Election 1940: Willkie Urges U.S. Air Bureau (8-24-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 25, 1940)


Separate Arm Termed Essential Defense Need

By William H. Lawrence, United Press Staff Writer

New York, Aug. 24 –

Asserting that the United States is “hopelessly unprepared” for air warfare, Republican Presidential nominee Wendell L. Willkie today urged creation of a new air cabinet post to unify the present separate air arms of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

The United States must learn a lesson from the European war where a mighty German air force has “crushed” France and is causing England “great distress,” Mr. Willkie said, as he called for vast increases in airplanes, pilots, mechanics and other ground personnel.

The Republican nominee’s proposal was made in a press conference statement after he had changed President Roosevelt’s Administration with failure to arm the nation and with enacting reforms and administering them in such a way that they hampered business recovery.

Our best foreign policy, he told reporters, is a nation with strong army, naval and air forces, and a strong and sound economy.

His recommendation for a separate and independent air force placed him in opposition to Mr. Roosevelt who has said at press conferences that he does not favor separation of the air arm from the land and sea forces.

Eventually, Mr. Willkie said, he would like to abolish the present cabinet posts for War and Navy Secretaries and establish a single cabinet post of Secretary of National Defense, with separate undersecretaries for Army, Navy and Air Corps. But this would take too long, he added, asserting the new air cabinet post, filled by a man who understands modern warfare, is essential to make the nation strong enough to resist attack.

The Republican nominee spent an otherwise quiet day with a few political conferences and began dictating a business speech which he may use in the formal campaign opener at Coffeyville, Kansas, Sept. 16 or at some other place on his coming western tour.

Plans Comparison

Mr. Willkie said:

I expect to make a complete comparison between recovery from this depression as compared with the country’s recovery from previous depressions, and to show how the New Deal legislation and its administration of its legislation had caused the continuous business stagnation that has prevented this country from recovering as it did from previous depressions.

He talked of cracking the Democratic Solid South by carrying Tennessee Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Texas, declaring that New Dealers “are as worried about the South as I am hopeful.” He remarked that Mr. Roosevelt plans two speeches in Tennessee soon.

Repeats WPA Charge

He reiterated his charge that the WPA was “planning to pack the (relief) rolls, especially in those states which are politically doubtful,” and renewed his demand that Attorney-General Robert H. Jackson investigate for Hatch Act violations.

Mr. Willkie conferred today with Representative Bruce Barton, New York, who has been mentioned as a likely Republican senatorial nominee against Senator James M. Mead; with Emil Hurja, Washington, and Elmo Roper, who specialize in private public opinion polls; and with Negro newspaper publisher Robert L. Vann of Pittsburgh, a former ally of Senator Joseph F. Guffey (D-PA).

Mr. Willkie and his party plan to fly back to Rushville, Ind., next Tuesday.


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