NEW YORK -- Walter Mondale drew his biggest crowd of the campaign, estimated at 100,000, in New York City today in a joint appearance with Geraldine Ferraro and he accused President Reagan of making 'false and contemptible charges' against Democrats.
The two Democratic candidates were cheered by thousands at a traditional pre-election lunch-hour rally in New York's Garment District. The streets were closed to traffic and people hung out of windows, dropping confetti and rolling white streamers down from eight stories up.
Mondale predicted he will win the election next Tuesday, despite polls showing him far behind Reagan. 'I need your help,' he told the crowd.
Mondale also noted that Reagan made a speech in New York last week accusing the Democrats of being soft on anti-Semitism because their party platform did not include a plank condemning Louis Farrakhan, the black Muslim leader who has made many disparaging remarks about Jews and Israel.
'Mr. President, that charge says something about you,' Mondale said. 'That is false and contemptible and the American people do not like that kind of politics anywhere in this country.'
Mondale noted that he has publicly condemned anti-Semitism for years 'and I stood up to those radical preachers who are so close to this president who have taken over the Republican Party. They want to breach the wall that separates church and state. They don't understand our history and they don't understand the American people.'
The crowd was estimated at 100,000 by Chief Gerard Kerins of the Manhattan South Precinct.
Among those attending the rally were movie stars Paul Newman and Ellen Burstyn. Newman sat next to Ferraro's 79-year-old mother Antonetta.
On Wednesday, Mondale campaigned in Buffalo, criticizing Reagan for saying that Ferraro's nomination was not a great breaking point and implying she was not qualified to run for president. Reagan said today his statement was not intended as a criticism of Ferraro.
Mondale said he picked Ferraro as his running mate 'because she's the best.'
'The record is there,' he said. 'She is far better prepared for her position than Mr. Reagan was when he was elected president of the United States.'
Mondale also took a swipe at Reagan's running mate, Vice President George Bush.
'There is a character flaw in Mr. Bush,' Mondale said. 'He has not once, but three times, made snide remarks about Geraldine Ferraro.
'It had to be deliberate. And he didn't have the character to apologize.'
Mondale said Bush also had failed to apologize to him for accusing the Democratic team of saying the Marines killed in Lebanon last year 'died in shame.' The comment dogged Bush, who was unable to substantiate the assertion that Mondale or Ferraro had ever made the remark.
In an interview with Hearst Newspapers, Reagan said he did not see the choice of Ferraro as a 'great breaking point.'
'I guess what I'm saying is that movement must be based not just purely on the sex of the candidate but must be based also on the qualifications of the candidate,' Reagan said, adding that the choice was 'kind of reaching.'
In his campaigning Wednesday, Mondale continued to draw large, enthusiastic crowds.
The reception at Baltimore's waterfront was so rousing it would have suggested he was the front-runner if the polls did not show otherwise.
The crowd of thousands, interrupting singer Steven Stills in the middle of a song, cheered Mondale as he entered the crowd.
When Mondale mentioned pollsters who show him losing to Reagan, there were boos.
Mondale said, 'We can win this,' and the crowd roared in agreement.
With the U.S.S. Constellation, a restored ship from the war of 1812, providing the background and red-white-and-blue balloons decorating the platform, Mondale delivered a rousing attack on Reagan.
'He came to Baltimore and he looked out on the Baltimore Harbor and he said we need to get this harbor dredged,' Mondale said. 'And as he was doing it, one the same day, his administration was busy cutting the funds necessary for dredging.