Election 1940: Lewis' Stand Touches Off New Willkie Labor Drive (10-26-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 26, 1940)

By William H. Lawrence, United Press Staff Writer

Aboard Willkie Train En Route to New York City, Oct. 26 –

Wendell L. Willkie was to make a special appeal to the labor vote of Bethlehem, Pa., today, some 12 hours after John L. Lewis, president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, has endorsed his candidacy.

The speech had been unscheduled and the decision to make it was taken after Mr. Lewis had denounced President Roosevelt and urged Mr. Willkie’s election.

Mr. Willkie spoke en route to New York City, where he arrives at noon, goes to the World Fair to participate in Willkie Day there, attends the Fordham-St. Mary’s football game, and tonight speaks at four Willkie rallies in Queens and Brooklyn Boroughs.

Welcomes Lewis Support

Mr. Willkie welcomed Mr. Lewis’ support, declaring that it was indication that his election would “draw all the elements of American society into a great united movement to make America impregnable in its domestic economy and in its defense.”

In a formal statement Mr. Willkie said he was “naturally gratified.”

As I have said many times of late, if American democracy is to survive, the people of America must unite themselves in a great voluntary movement to strengthen this nation.

Sees ‘United Movement’

I believe that our election will draw all the elements of American society into a great united movement to make America impregnable in its domestic economy and in its defense. It is in this manner that we shall save the most precious thing left in his war-torn world – the free way of life in America.

I am glad to have the help of Mr. Lewis – a valiant defender of labor who puts his country above all.

Mr. Willkie’s voice was very husky when he completed his speeches to New York and Pennsylvania crowds yesterday, and then inaugurated what was for him a new method of campaigning – a chat by radio with the voters from his private car on his special campaign train.

Poses Defense Questions

Mr. Willkie asked that Mr. Roosevelt, in his political speech in New York, Monday night, answer these questions:

Where is this defense system that he said we need back in 1936?

Where are those jobs that he has been talking about ever since 1933?

How does he propose to make America strong by running us into debt?

How does he proposed to increase our earning power so that we can sustain the enormous debt that his administration has created?

‘What Do You Lose?’

In Wilkes-Barre, Mr. Willkie said that Mr. Roosevelt’s administration had “created plenty of fights but no jobs” and asked the electorate to give him the job of managing the United States.

Declaring that the New Deal’s first two terms had failed, Mr. Willkie asked the audience:

Under such circumstances, what have you got to lose in making a change?

In his radio chat to the voters, Mr. Willkie struck the keynote of Mr. Lewis’ speech – that Mr. Roosevelt would lead the country into war. He–

–hoped, so sincerely, that the pledge of the third term candidate (to avoid foreign wars), based upon the 1940 platform of the Democratic Party, is remembered by him longer than he remembered the honor of the credit of the United States, which was based upon the Democratic platform of 1932.