Desde que Ronald Reagan llegó a la Casa Blanca en 1981, uno de sus mayores desafíos fue la reactivación económica y se dispuso a aplicar las fórmulas económicas preconizadas durante la campaña electoral para sacar al país de la recesión del periodo 1979-1980.
Para ello, no se detuvo a pensar en los costes sociales de la operación y cumplió rápidamente su promesa estrella de la bajada de impuestos que, mientras restaba fondos al Gobierno federal para programas sociales, inyectaba en el mercado una masa importante de dólares. Otras medidas fueron el mantenimiento de una estricta política monetaria, los altos tipos de interés bancario y la potenciación del dólar.
En una primera fase, el paro subió de forma alarmante del 7,3% de enero de 1981, hasta al 10,8% de diciembre de 1982. En zonas tradicionalmente industriales del país el desempleo duplicó la media nacional. Pero un año más tarde, con la inflación controlada y la actividad económica generando puestos de trabajo, el desempleo volvió a descender. La inflanción también descendió de forma espectacular, desde el 12,4% en 1980 al 3,8% a finales de 1983.
Con un promedio de crecimiento económico del 4,6%, muy superior al de sus aliados del mundo occidental, Reagan disponía en 1984 de un considerable margen de maniobra, a pesar de las fuertes críticas a su gestión, como para solicitar al electorado un nuevo mandato presidencial.
Hasta ocho demócratas presentaron su candidatura para tratar de impedir a Reagan ser reelegido en 1984. Fueron el ex Gobernador Reuben Askew, de Florida; el Senador Alan Cranston, de California; el Senador John Glenn, de Ohio; el Senador Gary Hart, de Colorado; el Senador Fritz Hollings, de Carolina del Sur; el reverendo afroamericano Jesse Jackson; el ex Senador George McGovern, de Dakota del Sur; y el ex Vicepresidente Walter Mondale.
En la imagen: Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson y Walter Mondale, 1984.
(...) Former vice-president Walter Mondale was the frontrunner in the race. Early on, Senator John Glenn polled well, coming in a strong second to Mondale. Glenn's character as astronaut was portrayed in an appealing manner. However, Glenn apparently turned his attention to national politics too early, neglecting the sensitive voters of the Iowa caucuses. Media attention turned to Mondale, Gary Hart, and Jesse Jackson, leaving Glenn the strongest also-ran.
In Februrary 1983, Senator Gary Hart announced his candidacy for president in the 1984 presidential election. At the time of his announcement, Hart was a little-known Senator and barely received above 1% in the polls against better-known candidates such as Walter Mondale, John Glenn, and Reverend Jesse Jackson. To counter this situation, Hart started campaigning early in New Hampshire, making a then-unprecedented canvassing tour in late September, months before the primary. This strategy attracted national media attention to his campaign, and by late 1983, he had risen moderately in the polls to the middle of the field, mostly at the expense of the sinking candidacies of John Glenn and Alan Cranston.
Mondale won the Iowa caucus in late January, but Hart polled a respectable 16%. In the Iowa caucuses, the results were as follows: Mondale 45%, Hart 15%, McGovern 13%, Cranston 9%, Uncommitted 7%, Glenn 5%, Askew 3%, Jackson 3%, Hollings 0%.
Two weeks later, in the New Hampshire primary, Senator Gary Hart shocked much of the party establishment and the media by defeating Mondale by ten percentage points. In the New Hampshire primary, the results were as follows: Hart 37.3%, Mondale 27.9%, Glenn 12.0%, Jackson 5.3%, McGovern 5.2%, Reagan 5.0% (write-in votes), Hollings 3.5%, Cranston 2.1%, Askew 1.0%.
En la imagen: Gary Hart y Walter Mondale en la portada de Time, 1984.
Mondale had spent considerable time stumping New hampshire (a full 51 days compared to Hart's 57 and Ohio Senator John Glenn's 37). In addition, Mondale had managed to put together a strong organizational effort, with organized labor as his cornerstone. But the candidate who most clearly followed the organizational and personal presence model was Senator Hart. His campaign supporters knocked on approximately 80,000 doors during their canvassing efforts in New Hampshire, which began in October 1983.
After his victory in New Hampshire, Hart instantly became the main challenger to Mondale for the nomination, and appeared to have the momentum on his side. The field of candidates then shrank tremendously. Ultimately, only three candidates survived long enough to win states: Mondale, Hart, and Jackson.
Gary Hart managed to mount a very successful campaign, but his "new ideas" were criticized as too vague and centrist by many Democrats. Shortly after he became the new front runner, it was revealed that Hart had changed his last name from Hartpence to Hart, had often listed 1937 instead of 1936 as his birth date, and had changed his signature several times. This, along with two separations from his wife, Lee, caused some to question Hart's "flake factor".
En la imagen: Gary Hart, 1984.
Mondale and Hart swapped victories in the primaries, with Hart getting exposure as a candidate with "new ideas" and Mondale rallying the party establishment to his side. The two men fought to a draw in the Super Tuesday primaries, with Hart winning states in the West, Florida, and New England. Mondale fought back and began ridiculing what he claimed to be the emptiness of Hart's ideas. In the most famous television moment of the campaign, he ridiculed Hart's "new ideas" by quoting a line from a popular Wendy's television commercial at the time: "Where's the beef?".
Mondale's remark was not effectively countered by Hart's campaign, and when Hart -- who was seen by many voters as a fresh, honest alternative to typical politicians -- ran stereotyped negative TV commercials against Mondale in the crucial Illinois primary, his campaign descended to the level of ordinary politics that Mondale represented, and Hart's appeal as a new kind of Democrat never quite entirely recovered.
En la imagen: Walter Mondale, 1984.
Once primaries in the delegate-rich states of New York and Pennsylvania arrived, Mondale's vast fund-raising superiority as the party-establishment candidate helped him overcome Hart's greater attractiveness as a fresher political face. Nevertheless Hart bounced back in states where there was a greater appetite for change, and he won primaries in Ohio and California. By the time the Democratic convention arrived, Mondale had a lead in total delegates that Hart was not quite able to overcome, and Mondale was nominated.
Jesse Jackson garnered 3.5 million votes during the primaries, third behind Hart and Mondale. He was the second African-American (after Shirley Chisholm) to mount a nationwide campaign for the Presidency. He managed to win Virginia, South Carolina, and Louisiana, and split Mississippi, where there were two separate contests for Democratic delegates. Through the process, Jackson helped confirm the black electorate's importance to the Democratic Party in the South at the time.
During the campaign, however, Jackson made an off-the-record reference to Jews as "Hymies" and New York City as "Hymietown", for which he later apologized. Nonetheless, the remark was widely publicized, and derailed his campaign for the nomination. Ending up, Jackson received 21% of the votes but only 8% of delegates.
These were the convention's nomination tally:
*Walter Mondale 2191
*Gary Hart 1200
*Jesse Jackson 485
*Thomas Eagleton 18
*George McGovern 4
*John Glenn 2
*Lane Kirkland 1
Mondale chose U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate and she was confirmed by acclamation.
Aides later said that Mondale was determined to establish a precedent with his vice presidential candidate, considering San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, also a female, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African American, and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a Hispanic, as other finalists for the nomination. Unsuccessful nomination candidate Jackson derided Mondale's vice-presidential screening process as a "p.r. parade of personalities."
Others however preferred Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D - Texas) because he would appeal to the Deep South. Nomination rival Gary Hart (D - Colorado) had also been lobbying for the vice-presidential spot on the ticket once it became apparent that Mondale had clinched the majority of delegates; Hart was expected to perform ten points better than Mondale in a hypothetical matchup with President Reagan. (...)
* Mapa de las primarias demócratas de 1984
* Video del discurso completo de Walter Mondale en la Convención Demócrata de 1984, en San Francisco (Real Player).