SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Three former Democratic presidential candidates paid personal respects on Friday to George McGovern, whose 1972 campaign for president galvanized the party’s liberal wing and ushered in a new generation of political activism.
Walter Mondale, John Kerry, and Gary Hart — who like McGovern all spent time in the Senate before unsuccessful runs for the White House — led a crowd of hundreds of mourners. Hart, McGovern’s campaign manager in 1972, was the only one of the three to speak at the funeral.
‘‘George McGovern was a voice of conscience for our nation in our time,’’ Hart said. Those who were uncomfortable with McGovern called him a liberal as an insult to try to imply he was weak, Hart added, but ‘‘he was larger than any political label, particularly a demonized one.’’
McGovern died Sunday at age 90 after a brief stay in hospice care. In a sign of McGovern’s stature in sparsely populated South Dakota, the service aired live on television in the state’s largest city. A private burial for McGovern in Washington will be scheduled later.