Former President Jimmy Carter credited Walter F. Mondale, his onetime vice president who died on Monday at 93, with transforming the office from a secondary role to a governing partner with his political skill and personal integrity.
Mr. Carter led the tributes to Mr. Mondale, many of them coming from the political left.
They recalled Mr. Mondale, the 42nd vice president and a former U.S. senator who lost the 1984 presidential election in a landslide to Ronald Reagan, as an indefatigable advocate for liberal causes like civil rights reform and a gracious public servant who selected the first female running mate on a major party ticket, Geraldine Ferraro.
In a statement, Mr. Carter, 96, called Mr. Mondale, whose nickname was Fritz, the best vice president in American history.
Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service.”
Mr. Biden said that few senators had commanded such universal respect as Mr. Mondale.
“He may have been modest and unassuming in manner, but he was unwavering in his pursuit of progress; instrumental in passing laws like the Fair Housing Act to prevent racial discrimination in housing, Title IX to provide more opportunities for women, and laws to protect our environment,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman elected to the office, lauded Mr. Mondale for his collaborative role in the Carter administration and for his selection of Ms. Ferraro in 1984 as his running mate.
Former President Barack Obama said Monday night on Twitter that Mr. Mondale had laid the groundwork for future vice presidents to become major contributors to White House administrations.
“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,” Mr. Obama said. “In selecting Geraldine Ferraro, he also paved the way for @VP to make history. Michelle and I send prayers to his family.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Mr. Mondale’s home state of Minnesota who ran unsuccessfully for president last year, said on Twitter that he had been a mentor and friend to her, and that he was kind and dignified until the end.
“On the wall of the Carter Library is a quote of Walter Mondale’s at the end of their time in office,” Ms. Klobuchar said. “ ‘We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.’ That pretty much sums up Walter Mondale’s life and service.”