Geraldine Ferraro dies at age 75
Geraldine Ferraro, pictured in 1998, was the first woman on the presidential ticket of either major party.
- Ferraro was the first female vice presidential candidate from a major U.S. political party
- But her bid, on the Democratic ticket headed by Walter Mondale, was a failure
- They lost to incumbents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
- Between 1996 and 1998, she was a co-host on CNN's Crossfire
(CNN) -- Geraldine Ferraro, a former congresswoman and vice presidential candidate, has died, according to family statement. She was 75.
In 1984, Ferraro was the first female vice presidential candidate from a major U.S. political party when she ran with Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale.
A resident of New York City, Ferraro died in Massachusetts General Hospital, surrounded by loved ones, and the cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for 12 years, according to a statement released by her family from Boston, Massachusetts.
"Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice. To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family," the family statement said. "Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed."
The family statement also described her as the "first Italian-American to run on a major party national ticket."
The Mondale-Ferraro ticket lost by a landslide in 1984 to Republican incumbents President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush. In what became the second of Reagan's two terms in the White House, the Reagan-Bush ticket won the popular vote 58.8% to 40% and then nearly swept the electoral votes, 525 to 13.
In 1988, Bush was elected 41st president of the United States.
On Saturday, he and his wife, Barbara, issued a statement expressing "heartfelt condolences and love to Gerry's family."
"Barbara and I were deeply saddened to learn of Gerry's passing. Though we were one-time political opponents, I am happy to say Gerry and I became friends in time -- a friendship marked by respect and affection," Bush said in the statement. "I admired Gerry in many ways, not the least of which was the dignified and principled manner she blazed new trails for women in politics."
In 1978, she was elected as a U.S. representative for the 9th Congressional District of New York and was re-elected in 1980 and 1982.
She was born August 26, 1935 -- Women's Equality Day -- in Newburgh, New York, to restaurant owner Dominick and Antonetta (Corrieri) Ferraro, and later earned a bachelor's degree in English at Marymount Manhattan College in 1956 and then earned a law degree from Fordham University Law School in 1960.
Since 1960, she had been married to John Zaccaro, and during their 50-year marriage, they had three children, now adults.
She is survived by her husband, her three children and their spouses, and eight grandchildren.
In 1974, she became an assistant district attorney in Queens, New York.
After her bid for the vice presidency, she continued, unsuccessfully, to run for elected office -- while working in network television.
Between 1996 and 1998, she was a co-host on CNN's Crossfire. In 1992 and 1998, she ran for a U.S. Senate seat out of New York but lost in the Democratic primaries.
In March 2008, Ferraro was at the center of political controversy when she resigned from her fundraising position with Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign for comments Ferraro made about Clinton's rival, then-Sen. Barack Obama, during the Democratic primaries.
Ferraro remarked that Obama's campaign was successful because he was black.
She later told CNN that she was "absolutely not" sorry for her comments.
"I am who I am and I will continue to speak up," she said.
Ferraro then criticized the Obama campaign for efforts she characterized as trying to block her First Amendment rights.