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Carter mourns Mondale’s death: ‘The best vice president in our country’s history’

15th July 1976: Democratic Presidential nominee Jimmy Carter raises hands with Vice Presidential nominee Walter Mondale (right) at the Democratic National Convention, New York City. Carter's wife, Rosalynn, and their daughter Amy, wave beside them. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — Former President Jimmy Carter paid tribute to his former vice president, Walter Mondale, who died Monday, crediting his late “invaluable partner” with creating the vice presidency in its current form.

“Today I mourn the passing of my dear friend Walter Mondale, who I consider the best vice president in our country’s history,” Carter said in a statement Monday. “During our administration, Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before and still exists today.”

Mondale, a Democrat, represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1964 until 1976, when he signed on as Carter’s running mate. He served as Carter’s No. 2 from 1977 to 1981, when he and Carter lost to Ronald Reagan and his running mate, George H.W. Bush.

Carter’s statement Monday continued, “He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States, and the world. Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior. Rosalynn and I join all Americans in giving thanks for his exemplary life, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.”

Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination himself in 1984, and made history by naming a woman, US Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York, as his running mate before ultimately falling short to Reagan. He later served as the US ambassador to Japan and the envoy to Indonesia under then-President Bill Clinton.

Clinton and former President Barack Obama also weighed in Monday, commemorating Mondale for his service.

“Walter Mondale championed progressive causes and changed the role of VP—so leaders like @JoeBiden could be the last ones in the room when decisions were made,” Obama tweeted. “In selecting Geraldine Ferraro, he also paved the way for @VP (Kamala Harris) to make history. Michelle and I send prayers to his family.”

Clinton said on Twitter that Mondale “believed in the power of government to make a positive difference in people’s lives, and proved it at every stage of his remarkable career—with deep policy knowledge, a tireless work ethic, and uncommon decency. Hillary and I loved him and will miss him very much.”

Several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also expressed their condolences Monday.

“I loved Walter Mondale and I’m not the only one,” Democratic Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota said in a statement. “Mondale was a giant not only because of the positions he held — Minnesota Attorney General, U.S. Senator, Vice President, Democratic Presidential candidate and Ambassador — but because of the work that he did.”

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said Mondale was “someone who always treated people with dignity and respect, and I was privileged to call him my friend and mentor.”

“Walter Mondale was a giant in Minnesota politics, an advocate for peace, fair housing, women’s rights and consumer protection for the better part of five decades in politics. He was a champion of civil rights,” Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said in a statement, adding, “We thank you, Mr. Vice President, and promise to continue the fight for justice and civil rights.”

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called Mondale a great senator who “spoke the values of Minnesota & loved his state like I do Iowa.”

“He served his country with great distinction and was passionate about his causes,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted. “A true public servant who will be missed.”

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