Historic Whispers: Reagan's Re-election Campaign and Woman on the Presidential Ticket

Twenty-five years ago, Ronald Reagan was thinking about re-election.

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For this week's Historic Whispers, we looked back 25 years to the spring of 1984 for the beginning of President Ronald Reagan's re-election bid. Democrats were trying to pick a candidate to go up against the popular Reagan. Modern Washington power players—like Ted Kennedy and Donald Rumsfeld—were making it into the Whispers column as well.

  • Republicans think they've spotted a chink in Walter Mondale's armor. They've noted that Mondale tends to get testy when pressed about his role as Jimmy Carter's Vice President, intend to hammer him on that subject in the fall campaign in hopes of making him blow up. (Feb. 13, 1984)
    • How serious are Democrats about considering a woman for Vice President? Party Chairman Charles Manatt says he expects the "short list" of half a dozen finalists to include two, perhaps three, females. (Feb. 13, 1984)
      • Members of Congress face a heart-rending decision. Dump the "vanity" license plates on their private cars and lose their traditional immunity to traffic tickets in Washington, or keep the special plates and ignore warnings of security officials that the tags make them ripe targets for terrorists. (Feb. 13, 1984)
        • How the Democratic presidential candidates measure up in the eyes of political analysts. . . . Best organized: Walter Mondale. Best orator: Jesse Jackson. Most candid: Ernest Hollings. Most learned: George McGovern. Most conservative: Reuben Askew. Most handsome: Gary Hart. Dullest: A tie between John Glenn and Alan Cranston. (Feb. 20, 1984)
          • Behind Ted Kennedy's hesitancy to endorse Walter Mondale for President: He is still stinging over Mondale's implied doubts of Kennedy's patriotism when the Massachusetts senator was fighting Jimmy Carter for the nomination in 1980 and Mondale was vice president. (Feb. 20, 1984)
            • Persistent rumors that Reagan had suffered a heart attack or other serious illness are more than gossip, White House officials have concluded. They suspect sharp traders plant the false reports at carefully timed intervals in order to clean up in the stock markets. (Feb. 27, 1984)
              • Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole makes no bones about disagreeing with the White House's opposition to air bags as safety equipment for cars. Dole not only ordered her official limousine with the device but also is considering having one installed in her private car. (Feb. 27, 1984)
                • Republicans hope John Glenn doesn't bomb out too soon in the Democratic race for President. They fear that, with liberal Gary Hart as principal challenger, Walter Mondale would look moderate in comparison and end up in the fall taking votes that otherwise would go to Reagan. (March 5, 1984)
                  • Democratic members of Congress returned to work with unsettling news. Most voters they talked with blame the nation's trouble on Congress, cabinet secretaries or foreign foes—everybody but Reagan. (March 5, 1984)
                    • You can scratch those reports saying Mideast envoy Donald Rumsfeld is on the verge of quitting. The hard-driving former Defense Secretary won't stay indefinitely, but he refuses to leave amid the smell of defeat in Lebanon and wants to achieve some sign of progress toward peace. (March 12, 1984)
                      • The President is dead serious about pressing Congress to legalize prayer in public schools. He has ordered aides to lobby lawmakers on the prayer issue as vigorously as they pressed earlier for the MX missile. (March 12, 1984)
                        • Political pros are already talking about a running mate for Gary Hart. Heading the list: Senators Bill Bradley of New Jersey and Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, Governor Mario Cuomo of New York. (March 19, 1984)
                          • Look for Reagan's appearances before religious groups to taper off after a couple more sessions. Republican campaign strategists figure the President has rallied about all the support he can get from that area, and he now will back off before he arouses a backlash among voters. (March 19, 1984)
                            • Women activists are stepping up pressure on Democrats to nominate a female for Vice President. The National Women's Political Caucus is circulating campaign buttons boosting Representatives Geraldine Ferraro of New York, Patricia Shroeder of Colorado and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland in addition to San Francisco's Mayor Dianne Feinstein. (March 19, 1984)