George McGovern, the United States senator who won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in1972 as an opponent of the war in Vietnam and a champion of liberal causes, and who was then trounced by President Richard M. Nixon in the general election, died early Sunday in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was 90.
His death was announced in a statement by his family. He had been moved to hospice care in recent days after being treated for several health problems in the last year. He had a home in Mitchell, S.D., where he had spent his formative years.
In a statement, President Obama called Mr. McGovern “a champion for peace” who was a “statesman of great conscience and conviction.”
To the liberal Democratic faithful, Mr. McGovern remained a standard-bearer well into his old age, writing and lecturing even as his name was routinely invoked by conservatives as synonymous with what they considered the failures of liberal politics.
He never retreated from those ideals, however, insisting on a strong, “progressive” federal government to protect the vulnerable and expand economic opportunity, and asserting that history would prove him correct in his opposing not only what he called “the tragically mistaken American war in Vietnam” but also the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
A slender, soft-spoken minister’s son newly elected to Congress — his father was a Republican — Mr. McGovern went to Washington as a 34-year-old former college history teacher and decorated bomber pilot in World War II. He thought of himself as a son of the prairie as well, with a fittingly flat, somewhat nasal voice and a brand of politics traceable to the Midwestern progressivism of the late 19th century.