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Margaret Costanza, aide to Carter <br> Nov. 23, 1932 -- March 23, 2010

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Margaret "Midge" Costanza, an aide to President Jimmy Carter, a veteran political activist and a women's rights champion, died Tuesday. She was 77.

The San Diego County district attorney's office said she died after a battle with cancer. She joined the office as a public affairs officer in 2005.

Mrs. Costanza was elected to the City Council in Rochester, N.Y., in 1973 and met Carter the following year when he campaigned for her in an unsuccessful bid for Congress. She was co-chairwoman of Carter's presidential campaign in New York and seconded his nomination at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

In the White House, she was assistant to the president, the first woman to hold that office.

"The White House should be the president's window to the nation," she said, according to the district attorney's office.

Mrs. Costanza remained active in Democratic politics after moving to San Diego in 1990.

She also worked for women's equality, the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, women's reproductive rights and the appointment of more women to political offices.

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