Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP
President Biden and Vice President Harris commended former Vice President Walter Mondale upon news of his death Monday, crediting him for paving the way in choosing a woman to run on a presidential ticket.
Harris reflected on the notion by Mondale that his choice of a female running mate when he ran for president in 1984 opened “a new door to the future.”
Mondale became the first major-party candidate to select a woman, former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, as the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee.
The Mondale-Ferraro ticket went on to lose to then-Republican nominee Ronald Reagan, but Mondale’s vice presidential pick paved the way for Harris, who more than 30 years later would make history as the first female vice president.
Biden in a statement also reflected on Mondale’s historic pick, saying it “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.
Biden said Mondale, then a Minnesota senator, was one of the first people to greet Biden when he arrived in the Senate in 1973. Biden also said that Mondale was his “first call and trusted guide” when Biden was asked to be former President Obama’s running mate.
“He not only took my call, he wrote me a memo,” Biden said. “It was Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service.”
Biden wrote that Joan, Mondale’s wife of nearly 60 years, did the same for first lady Jill Biden, “helping her carve out a role for herself as our nation’s Second Lady.”
Biden and Harris both confirmed that they spoke with Mondale a few days ago. Biden said he reflected on the “years of friendship we shared, and how much we learned from and leaned on each other,” while Harris thanked Mondale for his service.
“Each time I open my desk drawer and see his signature there, alongside the signatures of 11 other Vice Presidents, I will be reminded of and grateful for Vice President Mondale’s life of service,” Harris said.
Harris also reflected on the precedent Mondale set in the vice president’s office.
“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 added.
“I will miss him dearly, and my heart is with his family today. I hope they find comfort in knowing that he is with his beloved wife, Joan, and daughter, Eleanor, now—and that his legacy will live on in all of us,” Harris wrote.
A family spokesperson confirmed on Monday evening that Mondale died peacefully of natural causes, while surrounded by his immediate family at his home in downtown Minneapolis.
Before serving as vice president, Mondale represented Minnesota in the Senate, and served as Minnesota’s attorney general.
After his time in the White House, Mondale was tapped by the Clinton administration to serve as ambassador to Japan.
In a farewell letter to his staff that was sent after his death, Mondale told his current and former team “I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side!” according to Axios.
“Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight,” he continued.
Mondale also gave a nod to President Biden, writing in the note that, “Joe in the White House certainly helps.”