Over the Top, Barely

Claiming victory, Mondale tries to unify the Democrats

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Whatever the remaining perils on the path to San Francisco, Walter Mondale has clearly earned a rest. Quipped he: "I think I'm going to sit down and read my old speeches because I want to get a nap as quickly as possible." Symbolically, the self-declared champion of America's underprivileged chose an odd place to vacation for a week: the sumptuous seaside estate of New York Investment Banker Herbert Allen in Long Island's exclusive Southampton. But in another sense, the choice was apt. One of Mondale's main remaining tasks before the convention will be fund raising. His campaign spent heavily in the quest for a quick knockout, and the long ordeal left it some $2 million in debt.

Mondale had also earned a moment of self-congratulation. He had shed enough of his Norwegian reserve to kill the old suspicion, once expressed by his Minnesota mentor Hubert Humphrey, that he lacked "fire in the belly." Still carrying Humphrey's banner of liberalism and contending that his was the party of compassion, Mondale bucked the austere, antigovernment spirit of the times. At several junctures he was down and almost out; each time he bounced back and recaptured the lead. If he scores his expected nomination victory, he will start the November race a heavy underdog. But he will start it as Fighting Fritz, a man who has shown he can win over a long and demanding course.

—By Ed Magnuson.

Reported by Sam Allis with Mondale, David Beckwith with Hart and Jack E. White with Jackson

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