Election 1944: Drive for Presidency becoming most bitter since 1928 (10-14-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 15, 1944)


Drive for Presidency becoming most bitter since 1928 campaign

Both parties question opponents’ honesty; White House replies to Dewey charges

Washington (UP) – (Oct. 14)
The 1944 presidential campaign appeared tonight to be living up to advance predictions that it would be the roughest, toughest, and – the word seems to be “dirtiest” – since 1928, when Herbert Hoover defeated Alfred E. Smith.

This year, campaigners for both major parties have made blockbuster attacks on their opponents’ honesty, and the most frequently employed verbal weapon, translated into barroom English, has been: “You’re a liar.”

The White House issued a bill of particulars today designed to show that Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Republican presidential candidate, has played fast and loose with the facts in quoting administration spokesmen to their own disadvantage.

Replies to Dewey

At the same time, Assistant Secretary of State Adolf A. Berle Jr., whom Dewey quoted a week ago tonight in charging the administration with Communist intentions, asserted in a letter to President Roosevelt that the Republican candidate had been “surprisingly dishonest.”

For his part, Mr. Dewey scheduled a broadcast from St. Louis Monday night on the subject of “The Urgent Need for Honesty and Competence in Our National Government.”

The White House bill of particulars, which it called a list of “facts,” inferentially accused Mr. Dewey of quoting administration officials out of context to support charges voiced in his campaign speeches.

Others quoted

Mr. Dewey had quoted Gen. George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff; Gen. H. H. Arnold, chief of the Army Air Forces; Senator Harry S. Truman (D-MO), the Democratic nominee for Vice President; Senator Alben W. Barkley (D-KY) and Mr. Roosevelt himself to back up charges that war caught this country unprepared and that the administration was to blame.

The White House list introduced additional “quotes” from the same sources and occasions, presumably to show that Mr. Dewey had misinterpreted or misemphasized out-of-context statements to make them appear to support his contentions.

The White House statement was presented without comment, but it served to indicate the increasing bitterness being engendered in this campaign, as did another of today’s developments – a refusal by Mr. Roosevelt to share a speaking platform with Mr. Dewey.

Dewey to speak

White House Press Secretary Stephen T. Early disclosed the President had rejected an invitation from Mrs. Ogden Reid, vice president of The New York Tribune, Inc., to speak at the Herald-Tribune Forum next Wednesday. Mr. Dewey will make a major foreign policy address at the final forum session.

Meanwhile, Democratic National Chairman Robert E. Hannegan and Republican National Chairman Herbert Brownell Jr. were casting mild aspersions on each other’s honor. Mr. Hannegan said the opposition was starting a whispering campaign about the President’s health. Mr. Brownell said there was no truth in the charge.

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Probably pretty mild compared to modern elections of today

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Hell, compared to 1960 as well.

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Very true. I forgot about that one.

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I’m a geezer now, but I remember both my parents being staunch FDR supporters. They both came of age during the Great Depression and were young adults during WWII. My mom flat out would say, “FDR saved this country”. And I’ve never found anything historically to despute that. “Just the facts”. :sunglasses:


Let’s just say my family disagrees. :slight_smile:

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Oh, then your family may have been some of the people who called President Roosevelt, “That man”. Historians have rated FDR as the best president of the 20th Century.

Not me. Especially after learning the truth about the New Deal and his administration being easily subverted by or already filled with pernicious elements. I suspect many of those historians still see him as a hero because they either tend to share his views, or just going by comparative studies, or just are not fully in tune with their research.

A historian

Not always the case. My family did support him early on, but that soured quickly. They were less enthusiastic in 1936, voted for Willkie in 1940, and for 1944, Grandpa outright admitted that the war was the only reason he voted for Frankie that year. Grandma stood her ground, however, and went with Dewey.

I’m not trying to make fun of anyone. I just have a difficult time picturing Wilkie or Dewey making the very hard and correct decisions that FDR and Truman had to make. I admit that at Yalta FDR wasn’t at his best. He did however get Stalin to commit to invading Manchuria three months after Germany surrendered. That’s points in my book, anyway.

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Willkie wouldn’t have been that different from Frankie, though.

I know. Just that with Frankie, and frankly a lot of our Presidents, passions tend to flare up, especially with media coverage and more material being made publicly available.