Election 1940: Willkie — "Nobody In U.S. Wants War" (10-2-40)

Reading Eagle (October 2, 1940)


Aboard Willkie Train En Route Cleveland, Oct. 2 (AP) –

Wendell L. Willkie, declaring that this country now has little influence in international affairs, said today that Germany, Japan and Italy “are thinking about the United States in terms of war.”

“Nobody in this country wants war,” said the Republican presidential nominee to a train side crowd at Adrian, Mich.

Under such circumstances there is just one hope for these United States – just one hope for the continuation of this peaceful democratic life – and that is for the United States to become strong.

It must become strong in its domestic economy and in its military defense. We need both. In both respects we are presently very weak.

This administration now in power has spent $60,000,000,000 of our money. It has left 9,600,000 men unemployed. Agricultural prices are depressed.

Yet it has still failed to build us an adequate national defense. In 1929 when there was no Hitler, 21% of the federal expenditures were for national defense, yet in 1936, only 9% were spent for that purpose.

We have only 75,000 men equipped for service able to fight. Yet this administration says “you can’t change horses in the middle of the stream.” I say to you that the administration which got us into the middle of that stream is not an administration which can get us out of that stream.

Willkie told the cheering crowd that he wanted to do two things: Rehabilitate domestic economy and “build a defense that will be so strong that neither Germany nor Italy nor Japan, nor all of them combined, will seek to strike this peaceful land.”

He added:

Our only danger of way is if we remain weak.

Hits Lehman Speech

Turning today to foreign policy questions, Willkie described as “false, malicious and subversive” a speech by Gov. Herbert H. Lehman of New York, that President Roosevelt’s defeat would bring satisfaction to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Japan.

While completing an address on international relations for delivery at Cleveland tonight, Willkie issued a statement saying:

I stand for our democratic way of life. And so intensely do I feel about this that I have gone out of my way in this campaign to give unity to certain aspects of our foreign policy.

I have sought to avoid any risk of any suspicion in foreign minds of a disagreement in this country on our fundamental attitudes toward aggression and toward aid to Britain. Mr. Lehman ought to know that, too.

Three-Point Program

The Republican presidential nominee gave out his statement just after he left Grand Rapids, Mich., where he proposed a three-point method of increasing employment, increased production, stabilization of the tax structure and elimination of government red tape.

About the time the statement was being made public, a two-inch stone was thrown through the double window of a dining car on Willkie’s train. It hit William C. Murphy, Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, but caused only slight abrasions on his hand.

Willkie’s train remained during the night at Sturgis, Mich., to allow a morning stop at Adrian, Michigan. Then the schedule called for short talks at Toledo, Oak Harbor, Sandusky and Elyria, Ohio, before going to Cleveland in the evening.

The nominee devoted most of yesterday to campaigning in Michigan labor centers, telling audiences at Pontiac, Flint and Lansing that they should keep their minds open on current issues.

His final speech was delivered at sundown in the heart of Grand Rapids, where he told a cheering crowd that “the road to prosperity is paved with jobs.”

If you stop production, or if, as the New Deal has done, you discourage and cut down production, you have created unemployment. And you have cut the jugular vein of America.

So, the first thing we are going to do to put the 9,600,000 back to work is to encourage increased production. What we must have is new enterprises – about 700,000 of them to take care of our needs.

Wants ‘Solvent’ Government

Standing beside a big horseshoe of red roses, Willkie added to his prepared speech an assertion that continued federal deficits would mean participants in the Social Security program would not get their money in their old age.

The nominee said he wanted to make the government solvent so that the program could be carried out.

In his statement replying to Governor Lehman, Willkie said he was shocked that a man of the governor’s "character and responsibility should stoop to a kind of politics that can only jeopardize the safety and welfare of the American people in a critical hour.

The governor’s words, he asserted:

…tend to destroy the unity of this country and they challenge in flagrant fashion the principles upon which I have done my level best to conduct this campaign.

He asked Lehman to state that he did not intend “to impute to me another attitude other than that of a defender of democracy.”