats act like Democrats, they should win big.
[after presidential candidate John F. Kennedy had given a flop speech to South Dakota farmers] I told him, 'Just walk out there and say, "Food is health, strength, hope and family, and the farmers of South Dakota can do more for world peace than any group of Americans. If I'm elected president, I'm going to set up a Food for Peace program and turn our surpluses to move the world ahead into a greater measure of abundance and peace and prosperity."' He got thunderous applause.
Richard Nixon]'d have been better off if I'd beaten him! Then he'd be remembered for the EPA and China instead of Watergate.
We know that the kingdom of God will not come from a political party's platform. And we also know that if someone is hungry, we should give him food. If he is thirsty, we should give him drink. If he is a stranger, we should take him in. If he is naked, we should clothe him. If he is sick, we should care for him. And if he is in prison, we should visit him.
In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn's 43-year leasehold. I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.
In short, "one-size-fits-all" rules for business ignore the reality of the marketplace. And setting thresholds for regulatory guidelines at artificial levels - e.g., 50 employees or more, $500,000 in sales - takes no account of other realities, such as profit margins, labor intensive vs. capital intensive businesses, and local market economics.
My business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: "Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape." It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.

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