Down the Ballot

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

George McGovern SNL Host

30 Years ago, former U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate George McGovern hosted Saturday Night Live.
April 14, 1984 George McGovern hosted SNL, just one month after ending his long shot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He finished third in the Iowa caucuses, but took fifth place in the New Hampshire primary. He put all his cards on the table for the Massachusetts primary. Vowing to withdraw if he did not finish first or second. Gary Hart, his former 1972 campaign manager and Walter Mondale beat him and he kept his word.


The episode McGovern hosted is mostly remembered because he hosted. It was that lull of the mid-80s that is famous or perhaps infamous period in SNL history. While SNL 1980s was available on Netflix you could watch most of this episode. I enjoyed watching McGovern, Jim Belushi and Joe Piscopo golf in downtown New York.

His wife and possibly mother accompanied him on the show. I can only imagine he got to host the show because of the profound respect he had in the creative community from his 1972 campaign and from what the press generally considered him as the 'conscience' of the Democratic Party. He refused to engage in negative attacks and had perhaps the most detailed liberal policy positions of any candidate at the time in the '84 race. He was probably also looking for work to help pay down whatever campaign debt he might have created.

In later years it became clear that he was not attempting to win, but to sway the party over policy. He even was given the chance to address the 1984 delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

More politicos from Saturday Night Live to come. 

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