Election 1944: Pre-convention news


Perkins: Labor in the election

By Fred W. Perkins, Press Washington correspondent

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania –
This is a report on results of a trip through much of the Midwest, which included interviews with a cross-section of labor leaders on the political situation, particularly the 1944 presidential part of it.

These “galloping” endeavors produce the conclusion that the Roosevelt support is considerably down among the rank-and-file in certain important segments of organized labor, including the railway brotherhoods and some big units of the American Federation of Labor. A recession is reported even in parts of the CIO, but the men who ought to know this sentiment best declare that, in the end, organized labor as a whole will go almost as solidly for a fourth term as it did for the second and third terms.

Another conclusion is that the only Republican, among the men now being discussed as the nominee of that party, who has a chance of cracking the labor vote enough to bring about an approximate balance, is Wendell Willkie. That was the only Republican name which did not produce jeers among the interviewed labor leaders.

Willkie program

Mr. Willkie is said to have mapped out a program that might prove attractive to the rank-and-file of labor, but he has not announced it in full. It is based on a full recognition of all the rights that labor won under the New Deal, plus more tangible recognition for labor in the government.

In Chicago, Raymond McKeough, former ardent New Deal Congressman and late unsuccessful candidate for the Senate, was found busily forming a “grassroots” organization on behalf of the CIO Political Action Committee. He is regional director for Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Mr. McKeough admitted he faced a stiff fight – “the toughest in the country,” he said – to insure the electoral votes of the three states for the probable Democratic nominee.

He said that in the Midwest as in the rest of the country where it will operate politically the CIO will address its appeal to the farmers and the public in general – will try to prove the theory that what helps labor helps everybody.

They’ll ‘come around’

Cincinnati furnished reliable information that the rank-and-file of railway workers are still displeased with Mr. Roosevelt because of the administration’s handling of their recent age controversy and strike threats. An authority on this subject told of being almost thrown out of the kitchen of a railway dining car when he suggested to the half-dozen chefs and their helpers that he supposed they were still for Mr. Roosevelt as in the past.

But this authority thought these men eventually would “come around.”

Cleveland provided the most tangible evidence of an effort to subordinate the internal troubles or organized labor on behalf of a united political front. Jack Gill, a leader in the international setup of the Typographical Union (not affiliated with either AFL or CIO), was one of the main promoters of a meeting Thursday night on behalf of political unity.

Mr. Gill expressed the view that labor unions would make “a tragic mistake” if they allowed their internal differences to divide their political support.

He pointed out:

For nearly 12 years, the national Congress was doing things for or on behalf of organized labor. Now, as shown by the Connally-Smith law, it has started to do things TO labor.

He said:

I believe labor as a whole will support Roosevelt, but if I had to take a Republican, I’d choose Willkie.

Farther south in Ohio, at Columbus, the CIO State Industrial Council has announced formation for the first time of all branches of organized labor in “a broad political front.”

Pittsburgh dope

John L. Lewis, international president of the Mine Workers, is not expected to be in any way favorable to Mr. Roosevelt. He supported Willkie in 1940, but the precinct results indicate the miners didn’t follow him. Mr. Lewis will not support Mr. Willkie this year, which is said to be all right with Mr. Willkie.

In Pittsburgh, “Chick” Federoff, head of the Steel City Industrial Union Council, said he favored a union for political purposes with the AFL, and that his group will try to make plans in a meeting next Tuesday. But John A. Stackhouse, secretary of the Pittsburgh Central Labor Union, said that organization had just decided to set up its own political committees, with no plans for active cooperation with any other labor group.

At the other end of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia groups of both the AFL and CIO organized a “united front” last year, and hope to continue it.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 6, 1944)


Anti-New Deal Democrats can’t decide on strategy

Program to block fourth term is developing along two different and almost opposite lines
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer

Washington (UP) –
Anti-New Deal Democrats appear today unable to make up their minds on strategy to prevent President Roosevelt’s renomination for a fourth term.

The belief that he will seek renomination is sufficiently indicated by the organization of pre-convention machinery to block him. But the program is developing along two different and almost opposing lines.

Former Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring, who left the Roosevelt Cabinet in 1940, is promoting a “third party” movement or general conservative Democratic bolt of Mr. Roosevelt’s candidacy, should he be renominated.

Indicates plan solidly founded

To this end, Mr. Woodring helped set up a Jeffersonian Democratic Conference which met last month in Chicago. After conferences last week in New York, he indicated that the third-party plan was solidly founded and that there were half a dozen or so Democrats who would be available to contest the presidential election as a Jeffersonian Democrat.

It is obvious that any Jeffersonian-Democratic presidential candidate who could take 100 or so electoral votes from Mr. Roosevelt next November would have obtained his defeat if the election were at all close.

Mentioned by Mr. Woodring as potential candidates are former Democratic National Committee Chairman James A. Farley, Senator Harry F. Byrd and former Massachusetts Governor Joseph B. Ely. Inclusion of these men among potential third-party candidates appears to shadow the whole program. Mr. Farley has told intimates that he would not bolt the Democratic Party even if Mr. Roosevelt were renominated.

Ely in different position

Mr. Byrd has already announced that he is not a candidate for the presidential nomination. Mr. Ely is in a somewhat different position. Moving boldly in Massachusetts against a fourth term, anti-New Deal Democrats have entered a slate of convention delegate candidates who would be pledged to Mr. Ely’s nomination for the Presidency. That was announced Feb. 20. It looked like a bolt or third-party threat.

But it appears now that Mr. Ely will not permit his name to go before presidential preference primaries in other states. therefore, the strategy in Massachusetts seems to coincide less with Mr. Woodring’s third-party plan than with the effort of other anti-New Dealers to obtain control of a big block of convention delegates for a convention floor fight against Mr. Roosevelt’s renomination and a do-or-die effort to prevent a New Dealer being nominated for Vice President in the event Mr. Roosevelt heads the ticket again.

Many Democrats, especially Southerners, who might be willing to fight Mr. Roosevelt’s renomination in the convention would not bolt the party to vote against him.

A leader of the Stop-Roosevelt group believes that there is some hope of preventing the President’s renomination by the strategy of preventing his supporters from lining up solid blocks of Roosevelt-instructed delegates and defeating him on the convention floor. He estimated that eight and possibly nine Southern states would send uninstructed delegations to the Democratic convention.

It is on that strategy of uninstructed or favorite-son candidates that non-bolting anti-New Dealers are relying. If they can’t lick Mr. Roosevelt in the convention, they will probably not vote against him.

Bricker: Local government No. 1 issue

Jacksonville, Florida (UP) –
Governor John Bricker of Ohio, candidate for the Republican nomination for President, said today that the big issue in the 1944 presidential election was whether local self-government shall prevail or “shall we continue the trend toward central autocratic control by the federal government.”

In Jacksonville to address the Florida State Republican Convention, he advocated simplification of the tax laws and a reduction in taxes.

Governor Bricker said that we must reduce the national debt. He said reduction of the national debt could start now with the elimination of needless boards and bureaucrats and that reduction in the federal payroll would not hurt the prosecution of the war but would help it.

Governor Bricker added:

Congress long ago should have provided laws to prohibit strikes during wartime. Congress should have provided a board before which misunderstandings could be adjudicated with fairness to both sides.

Advocating limitation upon presidential tenure, Governor Bricker said:

…continued occupancy of the highest seat in the land is a powerful weapon in the hands of the “ins” because of the desire of federal employees to hold their jobs and increase their authority.


Soldier vote compromise scored by CIO

Much disputed measure is headed back into new trouble in Senate

Washington (UP) –
The CIO joined the attack against the pending compromise soldier vote bill today as the measure, fresh from a three-week dispute between Senate and House conferees, headed right back into trouble in the Senate.

The bill appeared to satisfy neither advocates of state or federal ballots and both factions promised to make their sentiments known when it comes up before the Senate Thursday. The House takes up the conference report next week.

‘Technical absurdity’

CIO president Philip Murray wrote all Congressmen demanding a “simple, uniform federal ballot” instead of what he called the “technical absurdity” that emerged from conference. The net effect of the pending bill, he said, would be to disenfranchise the few soldiers who were enfranchised by the Soldier Voting Act of 1942.

He said:

This issue is a simple one – how to place a ballot in the hands of every serviceman and woman. No cloak of “states’ rights” can obscure the fact that this latest form of the bill would deny some 11 million Americans one of the great rights for which they are fighting – the right to vote.

Veto possible

The compromise, he said, is unworkable and:

Its obvious effect will be to harass the bedevil the serviceman to the point where he will give up in despair of achieving his democratic right to vote.

The pending bill restricts use of federal ballots to overseas servicemen who apply for but fail to receive state absentee ballots by Oct. 1. Another restriction provides that governors must specify by Aug. 1 that the federal ballot is acceptable to their states.

President Roosevelt has indicated he will veto the bill if he believes it would decrease rather than increase the number of men and women eligible to vote.


Labor policy listed by MacArthur group

New York (UP) –
A labor policy, calling for federal jurisdiction over all labor organizations and maintaining the rights both of unions to organize and of individuals to join them or not, will be presented to the Republican National Convention by the MacArthur National Associates.

If they are successful in their attempt to have Gen. Douglas MacArthur drafted as the presidential candidate, the Associates said, the proposed labor plank will be submitted for his endorsement.

The plank proposes that every labor organization shall file a copy of its constitution and bylaws with the Labor Department, that an annual report including a complete financial statement shall be made by each union to the Secretary of Labor, that union business agents be licensed by the Secretary of Labor, and that all records shall be available for public examination.


Roosevelt in good shape

Baltimore, Maryland –
VAdm. Ross T. McIntire, President Roosevelt’s personal physician, said today that the Chief Executive was “in perfect shape” after his recent brief rest.



Ferguson: Voting privileges

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Considering the many rights a nation takes away from its soldiers, the right to vote must seem trivial to fighting men. They’ve been asked to give up their rights to a normal life, business, education, careers, even their lives, yet a great many people talk as if justice will be theirs if only they can mark a ballot in 1944. I dare say this sounds fantastic to one who ventures daily over enemy territory or plods through mud in the face of shellfire.

We’re up against a tough problem. Millions of qualified voters will be away from home on election day. No matter what sort of scheme is worked out, a great many will be unable to vote. And there’s nothing we can do about it except go to the polls ourselves.

Here is a responsibility the civilian must be ready to carry. Instead of wasting so much talk about getting ballots to the boys it would be better, I think, to pledge ourselves to approach this election without party prejudice.

Women will have the preponderance of voting power this year. Yet thousands have never taken an interest in politics. While Johnny is off saving the USA in many an instance, his mother is complacent to let the Republican get along without her taking the trouble to vote intelligently.

This is no way for Americans to perform, especially in such crucial times. Love of country can be proved in no better way than by a study of pending political issues, and by voting for what one believes to be the right ones.


Stokes: Molding planks

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
Republicans are trying something new in platform-making this year which reflects the stern and changing times and a sense of responsibility in looking forward to possible control of the government.

Already they are beginning to explore the issues, preparatory to outlining the party’s stand, instead of following the procedure customary in both parties of waiting until the convention assembles and then, under tense and wearying conditions, throwing together a jumble of words that few read and fewer pay any attention to afterward.

This new procedure grew out of the Mackinac Conference last September at which the Republican Post-war Advisory Council appointed eight committees to study current problems and draft reports and recommendations for the guidance of the resolutions committee at the convention. Since that time, a crew of researchers has been busy.

Over the weekend there came from National Chairman Harrison E. Spangler the announcement that the Committee on Agriculture, headed by Governor Hickenlooper of Iowa, will hold public hearings in Chicago April 3 and 4 in its search for facts.

Assembled there to present their viewpoints and be questioned about farm programs and policies will be representatives of the National Grange, American Farm Bureau Federation, Farmers’ Union, National Council of Co-Operatives and National Co-Operative Milk Producers Federation.

This is the first of such meetings by the eight committees. The others deal with foreign policy and international relations; social welfare and security; post-war enterprises, industry and employment; finance, taxation and money; reform of government administration; labor, and international economic problems.

Through this procedure the party has an opportunity to perform a real service, if it capitalizes upon the earnest work of the committees, and does not brush them aside as it did the work of the Glenn Frank Committee several years ago.

The late Glenn Frank, then president of the University of Wisconsin, headed a committee which drafted a comprehensible report – some 200 pages – on the issues of that time, with recommendations, but it was politely laid aside. It did have some effect through publicity of its findings.

If the other committees this year follow the example set by the one on agriculture and hold public hearings, so that publicity may be given their findings and recommendations, the convention may feel some effects through enlightenment and pressure that will make the platform an illuminating document that means something.

The public seems in a mood this year to demand frankness and explicitness, with little patience for meaningless and glittering phrases.

The Republican Party might very well throw away what looks like an excellent opportunity to return to power if it does not follow through with this opportunity to make its position clear.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 7, 1944)


Soldier vote bill agreement by conferees due

State ballot advocates expected to consent to amendment

Washington (UP) –
Senator Theodore F. Green (D-RI) said today there was a good possibility that Senate and House conferees would reach final agreement on the soldier vote bill before nightfall.

State ballot advocates were expected to agree to an amendment under which the federal ballot, restricted now to overseas troops, could be used within the United States by servicemen whose states do not have absentee ballots – Kentucky and New Mexico.

Senator Carl A. Hatch (D-NM) approved the amendment as the only step outside of a special session by his state’s legislature that would enable New Mexico servicemen to vote.

While most conferees favored the amendment, Senator Green objected, saying it discriminated in favor of New Mexicans as against men from other states.

Under the bill, the federal ballot would be used by servicemen overseas who apply for a state absentee ballot by Sept. 1 but do not receive it by Oct. 1.

A minor change made yesterday fixed July 15 instead of Aug, 1 as the date by which state governors must certify that federal ballots will be accepted for counting under their state law.

Dewey calls for law to give soldiers vote

Albany, New York (UP) –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey called upon the Republican-controlled legislature today to pass a soldier-vote law which will assure men and women in the Armed Forces the right to mark ballots “free from partisan exploitation or perversion.”

In a special message to the Senate and Assembly, Governor Dewey asked enactment of a plan which calls for:

  • Every member of the armed services desiring to vote would simply send to the Secretary of State of New York, his name, home address and service address.

  • The War Ballot Commission to forward the postcards to the local election boards.

  • The election boards would then mail directly to the soldier voter, a ballot and a self-addressed return envelope, all of a size and weight complying with the wishes of the Army and Navy.

  • The soldier or sailor upon receiving his ballot would mark it for any or every officer and mail it to the War Ballot Commission which would forward all the ballots to the proper election boards to be counted.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 8, 1944)


Denver upset gives GOP Congress seat

War hero defeated in special election

Denver, Colorado (UP) –
The 1st Congressional district of Colorado, traditional Democratic stronghold, swung into the Republican ranks today with the election of Dean M. Gillespie, the 59-year-old businessman, to the national House of Representatives.

Mr. Gillespie won by less than 3,000 votes over Maj. Carl Wuertele, the disabled bomber pilot whose brilliant war record was emphasized by the Democrats. Unofficial returns from Denver’s 4,0002 precincts gave Mr. Gillespie a total of 41,447 votes compared with 38,524 for Maj. Wuertele.

Election significant

The Republican victory was the GOP’s first Congressional triumph in Denver since 1930. It was also considered particularly significant in view of the fact the district gave President Roosevelt a 10,000-vote margin over Wendell Willkie in 1940, although Colorado as a whole went Republican.

Maj. Wuertele had pledged support of administration war and home front policies and had endorsed a fourth term.

Attacked ‘bungling’

Mr. Gillespie had attacked “bureaucracy and bungling” of the New Deal and had called for private business to be given an opportunity to show what it could do in the reemployment of an estimated 20 million servicemen and women and war workers after the war.

He said he was going to Congress with no set determination to “hamstring the New Deal.”

There was pathos in the defeat of the handsome Maj. Wuertele, whose foot was almost severed by flak as he piloted his well-known bomber, Hel-En-Wings – named after his wife – on his 205th combat mission against the Japs.

Will keep on fighting

The 30-year-old flier was the only man to get a bomber off the ground during the Pearl Harbor attack and was decorated nine times by the War Department.

Maj, Wuertele said:

Although I lost, I’ll keep on fighting for our American ideals and Constitution, our way of life, our boys and girls in uniform. I will lend my aid in every way to win the war and to uniting the people behind our new Congressman.

Mr. Gillespie’s election gives the Republicans 210 delegates in the House against 217 Democrats with minor parties holding four places.


Soldier vote is headed for new battles

States’ rights bloc wins in compromise

Washington (UP) –
Prospects of a renewed Senate fight and a possible presidential veto threatened today to prolong the soldier vote controversy.

House and Senate conferees reached final agreement yesterday after 25 days of struggle between states’ rights and federal ballot proponents. The states’ rights forces emerged largely triumphant.

The conference report, accepted by an 8–2 vote, permits restricted use of a federal ballot for troops overseas. However, servicemen within the United States whose home states do not provide for absentee voting – at present Kentucky and New Mexico – will also be eligible for a federal ballot.

Federal ballot restricted

Use of the federal ballot for overseas troops is restricted to men who apply for a state ballot by Sept. 1 and certify that they have not received it by Oct. 1. In addition, in order to be counted the federal ballots must be legalized by state governors on the authorization of their legislatures by July 15.

The House conferees accepted the report unanimously, and Rep. John E. Rankin (D-MS), leader of the states’ rights faction, hailed it as a victory.

Senate fight certain

He said:

The House is going to take it because we’ve got what we wanted.

But a sharp contest on the conference report in the Senate is certain. Four Senators, two of them the conferees who voted against the compromise, have already announced that they will oppose it on the floor.

If the compromise does pass both House and Senate, there is a possibility of a veto that would reopen the whole issue and delay final solution.

Soldier vote session cost cited by Governor Martin

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (UP) –
Governor Edward Martin said today the state would save about $360,000 if ways can be found to simplify the Pennsylvania soldier voting law without convening a special session of the Legislature.

Governor Martin said he believed all of the Commonwealth’s servicemen, even those stationed in remote sections of the globe, would be guaranteed their right of franchise “if we could just lift the time element and party registration requirements from the present law.”


Stokes: Hatch Act

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
New reform bills to amend the Hatch Act are cropping up in Congress to make politics more pure, both as to expenditure of money and expenditure of venom, vitriol and plain dirt.

They presage an expected hard-fought campaign, with purse strings likely to be relaxed and pen and ink and oratory flowing freely, perhaps bitterly, from an excess of zeal.

Senate Gillette (D-IA) went today before the Privileges and Elections Committee to discuss three proposed amendments to the Hatch and Corrupt Practices Acts, relating both to a tighter curb on expenditures and possible prevention of scurrilous campaign documents, especially of the anonymous, poison-pen variety.

He speaks with authority. He learned a lot about campaign tricks as chairman of the Senate Campaign Investigating Committee which operated in the 1940 presidential election. His main objective is to limit contributions and expenditures, from all sources, to $2 million for a presidential candidate, and $1 million for a vice-presidential candidate, with a limit of $10,000 on individual contributions.

Would plug loopholes

He would plug loopholes in the Hatch Act. That act, sponsored by Senator Hatch (D-NM), forbids contributions to, and expenditures by, a political committee of more than $3 million and limits individual contributions to $5,000.

Senator Hatch’s aim was to limit total expenditures by a political party altogether to $3 million for the presidential campaign. As for individual contributions, he specified that the $5,000 limit did not include contributions made to a state or local committee.

The loophole there was as big as the entrance to Mammoth Cave. Henry P. Fletcher, counsel of the Republican National Committee, bounced gaily through it. He drafted an opinion in 1940 which he took to Wendell Willkie.

He held that the National Committee could spend $3 million and other national groups could spend as much. He also held that individuals could give $5,000 to the national campaign ands as much more to state and local committees. There was practically no limit under his interpretation.

Mr. Willkie blew up over this proposed evasion. He announced that he expected all expenditures to be held within $3 million. They weren’t. It was estimated that total expenditures of both parties closely approached $20 million.

Mr. Fletcher apparently was sound legally.

Raises individual ante

In his proposed amendment, Senator Gillette would limit contributions and expenditures to an overall $2 million for President and $1 million for Vice President. He raised the ante on individual contributions to $10,000, but with a limit of $5,000 to any one committee.

The Senate acknowledged that his attempt to squelch scurrilous campaign material might infringe upon free speech and free press, and said he is offering two bills merely to raise the question for discussion.

They would forbid publication or distribution of matter about candidates for President, Vice President or Congress “tending to incite arson, murder, assassination or riot” or “of a fraudulent or scurrilous character tending to incite hatred against any religious sect or creed or against any race.”

They would also require that any printed matter circulated about candidates must carry the name of the writer and by whom published.

An office of minority relations would be created in the Interior Department to police scurrilous campaign literature affecting minorities.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 9, 1944)


Soldier vote bill back in Senate

Washington (UP) –
The soldier vote issue will return to the Senate today in form of a bill bearing only slight resemblance to the federal war ballot measure passed and sent to conference with the House some weeks ago.

Senator Tom Connally (D-TX) will file with the Senate the agreement finally reached by the conferees after prolonged discussions in which so many restrictions were placed on the federal ballot that the entire issue may again have to be thrashed out in the Senate.

Rayburn favors measure

Convinced that the new soldier vote bill will enable more service personnel to vote this year than were able to do so in 1942, Speaker Sam Rayburn said he would support the measure when it reaches the House.

Mr. Rayburn told reporters that Chairman Eugene Worley (D-TX) of the House Elections Committee, and Rep. Herbert C. Bonner (D-NC), both members of the House conference delegation, had assured him that the measure would make it possible for more soldiers to vote this year.

Ballot’s use restricted

As it emerged from conference, the measure provides a federal ballot for overseas personnel only if they apply for a state absentee ballot by Sept. 1 and fail to get it by Oct. 1. Use of the ballot within the United States is limited to servicemen whose states have no absentee voting laws – namely, Kentucky and New Mexico.


Editorial: Another Republican victory

Republicans have scored another victory in a special Congressional election, raising their hopes for national success in November. Colorado’s 1st Congressional district is the latest. Before that, it was districts in Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Even more encouraging to Republicans was the result last week in New York City, where they polled more votes than the Democrats in a heavily Democratic district and were nosed out only by American Labor Party ballots.

In Denver on Tuesday, a GOP businessman took away from the Democrats a seat they have held since 1932. When Colorado went Republican in 1940, that district remained Democratic by almost 10,000. In 1942, its Democratic margin was 8,000. This week’s reversal was the more remarkable because the defeated candidate was a disabled bomber pilot with all the political glamor of a brilliant war record.

Politicians in Washington were watching this Denver test as an indication of urban trends. Democrats admit that the Roosevelt administration is weak in the rural areas of the North and West, and that it must depend largely on the city vote in November. Hence the Republican joy and Democratic gloom over results in Denver, following the show of GOP strength in Philadelphia and New York.

To lick the Democratic war hero, the Republicans campaigned on the national issue of “less government in business and more business in government.”

When an ordinary businessman, with no previous political experience and no campaign “it” can lick a wounded war hero on that plea, it must have a lot of public support.


Background of news –
The West and the GOP

By Bertram Benedict

Republican victory in the special Congressional election in the traditionally-Democratic 1st district of Colorado on Tuesday may be the most significant of the special elections prior to next November.

In a New York district last week, the Republicans made substantial gains but did not win the seat at stake.

Within the last three months, they have taken two House seats from the Democrats: In the Pennsylvania 2nd (in Philadelphia) and the Kentucky 4th. But in the former, the Republican candidate had a 1942 Democratic majority of only 713 votes to overcome, and in the latter the Republican had a 1942 Democratic plurality of less than 5,000 to overcome and was aided by a factional fight in the Democratic ranks. Moreover, the Kentucky district is made up entirely of rural territory, where Democratic strength is admittedly weaker than in 1942.

On the other hand, the Colorado 1st lies entirely in the city and county of Denver. It elected a Democratic Representative in 1942 by an 8,060 majority, and gave President Roosevelt a majority of 9,600 in 1940, although the states as a whole went for Wendell Willkie. And the Democrats hope Mr. Roosevelt has lost less popularity in the West than in the East.

Chances look bright

The Republican gain of a House seat from the Democrats in Denver make GOP chances look bright for November. In 1940, Roosevelt carried every city of over 4000,000 except Cincinnati. In New York, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, a pro-Willkie vote in rural territory was more than counterbalanced by a pro-Roosevelt urban vote.

The Republican insurgency which wrecked the Taft administration was largely a conflict of West vs. East. It was largely Republicans from beyond the Mississippi who followed Theodore Roosevelt out of the Republican Party in 1912.

Throughout the 1920s, Republican members of Congress from west of the Alleghenies bedeviled the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover administrations with agitation for special farm relief legislation.

The split was signalized when Senator Moses, an Eastern Republican, called the Western insurgents “sons of the wild jackass,” and Senator Grundy, another Easterner, complained that too much legislation was affected by member of Congress from “backward” states.

Most Republican leaders who abandoned Hoover in 1932 and came out for Roosevelt were from west of the Mississippi.

Party of semi-discord

A combination of Midwest Republicans and Southern Democrats enacted the anti-strike bill over President Roosevelt’s veto last year. But in the House, almost one-fourth of the Republicans voted to sustain the veto, and they were mostly from large cities.

In fact, the Republican Party has always been an organization of semi-discordant elements. At its birth in 1854-56, it held together anti-alien “Know-Nothingers” and recent German immigrants, farmers who wanted free land and workmen who wanted a protective tariff, hardboiled Whig politicians and idealistic abolitionists and Prohibitionists.

The GOP usually has developed more party discipline in holding together discordant elements than have the Democrats – probably because many Republican candidates for Congress need a presidential victory to be elected, while most Democratic candidates from the South can be elected without victory for the national ticket.


Stokes: Dewey’s challenge

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
Governor Dewey seemed to be talking very much like a candidate when he went out of his way to denounce the administration and its proposals for a federal ballot for soldiers in his message to the New York Legislature outlining a plan for state ballots.

He backed up the “states’ rights” position of a majority of his party in Congress and of Southern Democrats against that of President Roosevelt and, incidentally, of Wendell L. Willkie.

What cheered Republicans most was the Governor’s vigorous language when he swapped epithets with President Roosevelt, the old epithet master. Governor Dewey called the federal ballot “a blank piece of paper,” as against the term “fraud” which Mr. Roosevelt applied to the original state ballot bill.

Republicans have been looking for somebody who could “tell” President Roosevelt.

Welcomed as GOP champion

They were glad to have their position justified by the Governor because he is now the man voted in the polls as the most likely to succeed as candidate at the Chicago convention in June.

It is no secret here that Republicans moved rather hesitantly and nervously to their strong “states’ rights” position on the soldier vote issue. They now await President Roosevelt’s next move. They do not expect him to drop it; certainly not since Governor Dewey has chosen to challenge him.

The more comfortable feeling of Republicans over the soldier vote issue, should be linked up to other events on the political front, for example, the Republican victory in a Denver Congressional district that had been Democratic for 14 years, another in a chain of byelection successes.

They are beginning to feel so good about these developments that they are worrying less about individual issues, observing signs of a strong trend reflecting dissatisfaction with the administration.

Denver victory encouraging

Perhaps the most cheerful aspect of the Denver victory was that Democrats could not check the Republican tide even with a famous war hero. An inclination to throw war heroes into the breach seems to be a part of Democratic strategy in this tough year. The result in Denver was encouraging to members of Congress who have been quaking in their boots about war veteran opponents and who, to offset it, have been rushing forward with bounteous legislative offerings for the benefit of veterans.

The Republican trend inures to Governor Dewey’s benefit as it does to that of his party. It makes the Republican nomination more of a prize than it appeared some months ago when he announced he was not a candidate, which accounts for the willingness of a Governor now, so it is made known, to accept a convention “draft.”

Everybody knows he is a “candidate” in this sense.

His gratuitous intervention in the soldier vote issue gives the appearance that he is talking like a candidate. Does this mean that, henceforth, he will seize the occasion to discuss the issues?

He is getting demands that he make his position plain on all the issues on the ground that he owes it to his party since he seems headed for the nomination.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 10, 1944)


Gen. MacArthur ‘smear’ charged

Vandenberg scores Army reading list

Washington (UP) –
Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson today agreed with Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg (R-MI) that the War Department should be “scrupulously careful to avoid the official distribution of partisan or prejudicial material to the Army.”

Mr. Stimson made the statement in reply to a protest by Mr. Vandenberg that a list of recommended magazine articles circulated by the Army War College library included a “smear” article against Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Senator’s favorite for the 1944 Republican presidential nomination.

List to be eliminated

Mr. Stimson wrote Mr. Vandenberg that the list of magazine articles henceforth would be eliminated from the library bulletin.

Mr. Vandenberg protested that the War Department list referred to the article, printed in the American Mercury, as:

…a comprehensive and objective appraisal of the general as presidential timber, with special reference to the character of his backers and an analysis of his military reputation before Pearl Harbor and after.

Mr. Stimson wrote Mr. Vandenberg that the War College library reprinted the list from a poster sent out each month by Harper & Bros. to public libraries and that the comments reprinted under the title of each article were reproduced exactly from the power.

Selections not approved

Mr. Stimson wrote:

There has been no intent to imply War Department approval of these selections. The sponsorship by a council of librarians is indicated as part of the heading. Monthly circulation of this publication represents fewer than 500 copies.

In order that there may be no opportunity for misunderstanding of the War Department’s position, however, I have directed that the list be eliminated from future issues of the library bulletin.


Stokes: GOP problem

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
The optimistic state of mind among Republicans over November election prospects shows itself in the current disagreement among them in the Senate over election of a successor to the late Senator Charles L. McNary as party leader in that body.

Aside from the question of who it should be – and the rivalry is lively – the Republican Senators are divided over whether they should choose a leader now or wait until after the election.

One group, which includes the nine “freshmen” members swept into office in 1942, wants to elect a vigorous leader, carry the fight aggressively on every issue to the Democrats from now until election, and perfect a smooth-working party organization that would function effectively if the party captures the White House.

Other group wants to wait

The other group, which includes some, but not all of the older members, prefers to wait until after election to see if their optimism about victory is borne out, meanwhile retaining their temporary organization with Senator Wallace H. White (R-ME) as acting leader.

In the event they capture the White House, they might want to choose a different type of leader than if the party were still a minority party. They would want as leader a man who would work well with their President and no one knows now who this might be, or what the party situation might be, it is pointed out.

They want no repetition of their last experience with Senate Republican leadership when they were in power. Senate Republican Leader Jim Watson, who had little regard for President Hoover, was constantly crossing up the President and making light cracks about him. One of his favorite quips about the President was:

How’re you going to follow a man who has St. Vilus dance?

Senator McNary, rather than “Sunny Jim,” became the liaison with the White House when the Depression began to pile trouble high.

Should the Republicans capture the Senate, which looks now to be a long-shot bet, the Senate Leader would assume commanding influence in the party councils.

Even should Republicans fail to get control of the Senate, they are certain to make gains and narrow the margin between the parties. There are now 58 Democrats, 37 Republicans and one Progressive. With a Republican President and a Senate nominally under control of the Democrats, a skillful leader would be needed who could work with the Democrats as far as possible to the best interests of the administration, particularly with the country at war.

Conference to decide course

The group which wants to wait leans toward caution. Among them are some who would not go too strong in opposition now, depending rather upon the present trend picking up momentum of its own weight, without any continuous running fight that might produce tactical errors of which President Roosevelt could take advantage.

Republicans will decide on their course at a party conference next Wednesday, with the advantage on the wait-and-see side.

Mentioned for the leadership are Senators Robert Taft (R-OH), Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI), John A. Danaher (R-CT) and Styles Bridges (R-NH).

Senator Taft takes the position among his friends that he would step aside if Senator Vandenberg wants the post. The Michigan Senator, it is reported, would like the job as long as the party is in the minority, but if it won control of the Senate, he would prefer to be President pro tempore and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on which he is now ranking Republican member.

Senators Danaher and Bridges are younger men who have taken an active role in the Senate. Each has a following.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 11, 1944)


Stokes: A vote joker

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
A joker which may not be so funny to state treasuries has been discovered in the soldier vote bill now awaiting final action by Congress. It may complicate still further the problem of soldier balloting.

Under a last-minute change in the bill made by the House-Senate conference committee, states will have to pay postage for sending out instructions for voting procedures and lists of candidates. As originally provided, these were to be postage free, that is, paid for by the federal government.

Free postage is still provided for postcards which the soldiers must mail back in order to get a ballot, for mailing the ballots, themselves, to the soldiers, and for envelopes in which the soldiers will mail back their ballots.

Some states do not carry voting instructions on the ballots. This means that if they want to send out instructions or lists of candidates, they cannot put them in the envelope with the ballots, unless they want to pay the postage on the whole package. Instead, they would have to mail the instructions or lists in a separate package, making just that much more mail, on which they must pay the postage.

Before Dewey spoke

Instructions on how to mark the ballot are regarded as important in some cases, because of peculiarities of state laws, particularly for soldiers who have come of age since they went into the service and are voting for the first time. Also lists of candidates will be necessary in some cases.

The provision for free postage for voting instructions and lists of candidates was stricken from the measure by the conferees at the tag end of their long and wearing ordeal over the measure, when someone brought in the report that voting instructions for New York State made up quite a sizeable volume.

Why, it was asked, should the federal government foot the bill for such bulky mail? Nobody knew whether New York actually had any idea of sending out anything like this. That was before Governor Dewey had presented his plan for state ballots to the New York Legislature which, he said, would call for a ballot package weighing only six-tenths of an ounce, well under the eight-tenths of an ounce prescribed by the bill.

Nothing can be done about the joker unless one branch or the other should reject the whole conference report and send it back for further consideration.

Another example of confusion

This is just another example of the muddling on the soldier vote bill. Confusion exists about some of its provisions. Already inquiries are coming in from secretaries of state, particularly as to whether poll tax and registration requirements are waived. No one is clear about this.

They were waived specifically in the existing law, passed in September 1942, which would remain in effect if President Roosevelt vetoed the pending measure. For this and other reasons, the belief is growing here that President Roosevelt will veto the bill and, in so doing, seize the opportunity to reply to Governor Dewey’s attack on the administration.

A probable tipoff was seen when Speaker Sam Rayburn withdrew his first endorsement of the conference agreement and said that he had not made up his mind whether he would support it.

The Senate will take up the conference report on the measure Tuesday.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 12, 1944)


Usurpation of power laid to Roosevelt

Indianapolis, Indiana (UP) – (March 11)
Senator Robert A. Taft (R-OH) charged tonight that “usurpation of power by the President” is transforming the courts and legislature into “a mere shell” and declared that a fourth term would cause steady enlargement of the executive power.

Addressing the Republican Editorial Association, Mr. Taft denied that the President had any legal right to many of the powers which he has assumed.

Mr. Taft said:

If the President is elected to a fourth term, with a Congress disposed to do his bidding, the people can only expect one course to be pursued – that is the course of steady enlargement of the executive power.


Woman starts beating drums for Willkie

Idealism, charm are stressed
By Daniel M. Kidney, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington – (March 11)
Change the “We Want Willkie” battle cry of 1940 to “Women Want Willkie: and you have the situation as depicted today by the politically-wise woman who is heading the Women’s Division of the 1944 Willkie pre-convention campaign.

She is Mrs. Grace Reynolds, Republican committeewoman for Indiana, who is attending a women’s meeting at party headquarters here. She is a vice chairman of the Republican National Committee and member of the Executive Board.

Mrs. Reynolds expects shortly to open a Willkie headquarters for women in New York.

Anyone who watched Wendell campaign in 1940 could readily see how he won over the women voters, Mrs. Reynolds said.

Personality cited

The reason is that he is a great idealist and combines that with a sincere and charming personality. With men at war, the woman vote will be of great significance. I am convinced that the majority of American women are for Willkie and against a fourth term.

A lovely looking lady of middle years, Mrs. Reynolds is experienced in Republican politics. She was twice elected Indiana state treasurer and has been national committeewoman since 1936.

Hoosiers get hot about politics, even in off years. When a President is to be chosen, they drop practically everything to attend to it. However, the Republican organization in the state has not come out for Mr. Willkie as its “favorite son.”

For there are plenty of old-line party members in the state who put Mr. Willkie even ahead of President Roosevelt when listing their political hatreds. Mrs. Reynolds knew all of that when she took the assignment to boost the New York Hoosier with the women.

Wants ‘open’ corporation

She asserted:

Republican hatred of Mr. Willkie is senseless. When you pin people down to expressing a reason for their anti-Willkie feelings, they have very slight foundation. In fact, the basic underlying cause of that hatred is because he once was a Democrat.

How does that make any sense? Surely the Republican Party cannot come back into power if it is to be a closed corporation from which persons are barred from active participation unless they can show that they have been Republicans from birth, or at least from the time they cast their first ballot.

Mr. Willkie made us lifelong Republicans think in terms of the world of today. He has prodded us forward and convinced us we cannot turn back. In that way, he already has done a great service to his party and the country.

I believe that he can win renomination by demonstrating in state primaries that he is the most popular leader we have. The rank and file, particularly the women, are for him. He can beat Roosevelt or any other Democrat this time.