Sunday, March 27, 2011

BOSTON | Geraldine Ferraro’s selection as Walter Mondale’s Democratic running mate in the 1984 presidential election made her a winner as far as history was concerned, despite an unsuccessful campaign that proved to be a tough political slog against a popular incumbent.

Her vice presidential bid, the first for a woman on a major party ticket, emboldened women across the country to seek public office and helped lay the groundwork for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential candidacy in 2008 and John McCain’s choice of his running mate, Sarah Palin, that year.

“By choosing a woman to run, you send a powerful signal to all Americans: There are no doors we cannot unlock,” Mrs. Ferraro said in her acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic convention. “We will place no limits on achievement. If we can do this, we can do anything.”

Mrs. Ferraro died Saturday in Boston, where the 75-year-old was being treated for complications of blood cancer. She died just before 10 a.m., said Amanda Fuchs Miller, a family friend who worked for Mrs. Ferraro in her 1998 Senate bid and was acting as a spokeswoman for the family.

On her Facebook page, Mrs. Palin, who was Alaska’s governor when she ran for vice president, praised Mrs. Ferraro, of whom she often spoke on the campaign trail.

“She broke one huge barrier and then went on to break many more,” Mrs. Palin wrote. “May her example of hard work and dedication to America continue to inspire all women.”

For his part, Mr. Mondale remembered his former running mate as “a remarkable woman and a dear human being.”

“She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society. She broke a lot of molds and it’s a better country for what she did,” Mr. Mondale told the Associated Press.

Mr. Mondale’s campaign had struggled to gain traction and his selection of Mrs. Ferraro, at least momentarily, revived his momentum in his bid to unseat President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush. She was a relatively obscure congresswoman from Queens at the time.

But her candidacy ultimately proved rocky as she fought ethics charges and she traded barbs with Mr. Bush over accusations of sexism and class warfare. The Mondale-Ferraro ticket eventually lost 49 of 50 states, the largest landslide since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first re-election over Alf Landon in 1936.

Mrs. Ferraro later told an interviewer, “I don’t think I’d run again for vice president,” then added, “Next time I’d run for president.”

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