Former Vice President Walter Mondale, a liberal icon who lost the most Former Vice President Walter F. 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. The death of the former senator, ambassador, and Minnesota attorney general was announced in a statement from his family. No cause was cited.
He was born Walter Frederick “Fritz” Mondale on January 5, 1928, and he died on April 19, 2021). Walter Mondale was an American politician, diplomat, and lawyer who served as the 42nd vice president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A United States senator from Minnesota (1964–1976), he was the Democratic Party’s nominee in the 1984 United States presidential election. Still, he lost to incumbent Ronald Reagan in an Electoral College and popular vote landslide.
Reagan won 49 states while Mondale carried his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. In October 2002, Mondale became the last-minute choice of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party to run for Senate after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone but was defeated by Saint Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. Mondale became the oldest living former U.S. vice president after the death of George H. W. Bush in 2018.
Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1951 after attending Macalester College. He then served in the United States Army during the Korean War before earning a law degree in 1956. He married Joan Adams in 1955.
Working as a lawyer in Minneapolis, Mondale was appointed Minnesota Attorney General in 1960 by Governor Orville Freeman and was elected to a full term as attorney general in 1962 with 60% of the vote. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Karl Rolvaag upon the resignation of Senator Hubert Humphrey following Humphrey’s election as vice president in 1964.
Mondale was elected to a full Senate term in 1966 and reelected in 1972, resigning in 1976 as he prepared to succeed to the vice presidency in 1977. While in the Senate, he supported consumer protection, fair housing, tax reform, and the desegregation of schools. Importantly, he served as a member of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations concerning Intelligence Activities (the “Church Committee“).
In 1976, Jimmy Carter, the Democratic presidential nominee, chose Mondale as his vice-presidential running mate. The Carter–Mondale ticket defeated incumbent president Gerald Ford and his vice president, Bob Dole.
A worsening economy marred carter and Mondale’s time in office, and they lost the 1980 election to Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. In 1984, Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination and campaigned for a nuclear freeze, the Equal Rights Amendment, an increase in taxes, and a reduction of U.S. public debt. His vice president was Geraldine Ferraro, a Congresswoman from New York, the first female vice-presidential nominee of any major party in U.S. history. Mondale and Ferraro lost the election to the incumbents Reagan and Bush.
After his defeat, Mondale joined the Minnesota-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (1986–1993). President Bill Clinton appointed Mondale United States Ambassador to Japan in 1993; he retired from that post in 1996. In 2002, Mondale ran for his old Senate seat, agreeing to be the last-minute replacement for Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash less than two weeks before the election.
Mondale narrowly lost the race to Saint Paul mayor Norm Coleman. He then returned to working at Dorsey & Whitney and remained active in the Democratic Party. Mondale later took up a part-time teaching position at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.