Eugene McCarthy ran five unsuccessful presidential campaigns, but he never got closer than this button.
This is the 1968 button for the Minnesotan's bid. The senator looked to take over the Democratic party to succeed Lyndon Johnson on an anti-Vietnam War platform. Previously he'd been considered a potential running mate for Johnson, but that honor went to his colleague Hubert Humphrey.
McCarthy ran when Robert Kennedy wouldn't, but he was dismissed by most campaign watchers. After news of the Tet Offensive, though, McCarthy's message gained sway. He made a race of it in the New Hampshire primary where Johnson's administration came to be defined by Vietnam alone. Johnson was suddenly vulnerable, Kennedy lept in and four candidates were suddenly arguing for the soul of the Democratic party.
McCarthy won Wisconsin after Johnson bowed out, managed a victory in Oregon over Kennedy, whom he was by then holding grudges against. Hubert Humphrey was staying out of the active campaigning and with Johnson gone it was McCarthy and Kennedy stumping for the all-important California vote. Kennedy was shot and Humphrey would ultimately get the nomination.
McCarthy returned to the senate, decided against being a vocal anti-war leader there and would run ill-fated presidential campaigns in 1972, 1976 and had small amounts of votes in 1988 and 1992. In 1980 he endorsed Ronald Reagan
An author and a poet, he died in 2005.