Walter Mondale, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, announces that he has chosen Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate. Ferraro, a daughter of Italian immigrants, had previously gained recognition as a vocal advocate of women’s rights in Congress. Ferraro became the first female vice presidential candidate to represent a major political party.
Four days after Ferraro was named vice presidential candidate, Governor Mario Cuomo of New York opened the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco with an impassioned retort to Republican President Ronald Reagan’s contention that the United States was a “shining city on a hill.” Citing widespread poverty and racial strife, Cuomo derided President Reagan as oblivious to the needs and problems of many of America’s citizens. His enthusiastic keynote address inaugurated a convention that saw Ferraro become the first woman nominated by a major party for the vice presidency. However, Mondale, the former U.S. vice president under Jimmy Carter, proved a lackluster choice for the Democratic presidential nominee.
On November 6, President Reagan and Vice President George Bush defeated the Mondale-Ferraro ticket in the greatest Republican landslide in U.S. history. The Republicans carried every state but Minnesota—Mondale’s home state.
Ferraro left Congress in 1985. In 1992 and 1998, she made unsuccessful bids for a U.S. Senate seat. During President Bill Clinton’s administration, she was a permanent member on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. She died in 2011, at age 75. In 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first female vice president.