By TOM LAWRENCE
The Daily Republic
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a weekly series examining the events of 40 years ago that led to Mitchell native George McGovern’s Democratic presidential nomination.
George McGovern was almost completely unknown across America when he launched his presidential campaign from a Sioux Falls TV studio on Jan. 18, 1971.
This was the case even though he was in his second term in the Senate after serving two terms in the House and working as the director of the Food for Peace program under President Kennedy.
McGovern had also made a shortlived bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 in the wake of the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Still, when he announced his intention to run for president, most political pundits and regular people considered him a longshot candidate at best.
But that all changed at this point in the campaign 40 years ago this week.
McGovern was to be featured on the cover of both Time and Newsweek magazines, according to a front-page story in The Daily Republic. Both issues would be on newsstands by the end of the week.
On April 29, McGovern took some time away from the campaign to record some TV commercials.
His once cash-starved campaign now had enough money to film the spots and to buy air time in primary states.
And McGovern was also doing well with voters, almost tying Sen. Hubert Humphrey, of Minnesota, in the Ohio primary on May 2.
HHH got 41 percent of the vote, while McGovern garnered 40 percent, and they split most of the delegates.
The Daily Republic, in a May 5 editorial, took note of the Mitchell resident’s success: “The growing prospect of a McGovern nomination should excite all of South Dakota.”