Biden says Walter Mondale paved a way for others and was a model for his service

Joe Biden Walter Mondale
President Joe Biden, right, and former Vice President Walter Mondale share a laugh during a discussion as part of a tribute to Mondale at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium, October 20 2015.

  • Biden honored the contributions of former Vice President Walter Mondale to his own career.
  • Mondale, who was former President Jimmy Carter’s vice president, died on Monday at the age of 93.
  • Mondale also served as a senator, attorney general, and diplomat.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden attributed part of his success in politics to former Vice President Walter Mondale, who died on Monday at the age of 93.

“When I arrived in the United States Senate in 1973, Walter Mondale was one of the first people to greet me. Through his work as a Senator, he showed me what was possible,” Biden said in a statement.

Mondale, whose nickname was Fritz, had a decades-long political career and was committed to his role of vice president when he served alongside former President Jimmy Carter.

Biden, the former vice president to Barack Obama, said Mondale greatly helped him prepare for the role.

“When President Obama asked me to consider being his Vice President, Fritz was my first call and trusted guide. He not only took my call, he wrote me a memo. It was Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service,” Biden said.

Biden also honored the work Mondale did as a senator.

“He may have been modest and unassuming in manner, but he was unwavering in his pursuit of progress; instrumental in passing laws like the Fair Housing Act to prevent racial discrimination in housing, Title IX to provide more opportunities for women, and laws to protect our environment. There have been few senators, before or since, who commanded such universal respect,” Biden said.

Mondale served as a US Senator from Minnesota prior to working with Carter. The pair lost their bid for a second term in office in 1980 but Mondale ran for president in 1984 and chose New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, the first female running mate on a general election ticket.

“He not only created a path for himself, he helped others do the same. Walter Mondale was the first presidential nominee of either party to select a woman as his running mate, and I know how pleased he was to be able to see Kamala Harris become Vice President,” Biden said.

Vice President Kamala Harris also thanked Mondale for his service.

“Vice President Walter Mondale led an extraordinary life of service-in uniform during the Korean War, as a Senator, and as Vice President. I was able to speak with him just a few days ago and thank him for his service. I’ll miss him dearly, and my heart is with his family today,” Harris said in a tweet.

Mondale also once served as a lawyer, Minnesota’s attorney general, and as an ambassador to Japan under Clinton.

“In accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, he described the values he was taught to live by: ‘to play by the rules; to tell the truth; to obey the law; to care for others; to love our country; to cherish our faith,'” Biden said.

He added: “As a Senator, an Ambassador, a Vice President, and a candidate for President, he lived and spread those values.”

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Walter Mondale made history by choosing Geraldine Ferraro as first female running mate on a major party ticket

Walter Mondale/ Geraldine Ferraro
On Wednesday, Sept. 5, 1984, Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale and his running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, wave as they leave an afternoon rally in Portland, Ore.

  • Former Vice President Walter Mondale died Monday at the age of 93.
  • Mondale served as Jimmy Carter’s vice president before running for president himself in 1984.
  • During his campaign, Mondale made history by selecting Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who died Monday at the age of 93, made history during his 1984 presidential run when he chose Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate.

Though then President Ronald Reagan handily defeated Mondale and Ferraro, the Minnesota politician was a pioneer as the first presidential candidate on a major party ticket to choose a female running mate – nearly four decades before Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman sworn into the office.

“Our founders said in the Constitution, ‘We the people’ – not just the rich, or men, or white, but all of us,” Mondale said after he announced the three-term congresswoman as his running mate, according to Politico.

Mondale had reportedly sought to make history with his choice, the outlet reported, considering African American lawmakers and a Hispanic lawmaker among other candidates.

“The Ferraro pick represented the intersection of principle and politics,” Joel K. Goldstein, vice-presidential historian, professor of law emeritus at St. Louis University said in his book “The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden.”

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

In addition to her gender, Ferraro’s ethnicity made history as well. She was the first Italian-American nominee on a major party ticket.

Mondale’s pick was initially met with enthusiasm and praise, giving the ticket a bump in the polls, but questions about Ferraro and her husband’s finances became a liability as the campaign went on.

In November, Mondale and Ferraro lost in a landslide, receiving only 41% of the popular vote and losing every state in the Electoral College except the District of Columbia and Mondale’s home state of Minnesota. The ticket also lost Ferraro’s district in New York.

Reflecting on his decision in his 2010 book, “The Good Fight,” Mondale said 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.”

In the book, Mondale also said his wife of nearly 60 years, Joan, had encouraged him to choose a female running mate.

“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.”

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Joe Biden said in 2015 he learned how to be a good vice president from Walter Mondale

Walter Mondale Joe Biden
Pictured on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, Vice President Joe Biden talks with former Vice President Walter Mondale as they participate in a forum honoring Mondale’s legacy, at George Washington University in Washington. Mondale, a liberal icon who lost the most lopsided presidential election after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won, died Monday, April 19, 2021. He was 93.

  • Then-Vice President Joe Biden honored former VP Walter “Fritz” Mondale at an event in 2015.
  • Mondale, who served as vice president to former President Jimmy Carter, died Monday at 93.
  • Biden said to Carter at the 2015 event that he and Mondale displayed the model relationship between a president and VP.
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Joe Biden, then vice president, said in 2015 he took the “roadmap” of the vice presidency from former Vice President Walter “Fritz” Mondale.

Mondale, who served under former President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, died Monday at 93.

At a 2015 event hosted by the University of Minnesota honoring Mondale, a Minnesota native, Biden said he “took Fritz’s roadmap.”

“He actually gave me a memo, classic Fritz, gave me a memo, as to what I should be looking for and what kind of commitments I should get to be able to do the job the way Fritz thought it should be done,” Biden said at the 2015 event.

During the 2015 tribute to Mondale, Biden thanked Mondale and Carter, who were both in attendance, for being the model relationship between a president and a vice president – and the confidence the former should have in the latter.

Walter Mondale Jimmy Carter and families
Inauguration Day on Jan. 21, 1977, President Jimmy Carter, right, and Rosalynn Carter, second from right, pose with Vice President Walter Mondale and wife, Joan Mondale, left, following Carter’s inauguration in the White House Blue Room in Washington. Mondale, a liberal icon who lost the most lopsided presidential election after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won, died Monday, April 19, 2021. He was 93.

“You’re saying to your staff and others that ‘Fritz Mondale speaks for me, he has my confidence’ makes an enormous amount of difference, and it amazes me how some presidents of the past haven’t understood that,” Biden said to Carter at the time.

“John Kerry is a great secretary of state, Hillary Clinton is a great secretary of state, but there are times when only the vice president – if it’s known of his relationship with the president – can speak for the United States when the president can’t be there, because no one ever doubted when Fritz spoke for you,” Biden continued.

He added that then-President Obama had “empowered” Biden “the same way because he saw how it worked for you.”

Mondale, who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1984, made the historic nomination of New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, making her the first female nominee for vice president of a major US political party.

In 2020, Vice President Kamala Harris, alongside President Biden, made history as the first woman to become vice president.

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Jimmy Carter mourns the death of Walter Mondale, calling him the ‘best vice president in our country’s history’

walter mondale jimmy carter
Walter Mondale, Former Vice President of the United States, sat on stage with former President Jimmy Carter during a celebration of Mondale’s 90th birthday Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota’s campus in Minneapolis.

  • Jimmy Carter mourned the death of his former vice president, Walter Mondale, who died on Monday.
  • Carter said he considered Mondale “the best vice president in our country’s history.”
  • Mondale had a decades-long political career working as a senator, attorney general, and diplomat.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Jimmy Carter mourned the death of his former Vice President Walter Mondale, who died on Monday at the age of 93.

“Today, I mourn the passing of my dear friend Walter Mondale, who I consider the best vice president in our country’s history,” Carter wrote in a statement.

On Sunday, Mondale got in touch with Carter, former president Bill Clinton, and President Joe Biden to let them know his death was near, Axios reported.

Carter commended Mondale, whose nickname is Fritz, for his political career and his commitment to the role of vice president when they served together.

“Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic policy-driving force that had never been seen before and still exists today,” Carter said.

Mondale served as a US Senator from Minnesota prior to working with Carter. The pair lost their bid for a second term in office in 1980 but Mondale ran for president in 1984 and chose New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, the first female running mate on a general election ticket.

The former vice president also once served as a lawyer, Minnesota’s attorney general, and as an ambassador to Japan under Clinton.

“He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States, and the world. Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior,” Carter said.

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Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who served with Jimmy Carter, dead at 93

walter mondale jimmy carter
Walter Mondale, Former Vice President of the United States, sat on stage with former President Jimmy Carter during a celebration of Mondale’s 90th birthday Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota’s campus in Minneapolis.

Walter Mondale, who served as vice president under former President Jimmy Carter, died on Monday at the age of 93.

According to Axios, Mondale contacted Presidents Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter on Sunday to let them know his death was near. Mondale passed away in Minneapolis, according to his family.

Biden long admired Mondale, whose nickname was “Fritz.” At an event honoring Mondale in 2015, Biden said, “I took Fritz’s roadmap. He actually gave me a memo, classic Fritz, gave me a memo, as to what I should be looking for and what kind of commitments I should get to be able to do the job the way Fritz thought it should be done.”

Mondale’s political life spanned decades, starting with his career as a lawyer and serving as Minnesota’s attorney general, and including a later stint as an ambassador to Japan under President Clinton.

VP Walter Mondale in the kitchen of the Vice President's Residence
U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale lifts his Thanks Giving turkey from the broiler, Thursday, Nov.11, 1977 in the kitchen of his Washington residence. “Every Thanksgiving,” Mondale stated, “I make the turkey and let my wife sleep.”

Before serving as Carter’s vice president, Mondale served as a US Senator from Minnesota and wrote a book in 1975, titled, “The Accountability of Power: Toward a More Responsible Presidency.”

After their term together, on November 4, 1980, Carter and Mondale lost their reelection campaign to former President Ronald Reagan and then running-mate George H.W. Bush.

In 1984, Mondale would run again, this time securing the Democratic nomination for president and choosing the first female running mate on a general election ticket, New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro. Mondale and Ferraro were defeated by Reagan and Bush in 1984. They won only one state, Mondale’s home state, and the District of Columbia. It was the most lopsided general election defeat in US history, and when Mondale at the 1984 Democratic convention, Mondale said, “Let’s tell the truth… Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you, I just did.” The line infamously helped cement the eventual election defeat.

Walter Mondale/ Geraldine Ferraro
On Wednesday, Sept. 5, 1984, Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale and his running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, wave as they leave an afternoon rally in Portland, Ore.

With a staunch commitment to liberal politics and deep involvement with Carter’s decision-making domestically and internationally, Mondale is considered to have transformed the role of the vice presidency.

After news of Mondale’s passing broke on Monday, Carter issued a statement calling Mondale, “the best vice president in our country’s history.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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