Monday, October 22, 2012

Will Miss You, Senator McGovern

... a true story:
Alone with me in the basement of a New Jersey motor lodge,

a presidential candidate who vigorously campaigned against the

Vietnam War took off his suit coat. Two secret service agents remained

stationed at the top of the stairs. He unbuttoned and removed his

shirt, unbuckled his belt, stripped to his shorts and handed me each

article of clothing as he dressed in more “conservative” attire. He

explained that he was heading to New York City and didn’t want

the folks back in South Dakota, via national television coverage, to

see how he appeared during the luncheon stump-speech delivered

minutes earlier.

Now I possessed the answer to the burning question of the ’72

campaign, asked by at least one reporter at each stop. The candidate

glared at me and said, “Charlie, swear—swear you’ll never give the

answer to the boxers or briefs question.”

“Yes, Senator, I promise.” But I wondered if travelling campaign

reporter, Hunter S. (Gonzo) Thompson, if he knew, would keep Senator

George McGovern’s deepest personal secret. I imagined not.