An article Saturday about Geraldine A. Ferraro incorrectly said that during a speech to the National Women's Political Caucus she accused President Reagan and conservative religious leaders of opposing busing for racial integration. She did not mention busing among a variety of issues that she said they opposed.
For a moment today, the old magic returned for Geraldine A. Ferraro. She was back in the spotlight, surrounded by the faithful.
Someone began shouting, "Gerry, Gerry," and soon the sound echoed throughout the hotel ballroom as hundreds of delegates to the National Women's Political Caucus jumped to their feet and joined the chant.
Ferraro, the defeated Democratic vice-presidential candidate, beamed. She was on a sentimental journey.
The former member of Congress from Queens said she came to thank the 77,000-member organization. "I will always be grateful to you for having an opportunity to play a part in the greatest democratic drama in the world," she said.
Ferraro was interrupted repeatedly by applause and shouts of approval when she attacked President Reagan and "male-dominated, conservative religious leaders" for opposing legalized abortion and busing for racial integration, issues that plagued Ferraro during her vice-presidential bid.
She said a woman's right to choose abortion "is inseparable from our struggle for political and economic independence."
"For millions, it is a very real question of money. For these women, it is the core of their freedom," she said.
"For poor women, it means a choice of being driven further into poverty by the cost of caring for a child she cannot afford. For teen-agers, it means a choice of not leaving high school or job-training programs," she added.
"Abortion is a personal decision, not a political one," Ferraro said. "The choice should be a woman's to make. It does not belong to Jerry Falwell [founder of the Moral Majority] or Ronald Reagan."
In a subsequent interview, Ferraro said she thinks that the abortion issue will haunt her if she decides to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.). She said she chose to emphasize it because she wants to make the dialogue about abortion "less one-sided."
Ferraro's appearance came two years after the convention of the women's political caucus heard the first tentative discussion about a woman on the Democratic Party's presidential ticket for 1984 and almost a year after Democratic presidential nominee Walter F. Mondale selected Ferraro as his running mate.
At that time, Ferraro's champions insisted that 1984 would be the year of closing the gender gap and that women were so angry with President Reagan that they would vote him out of office.
A majority of women, however, voted for Reagan, although they were less supportive of him than were men, according to exit polls. The number of women in the House and Senate did not increase, but the number of women state legislators rose by 99.
As delegates gathered for this four-day convention, which began Thursday, there was surprisingly little talk about Ferraro or what went wrong with her campaign.
"This is the kind of group that is anxious to welcome her, but we don't have time to dwell on her," convention chairwoman Kathy Wilson said. "This group loves her. Her success makes us proud."
Ferraro has gone on to other things. She has made a controversial television commercial for Pepsi-Cola, written a book and began a speaking tour, on which she made 43 speeches during the last two months.
Ferraro was one of five women who spoke during opening ceremonies here. The others were astronaut Sally Ride, civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, Atlanta businesswoman Betty Smulian and Flo Hyman, a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic volleyball team.
Ferraro was mentioned during workshops today and Thursday. Republican pollster Linda DiVall said that, while Ferraro's nomination scared GOP strategists for "two or three weeks," they defused the women's vote by appealing to women's economic self-interests.
Democratic pollster Dotty Lynch said her party did little to cultivate women voters. "We put a woman on the ticket and said that was enough," she told one workshop.
In the interview, Ferraro delivered this assessment: "I think the election's over. I don't think we should blame anyone."