Geraldine A. Ferraro today called her bid for the vice presidency "a triumph for all those who stood up for the cause of equality through the years" and proof that American women "can do anything."
Nearly four months after her selection as Walter F. Mondale's running mate, and four days before the election, the first major-party female nominee for national office emotionally described "a new world for American women."
"From Harriet Tubman and the abolitionists of the underground railroad to the suffragists, this campaign proves what Susan B. Anthony always knew. Because our cause is just, we cannot fail," the Democratic candidate said in a speech before 2,000 enthusiastic supporters at Los Angeles Valley College.
"The tyranny of expectations has ended," Ferraro said. "We can be whatever we want to be. And whatever that choice is, we want to be judged by the quality of our products. We aren't women doing men's jobs. We're women doing work.
"What we're saying is, there is no single proper role for American women. We can do anything," she said.
"We can win Olympic gold medals and coach our daughters' soccer teams. We can walk in space and help our children take their first steps . . . . We can be doctors and also bake cookies with our 6-year-old future scientists.
"We can be all these things, but we don't have to be any of them. We don't have to be superwomen, either. For the first 14 years of my married life, I worked at home as a mother and wife . . . . Then I decided to work outside the home and that was also the right decision for me. Not every woman would agree with the decisions I have made. But the point is that the choice was mine and we each make our own decisions."
For more than two months after her selection, Ferraro kept a low profile in appealing to her most obvious constituency: women. Ferraro's strategists generally shunned public rallies with women's groups. Instead, she stressed arms control and the threat of nuclear war, issues that she deemed particularly resonant among women.
In late September, however, polls showed Ferraro less effective than expected in luring women voters from President Reagan. She then began to speak to women of the symbolism of her candidacy and "the bond between us."
In today's speech, Ferraro accused Republicans of disputing "our right to equal educational opportunity and ridiculing our quest for comparable pay." She characterized Tuesday's election as a choice "between justice and injustice for American women."
"Every father is diminished when his daughter is denied a fair chance. Every son is a victim when his mother is denied fair pay. And when we lower barriers, open doors and free women to reach wherever their dreams will take them, our talents are multiplied and our country is stronger," she said.
"When I have seen the proud faces of fathers holding their daughters high above the crowd, I know they have begun to dream the same dream for their daughters that they have for their sons."
Later, during a drizzly outdoor rally before 15,000 supporters in San Francisco, Ferraro said, "When Fritz Mondale tore down that rusty, 200-year-old sign that said, 'Men only need apply,' on the door of the highest offices of this nation, that move was historic and it was bold."
At Van Nuys, Ferraro was introduced by her daughter, Laura, 18, who described her mother as "the queen of breakfast" because of her concern that her three children eat a morning meal.
"Even last Monday on the campaign trail, she held up the motorcade so I could finish my breakfast," Laura added.
After dryly thanking her daughter for "that fine introduction," Ferraro said, "The issue is not only equality. It's also choice. I don't want anyone, especially not Ronald Reagan, to make my most important, personal choices."