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 and run for the White House.
By TOM LAWRENCE
The Daily Republic
George McGovern was angry this week 40 years ago, lashing out at the Nixon campaign for conducting a series of dirty tricks against him.
McGovern said Nixon had 50 men to sabotage his campaign, some working closely with him, but just 13 staffers mandated to create peacetime jobs for Americans after the end of the Vietnam War.
He said Nixon’s henchmen were using every trick they could do hamstring his campaign.
“These ambitious men apparently will stop at nothing to preserve their own power,” he said. “They would undermine the republic to save their White House parking spaces.”
McGovern’s outrage over the slowly unraveling story of the Nixon dirty tricks team, and its wire-tapping and other unethical and illegal Watergate methods, were a constant topic as he campaigned across the country in the waning days of the 1972 race.
“They’re really a cutthroat crew the way they operate,” he said in Philadelphia on Oct. 18.
The polls showed the American people weren’t convinced Nixon was crossing the line and were reluctant to embrace the South Dakota Democrat. A Gallup poll showed Nixon leading 60-34 percent.
While her husband battled his way across the nation, Eleanor McGovern returned to her hometown of Woonsocket on Oct. 17.
At a welcome-home ceremony, 1,500 people greeted and cheered her at the Woonsocket National Guard Armory, an impressive total for a town of 1,000.
Mayor Ira Merriman presented the key to the city and a plaque to Eleanor McGovern,
“Seeing so many people from my family, my childhood, people who launched George on his political career is a very moving experience,” she said. “I am fortunate to say I have a home to come home to, that I have a home where my roots are.”