The day after Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern won the Massachusetts primary in 1972, reporter Robert D. Novak called around for comments. One of his sources, a liberal senator, provided a memorable quote: “The people don’t know McGovern is for amnesty, abortion, and legalization of pot.” When they find out, the senator continued, “he’s dead.”
Novak tucked the line into the fourth paragraph of the syndicated column he shared with Rowland Evans. McGovern, a left-wing senator from South Dakota, became the guy for “Amnesty, Abortion, and Acid,” and this “triple-A” tag dogged him for months. The snappy label recalled “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” the alliterative putdown Republicans tried to use against Democrats in the 1884 presidential election.