The White House paid tribute to former Sen. George McGovern (S.D.) today without referencing the Democrat’s failed 1972 run for the Oval Office.
“George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved. He signed up to fight in World War II, and became a decorated bomber pilot over the battlefields of Europe. When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace,” President Obama said in a statement. “And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. George was a statesman of great conscience and conviction, and Michelle and I share our thoughts and prayers with his family.”
“Jill and I are profoundly saddened to hear about George McGovern’s passing. I was honored to serve with him, to know him, and to call him a friend,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement. “George believed deeply in public service. It defined him as a Senator and as a man. And he never stopped serving for his entire life – whether it was his courage in World War II, his time in Congress, or his fight to eliminate hunger at home and abroad. Above all, George McGovern was a generous, kind, honorable man. He will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family today.”
In an op-ed run by the Washington Post less than a month ago, McGovern opened up on what it’s like to lose a presidential election and admitted that he hadn’t quite gotten over it.
It ran with an op-ed from another senator whose White House bid fell short: Bob Dole (R-Kansas). McGovern and Dole teamed up after their congressional careers to battle childhood hunger worldwide.
Dole paid tribute to his colleague in another Washington Post op-ed tonight.
“When I learned that George McGovern was nearing the end of his remarkable life, I couldn’t help but think back to the day in June 1993 when both of us attended the funeral of former first lady Pat Nixon, in Yorba Linda, Calif. After the service, George was asked by a reporter why he should honor the wife of the man whose alleged dirty tricks had kept him out of the White House,” Dole wrote. “He replied, ‘You can’t keep on campaigning forever.’”
“…In recent years, George and I had several occasions to get together and reflect on our lives, our political careers and our respective presidential campaigns. No matter how many times we replayed it, he never did defeat President Nixon and I never did defeat Bill Clinton. We agreed, however, that the greatest of life’s blessings cannot be counted in electoral votes.”
The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program has provided meals to 22 million children in 41 countries since its inception.
When the pair accepted the World Food Prize, arm-in-arm, in 2008, Dole quipped, “The good news is that we finally won something. It proves that you should never give up.”