Reaching back to the 1972 DNC with Lautenberg and McGovern

DENVER – A glance at the 1972 Democratic National Convention might put things in perspective for those Democrats who think the party is irreconcilably divided between Camp Hillary and Obamaland.

After liberal Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota won his party’s nomination for president that year, primary loser Alabama Gov. George Wallace refused to support him, taking southern segregationists on an embittered exodus out of the party.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) remembers that convention, and he recalls firmly backing McGovern.

"My support for McGovern earned me a spot on Richard Nixon’s enemies list," Lautenberg told

Trying to build a coalition without Southern whites, as Wallace and his people coming out of the convention strenuously badmouthed the party nominee, and facing other issues, including a botched vice-presidential choice, McGovern was trounced by Richard Nixon in the latter’s re-election bid.

When Lautenberg found fellow WWII vet McGovern on the floor of the convention on Monday evening, it was a warm encounter, he said.

"We have a lot in common," joked Lautenberg as he circled the bar in the Celtic Tavern. "Two WWII vets, each of whom won the war practically single-handedly."

Reaching back to the 1972 DNC with Lautenberg and McGovern