The Contenders: Geraldine Ferraro Paves the Way - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Contenders: Geraldine Ferraro Paves the Way

The Contenders: Geraldine Ferraro Paves the Way

By Sean Braswell


Because, as Geraldine Ferraro put it best in her stump speech, “this candidacy is not just a symbol, it’s a breakthrough.”

By Sean Braswell

It was July 12 — the same date as when, in 1848, the first U.S. women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York — that Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale chose to make history in 1984. Standing next to the former vice president at a press conference in his home state of Minnesota, wearing a red dress and pearls, was his new running mate, and the first woman to hold that distinction for a major party in American history.

“Thank you, Vice President Mondale,” Queens congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, a former teacher and prosecutor, remarked before pausing. “Vice president — it has such a nice ring to it.” 

Mondale, who entered that summer trailing President Ronald Reagan by almost 20 points in some polls, saw his bleak-looking candidacy transformed overnight by his groundbreaking choice. The rapturous response following the announcement overwhelmed the campaign with floods of phone calls and new volunteers. At stop after stop on the campaign, Ferraro drew record crowds teeming with women, with fathers and their daughters, with waitresses writing out checks for their first campaign donations.

Learn more about Ferraro’s historic candidacy in The Contenders: 16 for ’16, a new TV series from OZY — airing every Tuesday this fall on PBS — that celebrates the men and women who have run the ultimate political gauntlet in pursuit of the most powerful job on Earth.

Yet no one was quite prepared for the scene that would greet Ferraro and a national television audience one week later at the Democratic convention in San Francisco.…

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