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Walter Mondale, who chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in the 1984 presidential race, remembered her Saturday as a pioneering politician and exceptional human being.
Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, died of complications from multiple myeloma Saturday in Boston. She was 75.
Mondale, a Democrat, chose her to run with him against President Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush.
In a phone interview from his Twin Cities home Saturday, Mondale said he last spoke with Ferraro by phone about two weeks ago. It was near the end, and they had the opportunity to say goodbye, he said.
He had spoken to her son about two days ago, so her death did not come as a shock, Mondale said. "I'm just very sorry about the tremendous struggle that she had to put up with," he said of her battle with cancer.
"She was a wonderful human being, and I was proud to have her with me as a running mate," Mondale said. "She was very competitive and effective and had a spirited belief in social justice. She was a pioneer who helped break the mold."
He lauded his friend as a leader of a generation that changed things for American women, both in and out of politics. "She was part of those meaningful changes, and she deserves a lot of credit," he said.
"She was a very feisty, competitive woman" who worked to make America "more open and just," Mondale said.
The first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Minnesota, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, praised Ferraro as "a shining role model for all women in politics."
In a statement issued by her office, Klobuchar recalled Ferraro's nomination in 1984: "It made me think anything and everything is possible."
And, Klobuchar noted, 27 years ago only one woman was serving in the Senate; today there are 17.