Reaction to the death of former Sen. George McGovern focused Sunday on his work promoting peace and bringing attention to world hunger.
“George McGovern once said that after he had passed away, he wanted people to say, ‘He did the best he could to end hunger in this country and the world.’ Indeed, he did,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “He was a humanitarian with a tactical touch, and he saved the lives of many at home and abroad.”
The White House, praising McGovern for his service in World War II and Washington, called him “a statesman of great conscience and conviction,” and a “hero of war” who became “a champion for peace.”
And former President Bill Clinton, who coordinated McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign in Texas, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released a join statement about the passing of their longtime friend.
"We first met George while campaigning for him in 1972. Our friendship endured for 40 years. As a war hero, distinguished professor, congressman, senator and ambassador, George always worked to advance the common good and help others realize their potential," they said.
Across the aisle, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said McGovern was a “gentleman and an outstanding member of the Greatest Generation.”
Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughters of former president Richard M. Nixon, who defeated McGovern in a landslide in 1972, said "Although he and our father were political rivals, they had much in common: a deep love of country; an abiding passion for the issues about which they cared; an unwavering commitment to serve the American people.”
“Over the course of his long and productive career, George McGovern earned the respect of Americans around the country and across the political spectrum," they added.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who helped McGovern during his presidential run, said in a statement that “Sen. McGovern put principle over politics and stood up for what he believed in. He lived his values, dedicating his life to fighting the scourge of poverty here at home and around the world. The forces of social justice lost a great fighter today, and Sen. McGovern will be sorely missed.”
And Former House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich, in an appearance on CNN’s “Face the Nation,” recounted something McGovern had once told him.
"He said, 'One of the nice things about losing badly enough is you don’t have lots of regrets about what one thing might you have changed.’ ... He had a very good sense of humor,” Gingrich said.