Geraldine Ferraro, first woman nominated as a major party VP, in 1984
July 23, 2014 9:31 PM   Subscribe

There were a number of notable firsts for women elected to office as early as the late 1800s, and there is a significant history of women running for president and vice president in the United States, but until 1984, no woman had been nominated to as vice president in one of the major parties. 30 years ago, the Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale announced Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, and she accepted the nomination to resounding roar of excitement (another version, on YouTube; transcript).
GERALDINE FERRARO: I was stunned by the reception.

And, all of a sudden, I looked down. They were all women and children. And so many of them were crying. I remember thinking, I just don’t want to make a mistake. I have to talk slowly. I tried — I had never used prompters before then.

I also took my speech, because I wanted to be sure, if the prompters went out, so that I could look down and read it, and tell my daughters, whatever you do, don’t cry, because we can’t. Women can’t cry over the things. It’s too emotional, and it’s a tough job. And you have to be tough to be vice president of the United States.

And so I looked out and I said, my name is Geraldine Ferraro.

My name is Geraldine Ferraro


GERALDINE FERRARO: And the place went crazy.


GERALDINE FERRARO: Ladies and gentlemen of the convention…


GERALDINE FERRARO: I got two words out of my mouth, and they would applaud and yell, “Gerry, Gerry.” And it was very, very slow.

And it was almost like a dance between me and these people.

I stand before you to proclaim tonight, America is a land where dreams can come true for all of us.
Though they ended up with 40.56% of the popular vote, their candidacy ended as an astonishing failure in terms of electoral votes, and it would take another 24 years for another woman to be nominated to be vice president in a major US political party. Some of the same issues facing Ferraro again faced Palin, including the questions based on female stereotypes -- Ferraro was asked if she "could push the button," while Palin was asked if she could handle Russia, and both were questioned on their roles as women and mothers in interviews and profiles. The state of Ferraro's husband's finances were questioned, and became a sticking point that stopped the momentum gained by the initial nomination, though when he was asked about it years later, Mondale said he made the right choice with Ferraro.

Though she was not elected to office following the 1984 defeat, she ran for a Senate in 1992, and was appointed by then President Bill Clinton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1994, then was with Senator Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential candidacy on her fundraising committee. Ferraro also hosted on CNN's Crossfire, and later joined Fox News as a commentator, where she talked about the 2008 presidential election on election night with Sarah Palin.

Geraldine Ferraro passed away in 2011, and her legacy was recalled far and wide, remembered by Hillary Clindon (interview, on YouTube) and Sarah Palin (clip on Fox News). Progress has been made since 1984, though some comment that the pace of change is too slow.
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. I can't believe that was 30 years ago, and also this post is amazing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:35 PM on July 23, 2014 [8 favorites]

Oh my god, I am so old.
posted by gingerest at 10:50 PM on July 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

I remember being so excited about Geraldine Ferraro getting the VP nomination... I was five. What kind of five year old gets pumped about politics? (The very nerdy kind, obviously.)
posted by palomar at 10:57 PM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

I remember very clearly it being a moment when Ferraro was picked and thought we might be getting somewhere. I was not able to vote until the next election, so I was still pretty young. It made a big impression on me and I was watching how she was treated like a hawk. And the narrative in the media and how politicians interacted her made me feel like it was almost a step backward. But, I can't regret that she was chosen and that we started somewhere. I am a bit disappointed that my older daughter actually thought women couldn't be president. It was not a great moment, even after I casually said, yes, yes, of course they can and made mention of various notable women, here and overseas, she asked, oh, so there has been a woman president? No, no there hasn't, nor vice president, but maybe for you. Heck, maybe for me.

I know there was a post, a link, something on Metafilter I'm pretty sure, that showed a boy looking at a poster and it was all female presidents and I thought yeah, it would be nice to have some more representation at all levels of government, including president.

Thanks for putting this together, I look forward to sharing it with my daughter.
posted by dawg-proud at 10:57 PM on July 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

It's a issue of note in the up coming presidential elections, and to be honest one I sort of struggle with. Not the 'can a woman be a good president' because, duh, yeah of course, but the candidates available. The best viable candidate is, well, H. Clinton, and I've serious issue concerns regarding her. I know there is a lot of talk about trying to draft Warren, but I think the absolute best thing she could (and maybe should) do is join the primary just to push the more liberal issues into the spotlight and not have it be all center-right all the time.

But then, you know, Clinton would be pretty good on a handfull of very important domestic issues, and that might be good enough. My mom is a big Clinton supporter, and passionatly wants a woman president before she passes away, and I can empathize.

I don't like the idea of another Clinton-Bush eleelection, and I don't think I would vote for her in the primary... but in the world of least-bad choices I believe I could vote for her in the General with only a handful of misgivings.
posted by edgeways at 12:12 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was 10 years old when this happened (almost 11), and I remember being super excited about her too. It's hard to believe it's been that long! (Yes, I feel ancient too)
posted by SisterHavana at 1:05 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I remember this race (It was the first time I could vote in a Presidential election) -- I was not terribly enthused by Mondale (being more anti-Reagan than pro-Mondale), but I was excited by the possibility of a woman being VP. It seemed like we had turned a corner, but, alas, no.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:11 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Warren is not going to run for President. She has said it repeatedly, and she's not just being coy. Most recently: "No means No."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:56 AM on July 24, 2014

My grandfather was a big Reagan supporter. He got an Anti-Mondale button that mocked Ferraro as his VP choice. The button showed Mondale and Dolly Parton, and read "Do you really want Fritz and Tits in the White House?"

My sister's absolutely freaked out over the button, and my grandfather got the message and never wore the campaign button again. I actually kept it and still have it. After that, I got a bunch of different other buttons from the campaign and kept them too. I have been collecting campaign buttons ever since. The Fritz and Tits button started my collection.
posted by Flood at 4:56 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fritz and Tits... wow. GOP's been keeping it classy for a real long time, huh.
posted by palomar at 8:50 AM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Drat. I think I was a bit congested ... in my fingers. Erm. At least I spelled her name correctly in the tags.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on July 24, 2014

Warren is not going to run for President. She has said it repeatedly, and she's not just being coy.

I think she's great, but I really don't want her to run. I think she can do a lot more good in the senate holding bankers' feet to the fire!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:38 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Amen to that, brother.
posted by carping demon at 1:34 PM on July 24, 2014

Yeah, I guess I may have been a little unclear. I (also) don't think she is going to run, nor do I think she would win a Presidential election, but part of me wished she would at least enter the primaries and debates just to drag the overall debate away from center.
posted by edgeways at 1:50 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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