By H. Harrison Coleman IV
On Monday, Vice President, Senator and 1984 presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale died. Mondale, from Minnesota, was 93 years old.
Mondale, who was best known for being the Democratic nominee against President Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election, served as the 42nd Vice President, a Senator from Minnesota and President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Japan.
Mondale served as Vice President under Democratic President Jimmy Carter and is often credited as the vice president who turned the office into a more respectable one. Mondale was the first vice president to have an office in the White House, creating from the ground up the concept of the “activist vice president." Carter and Mondale were known to work closely together, with Mondale taking a leading role in many areas of foreign policy, including helping organize the historic Camp David Accords.
During his time in the Senate, Mondale was a staunch progressive and a proponent of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His own bill, the Fair Housing Act, banned racial discrimination in American housing and became one of the most influential pieces of Civil Rights legislation, surpassed only by the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Even in recent years, Mondale advocated for the Fair Housing Act, speaking with NPR in 2018 about the past, current and future progress in the housing arena.
Mondale is best known for his 1984 presidential run against Reagan. The election was the last modern landslide, with Reagan picking up every state with the exception of Minnesota—Mondale’s home state. Though unsuccessful, Mondale’s progressive campaign was groundbreaking. He was the first presidential candidate to accept donations from gay rights groups when he spoke at a fundraising dinner held by the Human Rights Campaign Fund in 1982. Additionally, Mondale’s running mate in the 1984 election was Geraldine Ferraro, the first female candidate for vice president.
Walter Mondale was eulogized on Monday by many of his proteges, such as Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who, as a college student, interned in Mondale’s office.
Mondale remained committed to progressive policies and Democratic politics, speaking by phone until the day before his death with Jimmy Carter and President Joe Biden, who served with Mondale for three years in the Senate.
Mondale is survived by his two sons, William and Ted, as well as several grandchildren.