1984 Election

Published: 1984
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
President Ronald Reagan holds up a shirt given to him by former baseball star Willie Mays after Reagan spoke to campaign workers at the White House October 30, 1984. "Gipper, #1" refers to a movie role Reagan played during his Hollywood days in which he was a football star named George Gipp. In the movie about Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne, who told his team "win one for the Gipper." (UPI Photo/Larry Rubenstein/FILES)

Gene Gibbons: Will he run again? That was the big political question around the White House as 1984 dawned. Those who wondered didn't have long to wait for an answer. It came on January 29th: in a nationally broadcast address, President Reagan made it clear he would run for another term on the state of the economy …

President Ronald Reagan: "The past year, inflation dropped down to 3.2%; interest rates cut nearly in half; retail sales are surging; homes are being built and sold; auto assembly lines are opening up; and in just the last year 4 million people have found jobs."

Gene Gibbons: Within a few weeks of his reelection announcement, the President rid himself of a political minus by pulling the Marines out of Lebanon, a move that came after more than 250 leathernecks had been killed, and he burnished his image as a world leader with trips to China and Europe. Those well-choreographed and highly publicized trips set the stage for the Republican Convention, where Mr. Reagan and Vice-President Bush were re-nominated by acclamation.

In the fall campaign, the President bragged about his record and denounced Walter Mondale's deficit-cutting tax plan …

President Ronald Reagan: "He's no doubt proud of the fact that he voted 16 times as a United States Senator to raise your taxes."

"(Crowd noises.)"

President Ronald Reagan: "But this year, he's outdone himself."

Gene Gibbons: A 50-state sweep was the President's goal, and despite Geraldine Ferraro's history-making presence on the Mondale ticket he almost pulled it off, carrying everything at Minnesota and the District of Columbia. As the year ended, Mr. Reagan was wrestling with the budget and the deficit.

This is Gene Gibbons at the White House.


Pye Chamberlayne: Mondale's latest trouble started well before election year, when organized labor endorsed him, AFL Chief Lane Kirkland intoning at a labor convention that if labor fail to endorse …

Chief Lane Kirkland: " … we shall be reviled as toothless and irrelevant."

Pye Chamberlayne: Only about a tenth of the workforce is union and the endorsement hurt Mondale in the early primaries, where labor is weak. Despite his massive frontrunner image, he only squeaked by in the snow-drifted Iowa caucuses, where Senator Gary Hart ran a shocking second, pushing Senator John Glenn into a fatal fifth place.

Labor next helped to cost Mondale New Hampshire, where Hart won and became a giant-killer. You could hear it in Hart's voice as he forged up into Maine …

Senator Gary Hart: "If we could overturn the invincible frontrunner in the State of New Hampshire in a snowstorm, think what we can do in Maine with the sun shining!"


Pye Chamberlayne: Gary Hart had now made it a two-man race. He took Maine; he swept New England; Mondale was on the ropes. Georgia was the only place in the country where the Carter connection could've helped him. It did: he won and began a long, slow comeback, helped by a new way to ridicule Gary Hart's so-called "New Ideas" …

Vice-President Walter Mondale: "When I hear your 'New Ideas', I'm reminded of that ad: 'Where's the beef?'"


Pye Chamberlayne: Soon the labor endorsement began to help, and Mondale took the giant States of New York and Pennsylvania. Hart won enough to make Mondale uncomfortable; but he never looked back, and the convention in San Francisco gave him its nomination …

Vice-President Walter Mondale: "I accept your nomination."


Pye Chamberlayne: The question was, what was it worth?

This is Pye Chamberlayne.


Ed Karrens: For Geraldine Ferraro, 1984 was a year of high hopes and great expectations. It was also a year of frustrations and disappointments. It was certainly a memorable year.

1984 was the year Democratic Presidential candidate Walter Mondale chose her to be his running mate and, in so doing, made her the first woman to ever campaign for the Vice-Presidency.

The Congresswoman from Queens, New York was in Saint Paul, Minnesota when Mondale made the official announcement of his choice …

Representative Geraldine Ferraro: "Thank you, Vice-President Mondale. 'Vice-President', it has such a nice ring to it."


Ed Karrens: Representing as she did the section of Queens used for the opening shots of the "All in the Family" show, Geraldine Ferraro was often subjected to the inevitable Archie Bunker jokes. While this was no problem, other issues definitely were. There were questions about her husband's business dealings and their tax returns, and then there was the abortion issue which plagued her campaign. As a Catholic Geraldine Ferraro supports the Church's opposition to abortion, but feels she cannot impose her views on those who do not share them …

Representative Geraldine Ferraro: "I truly take an oath as a public official to represent all the people in my district, not only the Catholics. If there comes a time where I cannot practice my religion and do my job properly, I will resign my job."

Ed Karrens: Despite surveys that showed President Reagan leading the race, she maintained her optimism right up to the night before elections …

Representative Geraldine Ferraro: "Tomorrow the nation votes. This is the clearest choice in 50 years, and I am convinced of one thing: we are going to win."


Ed Karrens: Well, it didn't work out that way; but on election night at Ferraro headquarters in New York, she said it was well worth the effort …

Representative Geraldine Ferraro: "We gave it our best, and we made a difference."


Ed Karrens: As Geraldine Ferraro said in earlier speeches, her candidacy opened doors for women that had been closed, but will never be closed again.

Ed Karrens, New York.

Pye Chamberlayne: Party harmony filled the air as Mondale left the convention; but soon discord sounded as Mondale's disastrous idea of making Jimmy Carter's crony, Bert Lance, the Democratic National Chairman backfired. He dropped the idea and offered Lance a face-saving, no-show job. But Party officials balked at that, too, and Lance was finally dumped entirely.

Mondale acknowledged his mistake …

Vice-President Walter Mondale: "It was obviously a … a misjudgment."

Pye Chamberlayne: Then during a Southern swing came an incident suggesting that some parts of the country, at least, were not ready for a woman on the ticket. During a serious discussion of farming, the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture, Jim Buck Ross, turned to Geraldine Ferraro and said, "Can you bake a blueberry muffin?" She appeared embarrassed, and Ross tried to lighten things up by speaking of Mississippi's beautiful women …

Commissioner Jim Buck Ross: "We have the prettiest women, not just south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but in the whole country, with the exception of New York."


Pye Chamberlayne: … which didn't helped matters much.

The biggest problem, though, may have been Mondale's assumption that most Americans liked the idea of Government as an expensive social force, taking care of the old, the sick, the poor, the disabled. He began the campaign saying at every stop "What kind of people are we?" confident of the answer; but he wound up saying …


Vice-President Walter Mondale: "Let us end this selfishness, this greed, this new championship of caring only for yourself."

Pye Chamberlayne: By then, even his campaign manager had told him it was all over.

This is Pye Chamberlayne.