Walter Mondale Wednesday reportedly decided to pick Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate, which would make her the first woman vice presidential candidate if nominated next week by the Democratic National Convention.
The Knight-Ridder newspapers and Cable Network News reported Rep. Ferraro was Mondale's choice and CBS reported she was on her way to Minnesota.
Mondale's campaign chairman James Johnson told reporters only that the former vice president had made his choice and would announce ita noon CDT news conference in the state capitol in St. Paul.
Mondale and his adies gave no hint on who he will choose, but there were reports that Mayors Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco and Henry Cisneros of San Antonio were on the list of finalists who had submitted their financial and health records to Mondale.
'Earlier this evening, vice president Mondale came to the decision as to who his running mate will be in the 1984 election,' Johnson told reporters. 'He has spoken with that person on the phone and asked his selection to be with him tomorrow at noon at the Minnesota State Capitol where he will announce his choice.'
'I believe I'm still in the running,' Ms. Ferraro told reporters in San Francisco, saying she was asked to supply both health and financial records. Mondale aides have said only a few serious contenders would be asked for such details.
Mondale moved toward wrappingup his vice presidential selection as the first Democratic delegates arrived in San Francisco for the convention which opens next Monday.
Earlier in the day it was reported that Mondale's campaign had informed Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas that he was no longer under consideration.
Maxine Isaacs, Mondale's press secretary, told a press briefing that neither Sen. Gary Hart nor Jesse Jackson were under active consideration for the post, but she would only rule out Jackson as a possibility.
In Chicago, Jackson said he had had a 'very spirited' telephone conversation with Mondale and praised the likely Democratic presidential nominee for using a process of selecting a running mate he described as 'fundamentally good.'
'He has interviewed a broad range of people,' Jackson said in an interview with United Press International.
The civil rights activist said Mondale telephoned him to explain a statement that Jackson would not be considered as a running mate because 'the differences between them were too great' and it would 'not be a compatible partnership.'
'I don't find that response to be offensive,' Jackson said.
Jackson last month called the process a 'P.R. parade of personalities' and complained in a Los Angeles Times interview published Tuesday about not being considered himself.
But following his talk with Mondale, Jackson said, 'I'm delighted that women, blacks and Hispanics were considered for the first time.'
In Washington, Hart was asked about the vice presidency in an interview with KTVI-TV in St. Louis and a number of other television stations.
'I would do it if I were asked,' the senator from Colorado said. Pressed on the subject, Hart said: 'I think it would be very hard to turn down.'
Mondale and top aides conferred throughout the day at his home on the selection process, and there was increasing likelihood he would announce his choice before the Democratic National Convention opens on Monday.
'I asked him ... how he himself would characterize where he is in the process at this point, and he said, 'I'm closing in on a decision,'' Ms. Isaacs told reporters. 'My sense of it is .... that we are very very close,' she added.
Mondale prepared to leave his home Friday for a brief stop at his boyhood home of Elmore, Minn., en route to Lake Tahoe, Calif., where he will spend the weekend before going to the Democratic National Convention Monday.
Mondale said in an interview on the NBC 'Today' program that he has no personal dislike of President Reagan, who is 'genuine enough as far as I'm concerned,' but will continue to criticize Reagan's policies because they are bad for the nation.
Asked if he liked Reagan, he replied, 'It's not personal at all, not a bit. I'm not passing judgment. He's genuine enough as far as I'm concerned.'
But, Mondale said, 'We're talking about issues that count. I may like Ronald Reagan, but I don't like toxic waste dumps. I may like Ronald Reagan, but I don't like what he did with the Civil Rights Commission and his opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. ... It's not a personal question; it's a question of what's right for our nation.
Washington attorney John Reilly, who is Mondale's chief adviser on the selection of a vice president, flew back to Minnesota Wednesday after a hasty trip to San Francisco to talk again with Rep. Ferraro.
In Washington, congressional sources confirmed reports in two Texas newspapers, the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News, that the senator had been advised by the Mondale campaign that he was no longer under consideration.
However, when asked to comment on the Bentsen report, Mondale's deputy campaign press secretary, Dayton Duncan, said, 'No one has been ruled out.'
Mondale also has talked to Mayors Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, Henry Cisneros of San Antonio and Wilson Goode of Philadelphia and Gov. Martha Layne Collins of Kentucky about the vice presidency.