Not much went right for Senator George McGovern after he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. He chose a running mate he hadn’t adequately vetted, dutifully promised to stand by him “a thousand percent,” and then dumped him. In the end, McGovern lost 49 states, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. For years afterward, that overwhelming loss made him the butt of jokes — including his own. “Ever since I was a young man, I wanted to run for the presidency in the worst possible way,” he said later. “And I did.” Yet a fuller view of McGovern’s life shows there was more to him, as there is to most losing candidates, than the stereotypes and impressions that grow up after a tough defeat.
| October 23, 2012
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