Reactions to the death of former Sen. Eugene McCarthy, D-Minn., who died Saturday at the age of 89:
“Gene’s name will forever be linked with our family. In spite of the rivalry with Bobby in the 1968 campaign, I admired Gene enormously for his courage in challenging a war America never should have fought. His life speaks volumes to us today, as we face a similar critical time for our country.” — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
“McCarthy was one of the giants in Minnesota history, one of the most gifted and respected leaders over a long time. He of course will be remembered above all for his challenge to the Vietnam War when he ran for president against President Johnson, and I think helped bring the war to an end.” — Former Vice President and Sen. Walter Mondale, D-Minn.
“At a time when many were turning on and tuning out, Senator McCarthy inspired an entire generation of young Americans in the sixties, including myself, to get involved in the political process and make a difference. His commitment, conscience and idealism made a lasting impact on me and set a high standard in many ways for those of us in public service to meet.” — Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.
“Senator McCarthy’s own presidential campaign and his principled opposition to the Vietnam War ignited a generation of political activists and civic leaders. His brilliance and eloquence will be missed.” — Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn.
“Eugene McCarthy was a passionate, articulate and intelligent public servant who spoke his mind and was part of the Minnesota populist tradition. As an activist and public official he believed deeply in serving his fellow citizens.” — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
“All Americans are grateful for Eugene McCarthy’s great leadership and service to our country and admired his principles, compassion and humor. Senator McCarthy’s passionate commitment to ending the war in Vietnam and to social justice inspired a generation to action.” –House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“The assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King in ’68 _ those things had a sobering impact on him. He was always a philosopher as well as a senator, and he decided he wanted to focus on writing and thinking. … I don’t know anyone else who was cut from the same mold as Gene.” — Former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D.
“He was a giant amongst giants in an age when we had giants in the U.S. Senate. … He was the person who had the courage to challenge Lyndon Johnson and the war in Vietnam. He was a consistent defender of American political institutions while being an articulate and thoughtful liberal.” — Curtis Gans, former staff director of McCarthy’s 1968 presidential campaign, current director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University.
“He was a remarkable American, a man who spoke his conscience, and he was a great leader for my party.” — Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
“He was thoughtful and he was principled and he was compassionate and he had a good sense of humor. … I think he probably would consider his work in civil rights legislation in the 1960s … his greatest contribution.” — Michael McCarthy, Eugene’s son.
“When you think of the protest movement of the ’60s, and the political consequences of them, you think of Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy. Now, all four are gone. Gene lasted the longest, maybe because he left politics and went into poetry.” — Hy Berman, professor emeritus of history at the University of Minnesota.