My Personal Memories Of Geraldine Ferraro In Merrill, Wisconsin 1984, With Video
I post a personal memory tonight in honor of Geraldine Ferraro who died today after a courageous fight with cancer. Ferraro was a grand champion for the causes that so many of us hold dear. During her life she earned deep respect from both sides of the political aisle for the classy way she embraced politics and her day-today battles that she waged with a brave smile.
On Labor Day 1984 I was attending the first major political rally of my life. It was also my first major political rally that I would report on for WDOR radio news.
I was young, eager, and so excited that I could barely contain myself. Days before the event I had gone through a background check to gain press credentials which allowed me onto the risers with the national press. Knowing I was going to stand alongside some of the journalists I had deep respect for was as electrifying to me as being at my first major political rally with a presidential nominee.
I had traveled from Sturgeon Bay to Merrill, Wisconsin in my light blue Chevet and still recall the feeling that life could not be better. I was doing what I had always really wanted to do, which was get close to politics and report about it. I knew then not everyone could say they get to live what they dream, and I recall as I was driving my mental attempts to slow myself down to better take in every moment, every detail.
Many broadcasters were questioning whether the traditional start of the presidential fall campaign was best done in a place like Merrill. If memory serves me right Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro started that Labor Day in New York and encountered rainy weather. That the sky was gray and filled with sprinkles in Merrill was not lost on those who thought it an omen for the election outcome.
Once at the rally site I climbed to stand with the press and was truly pleased to be about three feet from Lynn Sherr and Brit Hume, both from ABC. I smiled to myself when Sherr asked Hume how to pronounce “La Follette” and I then laughed out loud later than night when she mispronounced it on the national news. Everyone has on-air slips, and it was comforting to see it play out in front of me.
To be honest being on the risers with the press could have been the culmination of the day and I would have been totally content.
When the music ramped up and Mondale and Ferraro took the simple outdoor platform and gave punchy dramatic stump speeches I knew at once that my political infection was for real. Never before had I felt so alive. So in the moment.
Geraldine Ferraro was loved by that crowd in Merrill. The applause was enthusiastic, and the warmth for her was genuine. Later I went down and recorded some interviews with voters and my thrust of the news story was how they viewed the first female nominee. Ferraro was breaking new ground and they were glad Labor Day in Merrill was where she spent some of her time.
I will never forget that first major rally, the sense of being young and living life.
I am pleased that in some small way I was able to brush up alongside the historic campaign year when Geraldine Ferraro was on a national ticket as the first woman.
Tonight I looked for the first time, and found this video of that rally on You Tube.
I looked at it and it took me back to warm memories.