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Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 VP Nomination Was Historic, But Failed to Clinch a Win

August 3, 2020 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

With their presidential ticket, Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro made history in 1984. But that didn’t help them win.

When Walter Mondale . “Walter Mondale’s public service was dedicated to opening doors for disadvantaged groups and he constructed his VP selection process consistent with that commitment.”

While previously the only diversity question for the office had been “whether to choose a Catholic for the ticket,” according to Goldstein, Mondale interviewed three women for the job: Ferraro, Mayor Diane Feinstein of San Francisco and Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins. He also considered two African Americans and one Latino mayor, as well as more conventional candidates including Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Sen. Gary Hart and Gov. Mike Dukakis.

“Mondale took a lot of heat for considering people who did not have conventional experience but he recognized that since women and other minorities had been excluded from participating at the highest levels of national electoral and appointive service, one had to seek talent in less conventional ways,” Goldstein says. “Ferraro was a three-term representative who was seen as a rising star in the party. Choosing the first woman for a national ticket was consistent with Mondale’s commitments and represented a strategic effort to remake the electoral map.”

In his 2010 book, The Good Fight, Mondale wrote that he thought Ferraro would be “an excellent vice president and could be a good president. … I also knew that I was far behind Reagan, and that if I just ran a traditional campaign, I would never get in the game.”

He added that his wife, Joan, urged him to select a woman as vice president. “Joan thought we were far enough along in the movement for women’s rights that the political system had produced plenty of qualified candidates, and she thought voters were ready for a ticket that would break the white-male mold,” Mondale wrote.

Janine Parry, professor of political science at the University of Arkansas, director of the Arkansas Poll and co-author of Women’s Rights in the USA, says Ferraro acknowledged and embraced the fact that gender was the central reason for the choice.

“Feminists of the period, having identified a ‘gender gap’ in men’s and women’s partisan preferences just a few years earlier, pressed Mondale hard for a female running mate,” she says. “Getting a woman on a major party’s ticket was important to feminists on its face, but it also served to differentiate …read more


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