March 26th, 2011
03:52 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House issued a statement Saturday from President Obama on the death of former Democratic VP nominee Geraldine Ferraro, praising her as a “trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life."
“Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, Member of Congress, or candidate for Vice President, Geraldine fought to uphold America's founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all. And as our Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world. Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live,” the statement read.
But the relationship between Obama and Ferraro was not always so amicable.Ferraro, who backed then Senator Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primaries, made controversial racial comments to The Daily Breeze newspaper that resulted with top Obama aides calling for Clinton to dismiss Ferraro from her campaign’s finance committee.
In the 2008 interview, Ferraro said "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position…And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
Obama responded by telling the Allentown Morning Call that her comments were “divisive” and “patently absurd.”
Soon after, Ferraro stepped down from her post on the Clinton campaign and accused the Obama campaign of twisting her words to make her appear racist. She then doubled down in another interview with the Daily Breeze and said, "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"
Ferraro later told the New York Times that she thought Obama was “terribly sexist” and that she might not even vote for him.
But by Obama’s Inauguration Day, the two just might have made up. In an interview with FOX News, Ferraro, who went to the ceremony with her granddaughter, spoke favorably of the new president:
I was not an early supporter like Oprah Winfrey. It took me time, but I've got to tell you, I could not believe the enthusiasm that was there in the audience, and it came from all over. There are millions of people standing on line….It was a phenomenon, and I am so happy that my granddaughter had an opportunity to see this. It was something to see. It was historic and - and I cannot tell you how supportive I am of this president, and I know that he'll do a good job.
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