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George McGovern, a former Representative and Senator from South Dakota, ran for President in the 1972 election. Prior to his public service, McGovern earned a Ph.D. and was a history professor. As a senator, he was a voice for liberalism. He was strongly opposed to the Vietnam War and was involved with issues related to hunger and nutrition throughout his career. McGovern used a grassroots-organization strategy during the campaign, and his platform advocated for withdrawing from Vietnam, reducing defense spending, and granting amnesty to draft dodgers.
After receiving the nomination from a fractured Democratic Party, McGovern selected Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton as his running mate. It was revealed that Eagleton had been treated for "nervous exhaustion" and received electroshock therapy, leaving many to question his ability to serve as Vice President. Eagleton was forced off the ticket and Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to John F. Kennedy and US Ambassador to France, was chosen to take his place.
McGovern struggled during the general election campaign to gain support from other top Democrats and to fend off attacks from his opponent, incumbent President Richard Nixon. Nixon was re-elected in a landslide.