WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic congresswoman who became the first woman on a major party presidential ticket as Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984, died on Saturday at the age of 75, U.S. media reported.
Ferraro died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston of a blood cancer after a 12-year illness, according to a statement from her family cited by various news organizations.
Ferraro was a telegenic, articulate and fiery three-term New York congresswoman when Mondale picked her from the male-dominated U.S. House of Representatives. Ferraro's presence on the Democratic ticket generated excitement on the campaign trail, particularly among females of all ages.
Yet on Election Day, Republican President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush defeated Mondale and Ferraro in a landslide, carrying every state except Mondale's home state of Minnesota.
In delivering her concession speech that night, Ferraro urged Americans to support the re-elected president, and then saluted Mondale for helping women reach new political heights.
"For two centuries, candidates have run for president. Not one from a major party ever asked a woman to be his running mate -- until Walter Mondale," she said.
"Campaigns, even if you lose them, do serve a purpose," Ferraro said. "My candidacy has said the days of discrimination are numbered. American women will never be second-class citizens again."
(Writing by Tom Ferraro; Editing by Bill Trott)