Ferraro talks to Law School grads

Coralie Carlson

Law School graduates saw Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale share a stage on Saturday for the first time since the pair’s failed presidential bid in 1984.
“We thought we’d try it again and see if we could do better,” chided Mondale, a former vice president, as he introduced his old running mate. Ferraro did not dwell on the failed attempt for the White House during her commencement speech on volunteering and running for public office.
Before the estimated 1,300 people in attendance, Ferraro lamented the gap in American society between the educated and uneducated. She urged the Law School graduates to combat social ills like poverty, hunger and homelessness.
“It is our problem,” Ferraro told the 300 graduates. “I believe with every fiber in my being we are our brothers’and our sisters’ keepers.”
This message will likely resurface in her New York senatorial campaign. Ferraro, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, has been pegged as the liberal candidate against a conservative incumbent.
One of three Democratic candidates competing against D’Amato, she advocates federal funding to build schools, hire 100,000 more teachers and provide health care for children.
While polls indicate she is leading D’Amato’s Republican challengers, Ferraro’s campaign lags when it comes to fund raising. D’Amato reportedly has more than eight times as much campaign cash as Ferraro.
Ferraro, 62, said she is collecting much of her campaign money in New York but is tapping into her old Minnesota connections. Mondale and Ferraro secured the electoral votes of only Minnesota and the District of Columbia in the 1984 election. On Friday, Minnesota-native Mondale hosted a fund-raiser for her campaign.
In the midst of her campaign activities, Ferraro encouraged the graduates to try their hands at public service.
“Being involved is one of the great gifts of the human character. Do your share,” Ferraro said. She added, “When we choose to let someone else to run for the city board and the school council we advocate our responsibility, and the country and our communities are worse for it.”
Law School graduate Dennis Peterson said he hopes to take up her invitation to jump into the political arena.
“That’s part of what I got into law for,” he said.
Ferraro’s political career inspired some graduates. Marian Saksena, a Law School graduate, recalled watching Ferraro on television as an eighth-grader. Saksena played her in a mock debate in school that year, sparking her interest in law.
Ferraro is the first and only woman to have appeared on one of the two major party tickets for vice president.
Mondale, who graduated from the University’s Law School in 1956 and gave the commencement address last year, also promoted political involvement for the new graduates — especially for women.
Mondale applauded the 107 female graduates and said, “I’m sure one of them will become president of the United States.”