Election 1940: Willkie Pledges Thrift to Woo Frugal Yankees (10-10-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 10, 1940)

Hitting Where It Hurts —
By Charles T. Lucey, Scripps-Howard Staff Writer

En Route With Willkie, Oct. 10 –

It was Wendell Willkie, practical psychologist, who today carried his day-and night campaign for the Presidency into New England.

In a section of Old America whose tradition from colonial days is of frugal living wrung from rocky soil and dollars earned the hard way, the Republican nominee hammered away at the New Deal on a theme he knew would be understood – the spending of government money at a clip never known before in our history.

Out historic Boston Post Road, up into back-country Connecticut through the beautiful Naugatuck Valley, through towns and cities of skilled workmen whose craftsmanship is old, Mr. Willkie never let up once in his attack on the Roosevelt fiscal policies.

Time and again he hammered home the story: $71 billion of spending in eight New Deal years.

An administration which has poured out in this time two-fifths as much money as had been spent by the government in its whole previous history – a history in which the country fought and paid for a Revolutionary War, a War of 1812, a Mexican War, a Civil War, a Spanish War, a World War.

Repeatedly, he demanded of thousands of workers: How much will your social security be worth? How do you expect to get the payments due you, if this administration continues to “lead your country down the road to bankruptcy?”

All day long he called for his listeners to weigh this case he made with all their “hard-headed New England common sense.”

Gets Big Welcome

As in his attacks on “vicious” political bossism in New York and New Jersey, this was meeting the crowds on a ground they well understood, and as his auto caravan rolled through 130 miles of countryside he received one of the most heartening receptions he has been given since his campaign started.

Mostly his meetings were in town squares, but wherever possible he halted the caravan at factory gates and took his appeal to the man in overalls.

A brief speech to several hundred workers at a large machine and tool plant as he entered Bridgeport was typical. It was a straight-away demand of “How are you going to get your social security benefits if the money is all gone?” There was little apparent hostility here, and almost to a man the workers applauded. Leaving Bridgeport, he made the same case at the huge General Electric plant and again at other plants.

Roosevelt Cries Fewer

This was fairly friendly country, and friendly treatment had been expected. Here and there, though, came the cry “We want Roosevelt!”

The crowds, local observers said, were at least equal to those which turned out for President Roosevelt when he traveled part of this same route in 1936. The Willkie meeting at Waterbury was rated the largest Republican gathering ever held in the city.

An estimated 12,000 heard him at Stamford, 10,000 in Norwalk, 30,000 at four Bridgeport meetings, 8,000 in Waterbury, 10,000 at Hartford. At Bristol and New Britain, where the candidate did not speak, thousands turned out to get his waved greeting. Stratford, Shelton, Derby, Ansonia, were out in almost en masse.

Between towns, thousands more lined the highways. The caravan was so delayed by crowds at unscheduled speeches that it arrived in New Haven, where Mr. Willkie addressed a night meeting – more than two hours late.

Mr. Willkie head into Providence and Boston with an assurance from party leaders that his Connecticut argosy had improved his position in that state tremendously.