Former US Vice President Walter Mondale Dies At 93

When a person is best known for suffering a great loss, it's unfortunately easy for their respectable legacy to be overshadowed by that moment in time.

Not only does this kind of popular perception tend to reduce a person to a minor footnote but the lens of hindsight makes it harder to appreciate why they were entered in the race in the first place.

But in the case of former vice president Walter Mondale, his story leaves far more to discuss than his presidential bout with Ronald Reagan in 1984.

And on April 19, Mondale's story ended with his passing at the age of 93.

After representing Minnesota in the Senate for 12 years, Mondale was named as former president Jimmy Carter's running mate in 1976.

As CNN reported, both Kamala Harris and Joe Biden credit Mondale for redefining the vice presidency as a partnership rather than a subordinate position or a backup for an incapacitated president.

According to Reuters, he was also considered an invaluable buttress between Carter and Congress in what was described as a "sometimes frayed relationship" between the Executive and Legislative branches.

During both his tenure in the Senate and as a vice president, Mondale was passionate about using government powers to address social issues.

As Reuters reported, he applied this passion to civil rights, the racial integration of schools, the struggles of farmers and laborers, and consumer protection measures.

But while he was passionate about the issues of the day while he was an office, he was ahead of his time while running for president.

According to Reuters, he was the first presidential candidate representing either of America's major political parties to choose a woman as his running mate.

In this case, it was New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro, who herself passed away in 2011 at the age of 75.

However, he would go on to experience on of the most extreme presidential losses in history, winning only in Minnesota and Washington D.C. during his race against Reagan.

That loss comes down to a variety of factors, not the least of which was the fact that Reagan was a popular incumbent during a period of economic prosperity.

This was hardly helped by the fact that Mondale promised to raise taxes to reduce to deficit. He stated that Reagan was about to do the same but that he would actually admit it.

In 2004, Mondale looked back on that moment, saying, "I'm really glad I did it. It's something that I felt good about, and I thought I told the truth."

After a narrow Senate defeat in 2002, Mondale would essentially find himself in political retirement.

According to CNN, he would start experiencing health issues in 2014 and 2015, as he respectively had to undergo heart surgery and was hospitalized with a serious flu.

Mondale was aware that his time was coming in his final days of life and had the following statement prepared for his staff:

I am eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side! Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight. Joe in the White House certainly helps. I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!"

In this statement, he referred to his late wife Joan and daughter Eleanor, who passed away in 2014 and 2011, respectively.

Mondale was honored by his friends and partners when news of his death broke.

As CNN reported, Biden considered Mondale both a friend and mentor who was among the first to welcome him to the Senate and the first person he called when Barack Obama chose him as his running mate.

Carter also praised Mondale's legacy in a statement obtained by Reuters, saying, "Today I mourn the passing of my dear friend Walter Mondale, who I consider the best vice president in our country's history. He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States, and the world."

h/t: Reuters, CNN