Former US Vice President Walter Mondale dies at the age of 93
© Reuters. Former Vice President Walter Mondale speaks at an event in his honor at George Washington University in Washington
By Arshad Mohammed and Will Dunham
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Reuters) – Walter Mondale, a leading late-20th-century Liberal Democrat who served as US Vice President under Jimmy Carter and lost to Ronald Reagan in a landslide in the 1984 presidential election, died Monday at the age of 93. said his family.
“Well, my time has come. I look forward to going back to Joan and Eleanor,” Mondale said in a statement to his staff and was made available to the public after his death. He was referring to his late wife, Joan, who died in 2014, and daughter Eleanor. who died in 2011 at the age of 51. “Before I go, I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me.”
Mondale, the first major U.S. presidential candidate to pick a fellow campaigner, believed in an activist government and worked as a U.S. Senator and Vice President during Carters (NYSE 🙂 for civil rights, school integration, consumer protection, and agriculture and labor interests. problematic one-year presidency from 1977 to 1981.
From 1993 to 1996 he was US Ambassador to Japan under Bill Clinton.
Mondale had spoken to Carter, Clinton, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for the past few days, a family spokesman said.
“Today I mourn my dear friend Walter Mondale, whom I consider the best vice president in our country’s history,” said 96-year-old Carter in a statement that also commended Mondale’s political ability and integrity.
“He has been an invaluable partner and able servant to the people of Minnesota, the United States, and the world.”
Mondale, popularly known as “Fritz”, was the 1984 Democratic nominee to Reagan, a popular incumbent Republican who had defeated Carter four years earlier, and elected New York Democratic US Congressman Geraldine Ferraro as his vice-president. Ferraro died in 2011 at the age of 75.
Despite the historic selection of a woman, Mondale suffered one of the worst defeats in a US presidential election, losing in 49 of the 50 states, and bearing only his home in Minnesota and Washington, DC
It was the first of two times that Mondale had been sent into political retirement by a crushing defeat.
Eighteen years later, grieving Minnesota Democrats asked Mondale, then 74, to run for the Senate after Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash eleven days before the 2002 election. Mondale narrowly lost to Republican Norm Coleman, who portrayed him as a gray representative of a bygone era.
During his race against Reagan, Mondale promised the Americans that he would raise their taxes, a vow that did little to support his candidacy.
“I’m serious. By the end of my first term, I’ll cut Reagan’s budget deficit by two-thirds,” said Mondale during his speech in San Francisco in which he accepted the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination. “Let’s tell the truth. It has to be done, it has to be done. Mr. Reagan will collect taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”
The remark helped sink his campaign. Years later, he did not express regrets. “I’m really glad I did,” he told PBS in 2004. “It’s something I felt good about and I thought I was telling the truth.”
Earlier this year, Mondale made a memorable political joke when, during a main debate, he tried to portray Gary Hart, a rival for his party’s presidential nomination, as style and without substance by asking, “Where’s the beef?”
The line, borrowed from a humorous hamburger commercial that was popular at the time, hurt Hart’s campaign.
Mondale was a protégé of the Liberal colleague from Minnesota, Hubert Humphrey, also Senator and Vice President, who lost the presidential election of 1968 to the Republican Richard Nixon.
Mondale was in the Senate from 1964 until his election as vice president in Carter’s 1976 victory over incumbent Republican Gerald Ford, who had become president after Nixon resigned in 1974 due to the Watergate corruption scandal.
Mondale became a more dedicated Vice President than many who preceded him. He played a key role in supporting the sometimes frayed relationship between Carter’s White House and the democratically controlled Congress.
“Crisis of confidence”
He did not always agree with Carter when he privately opposed Carter’s 1979 sermon speech, in which the president told Americans besieged by a bad economy that they were suffering from a “crisis of confidence.” Mondale even considered resigning over the speech.
Carter looked increasingly like a weak president as he faced a hostage crisis in Iran, a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and difficult economic times at home.
The Carter Mondale ticket lost to Reagan and his fellow runner George HW Bush in 1980. Still associated with Carter in voters’ minds, Mondale faced the daunting task of defeating a popular incumbent amid economic prosperity in 1984.
The competition between Mondale and Reagan gave Americans a clear choice between liberal and conservative candidates and doctrines.
Mondale was seen as the winner in their first debate, and the elder Reagan struck some as being touchless and insecure.
Reagan bounced back on the second debate. He allayed concerns about his age by responding to the question of whether, at 73, he was too old to seek four more years as president.
“I will not make age the subject of this campaign. I will not exploit the youth and inexperience of my opponent for political purposes,” joked Reagan, provoking the audience to laugh at the debate and even at Mondale.
“I think the public wanted to vote for Reagan,” Mondale said later. After the second debate, he said, “I was almost certain that the campaign was over. And that was it.”
Mondale’s loss and a similar brawl against fellow liberal Michael Dukakis in 1988 opened the way for more centrist Democrats like Bill Clinton to hold their own in the party.
Walter Frederick Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota, on January 5, 1928, and was the sixth of seven children. His father was a Methodist minister, his mother a music teacher.
Dominated by agriculture and mining, Minnesota had a tradition of liberal, populist politics with many Scandinavian-American residents like the Norwegian Mondales.
After serving in the US Army, he earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota. His political life began with his work on the re-election campaign of Humphrey, then Mayor of Minneapolis.
When Humphrey became Vice President in 1964, Mondale succeeded the Senate and came to Washington during Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a time of great hope and excitement for the Liberals, though their optimism was dashed by the Vietnam War.
Mondale married Mrs. Joan in 1955. She died in 2014. They had three children, Eleanor and sons Theodore and William.