Election 1940: Willkie Asks For Answers on Big Issues (10-31-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 31, 1940)


Campaign Summary —

Roosevelt Says Britain Negotiates for 12,000 More Airplanes*

By the United Press

President Roosevelt’s announcement that Great Britain is negotiating for 12,000 more American airplanes and other war equipment, and Wendell L. Willkie’s statement that the United States could expect war by next April, if Mr. Roosevelt is re-elected, dominated the political campaign today.

Mr. Roosevelt, after making the announcement at Boston last night in his third major political speech of the campaign, was returning to Washington for the last time before election. He speaks at 4:15 p.m. today during dedication ceremonies at the National Cancer Research Institute, at Bethesda, Md. He makes political speeches tomorrow night in New York; Saturday night in Cleveland, and Monday night at Hyde Park, N.Y.

WJAS will broadcast Mr. Willkie’s Camden address at 8:30 tonight.

En route to Camden, Mr. Willkie challenged Mr. Roosevelt to answer five questions about unemployment, economic depression, his alleged failure to provide adequate defense, the third term, and “corrupt political machines.” He said the people were “entitled to know the answers” before Election Day.

At Wilmington, Del., Mr. Willkie said today that he could gear up U.S. production of planes and other war materials to strengthen defenses and aid Britain better than Mr. Roosevelt. He added that in his administration, a request for 12,000 more planes for Britain “wouldn’t be news.”

Other speakers tonight:


  • Alfred E. Smith, Democratic presidential nominee in 1928, speaking at Boston;

  • Thomas E. Dewey, New York District Attorney who campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination this year, speaking at Caldwell, Idaho;

  • former President Herbert Hoover, at Lincoln, Neb.;

  • Judge Samuel Seabury, whose investigation drove former New York Mayor James J. Walker from office and one of the original sponsors of the present mayor LaGuardia, speaking in New York;

  • General Hugh S. Johnson who will reply to Ambassador Joseph Kennedy.


  • Robert P. Patterson, Assistant Secretary of War, speaking from Washington under auspices of the Independent Voters for Roosevelt and Wallace;

  • Henry A. Wallace, vice presidential nominee, in his only appearance in New York, speaking tonight at Madison Square Garden under auspices of the American Labor Party.

Defense Discussed

Mr. Roosevelt disclosed last night that he had urged the Defense Priority Board to give “sympathetic consideration” to Britain’s request for 12,000 airplanes, in addition to the 14,000 she has on order.

He said Britain also was negotiating for artillery, tanks, guns and ammunition, and that by producing this equipment the United States could expand its plant facilities to serve this country’s needs in an emergency.

The President pledged that no American boys would be sent into a foreign war.

Mr. Willkie charged that Mr. Roosevelt had failed to build adequate defenses for America, that he had “engaged in reckless flights into the field of democracy,” and warned voters that “if you re-elect the third term candidate in the basis of his last performance with pledges to the people you may expect war by April 1941.”

Money Pledge Called

He said Mr. Roosevelt had endorsed the Democratic platform’s sound money pledge in 1932, then “abandoned” it, and that “I ask you whether his pledge for peace is going to last any longer than his pledge for sound money.”

At Los Angeles last night, Senator George W. Norris (IND-NE) said Mr. Willkie’s “loyalty to public utilities privately owned exceeds his loyalty to his government.” He said Mr. Willkie was “in joint debate with himself.”

Senator Gerald P. Nye (R-ND) charged at Kewanee, Ill., that Mr. Roosevelt had assumed illegal powers in a “self-created emergency.” He said that New Deal farm and reciprocal trade agreement programs were “contradictory.”

Called 'Hand-Picked’

Mr. LaGuardia, speaking at Cincinnati, charged that Mr. Willkie was hand-picked by Wall Street for the Republican nomination. Of the Republican National Convention, he said:

The voters are now asking themselves just what happened at the psychological moment, that the man who didn’t dare to face a primary, that made the answer to Wall Street prayers, suddenly brushed aside the candidates who had won delegates by primary contest and the candidates who were favored sons.

At Hartford, Conn., executives of leading insurance companies struck back at Mr. Roosevelt’s charges that they were “trying to instill fear” in the minds of policy-holders about the objectives of the New Deal.

Charge Called 'Unjust’

James Lee Loomis, president of Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. described the charge as “unjust.”

Insurance companies that have served the public well, some of them for more than 100 years, have not been in the past, and are not now managed by dastardly and unpatriotic men.

He denied his company has tried in any way to influence policy-holders. Other comment was similar.