President Biden arrives in Minnesota to speak at late VP Walter Mondale's ...

President Biden arrives in Minnesota to speak at late VP Walter Mondale's ...
President Biden arrives in Minnesota to speak at late VP Walter Mondale's ...

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, a liberal icon who lost the most lopsided presidential election after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won, died Monday aged 93.

The death of the former senator, ambassador and Minnesota attorney general was announced in a statement from his family. No cause was cited.

Mondale followed his political mentor, Hubert H. Humphrey, from Minnesota politics to the U.S. Senate and the vice presidency, serving under Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.

In a final email to 320 staff who had worked for him over four decades, Mondale told his staffers how much they meant to him, adding he knew that they'd keep up 'the good fight' and 'Joe in the White House certainly helps.' 

In a statement Monday night, Carter said he considered Mondale 'the best vice president in our country's history.' He added: 'Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior.' 

'During our administration, Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before and still exists today. He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States and the World,' Carter added.

Joe Biden spoke with Mondale and his family over the weekend and said in a statement: 'When I arrived in the United States Senate in 1973, Walter Mondale was one of the first people to greet me. Through his work as a Senator, he showed me what was possible. 

'There have been few senators, before or since, who commanded such universal respect.'

Biden added that Mondale was the first person he spoke to after he was asked by President Obama to serve as vice president. 

He said: 'He not only took my call, he wrote me a memo. It was Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service.' 

Walter Mondale, the 42nd Vice President of the United States, as pictured in his official portrait in 1977, has died at the age of 93

Walter Mondale, the 42nd Vice President of the United States, as pictured in his official portrait in 1977, has died at the age of 93

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, photographed in April 2019 in Minneapolis at 91

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, photographed in April 2019 in Minneapolis at 91

His own try for the White House, in 1984, came at the zenith of Ronald Reagan's popularity. 

Mondale's selection of Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate made him the first major-party presidential nominee to put a woman on the ticket, but his declaration that he would raise taxes helped define the race.

On Election Day, he carried only his home state and the District of Columbia. The electoral vote was 525-13 for Reagan - the biggest landslide in the Electoral College since Franklin Roosevelt defeated Alf Landon in 1936. (Sen. George McGovern got 17 electoral votes in his 1972 defeat, winning Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.)

Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, right, were the longest-living post-presidential team in U.S. history

Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, right, were the longest-living post-presidential team in U.S. history

A Jimmy Carter - Walter Mondale Campaign poster from 1978

A Jimmy Carter - Walter Mondale Campaign poster from 1978

'I did my best,' Mondale said the day after the election, and blamed no one but himself.

'I think you know I've never really warmed up to television,' he said. 'In fairness to television, it never really warmed up to me.'

Years later, Mondale said his campaign message had proven to be the right one.

'History has vindicated me that we would have to raise taxes,' he said. 'It was very unpopular, but it was undeniably correct.'

In 2002, state and national Democrats looked to Mondale when Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., was killed in a plane crash less than two weeks before Election Day. Mondale agreed to stand in for Wellstone, and early polls showed him with a lead over the Republican candidate, Norm Coleman.

But the 53-year-old Coleman, emphasizing his youth and vigor, out-hustled the then-74-year-old Mondale in an intense six-day campaign. Mondale was also hurt by a partisan memorial service for Wellstone, in which thousands of Democrats booed Republican politicians in attendance. One speaker pleaded: 'We are begging you to help us win this election for Paul Wellstone.'

Polls showed the service put off independents and cost Mondale votes. Coleman won by 3 percentage points.

Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn Carter, left, with running mate Walter and wife Joan Mondale after the acceptance of the Democratic nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention in New York City

Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn Carter, left, with running mate Walter and wife Joan Mondale after the acceptance of the Democratic nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention in New York City

Vice President Walter and Joan Mondale pose for a portrait in the Oval Office with President Jimmy and Roselyn Carter

Vice President Walter and Joan Mondale pose for a portrait in the Oval Office with President Jimmy and Roselyn Carter

President Jimmy Carter presents his National Energy Plan to a joint session of Congress. Vice President Walter Mondale is seated behind him

President Jimmy Carter presents his National Energy Plan to a joint session of Congress. Vice President Walter Mondale is seated behind him

Jimmy Carter, left, with his wife Rosalyn, together with Joan Mondale and her husband Walter  chat while posing for photographers at the Carter home after winning the election in 1976

Jimmy Carter, left, with his wife Rosalyn, together with Joan Mondale and her husband Walter  chat while posing for photographers at the Carter home after winning the election in 1976

'The eulogizers were the ones hurt the most,' Mondale said after the election. 'It doesn't justify it, but we all make mistakes. Can't we now find it in our hearts to forgive them and go on?'

It was a particularly bitter defeat for Mondale, who even after his loss to Reagan had taken solace in his perfect record in Minnesota.

'One of the things I'm most proud of,' he said in 1987, 'is that not once in my public career did I ever lose an election in Minnesota.'

Years after the 2002 defeat, Mondale returned to the Senate to stand beside Democrat Al Franken in 2009 when he was sworn in to replace

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