Jimmy Carter on death of Walter Mondale: ‘the best vice president’

Running-mates last saw each other at 2019 retreat

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Former President Jimmy Carter reacted Monday to the death of his former vice president Walter Mondale, calling him a “a model for public service and private behavior” and the nation’s best-ever vice president.

Here is the text of Carter’s statement:

Today I mourn the passing of my dear friend Walter Mondale, who I consider the best vice president in our country’s history.

During our administration, Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driven force that had never been seen before and still exists today. He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States, and the world. Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior.

Rosalynn and I join all Americans in giving thanks for his exemplary life, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.

Credit: Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Credit: Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

With Mondale as his running mate, Carter was elected president in 1976 and served one term, losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Carter is 96. One of their campaign slogans, “Grits and Fritz in ‘76,” played off Mondale’s nickname and Carter’s deep Southern roots.

Carter and Mondale last saw each other in June of 2019 when the former vice president at Carter’s annual Carter Center Retreat in Leesburg, Virginia.

The two were jointly interviewed by historian Jon Meacham and they both took turns blasting the then-Trump Administration, telling old stories and reflecting on their four years together in the White House.

Mondale called Trump a “cheerleader” for the “right-wing surge” of authoritarian leadership around the world. He said he was “hateful” in a way he’d never seen before and suggested that Trump had “psychological problems.

“He’s got something deep in him that is detestable,” Mondale said.

But many in the audience, former White House staffers, regaled in the old stories from their White House days about issues like the Vietnamese boat people, the return of the Panama Canal to Panamanian control and dealing with apartheid policies in South Africa.

Mondale, who lost his only presidential election campaign in 1984 to Ronald Reagan in a landslide, mocked himself by joking that nobody had asked him how he would beat Trump, who at the time was in a pitched battle for re-election.

“They are talking about left and right,” Mondale said about the ages of Trump and Joe Biden at the time. “But maybe it’s young and old.”