Walter Mondale Family says former Vice President has died at 93
Walter Mondale Walter Mondale … 93 has Vice at died Family former President says
Mon, 19 Apr 2021 18:00:00 -0700
Mondale made his biggest mark as the vice president who converted that office from a historical joke — Vice President John Nance Gardner famously described
MINNEAPOLIS —Walter F.
Mondale, a country preacher’s kid who grew up to become an attorney general, U.S.
senator, vice president and Democratic presidential nominee, has died.
He was age 93.His family reported his death Monday evening.An icon of American liberalism in the second half of the 20th century, Mondale made his biggest mark as the vice president who converted that office from a historical joke — Vice President John Nance Gardner famously described it as a job that wasn’t “worth a pitcher of warm spit” — to one of the vital centers in American government.Asked in 2007 to describe his proudest accomplishment under President Jimmy Carter, Mondale repeated a favorite line: “We told the truth, we obeyed the law, and we kept the peace.“It may not sound like much, but if you’ve got that, you can handle the rest.”For a man who toiled at the highest levels of national politics and international diplomacy, “Fritz” Mondale had distinctly humble beginnings.Born in the tiny farming town of Ceylon, Minn., just north of the Iowa border, on Jan.
5, 1928, he was the son of a Methodist minister, Theodore Mondale, and a part-time music teacher, Claribel.Mondale once described his father as a “purist populist,” whose heroes included President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Farmer-Labor Gov.
He enjoyed talking politics with his wife and children at the dinner table.The Mondales moved to Elmore, Minn., when Walter was 9 years old.
At the local high school, he starred in football, basketball and track, founded a student political organization called the “Republicrats” and earned pocket money by singing at weddings and funerals.He enrolled at Macalester College in 1946 and quickly became active in politics.
In 1947 he organized the “Diaper Brigade” of student volunteers who assisted Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey and other leaders of the newly merged Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party seize control from left-wing extremists.
The following year he helped Humphrey win his first election to the U.S.
Senate, managing his campaign in south central Minnesota.In 1949, he took a year off from college to go to Washington with Humphrey and serve as the head of the student affiliate of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action.
That marked the start of their long mentor-protégé relationship.Mondale returned to Minnesota in 1950, managed Orville Freeman’s unsuccessful campaign for attorney general and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1951.
Lacking money for law school, he enlisted in the U.S.
Army, in part to qualify for the G.I.
Bill, and served two years at Fort Knox, Ky., during the Korean War.
After being discharged, he returned to the university and earned his law degree in 1956.
A year before finishing law school, he married Joan Adams Mondale, the daughter of the Macalester College chaplain.
They had three children: Ted, Eleanor and William.Mrs.
Mondale, known as “Joan of Art” because of her tireless promotion of the arts as America’s second lady and a fixture of the Twin Cities cultural scene, died in 2014 after battling dementia.Their daughter Eleanor, a radio and TV personality, died in 2011 of brain cancer.
Mondale’s two sons survive him.While establishing a private law practice in Minneapolis, Mondale managed Freeman’s successful campaign for a third term as governor in 1958.
Two years later, Freeman appointed Mondale, then just 32 and four years out of law school, as attorney general to fill the vacancy created when Miles Lord was named U.S.
attorney.Throughout his career, Mondale had a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
After being handed the attorney general’s job, he was appointed to a vacant U.S.
Senate seat in 1964, and Jimmy Carter selected him as his running mate in 1976.
Library of Congress / Warren K.
Leffler / Handout / File Photo via REUTERS” width=”1140″ />
He made his debut on the national political stage at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., where Humphrey asked him to mediate a dispute between two delegations from Mississippi — one composed of civil rights activists from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party, representing African-Americans who were barred from voting, and the all-white Regular Democrats.Mondale negotiated a compromise that offered two at-large seats to the Freedom Democrats and seated members of the all-white delegation who would sign a loyalty oath to the party’s nominee.
It also barred segregated delegations at future conventions.The compromise angered both sides.
The Regular Democrats walked out of the convention, and the Freedom Democrats launched a protest demonstration.
But the reforms the Mondale compromise set in motion opened the Democratic Party to minorities and other groups that had been shut out before.When Humphrey was elected vice president in 1964, DFL Gov.
Karl Rolvaag appointed Mondale to fill Humphrey’s vacant Senate seat.
He was elected to a full six-year Senate term in 1966 and re-elected by a wide margin in 1972.As a legislator, Mondale compiled a solidly liberal record.
He championed government intervention to help the poor, the elderly and especially young children.
He enthusiastically supported President Johnson’s “Great Society” programs.
His voting ratings from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action were consistently 90% or higher.In a lecture at the University of Minnesota in 2003, he recalled his first session in Congress (1965-66) as the “high tide” of his legislative career.
It would be remembered, he said, for “breaking the back of official discrimination in America with the adoption of the Voting Rights Act.”It did much more, he said.
“We passed the first serious federal anti-pollution laws for air and water… We enacted the landmark Medicare and Medicaid programs… We adopted a vast range of deep reforms in education… We declared war on poverty.”After the assassination of Dr.
Martin Luther King in 1968, Mondale helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that prohibited racial discrimination in housing.
As chairman of a Senate committee on equal educational opportunity, he was credited of blocking a stream of anti-busing bills.
He led a successful fight to win unemployment benefits and legal services for migrant workers.He devoted much of his time and energy to children’s issues.
He advocated for increased funding for health care, education, day care, nutrition and developmental services, and while he didn’t get everything he sought (President Nixon vetoed his ambitious Economic Opportunity Act of 1971), he managed to push through increased appropriations for many children’s programs.An avid conservationist, he promoted creation of Voyageurs National Park, the St.
Croix National Scenic Riverway and the Minnesota Valley and Sherburne national wildlife refuges.In foreign affairs, he supported American involvement in the Vietnam War until 1968, then called his hawkish stance the biggest mistake of his public career.
It was, he said in a 1969 speech at Macalester, “a military, a political and a moral disaster.”After that he became more dovish.
In 1971, he voted to set a deadline for withdrawing troops from Vietnam.
Two years later, he co-sponsored the War Powers Resolution, which limits presidential power to wage war without congressional assent.
Later, he led a successful effort to end domestic spying by U.S.
intelligence agencies.In 1975, he published his first book, “The Accountability of Power: Toward a More Responsible Presidency.” His second book, “The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal Politics,” was published in 2010.“My Senate years were the happiest of my public career,” he said years later in a lecture in the Senate chamber.
“I found my sweet spot here.”Mondale toyed with the idea of running for president in the 1976 election, but bowed out in 1974, saying “I don’t want to spend the next two years in Holiday Inns.”But when Carter asked him to be his running mate, Mondale jumped at the chance.
After their election, he made history by redefining the role of the vice president in the U.S.
He was the first vice president to have an office in the White House, and he and Carter quickly converted the vice presidency from a historical joke to one of most powerful offices in government.Before Mondale, the vice president’s only prescribed duty was to preside over the Senate, where he could only vote to break ties.But Mondale was invited to every presidential meeting and had access to all of Carter’s secret documents.
The two had private lunches weekly.
He traveled the world on diplomatic missions, lobbied Congress for the president’s policies, spoke to powerful groups on Carter’s behalf and helped set the administration’s agenda.“Mondale inaugurated a new age of the vice presidency,” said Joel Goldstein, a vice presidential scholar at St.
Louis University Law School.Playing a key role in many of the administration’s foreign and domestic initiatives, he laid the groundwork for the Camp David talks that produced a historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and he persuaded the Navy to reverse its policy and rescue Southeast Asian “boat people,” prompting the international community to resettle 3 million refugees.He led important diplomatic missions to China and South Africa and helped make human rights a cornerstone of U.S.
He swayed Congress to reform intelligence laws and pass tough energy conservation standards.But he also had a hand in Carter’s policy failures.
They included soaring interest rates and runaway inflation, a grain embargo and cancellation of U.S.
participation in the Olympics in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.The American hostage crisis in Iran and the president’s refusal to take military action against that country’s revolutionary government cost the Carter-Mondale ticket the 1980 election.Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, but President Reagan defeated him in a landslide.
He carried only Minnesota and the District of Columbia, resulting in the worst defeat ever for a Democratic candidate.But Mondale made political history in that race by selecting Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, making her the first woman ever to run on a major party presidential ticket.After the election, Mondale returned to private law practice in Minneapolis.
In 1993, President Clinton appointed him U.S.
ambassador to Japan, a post he held for three years before returning to Minnesota in 1996.The University of Minnesota Law School in 2001 named its new building Walter F.
Mondale Hall.When U.S.
Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash 11 days before the 2002 election, Democrats nominated Mondale, then 74, to replace Wellstone on the ballot.
He narrowly lost the election to Republican Norm Coleman, 50% to 47%.It was the only time Minnesota voters turned down Mondale.
Mondale was running in the election in place of the late Sen.
Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash the previous month.
REUTERS / Eric Miller / File Photo” width=”1140″ />
After his defeat, Mondale remained active in civic and political affairs.
He lectured at the University of Minnesota and established the Mondale Policy Forum at the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.He traveled around the globe promoting international relations, served on numerous non-profit and corporate boards of directors and campaigned for state and national Democratic candidates.
He came in to his office at the Dorsey & Whitney law firm every day he was in Minneapolis.In December 2007, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stone appointed Mondale as Norway’s honorary consul general in the Midwest, a post he held until 2010.As a tribute to his life and legacy, the U’s Humphrey School in 2015 presented Mondale a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to public life.In accepting the award, Mondale said, “If I have one hope in my public life, it was the ongoing quest for social justice in America.
That’s what I believed, that’s what I believe and that’s what I will believe as long as I’m alive.“And I believe more than ever today civil rights, access to justice, equality for men and women and human rights are still the issues of our future.”.
Mon, 19 Apr 2021 18:00:00 -0700
The Minnesota Democrat was President Jimmy Carter's vice president and the Democratic nominee for president in 1984
He's lauded for humor and
Star Tribune via Getty Images hide caption Former Vice President Walter Mondale and former President Jimmy Carter appeared together in 2018, marking Mondale’s 90th birthday.Former Vice President and U.S.
Walter Mondale died on Monday in Minneapolis, a family spokesperson confirms to NPR.
The Minnesota Democrat was 93 years old.
Mondale, who was known to his friends as “Fritz,” endured a landslide loss when he challenged incumbent President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
But his most lasting mark may be left on the vice presidency, an office with little stature until Mondale redefined it while serving as former President Jimmy Carter’s influential number two. Mondale began his career as Minnesota’s attorney general; his final public post was U.S.
ambassador to Japan.
Carter said Monday he considered Mondale “the best vice president in our country’s history.” He added, “Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior.”Vice President Harris praised her predecessor in the office as bringing “the President and the Vice President closer together, re-defining the relationship as a true partnership.
Vice President Mondale worked side by side with President Carter as the two endeavored to end the arms race, promote human rights, and establish peace.”She said, “His legacy will live on in all of us.”Sen.
Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also remembered Mondale, a former Minnesota senator.
“Walter Mondale was a true public servant and my friend and mentor.
He set a high bar for himself and kept passing it and raising it, passing it and raising it,” she wrote on Twitter.Mondale was a product of low-key Middle America.
He grew up during the Great Depression in a series of small, struggling towns in southern Minnesota’s farm country and was the son of a Norwegian American Methodist preacher.
In a 1984 campaign biography, Mondale recalled his high school years, saying he was captain of the football team during his senior year.
“It was a matter of pride,” he said about the position.
“And we played very hard and we had a fair record.” He added that his teammates called him Crazy Legs.He also recalled his parents teaching him he could be whatever he wanted to be as long as he was honest and worked for it.
In 1960, at the age of 32, he was elected as Minnesota’s attorney general.
When his political mentor Hubert Humphrey left the U.S.
Senate to serve as Lyndon Johnson’s vice president four years later, Mondale got appointed to Humphrey’s seat.
“In each position that he had, he did a hell of a good job,” Mike Berman, a top aide to Mondale in the Senate, later told NPR.
Berman said Mondale’s being chosen to serve there and later in other posts was not just good luck.
He said leaders looking to appoint someone to an open position felt Mondale was someone “who they felt …
they could rely on to do well in the position, but more importantly, would do well in the politics of whatever the next election was.”While Mondale may not have been an exciting figure in Washington, friends and political scientists alike described him as “squeaky clean,” “decent,” “funny” and a “political giant.””When we look at people who made a mark through public service in the 20th century, Fritz Mondale is gonna be right up there in the hall of fame,” Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning conservative think-tank, told NPR.
In 1976, former Georgia Gov.
Jimmy Carter chose Mondale for his presidential campaign running mate.
According to Al Eisele, a Minnesota reporter who covered Mondale’s 12 years in the Senate, Mondale brought a dose of socially progressive politics to that ticket and “he was…
one of the leading spokesmen of the liberal wing of the party as a senator.” At that year’s Democratic convention, Mondale portrayed joining forces with Carter as ending the Democrats’ geographical and political divisions.”We stand together as a nation, reunited at long last, North and South, Georgia and Minnesota,” he said to applause.
But behind the scenes, Mondale was determined not to repeat Hubert Humphrey’s unhappy experience as an all-but-ignored vice president.
He made it clear to Carter that he had no intention of becoming an extraneous accessory.Eisele, who became Mondale’s press secretary and traveled with him for the two candidates’ first meeting at Carter’s home in Plains, Ga., told NPR, Mondale didn’t want to be a “piece of standby equipment, which vice presidents up to that time had been.”Others, including Washington University’s Joel Goldstein, also credit Mondale with transforming the vice presidency.
Goldstein, a scholar of the vice presidency, said Mondale demanded and got full access to both information and the president himself, as well as an office in the West Wing.”He created a new job definition for the vice presidency of a principal across the board advisor for the president and a troubleshooter for things that had to be handled at the highest level that the president couldn’t handle,” Goldstein said.Four years after Reagan thwarted Carter’s reelection, Mondale challenged Reagan’s bid for another term.
First, though, he had to win his party’s nomination, and that meant getting past a rising star, Colorado Sen.
At a primary debate, Mondale turned the tables on Hart with a single, memorable line:”When I hear your new ideas, I’m reminded of that ad, where’s the beef?” Mondale said to laughter.
In a speech 20 years later, Mondale said an aide had pressed him to use that line, lifted from an ad for Wendy’s hamburgers.”I had given about 20 serious speeches and nobody, including my wife, remembered a word of them,” he joked.
“But after that, wherever I went around the country, ‘Where’s the beef?’ ” he said people would call out.
But at that year’s Democratic convention, after choosing New York Rep.
Geraldine Ferraro as the nation’s first female running mate, Mondale delivered a line that caused even some allies to cringe.
Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I,” he said.
“He won’t tell you, I just did.” Mondale’s candor went unrewarded.
He was well behind in the polls when ABC’s Peter Jennings opened the first televised debate between the two candidates.
A sure-footed Mondale went after Reagan in that debate, and initially it seemed as if the debate could become a game changer for Mondale.
“You could actually see a chance that if Reagan couldn’t pull his act together a little bit better, we might have a real contest on our hands,” Ornstein recalled.
But Reagan did pull it together by the second debate, and Reagan unleashed an artful zinger against Mondale, saying, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign.
I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” The audience laughed.
Reagan went on to trounce Mondale, beating him in 49 states.
The only state Mondale carried was Minnesota.
Two decades later, at the Dole Institute of Politics, Mondale ruefully reflected on that race.
“I knew my chances of winning were not very good.
That anybody [who] wants to run against Reagan ought to go see his doctor, you know, because he had some kind of touch I can’t explain.’He described going to see Jesse Unruh, who had run against Reagan during his bid for California governor.
Mondale remembered asking, “What do you recommend?””He said, ‘quit.’ “Berman recalled Mondale’s primary objective for the 1984 campaign was to win in Minnesota.
“And we didn’t lose Minnesota,” Berman noted.
That would come later, after Mondale served three years as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Japan.
It happened unexpectedly in 2002, when Mondale was pressed by his party to run for Paul Wellstone’s Senate seat after Wellstone was killed in a plane crash 10 days before the election.
Republican challenger Norm Coleman won.Ornstein later attributed Mondale’s loss mainly to a voter backlash caused by political remarks from others at Wellstone’s memorial service and said the defeat was a difficult blow for Mondale.
But those who knew Mondale say he seemed to care more about how he’d campaigned than what the final result was.
In a campaign ad from his 1984 presidential bid, Mondale said he’d “rather be the underdog in a campaign about decency than to be ahead in a campaign about self-interest.” Mondale wrote a political memoir in 2010.
He called it, The Good Fight – A Life in Liberal Politics.
Words that could serve as his epitaph, as well.
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– April 20, 2021