Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Presidential candidate Walter Mondale surprised most political observers in 1984 when he announced Rep. Geraldine Ferraro as his choice for running mate at the Democratic National Convention. During the campaign that followed, Ferraro was plagued by questions regarding financial dealings. Mondale and Ferraro were trounced by the Republican incumbents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. She now works at Weber McGinn, an Arlington-based public affairs and lobbying firm. An excerpt from The Post of July 20, 1984:
Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.), an immigrant's daughter from Archie Bunker's district in Queens, tonight told a cheering Democratic National Convention that her selection as the first woman on the presidential ticket of a major party proved that "America is the land where dreams can come true for all our citizens."
"Occasionally in life there were moments which cannot be completely explained by words," she said, quoting from the late Martin Luther King Jr., her voice quavering with emotion. "Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart."
"Tonight is such a moment for me," the 48-year-old congresswoman said in her first nationally televised speech after being nominated by acclamation as the party's vice-presidential candidate. "My heart is filled with pride."
A sea of blue Mondale-Ferraro placards waved below the convention podium and the crowd interrupted her to chant, "Gerry, Gerry, Gerry!"
"By choosing an American woman to run for our nation's second-highest office, you send a powerful signal to all Americans," she added later. "There are no doors we cannot unlock. We will place no limits on achievement.
"If we can do this, we can do anything," she said to thundering cheers. "Tonight, we reclaim our dream. We're going to make the rules of American life work fairly for all Americans again."
It was a rare, genuinely poignant moment in the history of Democratic conventions. Few politicians have captured the heart of a convention as Ferraro has this week.
All week words such as "historic," "unprecedented," and "daring" have been rolling off the lips of Democrats. But today there was an outpouring of emotion.
Her speech was interrupted by cheers 50 times, and followed by a nine-minute demonstration. Some women had tears in their eyes; others danced in the aisles; still others stomped the floor, rocking the hall in almost a tribal rhythm, as they chanted. Virtually everyone waved American flags. . . .
For some men, the selection represented a roll of the dice by Democratic presidential nominee Walter F. Mondale, a desperate gamble at upsetting Ronald Reagan on Nov. 6 that added life to the ticket. . . .
"She saves the Democratic ticket in the fall, that's the way I look at it," said Gary Alexander, chairman of the Prince Georges County, Md., delegation. "The Republicans must be eating their hearts out."