Film to air highlighting late MN Sen. McCarthy’s run for the presidency, Catholic faith

| January 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

The late U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy, a Catholic and Minnesota native, with supporters during his 1968 presidential campaign. Courtesy University of Minnesota Andersen Library

No Minnesotan has ever won the presidency, but the state’s late U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy certainly made waves in his 1968 presidential campaign. The senator’s life — including his Catholicism — is explored in a new documentary by a local Catholic.

“His campaign did really two great things in terms of getting people involved,” said Rob Hahn, 48, the film’s producer and a parishioner of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul. “He got the youth movement involved in ways they never had been involved from an electoral standpoint.”

He also boosted women’s involvement in his presidential campaign, something not common at the time, Hahn said.

Hahn’s film about the senator’s presidential campaign will air for the first time on Twin Cities Public Television Jan. 29 at 11 p.m. The film “Hi, Gene. Meet the Real Senator McCarthy” recounts McCarthy’s 1968 campaign through interviews from the 1990s with McCarthy and others, as well as recent interviews with people who knew him. The film notes McCarthy’s Catholic faith and how it influenced his political work.

Hahn said McCarthy’s “political views were always impacted in some way in part by his Catholic upbringing.”

Hahn first met McCarthy in 1993 while working at WCCO when McCarthy came in for an interview about a book he wrote. Hahn discussed with McCarthy his interest in making a documentary film. Hahn admitted he hadn’t chosen a topic yet, but McCarthy had an idea for him.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Well, everyone’s forgotten about or ignores my ’68 campaign,’” Hahn recalled.

Hahn later realized that was true through own research, and he decided to pursue the film. Due to funding issues, Hahn tabled the project for years, but he picked it up again recently to finish it.

McCarthy, who died in 2005, first served as a U.S. senator in 1958 and decided to challenge President Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic nomination in the 1968 presidential election. McCarthy won three primaries, but Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, also a Minnesotan, beat him for the party nomination.

Hahn said he believes McCarthy’s run and opposition to the Vietnam War still merits a noted place in Minnesota political history. Hahn also plans to share the film with schools for history or social studies classes, which he already did at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul.

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