Ex-presidential nominee George McGovern on life support

Former Senator in hospice care in South Dakota

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As the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972, George McGovern failed to unseat incumbent Richard Nixon. He returned to the U.S. Senate after his presidential campaign, leaving the daily foray of politics after losing his 1980 bid for a…

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - The family of former presidential candidate George McGovern says he is on life support and no longer responsive.

The 90-year-old has been in hospice care for the past few days in South Dakota.

McGovern, a longtime former U.S. senator, is best known for being the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to President Richard Nixon in a historic landslide

McGovern has lived the last few years in St. Augustine Beach before he was moved into hospice care in South Dakota.

"He's coming to the end of his life," his daughter, Ann McGovern, told The Associated Press earlier this week. She declined to elaborate but noted that her father has suffered several health problems in the last year.

McGovern, who became a leader of the Democrats' liberal wing during his three decades in Congress, lost his 1972 challenge to Nixon, who later resigned amid the Watergate scandal. McGovern turned his focus in recent years to world hunger.

Diane Spoden, who was his spokesperson during his time in St. Augustine, says she spoke to him for nearly an hour on the phone last week and he sounded strong, but was having trouble sleeping.

She told Channel 4 earlier this week she was "not giving up hope on George."

"This is what's so surprising about the news now, that he was perfectly fine," Spoden said. "He was lucid, articulate, as bright as he ever was. He did sound a little tired, and he mentioned he did have some trouble sleeping, but other than that, he was George. He was himself."

McGovern moved to St. Augustine shortly after his wife, Eleanor, died in 2007. He turned 90 in July, 40 years after his unsuccessful run for the presidency.

"George is very resilient. He's always been able to come back from these terrible, near-death situations on many occasions in his life, both politically and life-wise, and recover, so we certainly haven't given up on him yet," Spoden said.

Channel 4's Jason Law sat down with McGovern in March at his St. Augustine Beach home. At the time, he was recovering from a fall in December. He said then he was feeling great and enjoying the Florida weather.

"I do a lot of reading. I do some writing," McGovern said at the time. "I try to get a little exercise every day, go for a walk, go out on the beach."

It was after a lecture tour last October that he was treated for exhaustion. Two months later, he fell and hit his head just before a scheduled interview with C-SPAN for a program focusing on failed presidential candidates who've had a lasting impact on American politics.

McGovern also spent several days in a Florida hospital in April for tests to determine why he occasionally passed out and had difficulty speaking.

His daughter said he has moved in the Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, where he moved in August to spend more time near his family.

McGovern was a member of the U.S. House from 1957 to 1961 and a U.S. senator from 1963 to 1981.

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