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President Walter Frederick Mondale
The 1984 Election Campaign
When 1984 began it seemed incumbent president Ronald Reagan would be unbeatable in the upcoming presidential election. An economic boom in the USA was largely attributed to Reagan by the public, that combined with him surviving an assassination attempt early in his presidency had earned large support.
The Democratic Primaries saw three strong contenders for the Presidential Nomination: Former Vice President Walter Mondale, Colorado Senator Gary Hart and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
Though Hart would make an unexpectedly strong showing, he was ultimately beaten by Mondale who went on to become the nominee. Mondale used the then popular line "Where's the beef?" when describing Hart's "new ideas" platform.
Despite the bitter primary, Mondale ultimately decided to choose Hart as his running mate. Mondale hoped to use Hart's youth and verbal skills to his advantage, and to appeal to young voters.
In June, Reagan's problems began to mount. A doctor's appointment revealed he had cancerous polyps on his colon that were promptly removed. This cause questions of his health and if he was fit to lead. Reagan attempted to laugh off such concerns, claiming "I've survived a bullet; a few small bumps won't slow me down." Unfortunately this proved unsuccessful when cancer cells were discovered on his nose and quickly removed.
Reagan's health concerns combined with the positive reaction of Mondale choosing Hart caused Reagan's original 10 point lead in the polls to drop to 5.
The Democratic National Convention took place from July 16 to July 19. It was seen as a great success for the party. Hart gave an energetic speech where he promised to bring a voice for a new generation to Washington. He took a shot at Reagan claiming he was waging a war against the poor, "Well Reagan, you'll find out how hard it can be to find a job once we get you out of Washington and to the unemployment line!" was a popular line from Hart's speech.
Mondale gave a more subtle, but well received speech where he promised to fight for the middle class, for the forgotten citizens and for a more peaceful, more secure world. Word is originally Mondale was going to admit he would raise taxes if elected, but was talk out of it by Hart. This has never been proven.
The convention gave Mondale-Hart another bump cutting Reagan's lead down to 2 points.
Reagan's health concerns continued when in early August more cancer cells were discovered on his nose and were removed.
Near the end of August the Republican National Convention was held. It was highlighted by Reagan swearing his recent health problems had only made him stronger. Reagan-Bush saw their led bump back up to 5 points.
The Presidential Debates followed, Mondale won both decisively. Reagan was forced during the debates to go on the defensive and downplay questions about his health and questions over his fitness to lead. Mondale gained considerably in the eyes of voters, many who watched the debates called Mondale intelligent, determined and that he had a clear vision, while Reagan came off as confused and angry.
For the first time in the campaign the Mondale-Hart ticket took a lead in the polls with 2 points.
The Vice-Presidential debate was much closure with both sides declaring victory. Bush stated the Reagan had shown real leadership and a clear economic plan in his four years in office while Mondale was associated with "The failed Carter presidency." Hart shot back saying Reagan had forgotten real Americas and favored the rich. The debate was seen as a tie and the poll numbers didn't change.
As Election Day came closure The Reagan campaign released "The Bear in the Woods" ad which implied the U.S.S.R. was a threat and that Mondale would not be a strong leader. The also released an ad showing the disagreements Hart and Mondale had during the primaries and suggested that both were right, and that neither could lead the country.
In response the Mondale campaign released an ad playing up "Reagan's war against the poor and middle class" the ad appealed to Blue Collar workers in the Northeast who' d seen massive closings in the Steel, Auto, Rubber, and Chemicals industries.
The polls became even as the election neared.
What was seen originally as an easy win for Reagan became a nail biter.
Ultimately Mondale-Hart won with 296 Electoral votes, carrying: Washington. Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Ohio, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Florida and The District of Columbia.
Mondale and Hart were sworn in on January 20th, 1985, both promising a fair and strong America for all its citizens.
Mondale's first term was relatively successful according to most historians. He profited from a rebounding economy and peaceful times. He was very popular for combating Chinese Illegal Trade Practices, moving the country to clean renwable energy, and defending American foreign interest. He pulled funding from Afghanistan Rebels stating "What happens when the Soviets leave? I'll tell you they'll turn on us!" , but heavy fighting continued until the Soviet pulled out of the country. The Mondale/Hart ticket saw reelection in 1988 over Republican Bob Dole.