Women Vice Presidential Nominees

Only Two in U.S. History

Former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin
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There have been only two women vice presidential nominees representing the major parties in U.S. political history. Neither of them were elected.

The two women vice presidential nominees were Democrat Geraldine Ferraro and Republican Sarah Palin. There have been many women vice presidential candidates nominated by third parties such as the Libertarian and Socialist parties over the years.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was said to be considering a female running mate in the 2012 election.

Mondale and Ferraro

Ferraro was the first woman chosen to run for vice president by a major-party presidential candidate. She was selected by eventual Democratic nominee Walter F. Mondale in July 1984.

Mondale, a former attorney general and U.S. senator from Minnesota who served as vice president under Jimmy Carter, made the announcement that he had chosen her during a news conference held at the state capitol.

Mondale described his decision to choose a woman vice presidential nominee was "difficult," but also said about Ferraro: "Gerry has excelled in everything she's tried, from law school at night to being a tough prosecutor to winning a difficult election, to winning positions of leadership and respect in the Congress."

Ferraro Strategy

Mondale's selection of Ferraro as a running mate was described at the time as an effort to win support from middle-class voters, who favored the former school teacher and congresswoman from Queens, N.Y., as well as unions in the key industrial states of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.

Ferraro said her running mate's choice "sent a powerful signal about the direction he wants to lead our country. American history is about doors being open, doors of opportunity for everyone no matter who you are, as long as you 're willing to earn it ... There's an electricity in the air, an excitement, a sense of new possibilities and of pride."

Mondale and Ferraro lost overwhelmingly in the November 1984 presidential election to Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan and his running mate George H.W. Bush.

McCain and Palin

Palin was only the second woman chosen to run for vice president by a major-party presidential candidate. She was selected by Republican nominee John McCain in in August 2008.

McCain's selection of Palin was described by The New York Times as having "astonished the political world" because she was a "little-known governor of Alaska and self-described 'hockey mom' with almost no foreign policy experience."

McCain made the announcement at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, before some 15,000 supporters. "She’s not from these parts, and she’s not from Washington, but when you get to know her, you’re going to be as impressed as I am," McCain told the crowd.

Palin, accepting the offer, made reference to failed 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. "Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America, but it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all," Palin said.

Palin Strategy

McCain was said to have chosen Palin for a number of reasons, including mollifying social conservatives who may not have been impressed by the "maverick" reputation held by Republican nominee.

Palin, who was 44, also was expected to help McCain, who was 72 at the time, win votes from younger Americans, those frustrated with Washington insiders as well as female voters who were disappointed that Clinton lost the race for the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama.

McCain and Palin lost decisively in November 2008 to Obama and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Romney Running Mates

Among the women mentioned as being potential vice presidential nominees alongside Romney were U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez; former eBay chief executive officer Meg Whitman; U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington; and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.