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CBS 2 Vault: The 1984 Presidential Contest

Walter Mondale

Walter Mondale campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the 1984 presidential race. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — With the 2012 presidential contest heating up, here is a look back from the CBS 2 vault to the 1984 race that pitted Ronald Reagan against Democratic opponent Walter Mondale.

The race has gone down in the history books as a jaw-dropping landslide victory for Reagan. Today, Illinois, along with the states on the West Coast and in the Northeast, are known for going reliably Democratic in every presidential election. But in 1984, Illinois was colored red, and so was each and every state in the country except Minnesota, Mondale’s native state, which he won by only 3,761 votes.

But that hardly means there was no contentious race before Reagan’s romp to easy reelection.

This clip is from March 12, 1984, the day before Super Tuesday. In the Democratic primary, Mondale – Jimmy Carter’s former vice president – was up against U.S Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.), U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others.

Hart positioned himself as a moderate Democrat with fresh ideas, in contrast to Mondale, whom he characterized as an old-fashioned Democrat steeped in the policies of the New Deal era. In a debate shortly before Super Tuesday, Mondale famously said whenever he heard about Hart’s new ideas, he was reminded of the popular Wendy’s slogan at the time, “Where’s the Beef.”

Hart countered that the beef was there, but maybe Mondale didn’t want to digest it “because it doesn’t come from special interest cattle.”

Meanwhile, President Reagan was telling Republican voters the Democrats were deluded devotees of big government, excessive spending and high taxes.

“The failed policies of higher taxes, bigger government, soaring inflation and runaway spending haven’t disappeared,” Reagan said. “In fact they’re lurking not far away, as anyone who had time to watch the debate last night would know.”

So without further ado, here is CBS 2’s Walter Jacobson, anchoring the Channel 2 News at Five on March 12, 1984: