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Walter Mondale made a late campaign pitch in Spokane in 1984 presidential race

April 19, 2021 Updated Mon., April 19, 2021 at 9:18 p.m.

Walter Mondale campaigned for U.S. president in Spokane on Oct. 29, 1984.  (Kit King/THESPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Walter Mondale campaigned for U.S. president in Spokane on Oct. 29, 1984. (Kit King/THESPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The political winds were strongly against Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale, who died Monday at 93, when he came to Spokane on Oct. 29, 1984, for a rally at the old Davenport Hotel.

It was one week before the election. The polls had him down around the country, including in Washington, where he was 6 percentage points behind President Ronald Reagan.

Like many candidates trailing in the polls late in a campaign, the former vice president invoked the image of President Harry Truman, who defied the polls in 1948. 

Supporters who packed the sweltering lobby chanted “We Want Fritz.” A group of Reagan supporters jousted verbally with shouts of “Four more years.” The Davenport was a favorite venue for political candidates in those days. His running mate Geraldine Ferrarro had packed the place in early September, and then-Vice President George Bush had been there a couple weeks earlier.

The room got so hot that a woman in the front of the crowd fainted and had to be carried out of the building. Mondale quieted the crowd while she was helped from the building.

He tried to counter Reagan’s military buildup and confrontation with the Soviet Union by calling for more arms control, meeting the Soviets on “common ground,” and saying the United States should be exporting more agricultural products and fewer weapons.

The nation wouldn’t just strengthen the Marine Corps, Mondale said. It should also strengthen the Peace Corps. 

He stayed the night in Spokane before taking an early morning flight to Duluth and continuing a strenuous campaign schedule of 18-hour days. A week later, however, Reagan won in a landslide, carrying 49 states. Mondale carried his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

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