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Jan. 31, 2012

George McGovern back in action after head injury

Tom Lawrence • The Daily Republic

George McGovern back in action after head injury

SIOUX FALLS ? George McGovern is getting back to work.

McGovern will sign copies of his latest book, “What It Means to Be a Democrat,” at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, at Barnes & Noble in Sioux Falls.

It will kick off another book tour for the Mitchell native and former congressman and senator, who turns 90 this summer.

“I’m going to do a number of them, but that’s a good place to start,” McGovern said of the book signing. “It’s the biggest bookstore in the state.”

He planned to do several appearances for the book late last year, but a fall outside the McGovern Library on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus on Dec. 2 cut short those plans.

McGovern was hospitalized after the fall, which took place two hours before he was going to appear live on C-SPAN during a retrospective on his life and his 1972 presidential campaign.

Although the show went on that night, McGovern wasn’t able to appear

But he did plug the book on the PBS program “Charlie Rose” last week. McGovern did about 20 minutes on the show via remote from his office at the McGovern Library.

He said he plans to do more book signings in the next month and will make TV and radio appearances if invited.

“My head’s pretty well restored after splitting it open on the sidewalk,” McGovern said with a dry chuckle.
He is “splitting time” between his home on the DWU campus and Sioux Falls, where his daughter Ann lives. “That makes it a friendly place to be,” McGovern said.

Friendly is a word that describes his reception at book signings, he said. People love to tell him of voting for him or working for one of his cam- paigns, he said.

“You get a lot of those. I hear that night and day,” McGovern said. “It’s always a pleasure to have people speak fondly and quoting me. I get a lot of it, so it’s tiresome but it’s also wonderful.”

While he is getting back to work selling his book, and completing a memoir he has been writing for more than a year, McGovern said he has also kept an eye on the Republican presidential contest. He said he has watched the GOP debates and race coverage.

“As much as I can take. When I look at the lineup, people aspiring for the White House, I think of the old song lyric, ‘Bring in the clowns,’ ” McGovern said. “It’s hard to believe any of those are qualified for the presidency.”

He said President Obama should have an easy road to a second term, since he feels whomever emerges from the GOP scrum will not put up much of a fight.

“I don’t think so,” McGovern said. “I think it’s going to be a runaway.

“The economy is improving, but slowly — it’s in the right direction and we’re getting out of Iraq and I hope we’re soon getting out of Afghanistan,” he said. “When there is neither war or depression, an incumbent has a pretty good chance of being re-elected,” the old DWU history professor said.

McGovern’s first public appearance after his fall was at Bill Janklow’s funeral two weeks ago.

Dozens of current and former South Dakota politicians attended, including Sens. John Thune, Tim Johnson and former Sen. Tom Daschle, who delivered a eulogy.

“It was quite an impressive funeral, I thought,” McGovern said.

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