McGovern the Great Debater - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

McGovern the Great Debater

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Since 1960, only one group of presidential candidates did not have a televised presidential debate.  It was the 1972 election between Richard Nixon and our very own George McGovern. 

Throughout his political career, Senator McGovern was well known for his debate skills, even in high school where he won a national championship title.   

His reputation was so profound, the competition knew better than to face him.  

"Richard Nixon refused to debate him, or even get on the same stage as him. Probably because he knew that was a strength of George McGovern, he was a veteran debater," said Freedom Forum CEO and Friend of McGovern Jack Marsh. 

Those skills began in a debate back in Mitchell High School.  

"It's really where his interest in politics and world issues started to grow," said Mitchell Head Debate Coach Ron Grimsley. 

His experience debating key issues throughout high school and college in Mitchell prepared him for his political career.


"When he stepped into the national arena as a politician, he was prepared, he had been honing those skills for years," said McGovern Center Director Donald C. Simmons. 

His years of education in History and Political Science were also a huge benefit in the political arena. 

"George McGovern understood the importance of learning from history," Marsh said.  

"That really gave him a weapon in a debate that was unparalleled," said Simmons. 

But it wasn't just his debating skills that made him such a fierce force on the debate state.  

"I think that the skills for McGovern really go beyond speech and debate tactics and strategy, one of the strong points for McGovern is that he's just a decent person," said Grimsley.

Grimsley also said McGovern's presence, kindness and wisdom seemed to come through the microphone when he spoke. 

He also said that kindness and respect helped McGovern understand both sides of an issue, and compromise when possible.  

Something the people I spoke with today seemed to think was missing from this year's presidential debates.

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