Former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern says he's feeling good and expects to be released soon from a South Dakota hospital where he's being treated for exhaustion, a longtime friend said Wednesday.
Jack Marsh, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, told The Associated Press that he spoke with the 89-year-old former senator by phone Wednesday morning. Marsh, a former newspaper editor in Sioux Falls, said McGovern told him he'd "just been exhausted" but is "feeling good now."
McGovern was flown by private jet from Florida to Sioux Falls, where his daughter lives, after being overcome with exhaustion and canceling a speaking engagement in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Marsh said. McGovern had returned from a speaking tour in Europe less than a week before.
"'The problem is that I think I'm still 25,'" Marsh quoted McGovern as telling him.
Julie Ward, a spokeswoman for Avera McKennan Hospital, said Wednesday that doctors expect McGovern to make a full recovery, but the family has asked for privacy while he recovers and rests.
McGovern, a South Dakota congressman from 1957 to 1961 and U.S. senator from 1963 to 1981, ran for president against incumbent Richard Nixon in 1972 and lost in a historic landslide.
He has remained active in recent years, even skydiving in Florida to celebrate his 88th birthday, and his latest book, "What it Means to Be a Democrat," is scheduled to be released Nov. 10. He was scheduled to be in his hometown of Mitchell, S.D., four days after its release for the 2011 McGovern Conference.
McGovern said his immediate plan was to watch Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday night and cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Marsh said, but that game was postponed due to rain.
After his release, Marsh said McGovern will stay in Sioux Falls with his daughter, Ann McGovern, and then hopes to return to St. Augustine, Fla., his home since 2008 after the death of his wife, Eleanor.
McGovern was elected to his first of three Senate terms in 1962. He ran for president three times, making a try for the nomination in 1968 and 1984 in addition to the 1972 race. Despite the Watergate break-in that year, Nixon won a second term in one of the biggest landslides in modern history. The liberal McGovern won only one state, Massachusetts.
Much of McGovern's recent work has focused on world hunger.
He and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a Republican, were honored in 2008 with the World Food Prize, a distinction that some observers have called the Nobel Prize for hunger. Their George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Nutrition Program, established in 2000 and funded primarily through Congress, provides millions of meals to children in the U.S. and some three dozen countries across the world.