Ferraro, 1st woman on US presidential ticket, dies

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Geraldine Ferraro, the  Democratic congresswoman who became the first woman on a major  party presidential ticket as Walter Mondale’s running mate in  1984, died today at the age of 75, her family said.
Ferraro died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston of  a blood cancer after a 12-year illness, according to a  statement from her family.
“Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life  waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never  be forgotten and will be sorely missed,” the statement said.
Ferraro was an energetic and articulate three-term  congresswoman with a liberal reputation when Mondale picked her  from the male-dominated U.S. House of Representatives.  Ferraro’s presence on the Democratic ticket generated  excitement on the campaign trail, particularly among women.
Yet on Election Day, Republican President Ronald Reagan and  Vice President George Bush won in a landslide, carrying every  state except Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.
In delivering her concession speech that night, Ferraro  saluted Mondale for helping women reach new political heights.
“For two centuries, candidates have run for president. Not  one from a major party ever asked a woman to be his running  mate — until Walter Mondale,” she said.  “Campaigns, even if  you lose them, do serve a purpose. My candidacy has said the  days of discrimination are numbered.”
She drew attention during the campaign for breaking with  her Catholic Church in supporting abortion rights.
As the first Italian-American on a major presidential  ticket, Ferraro also faced questions about whether her family  had connections to organized crime but none surfaced. The  finances of her husband, John Zaccaro, also faced scrutiny.
President Barack Obama praised Ferraro’s service and said  she would have an impact on his daughters’ lives.
“Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who  broke down barriers for women and Americans of all backgrounds  and walks of life,” he said in a statement. “… Sasha and  Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life  Geraldine Ferraro chose to live.”

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