Clinton hails late senator for changing history

Published: Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 9:23 p.m.
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Former President Clinton, left, attends a memorial service for the Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy with Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., center, and Mary Alice Williams at the National Cathedral on Saturday in Washington.

The Associated Press
Former President Clinton eulogized the late Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy on Saturday for helping to shift momentum against the Vietnam War with his 1968 presidential campaign.
"It all started when Gene McCarthy was willing to stand alone and turn the tide of history," Clinton said at a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral.
McCarthy, who died last month at 89, mounted an anti-war challenge to President Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination, leading to Johnson's withdrawal from the race after the New Hampshire presidential primary.
About 800 people, some wearing McCarthy campaign buttons, attended the memorial. A bagpipe procession started the service, and Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary sang "This Land Is Your Land" and other songs.
The audience was filled with friends, family members and lawmakers, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. Kennedy's brother, the late New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, rankled McCarthy by jumping in the '68 race after McCarthy's strong showing in New Hampshire. Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the nomination that year and then lost to Republican Richard Nixon.
Clinton recalled meeting McCarthy as a young man in the early 1970s. The future president was having trouble locating a pair of large shoes to wear to a black-tie Washington dinner, and a friend said he knew someone with even bigger shoes.
A couple of days later, Clinton said, McCarthy came by with a pair of shoes to lend.
"That night, I stood in Gene McCarthy's shoes," Clinton said to laughter. At the dinner, he decided to pass up a receiving line for President Nixon.
"It just didn't seem the right thing to do wearing McCarthy's shoes," Clinton said to more laughter and applause.

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