McGovern’s opposition to armed conflict remained a constant long after he retired. Shortly before Iowa’s caucuses in 2004, McGovern endorsed retired Gen. Wesley Clark, and compared his own opposition to the Vietnam War to Clark’s criticism of President George W. Bush’s decision to wage war in Iraq. One of the 10 books McGovern wrote was 2006’s “Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now,” written with William R. Polk.
In early 2002, George and Eleanor McGovern returned to Mitchell, where they helped raise money for a library bearing their names. Eleanor McGovern died there in 2007 at age 85; they had been married 64 years, and had four daughters and a son.
“I don’t know what kind of president I would have been, but Eleanor would have been a great first lady,” he said after his wife’s death in 2007.
One of their daughters, Teresa, was found dead in a Madison, Wis., snowdrift in 1994 after battling alcoholism for years. He recounted her struggle in his 1996 book “Terry,” and described the writing of it as “the most painful undertaking in my life.” It was briefly a best seller and he used the proceeds to help set up a treatment center for victims of alcoholism and mental illness in Madison.
Before the 2008 presidential campaign, McGovern endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination but switched to Barack Obama that May. He called the future president “a moderate,” cautious in his ways, who wouldn’t waste money or do “anything reckless.”
“I think Barack will emerge as one of our great ones,” he said in a 2009 interview with The Associated Press. “It will be a victory for moderate liberalism.”