1984 Presidential Election Discussion: Reagan vs. Mondale

May 2016
15
United States
To repeat two axioms I've stated before, "Timing is everything" and "Don't run against an incumbent".

Central to Reagan's economic policy was wringing out inflation with deflationary policies. He instructed the Federal Reserve to do so, so quickly, he effectively did eliminate the inflation problem but the sudden change shocked the economy into an acute recession during '82 and '83.

This was a gutsy decision that risked his political capital. Had the recession lasted a few months longer, it could've hurt his bid, but fortunately for the incumbent, the economy made a swift recovery right on the election year.

Foreign policy was also on Reagan's side. Reagan's tough rhetoric against communism and swift military interventions gave the country a feeling of dominance over the Soviet Union it had not had in a while. It also helped that the hostages were released and that an oil crisis can be solved by talking to the Saudis.

Reagan's opponent, Walter Mondale, also had zero charisma. It didn't take a great communicator, much less a good one, to beat him. For example, Mondale was right about Reagan's deficit problem and his unflattering candor about raising taxes was honest, but deficit reduction isn't sexy.

In one memorable moment, Reagan offered to share his potential missile defense system to the Soviet Union. Mondale seized that moment to portray Reagan as weak, but he missed the point. Mondale offered cut and dry policy. Reagan offered a vision and a beautiful portrait.

Even if Mondale had been a Roosevelt, one would just have to accept that Reagan was a popular incumbent and the country had shifted into a conservative direction.
 
Mar 2012
1,582
City of Angels
I never saw Reagan in person, but remember a video clip of him chopping wood on his ranch during his second term. He was in great shape. I went back and viewed some up-close footage of him when he visited Oklahoma and Texas factories in 1985. He was 74 years old. He looked absolutely great, and he'd already served four years as President, had been shot and nearly killed, and had recently had a colon operation. One look at him and it makes one wonder why Mondale had run at all...Reagan was a testament to "clean living," in spite of how many will remember him (alzheimers).
 
May 2016
15
United States
Yes, I definitely think his age allowed him to the gentle grandfather of our nation but at the same time he did have vigor and energy like no one else his age.

What I respect most about Reagan was that he began his political career at age 55. Most people say their life is over in their 50's, their too old to do anytihng new, they get stuck in a routine and just settle on down to the sunset. Even being a B-List actor would be a huge accomplishment for most people but he kept pushing on.
 
May 2009
1,358
Also don't have the nickname "Fritz". Not very presidential.

I was a kid at the time, so I didnt pay much attention to politics, but I do remember a lot of jokes being made at Mondale's expense on TV. He didn't seem to be taken very seriously.
 
Mar 2012
1,582
City of Angels
Yes, I definitely think his age allowed him to the gentle grandfather of our nation but at the same time he did have vigor and energy like no one else his age.

What I respect most about Reagan was that he began his political career at age 55. Most people say their life is over in their 50's, their too old to do anytihng new, they get stuck in a routine and just settle on down to the sunset. Even being a B-List actor would be a huge accomplishment for most people but he kept pushing on.
Agreed. Also, we (the American public) were never told how close we came to actually losing Reagan after the 1981 assassination attempt. He lost more than half of his blood, his blood pressure went down to near zero, and his heart stopped for more than a minute. The guy must have had the constitution of an ox to have survived that shooting.

Back in the days he was in acting there was no such thing as formal workouts, personal trainers, etc., so to stay fit and trim he had his own exercise routine which included swimming many miles in the Pacific ocean, running, chopping wood etc. People who remember Reagan know that he was an avid horseman and that he chopped wood well into his old age. Had he not been so physically fit, how probably would have died.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
Yes. Reagan had had a good first term. Again, it is difficult to defeat an an incumbent. Reagan and charisma. Mondale had none. And a generic, bland platform. I think Mondale only carried one or two states?
 
Dec 2013
391
Arkansas
They said that Gorbachev and his entourage were shocked at the Iceland summit how Reagan came out to meet them without even wearing a coat despite the bitter cold and his age.

By contrast Gorbachev was draped in one of those huge Russian overcoats. One Soviet official said "We lost the summit that moment".
 
Apr 2016
134
Alabama
Mondale was an absolute joke. Reagan was born again after surviving the assassination attempt on his life, both mentally and spiritual which gave him the thought and confidence that he was invincible.
 
Mar 2012
18,030
In the bag of ecstatic squirt
All I know is Reagan was so popular during that time. I was a kid and as I watch T.V. and read news about, him, I know that he was so acceptable to the American society.