In their last joint appearance before Election Day, Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine A. Ferraro drew an estimated 100,000 supporters to a Garment District rally where the Democratic candidates denounced the "radical preachers" and "extremists who control the Republican Party."
Later, at an appearance in Brooklyn, Mondale warned that President Reagan's reelection could "unleash an orgy of religious intolerance in our land."
In a pair of Garment District speeches clearly intended to woo Jewish, black and women voters, Mondale vowed to reassert the American "sense of pluralism," while Ferraro said her selection as Mondale's running mate "did more for equal opportunity in a single day than Ronald Reagan did in four long years."
Mondale again excoriated Reagan for saying last week that the Democratic Party has failed to condemn anti-Semitism aggressively.
"Mr. President, that charge says something about you. That is false and contemptible and the American people do not like that kind of politics . . . . ," Mondale said.
"I have denounced Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan many times over. And I've . . . stood up to those radical preachers who are so close to this president, who've taken over the Republican Party."
Before an audience of more than 1,000 in the predominantly Jewish Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, Mondale was even harsher.
"Let me tell it to you straight," he said of Reagan's charge. "It angered me. I resent it. I think it's despicable and I think it's inexcusable."
"No president in the history of the United States will do more to sweep anti-Semitism out of this country and to stand up for the rights of Jewish Americans all over this world than I will," he said.
Mondale also sharpened his attack on certain fundamentalist ministers.
"This crowd doubts the depth of the faith of the American people. . . and they think government must be used to somehow save the people from their own lack of commitment to their own religious faith," he said. "I do not doubt Mr. Reagan's position. But some of his friends threaten to unleash an orgy of intolerance in our land . . . . "
In their earlier appearance, Mondale and Ferraro were greeted by a lunchtime crowd that choked the streets and sidewalks for several blocks in each direction along Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
Along with clusters of balloons, the crowd, which included New York Mayor Edward I. Koch and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, was showered with confetti and crepe streamers.
Tonight, Mondale told a predominantly black audience of more than 1,500 in Cleveland that the administration has a callous attitude toward blacks.
"When this crowd talks about independence, it's code for forgetting you. When they talk about bootstraps, it's code for budget cuts. And when they talk about the free market, it's code for discrimination. And when they talk about work, it's code for saying that you're lazy," Mondale said.
"Well, I have a message for Mr. Reagan. When we talk about Social Security, it's code for getting a new president on Nov. 6."
Some observers believe the 11th-hour emphasis on the traditionally Democratic constituencies of Jews and blacks may be too little, too late.
Mondale's appearance in Cleveland tonight was only his sixth before a predominately black crowd since his nomination in July.
In the remaining days of the campaign, Mondale and Ferraro are trying to convince voters that the large crowds they are drawing reflect a Democratic groundswell undetected by the polls. After alluding to large crowds in Washington state and Chicago, Mondale said, "We're gonna win because we're right. And we're gonna win because the American people do not want others deciding for them what they want for this country."
In Cleveland, Mondale for the first time spoke lightly of the president's age Reagan is 73 after asking the audience when was the last time they heard Reagan use words like "decency," "compassion" and "justice," and getting crowd responses of "never, "1942" and "when he was in the movies."
"I tell you, you get a lot of help here," Mondale joked. "The other day, I was quoting a sermon that was 300 years old. I said, 'I wonder if Reagan knows what's in it?' And someone said, 'He was there.' "