The Robinson Library

The Robinson Library >> United States >> 1961-2001 > Biography, A-Z
Walter "Fritz" Mondale

Senator, the first Vice-President to have an office in the White House, presidential candidate

Walter Mondale

Walter Frederick Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota, on January 5, 1928, and attended public schools in Heron Lake and Elmore. After high school he attended Macalester College in St. Paul, and then the University of Minnesota, from which he graduated with a B.A. in political science in 1951. While in college he helped manage Hubert H. Humphrey's first successful U. S. Senate campaign, in 1948. After college he served as a corporal in the U.S. Army (1951-1953), and then went on to receive his LL. B. (cum laude) from the University of Minnesota Law School, in 1956. He spent the next four years practicing law in Minneapolis.

In 1960, Mondale managed the re-election campaign of Governor Orville Freeman, who then appointed him State Attorney General. He was subsequently elected to that office in 1962, and served until 1964.

On December 30, 1964, Mondale was named to fill the U. S. Senate seat vacated by Hubert Humphrey's election as Vice-President. He was elected in his own right in 1966 and 1972. During his tenure, Senator Mondale supported open housing, racial integration of schools, migrant worker protection and tax reform; he initially supported but later opposed the Vietnam War. He served on the Finance Committee, the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and as chairman of the Select Committee on Equal Education Opportunity and of the Intelligence Committee's Domestic Task Force.

When James Earl Carter received the Democratic nomination for President in 1976, he chose Mondale as his running mate. After the election, Mondale became the first Vice-President to have an office in the White House. He served as a full-time participant, advisor, and troubleshooter for the administration and traveled extensively on behalf of the President, both domestically and internationally. In his role as President of the Senate he supported legislation on trade union reform, an increase in the minimum wage, and tighter control on U. S. intelligence operations.

After Carter and Mondale lost their bid for re-election in 1980, Mondale returned to Minnesota and resumed his law practice. He also established a political-action committee to raise and distribute funds to Democratic candidates.

In 1984, Mondale was nominated as the Democratic nominee for President, and chose Representative Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. The two campaigned in favor of a nuclear freeze, a reduction in the federal budget deficit, and the Equal Rights Amendment, but were defeated easily by the immensely popular incumbent President Ronald Reagan, winning only Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

Mondale spent the next few years practicing law, teaching, studying, and traveling. In 1990 he established the Mondale Policy Forum at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, which brings together leading scholars and policymakers for annual conferences on domestic and international issues. From 1986 to 1993 he served as chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, which conducts non-partisan international programs to help maintain and strengthen democratic institutions. He also served on the executive committee of the Peace Prize Forum, as director of the Council on Foreign Relations, and on the boards of numerous non-profit and corporate institutions.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Mondale as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan; he served in that capacity until December 1997, after which he again returned to his law practice.

In 2002, Mondale was appointed to fill in for the late Senator Paul Wellstone less than a week before the election, but lost the subsequent election for a full term to Republican Norm Coleman. He has since concentrated on his law practice.

Mondale is the athor of The Accountability of Power: Toward a Responsible Presidency.


Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
Great Norwegians Homepage


Orville Freeman
Hubert Humphrey
James Earl Carter
Geraldine Ferraro
President Ronald Reagan
Paul Wellstone

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> United States >> 1961-2001 > Biography, A-Z

This page was last updated on October 09, 2018.