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George McGovern--remember him?--endorses Clinton

Hard to believe your eyes earlier today, but there he was looking thinner, frailer and all of his 85 years old.

George McGovern, with some effort but nattily-dressed, made his way across an Iowa stage littered with hay bales, withered cornstalks and bright-orange pumpkins in a huge, sweltering barn on the Johnson County Fairgrounds. Hundreds more watched on a giant  TV screen in a nearby exhibition hall.

This obviously was not the first time that the decent Democratic loser who was walloped by Richard Nixon in 1972 visited this liberal eastern pocket of the Hawkeye State. But he was there this time for a special reason. And The Times' political veteran Mark Z. Barabak was there too.

The ostensible occasion was actually another one of those fundraiser barbecues that local Iowa Democrats are so fond of. This large a crowd this close to the Iowa caucuses, however, is sure to draw a pack of candidates and there on hand were Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson along with representatives of Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

There was the usual amount of Bush-bashing and Edwards again criticized Clinton for her recent vote on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. But the high point of the day was McGovern's 10-minutes of remarks.

He recalled receiving a phone call in 1972 from his campaign manager, someone named Gary Hart, saying he'd come upon a bright, young man in Arkansas named Bill Clinton who had a hardworking friend named Hillary Rodham and they both were going to work Texas for McGovern.

"There's nothing in politics," said McGovern, "that requires more courage than trying to sell George McGovern in Texas." The crowd roared. McGovern praised the entire current field of Democratic candidates and said he hoped to live long enough to see an African American president. But, he added, "We have an old rule of courtesy in the United States: ladies first." Another crowd roar.

And thus the Democratic candidate from 1972 returned the favor to the wannabe Democratic candidate of 2008. He endorsed her candidacy.

Clinton's words of appreciation were interrupted by protestors chanting, "Hands off Iran." But she persevered. All in all, not a bad way to start a four-day swing through Iowa.

--Andrew Malcolm

Comments () | Archives (9)

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Ladies First? What a bigoted thing to say.
Imagine the uproar if he had said "I vote for a white male."

Ladies first was bigoted? Jeez, you can't tell the difference between a joke, age-old courtesy, and bigotry? You're in trouble.

Jim, It did occur to me that he is speaking in the language of a different generation - so I agree there.

However, when he talks about Hillary as a woman and Obama as a black instead of analyzing their policy positions, you wonder how much of it is skewed political correctness and how much is lightheartedness.

Caveat: there is no way of knowing if he said anything about Obama's merits as a candidate - neither the LA Times nor any other MSM outlet seems intent on enlightening us one way or the other.

(Ans: As the item says, he praised all the Dem. candidates. This is a blog, not an official transcript.-AM)

I would have liked for a peace hero like George McGovern to have made an endorsement based on conviction rather than repaying old Dem. Party loyalties.

The Bill and Hillary Mcgovern is remembering fondly from his campaign in Texas are NOT the Billary that became a political force in 1990s America. They sold out their youthful ideals for power. That's something George McGovern never did.

I am not surprised by such an endorsement. The Democratic ticket will probably be Clinton-Obama, and they will win in 2008. The Republican party has all but collapsed. Ron Paul is the only candidate with any integrity but he can't win. The American people may say they want change, but they never really vote for change in a big enough way. Hillary is part of the Washington establishment so expect the slow death of America as a super power to continue. She will not take on NAFTA, the WTO, China, or any real issues. Oh yea, she will give your kid the $5,000 to buy your vote and that is about it. Expect the national debt to be well over 1 x GDP by the time she leaves office. She will not balance a single buget. Her deficits will be as bad as those produced by Bush.

Hillary Clinton for president !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Political favors aside, McGovern has lost his anti-war cred here by endorsing Hillary Clinton. Her vote on the war, and her continued support of hawkish policies, makes her as dangerous as any Republican president.

Deflect attention as much as you want, the war in Iraq is the defining issue of my generation. It will saddle us with debt for 20 years, just as Vietnam did, never mind the countless deaths in both cases. McGovern's endorsement of Hillary equals an endorsement of LBJ.

Only hope, dignity and Obama will save America.

That's just super! An old idealistic has-been who represents the party's inability to handle the responsibilities of the world's most powerful military is endorsing -- SURPRISE!! -- today's Democrats that show an eerily similar inability to show leadership in a world frought with evil people intent on killing anyone who loves democracy!

McGovern, Carter, Dukakis, what other reminders of Demoractic inability to lead will they bring up next? Maybe they'll show their true colors and ask Mihkail or Fidel or Ortega to endorse them next! How about the communist leaders in China, or even bin Laden? They would all like to see the anti-capitalist, anti-Christian, anti-American Democratic front runners to get elected...

... but fortunately for the rest of us, we see their true colors when guys like McGovern and Carter show up!

Maybe McGovern and the Clintons both learned from 1972 (and 1994) -- get too far from the center and the GOP wins.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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