Ferraro: 'Wonderful To See Woman On Natl. Ticket' In 1984, former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro became the first female vice presidential pick on a major party ticket. Ferraro talks about what has changed in the 24 years since she ran for vice president and about John McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
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Ferraro: 'Wonderful To See Woman On Natl. Ticket'

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Ferraro: 'Wonderful To See Woman On Natl. Ticket'

Ferraro: 'Wonderful To See Woman On Natl. Ticket'

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A month ago Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin said this on CNBC:

Ms. SARAH PALIN (Governor, Alaska, Republican Vice Presidential Candidate): As for that VP talk all the time, I tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?

LYDEN: Well, she could get the chance to find out firsthand. She's the first woman chosen for a Republican ticket but she isn't the first woman ever picked as a major party vice presidential candidate. That, of course, was Geraldine Ferraro, who ran with Walter Mondale in 1984.

Geraldine Ferraro is on the line now from New York. Thanks so much for joining us.

Former Representative GERALDINE FERRARO (Democrat, New York, Former Vice Presidential Nominee): I'm delighted to be with you, Jacki. Thank you.

LYDEN: Geraldine Ferraro, when Walter Mondale chose you as his partner in 1984, it was a historic moment. So, how did you feel when you saw Sarah Palin get the nod yesterday?

Rep. FERRARO: Well, I must say I've been very, very honored that I was chosen 24 years ago. For the past 24 years, I keep on saying, it's great to be the first but, you know, I don't want to be the only. And so now it is wonderful to see a woman on a national ticket.

And this election, in particular, to me, is important because one way or the other we're going to see a historic first. So, for our country either one of these two historic candidacies, to me, is very, very important because one of them is going to actually make it.

LYDEN: We know that Sarah Palin referred both to you and Hillary Clinton in her acceptance speech. And I understand that you called to congratulate her. How did that go?

Rep. FERRARO: Actually, I had gotten a message that Senator McCain had wanted me to speak to him, so I did call up and I did speak to the senator and wished him a happy birthday - 'cause my birthday was also Tuesday, and I'm a year older than he. But she was also there and I said please give her my congratulations, and he said, why don't you speak to her? And I did.

And she was very, very nice and I do congratulate her.

LYDEN: I want to come back to a comparison between you as a candidate and Governor Palin. Before you were chosen for the ticket, you had served three terms in Congress; you had long experience in New York politics. Governor Palin hasn't had any national experience. The New York Times reported today that she got her passport for the first time last year. Global issues are, of course, critical ones.

Isn't this going to be really a difficult problem for her?

Rep. FERRARO: Once I got the nomination, you know, that was also, you know, something that people would say to me - you really don't have the foreign policy experience. A person came on my staff, who is my national security adviser during the course of the campaign - her name was Madeline Albright. She was a teacher at Georgetown. And we got to be fast friends.

She and Barry Carter, who was also teaching there - we managed to kind of alternate when they weren't teaching. They would be on my plane, they'd be feeding information into my head. We'd be watching everything that was going on, (unintelligible) papers. It was like a constant course.

And so, you know, what she doesn't know so far she will learn very quickly -she seems smart enough. But the other piece of it is that whatever position she has, they have to be those of John McCain. He's the president. She's not going to take a position anything different from what he has on the latest foreign policy stuff.

LYDEN: Geraldine Ferraro, let me turn to the other headline in your party's news this past week. In March, you stepped down from your post in Hillary Clinton's campaign because of comments you made suggesting Barack Obama was the frontrunner because he was black. Barack Obama's speech Thursday night drew nearly 40 million viewers. What's going on in the electorate?

Rep. FERRARO: Well, you know, let me get back to - since you raised that whole issue once again about my comment. My comment was that I was asked why he's doing so well, and I said because he's black. When people are looking at the polls, when they were going to the polls, first of all, African-Americans were registering by huge numbers, which was really important.

But in addition to that, I've never seen a race where 95 percent of them were voting for one candidate, and it happened to be the black candidate. And it was - you saw it on television, you saw it everywhere. You saw it with reporters. You saw this excitement and enthusiasm about a historic campaign. I wasn't putting that down and I wasn't being racist. I was making a statement of fact.

LYDEN: May we ask who you're supporting for president?

Rep. FERRARO: Sure you can ask but I have, you know, I'm like one of you people. I'm sitting here working on my decision. Yeah, I'm a Democrat and I am a person who feels very, very strongly about issues that face this country. So, when I go into the booth I will make my decision.

LYDEN: Former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro ran for vice president as a Democrat in 1984. She joined us from New York. Thanks very much for being with us.

Rep. FERRARO: Thank you.

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