Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale (January 5, 1928 – April 19, 2021) was a politician, statesman, diplomat, and lawyer who served as a U.S. senator from Minnesota from 1964 to 1976 and as the 42nd vice president of the United States from 1977 to 1981 under President Jimmy Carter.. In 1984 he was the Democratic Party's nominee for president of the united states.
As a Senator, Mondale had been the primary sponsor of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 – transformative legislation that outlawed the Refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of their race, color, religion or national origin.
Walter Mondale was the first vice president to have an office in the White House and established the concept of an "activist Vice President." He began the tradition of weekly lunches with the president, which continues to this day. More importantly, he expanded the vice president's role from figurehead to presidential advisor, full-time participant, and troubleshooter for the administration. Subsequent vice presidents have followed this model.[38
In 1984 he made history as the Democratic presidential nominee when he selected New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. Making her the first woman on a national ticket
In August of 2019, we had the honor and privilege of spending some with former Vice President Mondale as Joe Lockhart and I traveled to Minneapolis to interview him for Words Matter.
Joe had served in a senior position on Mondale’s 1984 Presidential Campaign and as far as Walter Mondale was concerned - that made him part of the family, literally.
They had kept in touch over the years. The former Vice President regularly held events and get togethers with his former staffers where ever he traveled - and Joe had always attended no matter how busy he was.
At 91, Mondale was still very sharp and as always polite, courteous and inquisitive. He asked about Joe’s wife and children by name and remembered small details about their last visit that Joe himself had forgotten.
He wanted to understand all he could about how podcasts worked, how many people listened, and why they were popular.
What impressed me most about him were his humility, self awareness and introspection. While most politicians can muster faux humility – during a campaign – that was not what Walter Mondale was all about. As with everything else - he was sincere and genuine.
Mondale was brutally honest and realistic about why his 1984 campaign had been soundly defeated. Even with the microphones turned off, he was complimentary of former Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush - And unlike like most politicians- he took full responsibility (even for things that were not his fault) for the historic loss to Ronald Reagan.
As we got ready to leave, the former Vice President was the embodiment of Minnesota Nice - he thanked us for making the trip, told us how much he enjoyed the interview, made Joe promise to send his regards to his family and even asked if we were all set with ride to airport.
As he walked us to the elevator - he shook my hand and gave Joe a hug and told us both to “keep up the good fight”.
Last weekend - just days before his passing Walter Mondale sent a final message to his staff:
Well my time has come. I am eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I Go 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!
Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight.
Joe in the White House certainly helps.
I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!
My best to all of you!
With that let’s listen to Joe Lockhart’s interview with the late, great former Vice President - Walter Mondale.
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