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Posted at 03:37 PM ET, 10/22/2012

George McGovern’s last birthday party

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and George McGovern at his 90th birthday party at the Newseum in July. (Alfredo Flores/World Food Program USA)
At his 90th birthday party in July, an upbeat George McGovern looked like he was having a ball. The former senator mingled with the A-list liberals (Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Dennis Kucinich, Vicki Kennedy, Mark Shriver) at the Newseum and gave an impassioned speech about his life and career. He told the crowd he had been sidelined by a fall last year, but doctors had given him a clean bill of health and he was ready to celebrate another milestone birthday: “Let’s do this again in about 10 years.”

Was the always glass-half-full politician putting up a brave front?

Doesn’t appear so. McGovern stayed active until the end — two weeks ago, he narrated Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra— and his decline was very sudden. “A lot of people were very surprised, including his own family,” family spokesman Steve Hildebrand told us Monday. Doctors, he said, ruled out a stroke or heart disease; the cause of death will be listed as fragility. Rep. Jim McGovern (no relation) hosted the birthday party and will speak at the funeral in Sioux Falls Friday. McGovern will return to Washington one last time — he’ll be buried in Rock Creek Cemetery next to his late wife, Eleanor.

Obituary: George S. McGovern, Democratic nominee who lost to Nixon in ‘72, dies at 90

Also: Bob Dole on George McGovern

The Fix: George McGovern’s 5 most memorable moments

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By  |  03:37 PM ET, 10/22/2012

Categories:  Politics

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