US Democrat Geraldine Ferraro dies, aged 75

Geraldine Ferraro, 1998 file image
Image caption Geraldine Ferraro was a low-profile figure until the presidential race

Groundbreaking US Democratic politician Geraldine Ferraro has died at the age of 75.

She had been been suffering from cancer for many years, and died in hospital in Massachusetts, a family friend said.

Ms Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate to represent a major political party, when she became Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984.

Their presidential bid was heavily defeated by Republican Ronald Reagan and his running mate, George Bush snr.

A statement released by Ms Ferraro's family said she was widely known as a "leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice".

It continued: "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."


Ms Ferraro made a name for herself as district attorney prosecuting cases of rape, child abuse and domestic violence before running for Congress.

She had been an elected representative for almost six years when the Democratic nominee for president, Walter Mondale, selected her as his running mate.

Despite their overwhelming defeat, she paid tribute to his decision to choose her.

"Campaigns, even if you lose them, do serve a purpose," she said at the time.

"My candidacy has said the days of discrimination are numbered. American women will never be second-class citizens again."

Reacting to news of Ms Ferraro's death, Mr Mondale called her "a remarkable woman and a dear human being".

"She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society," he told the Associated Press.

"She broke a lot of moulds and it's a better country for what she did."

In 2008, Sarah Palin became the second woman - and the first Republican - to become a mainstream running mate, when she was chosen by Senator John McCain.

Ms Palin was also a political unknown at the time, serving as governor of Alaska.

She paid tribute to Ms Ferraro on her Facebook page. "May her example of hard work and dedication to America continue to inspire all women," Ms Palin wrote.

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