Background of news –
By Harold Kellock, editorial research reports
Because of war uncertainties, the election year 1944 has begun with the identity of the presidential candidates to be selected by the two major parties veiled in more than usual mystery.
If the European phase of the war ends before the nominating conventions assemble in June or July, a hasty reassessment of campaign values may bring last-minute changes in the political picture; the situation would be complicated by the fact that post-war problems in Europe would demand attention concurrently with problems of speeding up the war in the Far East. Any candidate who offered glittering generalities as solutions to these diverse puzzles might find himself highly embarrassed before the electorate in November. The war has injected various imponderable factors into the choice of candidates for both parties.
The enigma of the fourth term is another factor of uncertainty which hangs over both nominating conventions. According to established political techniques, President Roosevelt will probably not reveal whether he will be a candidate to succeed himself in office until after the Republican convention. The dearth of candidates for the Democratic nomination this year indicates the extent to which a twelve-year President forces other leaders of his party into political obscurity.
Byrnes a possibility?
In 1940, Vice President Garner and National Chairman Farley, both opposed to a third term, were candidates for the nomination. The names of both, and that of Senator Tydings (D-MD), were placed before the Democratic National Convention, but Mr. Roosevelt was nominated by acclamation on the first ballot. None of these three seems in the picture this year.
War Manpower Commissioner McNutt and Vice President Wallace have lost political face recently, through reallocations of administrative power. None of the New Deal executives, except possibly James F. Byrnes, chief of the Office of War Mobilization who served in the Senate from South Carolina for 10 years, apparently would be acceptable to the powerful Southern wing of the party. Some Southern leaders, led by Senator “Cotton Ed” Smith (D-SC), have proposed to nominate Senator Byrd (D-VA) on an anti-New Deal platform, but Mr. Byrd has said he is not a candidate.
The Republican race is wide open. The four leading candidates thus far are New York Governor Dewey, Wendell Willkie, Gen. MacArthur and Ohio Governor Bricker. Others mentioned include Harold E. Stassen, who resigned after his third election as Governor of Minnesota to enter the Navy, and Governors Warren of California, Saltonstall of Massachusetts and Griswold of Nebraska.
Willkie most outspoken
Gen. MacArthur and Mr. Stassen, as officers in the Armed Forces, cannot engage in political activity, but would be permitted to resign to accept high public office. Gen. MacArthur’s friends have organized MacArthur-for-President clubs in nine states and Mr. Stassen’s supporters are preparing to enter his name in the Western primaries. Mr. Bricker has announced his candidacy and will file in the Ohio primaries.
Mr. Willkie has said his candidacy is contingent on adoption by his party of a satisfactory program of post-war international cooperation.
The most outspoken of the Republican presidential possibilities, Mr. Willkie has urged his views before party gatherings and public forums over a wide area. A number of party leaders are openly opposed to his nomination.
After Mr. Dewey was elected Governor of New York in November 1942, he said he planned to stick to his job for four years and added:
I am not and shall not be a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1944.
He reiterated this stance a year later, but has never stated that he would refuse the nomination if it were tendered him.
Mr. Dewey leads in most straw votes for a Republican nominee to date, with Mr. Willkie close behind him.