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George McGovern taken to South Dakota hospital after fall

From Chandler Friedman, CNN
updated 11:13 PM EST, Fri December 2, 2011
George McGovern is in guarded condition at a hospital in South Dakota, a nursing staffer said Friday night.
George McGovern is in guarded condition at a hospital in South Dakota, a nursing staffer said Friday night.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: McGovern is in guarded condition at a S.D. hospital, a nursing staffer says
  • NEW: He was to be part of a live C-SPAN program Saturday on presidential contenders
  • He fell at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, a library staffer says

(CNN) -- Liberal Democratic icon George McGovern was taken to a South Dakota hospital after falling Friday night at a nearby university, a library staff member told CNN.

The library staffer at Dakota Wesleyan University -- who asked not to be identified, because he was not authorized to discuss the incident -- said McGovern fell on the campus in Mitchell, South Dakota.

McGovern was initially sent to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell after the fall, according to a member of that hospital's nursing staff who asked not to be named, because she was not authorized to speak on the hospital's behalf

He then was transferred to Avera McKennan Hospital about 75 miles east in Sioux Falls, because he required a higher level of care, the nursing staff member said.

McGovern is in "guarded condition ... not in critical condition, but his injuries bear watching," added the hospital staffer.

The 89-year-old politician was set to film a live television program Saturday night at his alma mater Dakota Wesleyan, the school noted on its website. The program would have kicked off a C-SPAN series called "The Contenders: They Lost the Election But Changed Political History."

In McGovern's case, the "lost" race referred to his unsuccessful 1972 run as the Democratic Party nominee against incumbent Richard Nixon.

He served in the U.S. Senate and House before and after that presidential campaign, leaving the daily foray of politics after losing his 1980 bid for a fourth Senate term.

McGovern has remained active since, including an appointment by then-President Bill Clinton as an ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and a 2001 appointment as the U.N.'s first global ambassador for hunger.

And this year, he released a new book, "What It Means To Be a Democrat." Its publisher, Blue Rider Press, describes the book as a "call to arms by (McGovern) that combines personal anecdotes and cultural critiques to remind liberals of their ideological compass and restore confidence."

CNN's Marlena Baldacci contributed to this report.

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