Election 1944: Administration failed people, Dewey claims (9-11-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 11, 1944)


On matter of war –
Administration failed people, Dewey claims

President did nothing to prepare, he says

Des Moines, Iowa (UP) –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey charged here today that the Roosevelt administration “did absolutely nothing to prepare the American people for war.”

Mr. Dewey made the charge in a news conference shortly after his arrival here for conferences with party leaders. He added that the administration now claims it saw the war was coming.

During the questioning on foreign policy, arising from a magazine article by the 1940 GOP presidential nominee Wendell L. Willkie, Governor Dewey agreed that foreign policy and domestic policy are inseparable, because strength at home regulates American influence in foreign affairs.

No preparation in eight years

He said:

The tragedy of the present administration is that we have an administration seeking reelection now which was eight years in office while all these tremendous forces were rising toward war, which did absolutely nothing to prepare the American people for war.

And, at the end of those eight years in office, the administration still had a limping unproductive economy with 10 million unemployed and absolutely no military preparations for these events, which it now claims it foresaw. As a matter of fact, we had an army of 75,000.

Mr. Dewey told reporters that one of the reasons for his visit to Iowa was to discuss with its people and its leaders the “critical farm problems that will face this country when the war is over.”

Distribution to take planning

When newspaper reports from Washington detailing the huge food surplus the government may be holding at the end of the war were called to his attention, he said there was no doubt but that “we will have accomplished a tremendous stockpile.”

He said it would require enormous planning to distribute this surplus without glutting the market and giving the American farmer a bad year.

He was asked:

Does that imply that some sort of food distribution agency may be continued as a part or section of your cabinet?

Reconversion question

Mr. Dewey said:

Certainly, the job will have to be done. Whether it is done through special agencies or how is a matter I will discuss in speeches later in the campaign, and it will have to be done skillfully, otherwise it would rot the while distributing system.

Mr. Dewey was also asked about the report on reconversion problems by War Mobilization Director James F. Byrnes. He said he hadn’t studied it carefully, but he hoped “the proposal will mean action and not mere words because it is very late.”

Asked whether he meant “action along the lines of the report,” he said: “At least it’s a start.”

Greeted by 4,000

Governor Dewey was greeted at the railroad station by a crowd estimated at 4,000 persons.

As he has in every stop so far on his 6,700-mile coast-to-coast campaign swing, he assailed what he calls the “defeatist philosophy of the present administration.”

He promised that a new administration would bring “equality among labor, industry and agriculture, which we must have.”

Swinging back into action campaigning after a weekend visit with his mother at his Owosso, Michigan, birthplace, Governor Dewey scheduled day-long conferences with party chieftains and leaders of half a dozen voting blocs in Des Moines.

Next speech in Seattle

It was his bid for the 10 electoral votes of a state which has been carried by a Democratic presidential candidate only three times since 1872 – in 1912 by Woodrow Wilson and in 1932 and 1936 by President Roosevelt.

Governor Dewey leaves tonight for a two-day visit at the Valentine, Nebraska, ranch of former Governor Samuel R. McKelvie, where he will meet Nebraska and South Dakota political leaders for private conferences. His next major address is scheduled Sept. 18 at Seattle.

Governor Dewey spent a quiet weekend at the home of his mother, Mrs. George M. Dewey, at Owosso.