Eugene McCarthy (1916–2005) was a little-known Minnesota senator until November 1967, when he challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination for president. McCarthy’s candidacy centered on his opposition to the Vietnam War. Because Johnson was an incumbent, and McCarthy was not a nationally known figure, the challenge was not initially seen as a real threat to Johnson’s election. As public opposition to the war grew, however, McCarthy’s primary campaign gained more traction. In March 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy also announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination. The combined pressure of McCarthy’s and Kennedy’s candidacies led Johnson to withdraw from the race. Though Kennedy was assassinated during the primary campaign, McCarthy ultimately lost the nomination to Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

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