Political commentator Mark Shields, who appeared regularly on political shows since the ’80s, died Saturday at his Chevy Chase, Md., home. PBS “News Hour” Anchor Judy Woodruff announced in a post to her Twitter account.
“[T]he NewsHour’s beloved long-time Friday night analyst Mark Shields, who for decades wowed us with his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, his sense of humor and mainly his big heart, has passed away at 85, with his wife Anne at his side,” Woodruff said.
His daughter, Amy Shields Doyle, attributed the cause of death to complications from kidney failure.
The unabashedly liberal political pundit first appeared on “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” during the 1988 presidential election. He later became a weekly guest on the show.
He was also a regular panelist on the political show “Inside Washington,” which aired on PBS and ABC from 1988 to 2013. Shields also had a long-standing gig as a moderator on CNN’s “Capital Gang” for 17 years.
Shields was born in the Boston suburb of Weymouth, Massachusetts, to Democrat parents. He later graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1959 before joining the U.S. Marines in the early ’60s.
After he separated from the Corps, he became a legislative assistant to Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin and segued into a career as a political consultant to Democratic candidates. The first national campaign Shields joined was for Robert Kennedy. Shields was reportedly in San Francisco when RFK was assassinated in Los Angeles
He then struck out on his own as a political consultant; his first campaign at the national level was Robert F. Kennedy’s ill-fated presidential race in 1968.
He was part of some successful campaigns but he also consulted on some memorable losing 1970s campaigns, among them Edmund Muskie, Sargent Shriver and Mo Udall.
“At one point,” Shields reportedly said, “I held the N.C.A.A. indoor record for concession speeches written and delivered.”
Following the string of stinging losses in the ’70s, Shields turned to journalism, as a writer for The Washington Post. He eventually got his own column and he continued writing his syndicated column until his death, according to a New York post report.
He is survived by his wife, Anne Hudson Shields, his daughter, Amy, and two grandchildren.
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