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U.S. presidential election, 1984
The U.S. presidential election of 1984 was a contest between the incumbent President Ronald Reagan and the former Vice President Walter Mondale. Reagan was very popular, as his first term had seen the start of a strong economic boom and a resurgence of American military strength. Mondale was unable to deflect these positives or Reagan's personal charisma, and lost in every state in the union except for his home state of Minnesota.
Republican Party nomination
Ronald Reagan was unopposed as the nominee for the Republican Party.
Democratic Party nomination
The field was crowded in the race for the Democratic nomination:
- Reubin O'D. Askew, former governor of Florida
- Alan M. Cranston, U.S. senator from California
- John H. Glenn Jr., U.S. senator from Ohio
- Gary W. Hart, U.S. senator from Colorado
- Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings, U.S. senator from South Carolina
- The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson of Illinois
- George S. McGovern, former U.S. senator from South Dakota and Democratic presidential nominee in 1972
- Walter F. "Fritz" Mondale, former U.S. vice president and former U.S. senator from Minnesota
In the Iowa caucuses, the results were as follows: Mondale 45%, Hart 15%, McGovern 13%, Cranston 9%, Uncomitted 7%, Glenn 5%, Askew 3%, Jackson 3%, Hollings 0%.
In the New Hampshire primary, the results were as follows: Hart 37.3%, Mondale 27.9%, Glenn 12.0%, Jackson 5.3%, McGovern 5.2%, Reagan 5.0% (write-in votes), Hollings 3.5%, Cranston 2.1%, Askew 1.0%.
Jackson was the second African-American (after Shirley Chisholm) to mount a nationwide campaign for the President. He garnered 3.5 million votes during the primaries, third behind Hart and Mondale. Through the process, Jackson helped confirm the black electorate's importance to the Democratic Party. During the campaign, however, Jackson made an off-the-record reference to Jews as "Hymies" and New York City as "Hymietown", for which he later apologized.
Gary Hart managed to mount a very successful campaign, winning the New Hampshire, Ohio, and California primaries as well as many others, especially in the west, but he couldn't overcome Mondale, who received the majority of the delegates. Mondale used the Wendy's slogan "where's the beef?" to describe Hart's policies during the primaries.
Mondale won the nomination, and chose U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York as his running mate, making her the first woman nominated for that position by a major party. Mondale ran a liberal campaign, supporting a nuclear freeze and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). He spoke against what he considered to be unfairness in Reagan's economic policies and the need to reduce federal budget deficits.
When he made his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention, Mondale said: "Let's tell the truth. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did." Although Mondale intended this to demonstrate that he was honest while Reagan was hypocritical, it was widely remembered as simply a campaign pledge to raise taxes, and it hurt him in the end. In 1986, Reagan ultimately did sign into law a bill that raised taxes for corporations, but at the same time cut taxes further for individual taxpayers.
At a campaign stop in Hammonton, New Jersey, Reagan said "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in songs of a man so many young Americans admire, New Jersey's Bruce Springsteen." The Reagan campaign also adopted Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." as its theme, until Springsteen demanded it to stop. Springsteen officially endorsed Mondale.
By this point, Reagan was the oldest president to have ever served, and there were many questions about his capacity to endure the grueling demands of the presidency. In the second debate against Mondale on October 21, 1984, Reagan effectively neutralized the issue with the following quip: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Reagan was re-elected in a landslide, winning every state except Mondale's home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia, creating a record 525 electoral vote total (of 538 possible), and received nearly 59 percent of the popular vote. Political commentators used the term Reagan Democrat to describe the defection of many Democrats to voting for Reagan in the election.
|- | Walter Frederick Mondale | Democrat | Minnesota | style="text-align:right;" | 37,577,352 | style="text-align:right;" | 40.6% | style="text-align:right;" | 13 | Geraldine Anne Ferraro | New York | style="text-align:right;" | 13
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