Geraldine Ferraro, Trailblazing Female VP Candidate, Dies at 75
Sat, Mar 26, 2011www.nbcnewyork.com
Geraldine A. Ferraro, who earned a place in history in 1984 as the first woman to run on a major party national ticket for vice president, has died. She was 75-years-old.
Ferraro, who was born in Newburgh, New York, passed away Saturday at Massachusetts General Hospital while surrounded by her loved ones, a statement from her family said.
The cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for twelve years, her family said.
Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro, a former Queens school teacher and Congresswoman, earned a place in history as the first woman and first Italian-American to run on a major party national ticket, serving as Walter Mondale's Vice Presidential running mate in 1984 on the Democratic Party ticket.
President Barack Obama called Ferraro a trailblazer and said his daughters will grow up in a more equal country because of her ideals. Ferraro "fought to uphold American's founding ideals of equality, justice and opportunity for all," the president said.
Mondale chose Ferraro to run with him against incumbents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Delegates in San Francisco erupted in cheers at the first line of her speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination.
"My name is Geraldine Ferraro,'' she declared. "I stand before you to proclaim tonight: America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us.''
Her acceptance speech launched eight minutes of cheers, foot-stamping and tears.
Ferraro sometimes overshadowed Mondale on the campaign trail, often drawing larger crowds and more media attention than the presidential candidate.
"No one asks anymore if women can raise the money, if women can take the heat, if women have the stamina for the toughest political campaigns in this country,'' Judy Goldsmith, then-president of the National Organization for Women told People Magazine in December, 1984. "Geraldine Ferraro did them all.''
But controversy accompanied her acclaim. Frequent, vociferous protests of her favorable view of abortion rights marked the campaign.
Ferraro's run also was beset by ethical questions, first about her campaign finances and tax returns, then about the business dealings of her husband, John Zaccaro. Ferraro attributed much of the controversy to bias against Italian-Americans.
Mondale said he selected Ferraro as a bold stroke to counter his poor showing in polls against President Reagan and because he felt America lagged far behind other democracies in elevating women to top leadership roles.
"The time had come to eliminate the barriers to women of America and to reap the benefits of drawing talents from all Americans, including women,'' Mondale said.
In the end, Reagan won 49 of the 50 states, the largest landslide since Franklin D. Roosevelt's first re-election, in 1936 over Alf Landon.
In the years after the race, Ferraro told interviewers that she would have not have accepted the nomination had she known how it would focus criticism on her family.
"You don't deliberately submit people you love to something like that,'' she told presidential historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in an interview in Ladies Home Journal. "I don't think I'd run again for vice-president,'' she said, then paused, laughed and said, "Next time I'd run for president.''
In 1992 and 1998, Ferraro was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination to the United States Senate.
Some observers said legal troubles involving her husband and son were a drag on her political ambitions. Ferraro's husband pleaded guilty in 1985 to a misdemeanor charge of scheming to defraud in connection with obtaining financing for the purchase of five apartment buildings. Two years later he was acquitted of trying to extort a bribe from a cable television company.
Ferraro's son, John Zaccaro Jr., was convicted in 1988 of selling cocaine to an undercover Vermont state trooper and served three months under house arrest.
Mondale, her former running mate, said Saturday that Ferraro was a "remarkable woman and a dear human being."
"She was a remarkable woman and a dear human being. She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society. She broke a lot of molds and it's a better country for
what she did," he said.
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