The 1972 Democratic presidential nominee and longtime senator George McGovern, 90, has been moved into hospice care near his home in South Dakota, the Associated Press reported.
The Democratic stalwart’s health has deteriorated during the past year. "He's coming to the end of his life," a daughter, Ann McGovern, told the AP.
While his daughter declined to include more details, the AP reports that the ex-senator was treated for exhaustion after a lecture tour last October, and he suffered a fall two months later. McGovern had been scheduled to take part in an interview with CSPAN about failed presidential candidates who have had a lasting impact on American politics, but he had to cancel that appearance.
Later, McGovern spent time in a Florida hospital undergoing tests to determine the cause of syncope bouts and speech loss. Before entering hospice care, McGovern had been splitting time between South Dakota and Florida.
Even after precipitously -- and historically -- losing the 1972 election in a landslide to Republican President Richard Nixon (McGovern only garnered 17 electoral votes to Nixon’s 520), McGovern remained active in politics and devoted to issues he cared deeply about. He lost his Senate seat in 1980.
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Defeating world hunger became McGovern’s most devout cause in his post-senatorial years. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton named him ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2001, he was made the U.N.’s first global ambassador for hunger.
McGovern’s failed presidential bid still remains in the minds of many Americans. The three-term South Dakota senator acknowledged to CNN in 2006 that his hard line on ending the war in Vietnam tore his Democratic Party apart.
"We mentioned Vietnam. That tore the Democratic Party in half, “ he said. "You were either a hawk or a dove. You -- you weren't allowed to be neutral."
Making matters worse, his first vice presidential running mate, Sen.Thomas Eagleton of Missouri was found to have previously suffered from depression that did not show up on McGovern’s initial background report. Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law of President John F. Kennedy, was the replacement nominee.
McGovern attended Dakota Wesleyan University, where he met his wife Eleanor, who died in 2007, according to CNN. During WWII, McGovern flew 35 combat missions as a B-24 bomber pilot, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. He has four living children today. A daughter died in 1994.