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Nixon Rival George McGovern Dies Aged 90
George McGovern, the former Democratic senator who vowed to end the Vietnam War only to lose to Richard Nixon in a presidential election defeat in 1972, has died at the age of 90.
Family members and friends were at his bedside when he died early on Sunday at a hospice in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"We are blessed to know that our father lived a long, successful and productive life advocating for the hungry, being a progressive voice for millions and fighting for peace," a family statement said.
"He continued giving speeches, writing and advising all the way up to and past his 90th birthday, which he celebrated this summer."
McGovern, a three-term senator, was a decorated World War Two bomber pilot whose later policy was marked by his staunch opposition to the Vietnam War.
He was also the intended victim of the infamous Watergate break-in, which led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.
McGovern's run for president against Nixon in 1972 drew upon widespread opposition in the US to the Vietnam conflict.
But the campaign faltered when it emerged that McGovern's running mate, Missouri senator Thomas Eagleton, had battled against mental illness.
Having previously vowed to back Eagleton "1,000%", a decision was made to drop the vice-presidential candidate from the ticket.
McGovern went on to suffer a crushing defeat to Nixon, carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. He won just 38% of the popular vote.
President Nixon ended direct US military involvement in Vietnam with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973, but resigned in disgrace the following year over the Watergate scandal.
Americans voting for president in 1972 were aware of the Watergate break-in, but the most damaging details of Nixon's involvement would not emerge until after the election.
McGovern tried to make a campaign issue out of the bungled attempt to wiretap the offices of the Democratic National Committee.
At the time he called Nixon the most corrupt president in history, but the issue could not eclipse the embarrassing missteps of his own campaign.
McGovern's campaign, nevertheless, left a lasting imprint on American politics.
Determined not to make the same mistake, presidential nominees have since interviewed and intensely investigated their choices for vice president.
Former President Bill Clinton got his start in politics when he signed on as a campaign worker for McGovern, and is among many Democrats who credit him with inspiring them to public service.
After McGovern was defeated in his bid for a fourth Senate term in the 1980 Republican landslide that made Ronald Reagan president, he went on to teach and lecture at universities, and founded a liberal political action committee.
He made a long-shot bid in the 1984 presidential race with a call to end US military involvement in Lebanon and Central America and open arms talks with the Soviets.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale won the Democratic nomination and went on to lose to President Ronald Reagan by an even bigger margin in electoral votes than had McGovern to Nixon.
A funeral service will be held for McGovern in Sioux Falls.