Election 1940: Willkie Given Ford's Blessing (9-11-40)


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The Pittsburgh Press (September 11, 1940)

WILLKIE GIVEN FORD’S BACKING

’Understands Country’s Needs’, Magnate Says

Detroit, Sept. 11 –

Henry Ford today endorsed Wendell L. Willkie, Republican presidential nominee, as a man who “means to do exactly what he says and is competent to do it without evasion or excuse.”

The motor magnate said:

Mr. Willkie is a businessman and understands what this country needs first and needs most. The economic question is paramount: It is the basis of defense, prosperity and everything else. Until this country gets back to work and earns good wages, it is not in a position to do anything properly. Mr. Willkie has had practical business experience and knows this.

Mr. Ford made a special trip to Rushville, Indiana, Monday to visit Mr. Willkie. The subject of their discussion, however, has been kept secret.

Mr. Ford said he was “strongly attracted” to Mr. Willkie over his speech accepting the G.O.P. nomination to run against President Roosevelt.

I was attracted by what he said about his disapproval of all forms of intolerance, for I believe in helping oppressed peoples. I believe all people were put on this earth for a definite purpose.

Class divisions and racial or religious differences have been too much encouraged in this country. Too many men keep themselves in power by feeding other men’s hatreds. That is one way of breaking down a country from within.

’Influence for Unity’

Mr. Willkie believes there is no room in America for class discrimination and I am certain that he will be a great influence for real national unity.

It was the first time Mr. Ford had spoken openly in the present political campaign over his preference of candidates. He has consistently waged some of his greatest battles, however, with the National Labor Relations Board, born of the New Deal.

Mr. Ford said:

Until the country gets back to work and earns good wages, it is not in a position to do anything properly. Mr. Willkie has had practical business experience and knows this.

Production Is Wealth

In his own management of affairs, he has followed the principle that the first thing is production, for only production is wealth; and to get and keep production, low prices and good wages are indispensable.

This country needs someone in public office who understands this principle and will let the country go ahead under its own steam. We have been making economic experiments that have never succeeded anywhere, and our people now seem ready to resume something they know will work.

It is certainly encouraging to see a man of Mr. Willkie’s type chosen as presidential candidate.


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