September 17, 2021

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Jimmy Carter Leads Tributes to Walter Mondale – The New York Times

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Former President Jimmy Carter credited Walter F. Mondale, his onetime vice president who died on Monday at 93, with transforming the office from a secondary role to a governing partner with his political skill and personal integrity.

Mr. Carter led the tributes to Mr. Mondale, many of them coming from the political left.

They recalled Mr. Mondale, the 42nd vice president and a former U.S. senator who lost the 1984 presidential election in a landslide to Ronald Reagan, as an indefatigable advocate for liberal causes like civil rights reform and a gracious public servant who selected the first female running mate on a major party ticket, Geraldine Ferraro.

In a statement, Mr. Carter, 96, called Mr. Mondale, whose nickname was Fritz, the best vice president in American history.

“During our administration, Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before and still exists today,” Mr. Carter said. “He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States, and the world. Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior.”

President Biden, in a joint statement with the first lady, Jill Biden, said on Monday night that he had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Mondale and his family over the weekend. He recalled how Mr. Mondale was one of the first people to greet him when he arrived in Washington in 1973 when both he and Mr. Mondale were senators, and how he looked to him for advice.

“When President Obama asked me to consider being his vice president, Fritz was my first call and trusted guide,” Mr. Biden said. “He not only took my call, he wrote me a memo. It was Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service.”

Mr. Biden said that few senators had commanded such universal respect as Mr. Mondale.

“He may have been modest and unassuming in manner, but he was unwavering in his pursuit of progress; instrumental in passing laws like the Fair Housing Act to prevent racial discrimination in housing, Title IX to provide more opportunities for women, and laws to protect our environment,” he said.

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman elected to the office, lauded Mr. Mondale for his collaborative role in the Carter administration and for his selection of Ms. Ferraro in 1984 as his running mate.

“He brought the president and the vice President closer together, redefining the relationship as a true partnership,” Ms. Harris said in a statement on Monday night. “Vice President Mondale worked side by side with President Carter as the two endeavored to end the arms race, promote human rights and establish peace.”

Ms. Harris said that Mr. Mondale’s choice of Ms. Ferraro had opened “a new door to the future,” to borrow his words.

Former President Barack Obama said Monday night on Twitter that Mr. Mondale had laid the groundwork for future vice presidents to become major contributors to White House administrations.

“Walter Mondale championed progressive causes and changed the role of VP — so leaders like @JoeBiden could be the last ones in the room when decisions were made,” Mr. Obama said. “In selecting Geraldine Ferraro, he also paved the way for @VP to make history. Michelle and I send prayers to his family.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Mr. Mondale’s home state of Minnesota who ran unsuccessfully for president last year, said on Twitter that he had been a mentor and friend to her, and that he was kind and dignified until the end.

“On the wall of the Carter Library is a quote of Walter Mondale’s at the end of their time in office,” Ms. Klobuchar said. “ ‘We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.’ That pretty much sums up Walter Mondale’s life and service.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said on Twitter that Mr. Mondale was well-respected and liked on both sides of the aisle.

“This was a man of intelligence and integrity, and he practiced both during his long career in public service as a state attorney general, ambassador, U.S. senator and vice president,” she said.

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2016, termed Mr. Mondale on Twitter Monday night as a visionary.

“So much to say about Walter Mondale,” Mr. Kaine said. “I will always think of him as the chief sponsor of the Fair Housing Act and first presidential candidate to ask a woman to join him on the ticket. Ahead of his time.”

The tributes to Mr. Mondale did not come exclusively from the left.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said Monday night on Twitter that Mr. Mondale brought an upbeat disposition to public service.

“It’s hard to find a picture of Fritz Mondale where he isn’t smiling,” Mr. Romney said. “A cheerful and good soul who will surely be welcomed by a loving God.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a former presidential candidate, offered his condolences on Twitter to Mr. Mondale’s family and friends.

“He served his country with great distinction and was passionate about his causes,” he said of Mr. Mondale. “A true public servant who will be missed.”

Senator Bill Hagerty, Republican of Tennessee, extended his sympathies to Mr. Mondale’s family Monday night on Twitter.

“While Walter Mondale and I had different political beliefs, when I was U.S. Amb. to Japan, a position he once held, he was always gracious and kind with his time & advice,” he said. “I will treasure our calls & correspondence.”

The Rev. Franklin Graham, the leader of Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical organization, said on Twitter that Mr. Mondale had served the nation faithfully for years and that his family would appreciate the prayers of Americans.

The opposition party in Mr. Mondale’s home state also gave him a nod on Monday night.

“In spite of our obvious political differences, there is no denying Mondale was a man of character who had the best interests of his fellow Minnesotans in mind when governing,” the Republican Party of Minnesota said on Twitter.

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