Obama honors McGovern as a 'statesman of great conscience'

Sen. George McGovern Sen. George McGovern Cliff Owen/AP

President Obama praised Sen. George McGovern, who died on Sunday, calling him a “statesman of great conscience and conviction.”

“George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved,” Obama said in a statement. “He signed up to fight in World War II, and became a decorated bomber pilot over the battlefields of Europe.

"When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace. And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. George was a statesman of great conscience and conviction, and Michelle and I share our thoughts and prayers with his family.”

Other top Democrats honored McGovern after his passing. In a statement on Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden, who served with McGovern in the Senate, said he was "profoundly saddened" to hear of his death.

"I was honored to serve with him, to know him, and to call him a friend," Biden said. "George believed deeply in public service. It defined him as a Senator and as a man. And he never stopped serving for his entire life – whether it was his courage in World War II, his time in Congress, or his fight to eliminate hunger at home and abroad.

"Above all, George McGovern was a generous, kind, honorable man. He will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family today."

Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who campaigned for McGovern in 1972, said "the world has lost a tireless advocate for human rights and dignity."

"From his earliest days in Mitchell to his final days in Sioux Falls, he never stopped standing up and speaking out for the causes he believed in," the Clintons said in a statement. "We must continue to draw inspiration from his example and build the world he fought for. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

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