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Former US Vice President Walter Mondale Dies At 93

Former US Vice President Walter Mondale Dies At 93

Walter Mondale, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States during Jimmy Carter’s presidency and unsuccessfully sought the presidency as the Democratic Party’s candidate in 1984, passed away this evening at his Minneapolis home at the age of 93.

A Rise To Power: Walter Frederick Mondale was born Jan. 5, 1928, in Ceylon, Minnesota. Mondale, who was nicknamed “Fritz” throughout his life, attended Macalester College for two years and transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he received a political science degree in 1951. He served in the U.S. Army for two years and then enrolled in the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating in 1956.

Mondale made his entry into political office in 1960 when Minnesota Gov. Orville Freeman appointed him to fill the vacancy as the state’s attorney general. Mondale was elected in his own right in 1962.

His next political office was also by appointment when Freeman’s successor, Gov. Karl Rolvaag, appointed Mondale in 1964 to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hubert Humphrey when the senator resigned after being elected vice president. Mondale won the election to a full term in 1966 and was re-elected in 1972.

In the Senate, Mondale collaborated with Massachusetts Republican Edward Brooke on the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin and sex. He also served on the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee that investigated the 1967 Apollo 1 fire that killed three astronauts and the Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities Committee that probed alleged abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Vice President And Presidential Candidate: Mondale declined an offer by Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) to run as his vice president on the 1972 Democratic Party ticket, but he accepted the same offer from former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter and Mondale defeated incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford and his running mate, Kansas Sen. Bob Dole.

Before the Carter presidency, the office of the vice president was mostly viewed as a figurehead position and not as a trusted advisor to the commander-in-chief. Under Carter, Mondale played a more prominent role in shaping policy than the former vice presidents – he was also the first vice president to have an office in the White House.

Carter’s presidency was marred by a fraying economy and foreign policy problems, and in 1980, the Carter-Mondale ticket lost its re-election to Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Mondale sought to return to the White House in 1984 as the Democratic nominee for president, and he made history by choosing Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY), marking the first time a woman was on the presidential ticket from a major party. However, Mondale and Ferraro lost in a landslide election, winning only Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

Late Career: Mondale joined the Minnesota-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney after his election defeat and also became a fellow with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. President Bill Clinton appointed Mondale as U.S. Ambassador to Japan in 1993 and served through 1996.

In 2002, Mondale made a bid for his former Senate seat when incumbent Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash less than two weeks before the election. But he lost the race to Norm Coleman, the Republican mayor of Saint Paul. Although he remained an active figure in Democratic politics, Mondale focused his remaining career years at Dorsey & Whitney and took a teaching position with the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Mondale married Joan Adams in 1955 and the couple had three children: Eleanor Mondale, a television journalist; Ted Mondale, a former member of the Minnesota Senate and CEO of the data processing company Nazca Solutions; and William Mondale, a former Minnesota assistant attorney general. Joan Mondale passed away in 2014 and Eleanor Mondale died from brain cancer at the age of 51 in 2011.

(Photo of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, courtesy of the Library of Congress.)


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