Washington — The radio announcer several nights before had said, quite simply, that George McGovern was once again a candidate for president.
But the former presidential candidate was quick to tell reporters that the announcer had gone too far in the capsulization of his plans.
He was thinking seriously of running again, he said to a reporter who had quipped, ''Say it ain't so, George.'' But no more than that.
Mr. McGovern made it clear later that he would never become a Harold Stassen, a once highly regarded public figure whose candidacy every four years has become a subject of considerable ridicule.
But McGovern sees a strong nuclear-freeze movement developing across America - ''and if I feel I can broaden it, I may run no matter what the other potential candidates decide to do.''
Earlier, McGovern indicated he might well step aside if Sen. Edward M. Kennedy or some of the other liberals among the present crop of likely candidates stayed in the race.
But as he warmed up to the subject of his presidential intentions, the former South Dakota senator seemed to get more and more caught up with the idea of running.
''I'm pretty much convinced,'' he said, ''that the swing to right-wing conservatism is over.'' He said he sees evidence of this change of mood in the recent tax increase and the defeats in Congress of anti-abortion and school prayer measures and the balanced-budget constitutional amendment.
''Further,'' he said, ''in almost all of the political contests this last year, the liberal or moderate has won over the conservative.''
So the climate has changed. He said more and more people see that the anti-government involvement approach of President Reagan isn't solving their problems.
McGovern conceded that there still is a considerable amount of public patience with Reagan's economic program. But he said he thinks it is fading.
With high unemployment, failing businesses, the sour farm economy, and much more hitting people hard these days, McGovern says he hears people saying: ''If that's what less government involvement brings us, let's try something different.''
McGovern said that the anti-government spending mood grew out of the big expenditures during the Vietnam war: ''I think we got into this difficulty by mixing the New Deal approach with the war. People couldn't stand that kind of a mixture.''
McGovern would go all out for a nuclear freeze with the Soviets and then move to vastly reduced spending for the military and greatly increased spending for people.
At one point, McGovern was asked: ''What kind of encouragement are you getting for running again?'' His answer: ''A lot of people think I can't get it off the ground. Others say, 'With your program in 1972 you were 10 years ahead of your time. Now 10 years have gone by. Let's try it again.' ''