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State and national leaders pay tribute to Walter Mondale

Officials spoke of his work on environmental and civil rights issues, as well as their own personal stories with the former Vice President.

Messages from officials across the state and country poured in following the news that former Vice President and U.S. Senator from Minnesota Walter Mondale had died.

The family of Mondale, 93, confirmed he died of natural causes Monday evening, with politicians on both sides of the aisle paying tribute.

President Joe Biden, who was mentored by Mondale prior to becoming Vice President under former President Barack Obama, was among those paying tribute.

"It’s with great sadness that Jill and I learned of the passing of Vice President Walter Mondale, but great gratitude that we were able to call one of our nation’s most dedicated patriots and public servants a dear friend and mentor. Our hearts go out to the Mondale family," he posted.

Obama also paid tribute, tweeting: "Walter Mondale championed progressive causes and changed the role of VP – so leaders like Joe Biden could be the last ones in the room when decisions were made. In selecting Geraldine Ferraro (his running mate in 1984), he also paved the way for [VP Kamala Harris] to make history. Michelle and I send prayers to his family."

At the state level, both Democratic and Republican officials have paid tribute.

Gov. Tim Walz said: Walter Mondale believed in and worked to create a nation with a heart, a soul, and a conscience.

"He believed that the greatness of America is found in the everyday men and women who build our nation, do its work, and defend its freedoms. And he fought tirelessly for those values until the very end of his life, imploring each of us through his example to continue the fight."

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called Mondale the “original People’s Lawyer,” citing his work on civil rights issues. Mondale also served as the state’s Attorney General in the early 1960s.

“Walter Mondale was a giant: he was a towering figure in American civil rights, a transformative Vice President and an iconic Minnesotan,” Ellison said in a statement.

“As Minnesota Attorney General, he fought for civil rights and against corruption and was a role model for anyone who cares about using the law for justice. He was the original People’s Lawyer: he once told me that of all the amazing jobs he’d had, being Attorney General was his favorite.”

Among Mondale’s civil rights work was his leadership in the Senate on the Fair Housing Act in 1968, which banned gender and racial discrimination in housing.

Minnesota state lawmakers paying paid tribute to Mondale on Monday include House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who offered a moment of silence on the House floor. Winkler also cited Mondale’s civil rights and environmental work, along with the significance of his decision to select Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate during his 1984 presidential bid.

“He was an icon of 20th Century politics, he was an icon in Minnesota, and he led the way in many critical fights for justice,” Winkler said.

Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar tweeted a photo of her and Mondale to pay tribute, saying he helped inspire her to go into politics, while her colleague, Sen. Tina Smith, described Mondale as "a true friend, full of lively questions, incisive and hysterically funny commentary, advice offered with his unique dry wit, birthdays remembered and lunches shared, preferably with onion rings."

The Minnesota GOP issued a statement saying: "In spite of our obvious political differences, there is no denying that Mondale always had the best interests of his fellow Minnesotans at the forefront of his mind when governing and leading.

"Our thoughts are with the entire Mondale family as we mourn his loss."

6th District Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, who is also the president of the National Republican Congressional Committee, posted this tweet.

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