When the Press Vetted Geraldine Ferraro

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How do you vet a veep? Carefully, very carefully. Or so Senator John McCain may have learned. Disclosures about his hastily selected running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, seem to have caught his Republican campaign for the White House off-guard.

Whether or not Mr. McCain did his due diligence remains to be seen — is there a news organization or Democratic opposition researcher not rummaging through Ms. Palin’s life? — but the perils of a cursory background check for the White House are unquestionable.

Just ask Walter F. Mondale, the first major party nominee to put a woman on the national ticket.

Almost a quarter-century ago, in the 1984 presidential campaign, Mr. Mondale, the Democrat, who had been Jimmy Carter’s vice president, a United States senator from Minnesota, and Minnesota’s attorney general, made history by selecting Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro of Queens as his running mate to challenge the re-election of President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush.

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