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Walter Mondale

(b. 1928)


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(b. Ceylon, Minnesota, 5 Jan. 1928)

US; US Senator 1965–77, Vice-President 1977–81, Democratic presidential candidate 1984 Educated at the University of Minnesota, where he took a BA and LLB, Mondale practised law in Minneapolis. In 1960 he was elected Attorney-General of Minnesota. He was a protégé of Hubert Humphrey in the Democratic Party of Minnesota. In 1964, with Humphrey's election as Vice-President, Mondale was elected to the Senate seat from Minnesota which had been vacated by Humphrey when he became Vice-President of the United States. He supported the liberal measures of President Johnson on such issues as civil rights, anti-poverty, and the environment. He was re-elected for a second Senate term in 1970 and continued to work for liberal reforms, though with little success in the more conservative mood of America in the 1970s.

In 1976 he was chosen as vice-presidential candidate by Jimmy Carter. His selection was crucial to the victory by a very narrow margin of the Democratic ticket in the presidential election of 1976. As a liberal from a Northern state he balanced the ticket which was headed by Carter, a conservative Democrat from a Southern state. Moreover, he projected a very favourable image in the 1976 campaign, especially in the vice-presidential television debate with his Republic rival, Robert Dole. In office as Vice-President, he continued to project a favourable image and he was a very influential adviser within the Carter administration. He retained prestige and popularity while Carter steadily lost respect and popular approval. He was renominated as vice-presidential candidate in 1980, but despite an effective campaign and favourable comparison with his Republican rival, George Bush, the Carter–Mondale ticket lost heavily to the Republican ticket headed by Ronald Reagan.

In 1984 he successfully sought the Democratic nomination for President. The mood of public opinion had, however, moved in a conservative direction, and he was identified with a discredited liberal Democratic standpoint. Moreover, his Republican opponent, President Reagan, had won widespread popularity by boosting national morale, pursuing expansionist economic policies and strengthening national defence. As a result Mondale suffered humiliating defeat, winning only his home state of Minnesota. He returned to law practice in Minneapolis, though he continued to be a respected senior figure within the Democratic Party. With the election of a Democratic President in 1992, President Clinton appointed him as American ambassador to Japan, where he served until 1996, and in 1998 he served as Clinton's special envoy to Indonesia. Mondale stood unsuccessfully in Minnesota for the Senate following the death of the Democratic candidate eleven days before the 2002 election.

Subjects: Politics.


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