Election 1940: Roosevelt To Announce More Help For Britain; Willkie Cites War Threat (10-30-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 30, 1940)

Campaign Summary —

Kennedy Says President Is Best Man to Serve During Crisis – Al Smith Raps Chief Executive Because Of His 'Inflammatory Utterances’

By the United Press


President Roosevelt campaigned through New England today for the 25 electoral votes of Massachusetts and Connecticut, as Wendell L. Willkie moved through West Virginia and Maryland, denouncing the administration’s foreign policy.

WCAE, WJAS and KQV will broadcast Mr. Roosevelt’s Boston address at 10:15 tonight.

In the Boston speech, Mr. Roosevelt will announce the extension of further aid to Britain. The announcement, it was indicated, may make available to Britain additional fighting planes for her defense against Germany. The planes, it was believed, would come through giving British orders greater priority at American factories.

At New Haven, Mr. Roosevelt condemned the injection of fear into the campaign and said that “all this talk about sending American boys to Europe does not conform with the facts of the past or the facts of the future.”

Kennedy Defends Roosevelt

Foreign affairs and the state of American defenses had been advanced as the issue by the nationwide radio speech last night by Joseph P. Kennedy, Ambassador to Great Britain, defending Mr. Roosevelt’s manner of guiding the country through the world crisis and calling for his re-election.

Mr. Willkie, headed for a major Republican rally at Baltimore tonight, intimated to crowds at every stop of his special train that Mr. Roosevelt might involve this country in war, that he had permitted an inadequate defense system, and referring to Mr. Kennedy, that ambassadors “should not be men who engage in partisan politics.”

Speaks Again Friday

Mr. Roosevelt was touring the industrial Connecticut Valley by train and auto, inspecting defense and munition works in Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., and makes his third major political speech of the campaign at Boston tonight. He proceeds to New York for another political speech Friday night, speaks in Cleveland Saturday night, and at his Hyde Park, N.Y., home Monday night, Election Eve.

Mr. Kennedy’s broadcast, which was paid for by his family, was devoted mainly to America’s position in the war and the prospects of keeping this country out of it. He said the United States could avoid war if it built up its defenses fast enough, and that Mr. Roosevelt, because of his experience, was the best man to guide the country through the crisis.

Wagner Raps Lewis

In New York, Senator Robert F. Wagner, author of much New Deal labor legislation, spoke over a nationwide radio hookup urging workers to repudiate John L. Lewis, president of the Congress of Industrial Organization for his endorsement of Mr. Willkie.

He said Mr. Lewis had “shocked the liberal and humanitarian sentiment of America,” and that Mr. Willkie “plus the Republican leadership of today constitute a most reactionary and anti-social threat to your (workers’) rights and well-being.”

Replying to Senator Wagner, Mr. Lewis said that if he were offered the post of Secretary of Labor by Mr. Willkie, should the Republican candidate win the election,

I would decline it.

Calls Attempt 'Futile’

Mr. Lewis said:

Senator Wagner’s speech was a futile attempt to answer my previous indictment. He did not deal with a single point at issue. As I stated in my address Friday night. There is no spokesman in the Democratic Party, or in the Roosevelt administration, intellectually capable of this task.

Senator Wagner is an honorable man and I esteem him highly. It is unfortunate that he stooped to charged by inference and innuendo that an offer of the portfolio of labor would influence me.

Alfred E. Smith, former New York Governor and Democratic presidential nominee in 1928, charged at Philadelphia that Mr. Roosevelt was making “inflammatory utterances,” and that New Dealers were “childish” in their attempts to blame Republicans for the state of American defenses.

’War Scare’ Changed

In Chicago, Mayor F. H. LaGuardia of New York said Mr. Willkie’s was a campaign of “threats, cunning, fear and money.” He said the Republicans would wind up their campaign by “attempting to create a war scare, particularly in the Midwest.”

Mr. LaGuardia was joined at the rally by R. J. Thomas, CIO vice president and international president of the United Auto Workers.

Mr. Thomas charged Mr. Willkie was “an enemy of labor” and said Ford Motors foreman had solicited during working hours signed pledges to vote for Mr. Willkie. He exhibited a card which he said was a vote pledged card distributed at Ford’s St. Louis plant.

’Gestapo’ Feared

Each time a worker refuses to sign, the record of his action remained with Ford foremen and, in the final analysis, the Ford Motor Company.

Representative Bruce Barton of New York, Republican candidate for the Senate, charged that letters sent to President Roosevelt, criticizing his speeches, were being turned over to the Department of Justice and that such tactics might lead to an “American Gestapo.”

He gave as one instance a letter purportedly sent by Mrs. William H. Fain of Greenwich, Conn., criticizing Mr. Roosevelt for his “stab-in-the-back” reference last June 10 to the Italian declaration of war on France. Mr. Barton said the Department of Justice Criminal Division had replied to Mrs. Fain that her letter had been “carefully noted by the department.”

He said the correspondence was “shocking” and said:

Is this a free America or is it a European despotism? Has the New Deal been building up a Gestapo with our tax money?