President Ronald Reagan won re-election by a landslide over former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic challenger, on this day in history, Nov. 6, 1984.
President Reagan won 49 states and amassed 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s 13, which was one of the biggest landslides in U.S. election history.
The only state Mondale won was as Minnesota, his home state.
The election was also notable for being the first time a major party had a woman on its ticket — Geraldine Ferraro, Mondale’s running mate, according to Britannica.com.
Mondale was running against President Reagan at a time when the Republican was leading the U.S. out of an economic recession, several sources indicated.
At that time, President’s Reagan’s approval rating was about 58%, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
That’s the highest for any incumbent president at election time in the past 40 years, the same source said.
Of note, Mondale’s 13 electoral votes were second-fewest ever by a second place finisher in a presidential election, according to 270towin.com.
Alfred Landon won just eight electoral votes in 1936 when he lost to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said the same source.
In the second presidential debate with Mondale in Kansas City, Missouri, President Reagan’s age was brought up by political correspondent Henry Trewhitt, who stated, “You already are the oldest president in history.”
Trewhitt went on to express concerns about how Reagan might fare amid a national security crisis, according to The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
President Reagan responded with a zinger that remains memorable to this day.
“I will not make age an issue in this campaign,” Reagan replied. “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
Even Mondale laughed heartily at that rejoinder.
That “witty response, along with his sharp performance throughout the debate, boosted his poll numbers and increased voter confidence,” said The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
At age 73, Reagan became, at the time, the oldest man ever elected president, according to multiple sources.
Originally an American actor and then becoming active in politics, Reagan — as 40th president of the United States — served from 1981 to 1989.
His tenure as president saw a restoration of prosperity at home, with the goal of achieving “peace through strength” abroad, noted Whitehouse.gov.
As President Reagan’s second term ended, polls showed that more than half of the American people gave him a favorable rating, according to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
The eight years of the Reagan presidency were one of the most dynamic periods in recent U.S. history, resulting in a major refocusing of the nation’s social, business and international agenda, stated the same source.
“I am the same man I was when I came to Washington, and I believe the same things I believed when I came to Washington.”
“More importantly, his election changed the demographic composition of the Republican Party and built the core beliefs still practiced today: lower taxes, less government restrictions on businesses and individuals and a strong military,” said the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
When Reagan himself looked back on his eight years in office, he reportedly said, “I am the same man I was when I came to Washington, and I believe the same things I believed when I came to Washington, and I think those beliefs have been vindicated by the success of the policies to which we hold fast,” according to the same source.
After Reagan left the White House, he returned to California.
Over the next several years, he organized his memoirs and supervised the creation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, stated the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
He announced to the world on Nov. 5, 1994 that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“Alzheimer’s disease ranks among the most severe of afflictions, because it strips people of their memory and judgment and robs them of the essence of their personalities,” Reagan said in his statement at the time.
“As the brain progressively deteriorates, tasks familiar for a lifetime, such as tying a shoelace or making a bed, become bewildering. Spouses and children become strangers. Slowly, victims of the disease enter profound dementia.”
President Reagan died on June 5, 2004, at age 93.
He is buried on the grounds of the Reagan Presidential Library.
After his wife, Nancy Reagan, passed away at age 94 on March 6, 2016, she was buried at the same location, beside her husband.