Walter Mondale Transformed the Vice Presidency

Reactions to former VP's death
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2021 1:04 AM CDT
Walter Mondale Turned VP From 'Figurehead' to Something More
In this Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, file photo, former Vice President Walter Mondale, left, sits onstage with former President Jimmy Carter during a celebration of Mondale's 90th birthday at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota's campus, in Minneapolis.   (Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP, File)

Prior to Walter Mondale serving as Jimmy Carter's vice president, the person holding the position was "largely a figurehead," writes Karen Tumulty in the Washington Post. Mondale, who died Monday at 93, was the first VP to have a West Wing office and a weekly lunch with the president; he used an "activist model as an all-purpose adviser and troubleshooter," and both our current president, who was once a VP himself, and our current VP owe him a debt of gratitude for it. Full piece here. More remembrances of Mondale:

  • The editorial board of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune agrees, writing that Mondale, a son of Minnesota, "dramatically reshape[d]" the office of VP, making the position "an active partner in the presidency." He was also the first to name a woman to run on a presidential ticket when he selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in 1984.

  • Indeed, President Biden himself also agrees: "It was Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service," he and wife Jill say in a lengthy statement referring to Mondale as Biden's "trusted guide" when Barack Obama was in the process of selecting Biden as his running mate.
  • And Vice President Kamala Harris said much the same in her own statement: 'He brought the president and the vice President closer together, redefining the relationship as a true partnership. 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." Harris also lauded Mondale's choice of Ferraro as his running mate.
  • The New York Times rounds up a number of reactions to Mondale's death from other big names including Obama and Carter, who called his VP the best one the US has ever seen. See them all here.
  • Axios has a copy of Mondale's farewell letter to his staff, which expresses his gratitude at knowing "Joe" is "in the White House." Read it here.
(Read more Walter Mondale stories.)

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