The Pittsburgh Press (October 23, 1944)
But nominee makes up his own mind
By Charles T. Lucey, Scripps-Howard staff writer
Albany, New York –
A brain trust has come to be an accepted part of a presidential campaign, and Tom Dewey’s is rated an extremely able one.
The Republican candidate’s speeches are his own and when he steps up to deliver one, he is not peddling canned goods someone has slipped into his pocket just before he leaves for the auditorium. Yet his research and writing staff, burning the 3:00 a.m. oil in its headquarters on the 11th floor of the DeWitt Clinton Hotel here, has contributed largely to his bid for the Presidency.
Mostly, the men around Governor Dewey are ex-newspapermen about the candidate’s own age – Elliott Bell (now New York state finance director and ex-New York Times writer), Harold Keller (ex-New York American man who is a kind of managing editor on research and writing production) Merlin Pitzele (labor editor of Business Week on leave), Hickman Powell (ex-New York Herald-Tribune) and a number of others.
Unlike Wendell Willkie, who carried a large speech-writing staff with him, Governor Dewey leaves most of his at home in Albany save for Elliott Bell. When Mr. Roosevelt delivered his Teamsters speech, the Albany staff didn’t wait to hear from the candidate, who was headed for Oklahoma City.
Instead, it pulled FDR’s speech apart in a conference that began the minute the broadcast was over, and when it had decided that sharp and immediate reply was called for, it said so in a lengthy telegram to Mr. Dewey aboard his train, including salient points on which it believed an effective answer could be pledged.
Had ‘spare’ speeches
When Governor Dewey headed for the West Coast in his opening campaign swing, he carried with him two or three “spare” speeches which could be substituted for other addresses along the way if circumstances suggested.
When he started work on his Oklahoma City speech, he had these to draw on for parts of his reply to Mr. Roosevelt, plus a generous sheaf of well-documented memoranda on many subjects on which he and his staff had worked.
If he couldn’t at once put his hands on what he wanted, he could call his Albany staff for it.
Home at Albany between speeches, Mr. Dewey may summon his research and writing men to the executive mansion at 11:00 p.m. and spend hours pulling apart a campaign proposition with them. In these sessions there are no punches pulled.
The language is as blunt as you’d get in a session of a half-dozen men anywhere; the Governor accepts some of the thinking and rejects more of it.
No one pattern is followed all the time in preparing speeches. Often there’s a “story” conference in which a decision is made as to subject, and various phases of it may be parceled out to several writers.
Or there may be a session at which a nearly-completed speech is being discussed, and Mr. Dewey himself makes revisions and interlineations as the talk on each point goes back and forth.