Election 1944: Thomas L. Stokes columns

The Pittsburgh Press (September 4, 1944)


Stokes: Even conservatives rap House reconversion bill

Roosevelt’s refusal to take part in fight indicates he is playing politics on issue
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
The interpretation generally read into Senator Harry S. Truman’s speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination – that Democrats will make the war and foreign policy the dominant issue in the campaign – rings painfully accurate to groups in Congress who battled in vain to provide more cushions for unemployment on the home front in the so-called “reconversion” bill.

For President Roosevelt offered no help whatever in this fight. It was just the sort he would mix into in the days before he asked that the “New Deal” name be dropped in favor of “Win the War.” That was regarded then as a political gesture to hold as many conservatives on his side as possible for the election. Mr. Roosevelt still seems to be playing the same game.

Refuses to join fight

Despite his preoccupation with the war, the President had ample opportunity to step into this situation. When queried at his press conferences, he would reply that he had not followed the bill, or had not examined the amendments, and thus casually pass off the matter. He let the Republican-Southern Democratic coalition have its head without challenge.

What this has all come to is now seen in the bill passed by the House which whittled away at the Senate measure, itself certainly a conservative bill.

Conservatives have now joined critics of this House bill. Bernard M. Baruch, White House consultant on reconversion plans, said he does not feel this measure is adequate. Senator Walter F. George (D-GA), who sponsored the Senate bill as chairman of the Finance Committee, got very much aroused while the bill was before the House and appealed for moderation in the cutting process.

Appeal unheeded

He went unheeded. He is concerned over the House’s refusal to include federal employees in unemployment compensation and the striking out of another Senate bill proviso for travel pay for stranded war workers.

War Mobilization Director James F. Byrnes pleaded with the Ways and Means Committee to provide a nationwide minimum of $20 a week for 26 weeks for unemployment compensation, with the federal government to advance funds for such payments to states where rates are lower. But the committee refused, and the House batted down such an amendment by an overwhelming vote. This would mean meager unemployment aid in some localities, particularly in the South.

These three men are all conservatives which demonstrates how far the House went.

Their influence may be effective in revising the measure in conferences between the two beaches, the next stage. Senator George will be chairman of Senate conferees.

Organized labor tried to get a much more liberal measure. It put up a united front behind the Murray-Kilgore Bill in the Senate and a similar measure in the House. These were hopelessly defeated.

President Roosevelt did not come to their rescue, nor did House Democratic leaders. The fight in the House was directed by second-stringers. The President has taken labor’s support for granted in this campaign, which indicates some of the weakness in labor’s political strategy.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 6, 1944)


Stokes: Peace force

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
Deliberations of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference and a preview of the Senate’s forthcoming debate indicate that discussion of an international organization to keep the peace has reached a stage where skill is needed to keep it from becoming a political issue that isolationists can exploit.

Delegates of this country, Great Britain and Russia, having agreed on the use of force by an international organization to quash future aggressors, now apparently are in the delicate phase of deciding just how this force shall be applied.

The questions pertinent to this country, so far as a political issue is concerned, is whether the use of force must be approved in every individual instance by Congress. The American plan, for what has leaked out, presumably calls for submission to the Senate of the general terms and conditions under which force may be used but, once those have been approved, the American government, as an entity in the council, would act without coming back to Congress.

This was seized upon by Senator Harlan J. Bushfield (R-SD) and embroidered with extravagant fears in a Senate speech full od political implications. He attacked President Roosevelt, suggesting that under this proposal the President would become “the absolute despot of the American people: a true dictator in all sense of the word.”

It sounded like the opening gun of the isolationists.

Brassy political note obvious

The brassy political note was obvious in the South Dakota Senator’s question:

Do you, Mr. President, base the campaign for a fourth term upon this despotic power outlined in this so-called American plan?

Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI), who joined the debate, seemed to be backing away from the forthcoming position he took a few days ago when he pledged his support to an international organization. He fervently proclaimed that he would never stand for an American delegate making a declaration of war without the approval of Congress. He made it sound rather horrendous.

The Senator argued that force might never be necessary, that other persuasive means might do the trick. Disarming of the aggressors, he contended, would take care of them, and he certainly did not suspect any of our Allies would kick up trouble.

This was too much for Senator Tom Connally (D-TX), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who asked the Michigan Senator how it would have done to send “nice homilies” to Hitler asking him not to bother the Poles and the Czechs, or asking Hirohito to desist.

Gentleness won’t stop aggression

You can’t stop such aggressors, he said, by “sending them Sunday school tracts, by reading them the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer.” Nor, he added, could you always wait to call Congress together, members might be out campaigning and, after you got them here, some fellow might speak for two weeks. If the United States had acted quickly, in concert with England and France, this war might have been stopped.

When Senator Bushfield launched into his political tirade, Senator Connally saw the danger signals. He pulled out a long list of cases in which Presidents had sent troops to put down disturbances, uprisings, minor wars, and the like, without the approval of Congress. He did not recall that it was just such use of Marines by President Coolidge in Nicaragua that raised such a howl of “imperialism” from Democrats, shouts of “dollar diplomacy” and the like.

It will take more than such arguments.

What is needed, apparently, is a bold and frank pronouncement of a new concept in the world – that the nations must get together for their mutual interest, as a union of nations, not as jealous individuals, and they must keep a policeman constantly on the beat who can be summoned at moment’s notice.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 7, 1944)


Stokes: Reconversion

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
There’s considerable speculation here as to whether Congress, in handling reconversion legislation, has played into President Roosevelt’s hands and furnished him a possible political issue.

A joint Senate-House conference committee now is struggling with the different measures, passed by each branch, in an effort to reach a compromise which Senate leaders hope will more closely approximate an adequate solution than the House bill.

The latter measure has been criticized as inadequately Bernard M. Baruch, White House consultant on reconversion programs, as well as Senator Walter George (D-GA), chairman of the Finance Committee which sponsored the Senate will. War Mobilization Director James F. Byrnes tried in vain to get the House Ways and Means Committee to provide higher nationwide unemployment compensation rates – at least a $20 per week minimum for 26 weeks. That would be higher than is allowed under some state laws.

All are conservatives

In view of the criticism of these men, all recognized conservatives, it is not likely that President Roosevelt is satisfied with what Congress has done; nor does it seem possible that the conference committee, within the latitude of the two measures, can make the ultimate bill satisfactory to him. Conferees must stay within the two bills. They cannot insert new provisions.

This raises the questions as to whether the President might veto the bill, or, if not that, sign it under protest, perhaps with a stiff message to Congress criticizing what it has done. He might also suggest that additional legislation will be necessary to provide sufficient cushions for the unemployed during the changeover from war to peace production, which is already beginning.

President Roosevelt refrained from mixing into the situation while the bills were before Congress, which disappointed some New Dealers at the Capitol, a dwindling army. Although they felt that he withheld his help at a critical time, it is also true that Mr. Roosevelt has been criticized repeatedly for interfering with Congress. Republicans used to say “rubberstamp” Congress, an epithet no longer accurate.

Congress had its opportunity

Congress wanted to write legislation, itself, and it had full opportunity in the reconversion bill.

Senator Harry S. Truman (D-MO), Democratic vice-presidential candidate, obviously reflected President Roosevelt’s dissatisfaction with reconversion legislation in his own criticism of the course it was taking.

With the backing of conservatives such as Messrs. Baruch, George and Byrnes, President Roosevelt has an opportunity to take Congress to task. This will give him, at the same time, a chance to assuage the New Deal wing of the party which did not like either the Senate or House bills, but which was unable to do anything about it.

Observers at the Capitol are also commenting on what a beautiful opportunity the Republicans missed by not presenting a constructive reconversion program of their own that might have offered a middle way between the warring extremes of the Democratic Party in Congress.

With Democrats divided as they are, Republicans might be able to sail into the widening gulf and make some political capital for themselves.

They seem, instead, to prefer to follow the leadership of the Southern Democratic conservatives – they are almost beginning to talk with a Southern accent. Governor Dewey prodded the administration recently on his Midwestern tour to St. Louis for the sluggishness of its reconversion plans, but it did not seem to stir up his own flock in Congress.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 8, 1944)


Stokes: League foes

By Thomas L. Stokes

Washington –
The first faint evidences of a cabal against the proposed international peace organization are beginning to appear in the Senate which must ratify a treaty providing the necessary machinery.

It has similarities, in its vague preliminary stages, to the gradually developed plot which kept the United States out of the League of Nations 25 years ago, both in its origin, which is isolationism or “nationalism” as it is now being called, and in its method, which is sabotage by sniping and piecemeal attack.

It will bear close watching and a constant check by the public if this country is not to lose the peace as it did 25 years ago.

Although representatives of this country, Great Britain and Russia are formulating the general outlines of an international organization here at Dumbarton Oaks, the real fight, as far as the United States is concerned, will come in the Senate, as it did before.

First sign of attack

The first sign was the attack delivered this week by Senator Harlan J. Bushfield (R-SD) against the reported American plan insofar as it would not require American representatives on the council to come back to Congress for approval every time for the use of force against an aggressor.

Though the Dumbarton Oaks Conference is only preliminary, with no power to approve anything finally, the point raised by the South Dakota Senator has been seized to begin an undermining attack, and obviously with political intent as well, as was plain from the Senator’s direct attack on President Roosevelt. The terms and conditions for the use of force are still only in the discussions stage and will not be settled for some time. They must await the general conference later and a treaty embodying them.

The Senator’s object seems to be to stir up the latent fires of isolationism and feed them for political purposes, for the campaign and later.

It has been learned since that he is by no means alone, that something approaching a general understanding among isolationists in the Senate – largely Republican but with some stray Democrats – is in the making. At least that is the word from Senate Democrats interested in the international organization.

Plot hard to combat

This sort of plot is hard to combat. It was done that way 25 years ago. The tactics are the same – to pick out one phase, now another, for attack, and thus to draw together as many dissident elements as possible in a common front of opposition.

Two such centers of opposition have already been suggested, that raised by Senator Bushfield, and the argument that creation of an international organization should await a general peace treaty covering terms of settlemen of all issues raised in the war, territorial arrangements included.

Republicans may find themselves in a mixed role in this campaign on the international issue.

Governor Dewey has taken a stand for an international organization and his representative, John Foster Dulles, conferred here with Secretary of State Cordell Hull recently, with the upshot that they agreed to remove the international organization from partisan political debate during the campaign, through leaving it open to general discussion.

Now, if Republican Senators meanwhile are going to indulge in such sharpshooting as that of Senator Bushfield, it gives the appearance of a species of doubletalk, especially since he is not alone among Republicans.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 12, 1944)


Stokes: Farmers, sore at New Deal, hope Dewey will ‘free’ them

GOP candidate doesn’t have to sell them; they’re fed up with Washington policies
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

With Governor Dewey’s party –
Governor Dewey today took his presidential campaign cavalcade into Nebraska on what amounted to a carrying-coals-to-Newcastle expedition.

Both Iowa and Nebraska are staunchly Republican. There’s no doubt about that. The people decided some time ago.

Out here, Governor Dewey met an intriguing political paradox, best illustrated by the contrast between today and 1932.

Then there were poverty on the farms and hardship in the towns here. Angry farmers armed themselves with pitchforks to keep the sheriff from foreclosing their acres. The desperate farmers swept up behind Franklin D. Roosevelt as their deliverer, and admittedly his New Deal program helped put them back on their feet.

Farmers ‘rich and sore’

Today, the farmers are prosperous. The war is making many of them rich. They are paying off their mortgages. They are, in the local idiom, “rich and sore.” The majority has deserted President Roosevelt.

What has happened is that the farmer, an individualist by nature – except when he is desperate, as in the depression years – again has become a capitalist in psychology, now that he is again a capitalist in fact. He swings naturally back to political and economic conservatism.

The farmers wrap up all the evils, of which they see themselves victims, in OPA, although this is really just a general term for virtually every agency in Washington which issues regulations for them.

Hot about labor policies

They complain about price restrictions, although prices are good and they are making plenty of money. They have a problem in the shortage of labor, for which they blame the wages for labor at war plants and the draft. They resent gasoline rationing.

Most of all, perhaps, they resent New Deal labor policies, complaining that the New Deal has been weighted heavily for labor and against the farmers. Today, the divisions between farmers and labor in this country is wide and deep and any attack on Sidney Hillman’s CIO and its Political Action Committee is relished.

So, Governor Dewey didn’t have to sell anything here. It was already sold.

But Governor Dewey kept busy consulting with representatives of farmers, business and labor, and politicians. He is making valuable political contacts in this section, not so necessary now, but which will be helpful if he is elected, and, perhaps, even if he is not. For there are some who think the young man, if he fails this time, will try to get control of the party organizations for four years hence.

Nobody has done that successfully in recent years, but he did it in New York, being the only defeated candidate for governor in our time who was renominated.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 13, 1944)


Like all presidential candidates –
Stokes: Dewey visits Wild West and meets an Indian chief

But he scorns Coolidge, Smith precedent and passes up chance to don war bonnet
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Valentine, Nebraska –
Every presidential candidate must have his day or two in a Wild West atmosphere.

He must mingle with Indians adorned in headdress and painted faces, with cowboys in gay silk shorts, with ranchers stiff and uncomfortable in store clothes which last from year to year with only occasional wear, for they do not deign to replenish them, even though in this neighborhood they now casually flash great rolls of folding money.

The Indians were on hand to welcome Governor Dewey when his train rolled into this little town in Nebraska’s sand hills. A solemn rank of Sioux on horseback, looking ghastly and fierce from the colors splashed across their wizened faces, for most of them were old. The cowboys were there, too, to escort the Republican candidate and his wife in a parade through the center of town.

He plays it straight

Then his car and those of his party were turned across the rolling plains to the ranch of former Governor Sam McKelvie 20 miles away, where the Governor and Mrs. Dewey were guests overnight.

Governor Dewey took it all straight like a New Yorker and a gentleman, with none of the pretensions of the dude rancher. And he took it all smiling, amiable and properly inquisitive.

He did not don Indian headdress, as another New Yorker, Al Smith, once did, in mingling with the Blackfeet in Montana. He did not put on a cowboy hat or get into chaps and spurs as Cal Coolidge did some years ago in South Dakota, making a sight in the moving pictures, mincing anxiously down the steps, that was better for laughs than anything Charlie Chaplin ever did.

Meets Indian chief

Governor Dewey, of course, being a politician, could not avoid a chat with an Indian chieftain. Spotted Crow was supplied for this purpose by local Republicans. He pledged his support to the Republican candidate, as some chief always does for one candidate or the other every four years.

Spotted Crow expressed the opinion that Republicans would treat the Indians better than the Democrats, for all that Secretary Harold Ickes and Indian Commissioner John Collier have been able to do.

The Governor took part in the ceremony of digging up the barbecued beef, which had been cooking for hours underground, but he refused to pose for photographers in this role.

No points needed

He stood in line afterward with Mrs. Dewey, in a big tent to have his plate filled with the succulent meat, potato salad, coleslaw and potato chips. It was utility beef no ration points – it was explained.

Even miles away from the big world outside, the Governor gave careful attention to politics, conferring by the hour with delegations from Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming, listening to complaints against the New Deal on behalf of the cattlemen who, from evidence of those there, are doing nicely and achieving rotund figures.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 14, 1944)


Stokes: Farmers

By Thomas L. Stokes

Valentine, Nebraska –
We were sitting in front of the hotel on Main Street, our chairs on the sidewalk against the big front window, and I was learning from the farmer who sat at my side how it is with the farmers out this way.

They don’t seem to like what’s going on in Washington, judging by the man who was talking.

An auto with big loudspeaker horns blossoming out in every direction passed slowly by, and the voice rang all up and down the street, saying there were only 90 grandstand seats and seven boxes left for the rodeo in the afternoon which Governor Thomas E. Dewey was to attend. Tickets were available at the courthouse, the voice said. It was then 11:00 a.m.

Autos rolled down the street, bringing visitors from miles around. Some were crowded with big families, the kids sticking out at the edges. This was the big day. They all wanted to see the Republican presidential candidate, who do a day and a half, after a brief appearance here the day before, had been virtually in hiding at the ranch of former Governor Sam McKelvie, 20 miles away. Governor Dewey’s picture beamed all along Main Street, and his name was on banners which fluttered overhead.

Nobody very hilarious

Little knots of men stood along the street – stolid Sioux Indians with wrinkled, leathery faces, ranchers, brown and squint-eyed with the sun, farmers in overalls, cowboys, and just plain hands. Nobody was very hilarious. These people are not just that way, there was an occasional drunk, waddling and grinning.

My friend had come from his quarter-section farm, 150 miles to the southeast. He was a wiry fellow, slight of build. He wore a big hat. His tanned face was unwrinkled and did not look as if it had seen 50 years, but that was his age.

“If Roosevelt’s reelected, I’ll sell out my farm.”

A blunt statement thrown into the conversation. What would be do then?

Oh, I don’t know. I’m not worrying much. I beat around for years, working with rodeos, working on ranches and farms. I never had any trouble getting a job. I might go down to old Mexico. I’ve been down there before.

What’s the trouble?

He repeated the story you hear so often. Too many regulations from Washington. He’s a cattle feeder, said he feeds about a thousand or 1,500 head a year. The cost of corn is too high, the ceiling price too low for feeders. He lost $450 this year on hiss cattle. He raises hay and soybeans. The prices have been good for them.

They don’t like ‘this rationing’

He said dolefully:

But they won’t let them go up anymore.

Folks down our way don’t like all this rationing. They could give us our gasoline and sugar. They could have just told us what we could have, without all this rationing business. We wouldn’t have hoarded. There was a ration official down our way who was just as mean as he could be, wouldn’t let anybody have anything. His house caught fire one day, and the fireman found all kinds of things hoarded away in his attic.

He was particularly irate about high wages in war plants.

And they aren’t saving a thing. Living high, buying liquor, getting drunk, it’s bad for our young folks.

He had a stern morale strain, characteristic of lots of folks in the farm country.

How bad off was he really? Not so bad when he let out the facts, gradually. He bought his farm in 1931. It had a $7,500 mortgage on it. He borrowed some from a neighbor. Later he got a loan from the Federal Land Bank. That’s nearly all paid off now.

I had a big year two years ago. I could pay off the rest now easy, but they told me it’s better to have a mortgage on if I want to sell.

He was very bitter about President Roosevelt.

“We’ve got to get rid of one-man government,” he said.

He added, as I got up to go:

And I wish if you see Dewey, you’d tell him not to let Hoover or Willkie make any speeches in this campaign. Hoover’s bad stuff among our folks. Willkie could have been elected two days after he was nominated – but he talked too much.

And that’s how it is with the folks out this way.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 15, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey strategy

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
The “hideaway” phase of Governor Dewey’s presidential campaign this week, which has taken him into Nebraska’s sand hills and the mountain fastnesses of Wyoming, has aroused speculation.

Examination shows that it was very cleverly contrived.

He has made no speeches other than occasional and brief “Howdy-dos.” But through the forum of his press conferences, the Republican candidate has capitalized upon the antipathy to the New Deal and to war restrictions that is most emphatic among the independent-type folks who live on farms, ranches and in the small towns in the territory which he has covered. This is transmitted in turn to such folks in other parts of the country through the medium of the 50-odd newspaper correspondents on this trip.

This small town-rural element is the basis of Dewey strength.

He laid the foundation for his sort of campaign in his first speech at Philadelphia in which he advocated that the boys overseas be brought home as soon as possible after the war, and in which he declared that the Roosevelt administration was afraid of peace. This tack obviously had its seductive appeal to women – mothers, wives, and sweethearts.

MacArthur made an issue

Along this same general line, he sought to create suspicion of political motives in President Roosevelt’s management of the war when he said this week that now that Gen. Douglas MacArthur is no longer “a political threat” to the President, his magnificent talents should be given greater scope and recognition, insinuating also that adequate supplies had been withheld from the general during the Philippine campaign.

He did not suggest specifically that Gen. MacArthur be named overall commander in the Pacific. But his remarks were in connection with the Québec Conference where it was first reported that a Pacific commander was to be selected by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill. Gen. MacArthur, a popular figure, has been a sort of symbol and rallying point for Republicans who have raised him to the role of martyr.

When his campaign trip carried him into the farm and cattle country, Governor Dewey began to emphasize government war restrictions and regulations, which still seem to be onerous to people in this area.

At Des Moines, he said there is no doubt there will be large surpluses of food when the war is over, and he declared that this required efficient handling. He said the New Deal is not capable to prevent release of this food in a way that would be “a catastrophe” to the farmers.

Cites cattle surplus

At Valentine, Nebraska, in the heart of the cattle beyond the needs of the country, raising the question of a large surplus before housewives who have had trouble getting meat for their table. He criticized OPA’s handling of the problem.

That this type of campaign may be effective is indicated by the sharp outcries from Democrats, who are attacking this sort of appeal to win votes and are charging misrepresentation by the Republican candidate.

Experienced political correspondents on this train have recognized the general import and significance of this kind of campaign in a nation now growing war weary and, from past observation, they see how it may be effective in the psychological condition of the voters.

It begins to appear, too, that President Roosevelt himself will be forced to make a campaign to meet the Dewey thrusts. Smaller-fry spokesmen cannot get the hearing nationally that may be required.

Democratic leaders, by the charge of “misrepresentation” have laid the way for the President’s entry, for he said he did not plan to make a campaign except to answer “misrepresentations.”

The Pittsburgh Press (September 16, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey’s skill

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey completed the farm and cattle-ranch and mining stage of his Western campaign, heading today into the Pacific Coast states, without getting into the trouble that lurks there for presidential candidates and more than once has tripped previous aspirants.

He proved a cagey and skillful campaigner so far as the explosive issues in that area are concerned. His technique was carefully devised. He gathered information in conferences with all sorts of groups and then made himself the spokesman for their grievances against the New Deal through his press conferences.

But he always explained he was telling what they told him, and he took no responsibility for their appraisal of their problems and their proposed solutions.

He raised issues, but did not offer solutions. That must await later major speeches. But, at the same time, he spread criticism of the New Deal, the restless under war restrictions, far and wide for its effect among the voters, so that a bill of indictment was drawn up just as effectively perhaps as if he had said all these harsh things on his own. Some few times he did speak out for himself, seizing whatever occasion offered to strike out at what he bundles up as “general incompetency” in Washington.

Voices farmers’ complaints

He gave voice to the farmers and their chafing under price regulations and their fear of a surplus of food after the war that will give them competition unless wisely handled; to the cattlemen who likewise are restive under OPA and who are afraid of the present large surplus of beef cattle on the hoof, to wool growers who complain about the surplus of wool built up for war purposes; to sugar beet growers who are restless under production quotas.

It was a one-sided story naturally, this being a political campaign. But anyone who has even a smattering of these problems knows it is not all so simple, and Governor Dewey recognized this by not attempting to solve these problems, himself, with suddenly offered cures.

The men who filed in to see the candidate with their complaints were prosperous and well fed and represented prosperous people on the farms and ranches. They want to make more money, if possible; if not, to hold their present prosperous own. They want to shake off controls, some of them without taking account of consequences.

Once demanded controls

Hanging over their heads is that familiar old surplus problem. That is now their fear, as they enjoy prosperity. This problem, if past experience is any guide, does require certain controls. A few years ago, the farmers were demanding them, and loudly. Governor Dewey is conscious of the complications.

The other side of the argument – for continued efforts under the New Deal – is championed by some of the smaller farmers in the states through which Governor Dewey has passed, a minority which clings to President Roosevelt. They want a guarantee of some kind. In Montana, this element is particularly active politically and there, too, the CIO Political Action Committee is active, especially with the miners.

These are the forces that are boiling around and creating the ferment that is stirring underneath today in the farm and ranch country.

Governor Dewey must resolve these all into a design. He is smart to find out all about them first. For the farm problems, overall, have as many potential danger points as a porcupine has quills.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 18, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey’s strategy

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
Governor Dewey is taking on a progressive Republican coloration as he begins his campaign to win the three Pacific Coast states.

Almost simultaneously with the Republican presidential candidate’s arrival in the state of Washington a Gallup Poll was released giving President Roosevelt the edge in the Coast states as of August, with slight percentage gains since an earlier survey.

Governor Dewey, who pins much faith in the Gallup Poll, was well aware of the task confronting him as he prepared to open his Pacific Coast campaign with the third of his major speeches scheduled for tonight at Seattle. He went to Seattle from Spokane where he spent the weekend.

At the outset of his Pacific Coast tour, which takes him later to Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, he selected as his theme the need for an expanding economy as the hope for both industry and labor.

Buoyancy in the air

He chose well.

For expansion fits the optimistic mood of these people out here in the Pacific Northwest, a bustling, lively land. They are moving forward rapidly and their progress has been accelerated by the great war industries which dot a countryside for which nature has provided so lavishly.

There’s buoyancy in the air.

Governor Dewey is trying to tack on to the New Deal the label of a static economy. He quoted from a speech made by President Roosevelt at San Francisco in 1932 to the effect that our industrial plant is built and distribution was the problem. Repeatedly he raised this quotation and scoffed at it.

On the political side he recognized the cry here for representation of the West in the high councils at Washington. He promised, if elected, a Cabinet post for the West, as well as representation in other high policymaking jobs.

On the economic side he recognized the need of these people for power and water in a region which pioneered in public power, against a heavily entrenched private utility interest, and which has made great advances in public power through the help of the New Deal.

New Deal strength

He said he always had believed that great natural resources should be developed by the federal government for the benefit of all the people.

But he stopped short on distribution of power by the federal government. He took the middle course that while the federal government should produce the power, it should be distributed according to the wishes of local communities:

The chief New Deal strength in this region is that the New Deal under President Roosevelt gave the people such magnificent benefactors as the Grand Coulee project in Washington and Bonneville in Oregon after four years of Republican resistance in Washington.

This counts heavily with average folks in this section who do not take seriously Governor Dewey’s charge that the West has been deserted by the New Deal.

Governor Dewey tried to make up for the past lack of interest among Republicans in such great projects as Grand Coulee and Bonneville by expressing his own interest and his familiarity with them. He visited both four years ago when he was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. But he did not dramatize them on this trip by visiting them.

The Republican presidential candidate encounters one continuous demand from people in the Pacific Coast area, which is to retain the war industries which have been located here. This was emphasized when one local newspaper reporter told the Governor that Democrats are spreading the word through the coast area that if he was elected the war industries would be turned over to “eastern monopolists,” which Governor Dewey labeled as “one of the most astonishing misrepresentations of the campaign.”

The Pittsburgh Press (September 19, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey on labor

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party, Seattle, Washington –
Governor Dewey made a bold bid in his Seattle speech for labor votes, a major factor in the election, on the theory that enough of labor, particularly of the conservative type undoubtedly enlarged by war prosperity, is ready to break away from the New Deal if approached with a sound progressive program.

That is what he offered. He talked in New Deal accents. Right-wingers could get no comfort from his speech, nor could extreme left-wingers.

He proposed to take nothing from labor that it now has in guarantees written in law by the New Deal. He promised better and more direct administration of these laws. He offered labor higher wages in an expanding economy, which has become his major theme.

Two aspects of New Deal labor administration and policy are vulnerable for indictment. The Republican presidential candidate seized them and made a bill of particulars to which realistic New Dealers themselves must subscribe privately.

One is the multiplicity of agencies through which labor cases have to go, often, as Governor Dewey so strikingly illustrated, creating confusion doubly confounded, and causing delay from which labor groups suffer.

Favoritism for CIO

The other is the obviously political complexion of some New Deal labor decisions, with favoritism for the CIO, illustrated by the CIO plump for President Roosevelt, taken so far in advance that that section of labor lost some of its political effectiveness.

This was shown by two defeats – the dumping of Vice President Wallace at Chicago, and the passage of a reconversion bill in Congress which it finds most unsatisfactory.

Very cleverly the Republican candidate exploited the controversy and delay in the steel case before the War Labor Board, centering about the attempt to break down the “Little Steel” formula.

“The strategy of delay,” he said, “sets the stage for a great gesture – a big favor to labor before Election Day,” but he added pointedly this is something to which “labor is justly entitled” without representing it as “a special gift from on high from the New Deal.”

When he went on record against the Smith-Connally Act, which labor so detests, he neglected to mention that President Roosevelt had vetoed it, only to have Congress pass it over his veto.

The difficulty that Governor Dewey faces in trying to win labor over to the Republican side was revealed in his speech. All he could find of labor reforms in the last 30 years which he could credit to Republicans was President Taft’s creation of a Cabinet post for labor and the Railway Mediation Act of 1926.

Filibuster recalled

And the latter was sponsored first by Alben Barkley, present Senate Democratic leader, then a House member. The Republican leadership of the House fought it.

The writer recalls sitting in the House Press Gallery through one night when a Republican filibuster, engineered by then Speaker Longworth, scuttled that measure for the time being.

Republican difficulties have been further emphasized on this transcontinental tour. To his labor conferences held at every stop, the Republican candidate has been able to attract only small-fry figures. Everywhere, too, his aides have received reports of effective registration by CIO’s PAC in the cities.

It was significant that Governor Dewey did not even mention the PAC. Lesser Republican lights will do that job.

The Republican Party was once the party of labor. The exodus to the Democratic Party began in 1916.

After that, the Democrats slowly improved their standing with labor and it was ready for its big parade to the Democrats when President Roosevelt capitalized the lack of attention to labor by Republicans during the ‘20s and created the New Deal party.

Governor Dewey thus has a handicap in party heritage. But he could not have gone much further in trying to overcome it.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 20, 1944)


Stokes: Cooperation

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey’s party –
Republicans expect to make much capital out of a point stressed by Governor Thomas E. Dewey in his Portland speech about the troubles that President Roosevelt has with Congress.

It may be effective. The Republican presidential candidate put it very persuasively last night:

Every step we take in these critical years ahead must have the joint support of the Congress and the President. Can any such joint action and harmonious relationship be achieved under this administration?

And again:

We need an administration that wants to work with the elected representatives of the people and that knows how to do it. We can get such an administration only by getting a new Chief Executive.

Governor Dewey put his finger on a very vulnerable spot. He dramatized the wide rift in the Democratic Party between the New Dealers and left-wingers. on the one hand, and on the other, the conservative Southern Democrats who go traipsing off with Republicans on virtually every domestic issue to form an anti-administration coalition that makes it so hard for Mr. Roosevelt to do business with Congress on any liberal measure.

Both sides vulnerable

The President has let them alone lately. But it is a real dilemma that has spread gloom through the progressive political forces of the country.

They do not like to look ahead to such a situation in what Governor Dewey termed “these critical years ahead.” Nor do they get any encouragement from anticipating a Republican Congress if it is going to follow the general course of the Republican minority in recent years on both domestic and foreign policy.

Governor Dewey must prove, as in the case with his progressive labor program, that he can carry his party and Congress along with him. The record of his party in Congress is his highest hurdle, and is the vulnerable spot on his side.

He must convince progressives that it is going to be different with him. or they will take a chance with President Roosevelt and the possibility that, if he is elected, he will be able to carry a Democratic Congress in with him which for a time will go along with him,

Democratic split cited

The Republican candidate dramatized, likewise, a Democratic Party, once fairly closely knit, that is now beginning to shake loose at the joints. This was clearly demonstrated at the Chicago convention when the Southerners were emitting rebel yells of dissatisfaction over the new power in the party assumed by New Dealers and CIO labor.

Republicans have capitalized upon this. In Congress, Republicans are egging on the Southern conservatives, fraternizing with them sweetly, throwing their support to them at every opportunity, often accepting without question the leadership the Southerners exercise so effectively through their committee chairmanships and other posts of power and influence.

In the campaign the second-string performers, not Governor Dewey himself, are exploiting the CIO’s PAC at every opportunity to frighten off middle-class voters and tempt them into the Republican camp.

The whole tone of the Dewey presidential campaign has been to stress his ability to work with political leaders and his Legislature.

Since his nomination, Governor Dewey has worked hard at it, in the Governors’ Conference in St. Louis and on this trip. He has spent hours with local politicians on this trip, getting acquainted, listening to their troubles and making a fine impression, according to reports.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 21, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey technique

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
Governor Dewey has been long enough on the stump and has exercised sufficiently his talents as a political craftsman to provide some basis for judgment of his performance.

His technique becomes important because he is pitted against the master politician in the White House who enjoys that psychological advantage inherent in long-time winners, whether in politics, in sports or otherwise.

Polish, precision, perfection and attention to detail describe the Dewey technique.

On the platform, the Republican presidential candidate gives a studied performance. Every gesture, each emphasis, every tone is plotted in advance. He’s an actor who prepares himself deliberately for the role of the streamlined orator of the new school, always conscious of his radio audience, and attentive to it.

Offhand it might be supposed that this would result in a brittle performance, but the reaction he brings from his audiences does not substantiate this. They rise to the occasion with those sudden outbursts that delight the heart of the speaker, not an emotional frenzy such as a Roosevelt or a Willkie draws from a crowd, but in a spontaneous tribute to what he says.

A competent man

He stands here, a personable young man, looking under the lights somewhat younger than his 42 years, and you get the impression that the audience feels that here is an earnest and competent young man who wants to get ahead, and of whom they wish well.

People who gather at his meetings are those who for some years now have been seeking a match for the man in the White House, who want very much to see Mr. Roosevelt out of Washington. And this young man seems to have the energy and the confidence that may do the job.

It is a pleasant surprise, too, when he suddenly shows a light touch, a quick change of pace to penetrating irony, such as his enumeration in his Seattle speech of all the agencies in Washington through which labor cases must go.

That passage was cut short by a tumult of laughter before he got through telling them in a mock solemn tone, like calling railroad stations.

He has also the occasional climaxes of the blunt question, such as his repeated “is a fourth term indispensable to that?” in his Portland speech. Every time he asked the question his audience answered a boisterous “No.”

An affable listener

The Episcopal Bishop who delivered the invocation at Portland spoke of his campaign as “a crusade.” It is not exactly that in the frenzied meaning that Wendell Willkie gave to his 1940 campaign, but it is in an earnest sort of way, judging from the sober determination that he seems to arouse.

His public appearances are only a part of the job that he has cut out for himself.

The other part is the contact that Governor Dewey is making with local politicians, and representatives of various groups – business, labor, farmers.

He has seen the inside of more hotel rooms and less scenery than probably any other presidential candidate who took the required “Grand Tour” through the West.

Here he has shown himself an affable listener and more successful at easy and amiable small talk than one would suppose.

The young man has learned a lot, and there is nothing amateurish about him.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 22, 1944)


Stokes: A new GOP

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
Those crusty antiquarians President Roosevelt once described as “the gentlemen who sit in their well-stocked clubs” must have had something akin to morning-after jitters when they opened their newspapers and read what the newest champion of the Republican Party is telling the folks.

Governor Dewey broke cleanly with old-fashioned Republicanism in his San Francisco speech. He frankly accepted basic New Deal doctrines that the national government must concern itself actively with the welfare of the people, ready to step in with help when the highly delicate economic mechanism of today gets out of gear.

Taking this stand, he proposed – as Wendell Willkie did in 1940 – to do it better, and with careful consideration to democratic principles.

He proposed to breathe new life into this basic philosophy by substituting a fresh, vigorous administration of public affairs for what he pictures as a confused and tired administration that is carelessly letting the nation slip into totalitarianism as it gets bogged down in the tangles of bureaucracy.

It was significant that it was in San Francisco, where 12 years ago Franklin D. Roosevelt first outlined the still-vague tenets of the New Deal in his Commonwealth Club speech, that Governor Dewey moved himself up to an almost parallel position. The test henceforth would seem to be one of performance in realizing common ideals.

Expanding economy

It was also in the Commonwealth Club speech here that President Roosevelt said that America’s industrial plant was finished, that the problem thereafter was one of distribution. Governor Dewey has recalled that statement frequently and taken issue with it.

Governor Dewey thinks he has much to offer here, promising an expanding, rather than a static economy.

His break with the past is graphically revealed by excerpts from his speech.

No man can be free when he stands in constant danger of hunger… certain government measures to influence broad economic conditions are both desirable and inevitable… if at any time there are no sufficient jobs in private employment to go around, then government can and must create additional job opportunities… the savage, old cutthroat adjustments are gone for good… the prices of major farm crops must be supported against the menace of disastrous collapse… in many directions the free market which old-time economists talked about is gone… the industrial worker, however capable and energetic he may be, cannot in modern society assure himself by his own unaided efforts con tenuity of employment… even the largest industrial corporation cannot maintain employment, if the country as a whole is undergoing depression.

‘Dog-eat-dog’ is gone

Repeatedly he said the old “dog-eat-dog” economy is gone forever.

The Republican candidate’s appeal represented a desperate effort to win California and the coast states away from President Roosevelt. The President was reported well ahead today in California.

Here is the state, so favored by nature, which was hit so hard in the last depression.

Its people flocked to President Roosevelt in 1932. Here the Okies streamed across the border from the dust bowl and the worn-out cotton lands. They created a new problem.

Here, since the war, they have come in new hordes to work in the war plants which have given California a new industrial empire, of which she is proud and jealous.

But Californians, old and new, who work in the fields and the factories, are still conscious of the past. They want no more depressions. They want no more Okie camps. Their hope is in the new war industries. They want to keep them, and keep people at work.

Southern California is the haven of old folks who came here to live on incomes from farms which they had left to their children in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska and Illinois, and who suddenly found the remittances stopped. They trooped in desperation to meetings where old Doc Townsend talked about old-age pensions. New evangels promised $30 every Thursday in the not-distant past.

Governor Dewey, conscious of this, speaks tonight in Los Angeles on social security. He is leaving nothing undone.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 23, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey in filmland

By Thomas L. Stokes

Los Angeles, California –
Here is the City of Miracles. Here is the City of the Angels – the lost angels with broken wings and tarnished souls who used to flash across the sky like a flaming bird of paradise, trailing expensive perfume.

Here is the city where the girl who once stood behind the 10-cent store counter, the girl who handed out the hash in Pete’s restaurant, soars to fame and glory, learns how to speak English with a sultry British accent, how to throw a mink coat nonchalantly across her shoulders, how to order about a butler and a covey of maids and a whole battalion of publicity men – all of whom, behind her back, snarl: “That lousy–!”

This is the city of hard-faced women, beautifully dressed, tough of heart. This is the city of slick men on the make. This is the city that lives for a gag and celebrates a new publicity coup as no civilization ever celebrated a major poet.

WPA remembered

This is the city that is up today, was down yesterday. and is afraid it may go broke tomorrow.

This is the city where only yesterday – less than 10 years ago, there were 10,000 women on WPA sewing projects, and as many men on garden projects. They were men and women with soft hands, for they had worked in nicely paneled offices where promoters were promoting. The depression put a sudden stop to all that. One-third of the city’s population was on relief. Yet, out at Santa Anita then, somebody was betting $65,000 a race.

And there was misery among the old folks. Their investments no longer paid dividends, the remittances from the children to whom they left their farms back in the Midwest stopped, for the sons and daughters were caught, too. in the national disaster. Hopefully the old folks marched into old Doc Townsend’s sideshow, for the promise of $200 every month. They got the Townsend habit then. On the California ballot for a referendum vote in the coming election is a proposal for $60 for every person 60 and over – 60 at 60.

All of this, and it is somehow sad to contemplate, is perhaps America – America in miniature.

It all seemed a bit too much for Governor Thomas E. Dewey, though there’s a touch of Hollywood in him.

Dewey ‘the actor’

No suave actor who walks on the stage in one of those dinner-dress English drawing-room comedies ever looked more the part than did he when he strolled down the aisle of a hotel conference room for his daily press conference. He seemed to catch the spirit.

“What is this – Hollywood?” he asked.

Just then, there was a stir at the back, and down the aisle, in a wheelchair, they pushed Lionel Barrymore through the crowd to talk to the candidate. Mr. Barrymore being head of the Hollywood-for-Dewey Committee. That took more time, more picture-taking.

At last, the session could begin. There was a raw edge in the Governor’s voice, when he said: “Have we sobered down to the proportions of a press conference?”

At one time, a Canadian newspaperman jumped up with a question, explaining that he happened to be in town and wanted to take this opportunity to meet the Governor.

“Is there anybody here from China?” the Governor retorted.

And at night, the Republican candidate went out to that monster Coliseum. Ginger Rogers introduced Governor Warren of California, who introduced Governor Dewey.

The Governor rose to the occasion.

He came out for an expansion of the social security program that nearly matches that of the New Deal and also appropriated some features of the CIO program, critical as some other Republicans are being just now about the CIO.

Old Doc Townsend must look to his laurels.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 25, 1944)


Stokes: The old master

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
Everybody on this campaign train including the Republican candidate for President, is continually conscious of the Democratic candidate – “That Man in the White House,” as he has been called so bitterly now for some years.

So, it was only natural that there should be keen interest in this campaign cavalcade in what President Roosevelt would say in his first avowed political speech bidding for a fourth term, and how he would say it.

Well before the scheduled hour, the lounge car – with bar attached – was filled with newspaper correspondents. Several stood, a little knot about the radio. These included Henry Turnbull, radio director for the Republican National Committee. John Marshall, Governor Dewey’s private secretary, sat at one of the tables, notebook and pencil ready to take down the words of Mr. Roosevelt.

The gong sounded then there came a din of showing and tumult from the dining room in Washington. It went on and on, interminably. Those in the car, wise in the ways of pumped-up radio demonstrations, grinned knowingly at one another. They whispered that the Teamsters were trying to outdo that cascade of sound that had greeted Governor Dewey in Los Angeles’ Coliseum the night before. That had come, too, at the signal of a man at the microphone with his watch in hand. Henry Turnbull glanced at his watch, smiling.

‘A voice in the wilderness’

Dan Tobin’s voice did not come through so well, sounding like a foghorn in the midst of a storm-tossed sea. He finished. Then that other voice for which everyone had waited was there, strong, confident and masterful.

The line of the poet “A voice in the wilderness singing” came to mind, but Lord Byron was writing of love, and this was no love feast going on there over the radio. Not on your life. It was the familiar Roosevelt political voice, unheard for so long, now sweetly ironic, now brutally sardonic, now raw with sarcasm, now rising to an emotional climax.

We were in the middle of the wilderness, it was true. Away from the train, on each side, the desert swept off like a giant dirty plate littered with scraps of sage brush to the purplish rim of the mountains.

Ears were sharp for the voice from the radio. Inside was the sound of laughter as the voice spoke of the rope that one didn’t mention in the house of one who has been hanged. the story of Fala, the dog with the Scottish soul, the young man who could not remember the 1929 depression.

Hard-boiled newsmen appreciative

Correspondents with New Deal sympathies – and there are quite a few along – beamed as they chuckled and hooted. Hard-boiled men of the press, who look on all politics with a cold and calculating eve, laughed in appreciation of the Roosevelt technique. From the grins and comments, you learned, too, that some who write for newspapers in which there is never a kind word said for the New Deal have their secret affections outside of editorial policy.

As the President talked on, a very pained expression came over the face of Henry Turnbull. He was not having any fun.

There was a babble as the speech ended.

“The old Roosevelt” … “The greatest political speech he ever made” … “He canceled out this whole trip we’ve made” … “He took up every Dewey speech in this one” and so on.

Had the Republican candidate heard the speech?

It turned out that they were unable to get the radio to work back in the private car. It has been out of whack ever since the wreck.

Before the speech was ended, the train had come into Needles, California. There Governor Dewey made a speech from the back platform to a crowd in which there were some few Roosevelt hecklers, mostly kids.

As we left, somebody slapped red, white and blue stickers on the car windows, showing to the inside of the train the one word: “Roosevelt.”

The Pittsburgh Press (September 26, 1944)


Stokes: The fight is on

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
This 1944 presidential campaign is apparently going to be the dirty affair that many people feared.

Who is to blame will be argued from now until Nov. 7 by the partisans of President Roosevelt and Governor Dewey. But, however that may he, it is obvious that the campaign is headed for the “you’re another” level.

This was made certain when the Republican candidate, nettled by President Roosevelt’s campaign address last Saturday night – which patently disturbed the Dewey high command – rolled up his sleeves, dug his pitchfork into the Roosevelt record, and made the dirt fly, with a blunt: “He asked for it. Here it is.”

Governor Dewey’s charge in his Oklahoma speech that the President’s “sad record of failing to prepare the defenses of this country for war has cost countless American lives” and “untold misery” inevitably will bring back, from the Democratic side, the record of Republicans in Congress – on an increase in the air force, on national defense measures generally. on extension of the draft which Republicans in the House fought so bitterly, on Lend-Lease.

Willkie warning recalled

This was the record of which Wendell Willkie reminded them almost daily this spring in his Wisconsin primary campaign. That is why Republicans dislike him so.

Governor Dewey undoubtedly will get read back to him also some of his own statements in his 1940 primary campaign, in Wisconsin and speeches of other Republican leaders.

This is only natural, since the Republican candidate has opened the subject and has quoted President Roosevelt, even though such quotations from either side may prove nothing conclusively. For the nation was going through a terrible ordeal of the spirit in those years, yearning for peace, not realizing the seriousness of the Nazi menace.

The debate undoubtedly will bring out many other things – Mr. Roosevelt’s “quarantine-the-aggressors” speech in 1937, for which he was so seriously criticized in some quarters, the charge against him of “warmonger” and the heavy onslaught from the other side urging that he take the country into war while its defenses still were unprepared, and so on.

Significant move

It was significant that Governor Dewey seized the occasion of President Roosevelt’s first campaign speech also to return again to the remark of Maj. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, draft director, that “we can keep people in the Army about as cheaply as we could create an agency for them when they are out.” He also repeated his charge that the administration “is afraid to bring men home after victory.”

This tack is regarded by Republicans as a most persuasive argument with soldiers weary from the fighting and from their confinement in camps here at home, as well as with their parents and relatives. This line of political argument brought a stinging retort from the President.

It is no secret that the strategy of the Republican campaign was to draw out President Roosevelt, to put him on the defensive. Governor Dewey’s aides pointed out to reporters on the trip that Mr. Roosevelt had assumed a political role much earlier this year than four years ago, when he waited until mid-October.

But they did not expect him to come out fighting so vigorously.

The Roosevelt speech created a mild panic on the campaign train. As a result, the Oklahoma City speech was rewritten to meet the Roosevelt onslaught.

Henceforth it will be politics as usual.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 27, 1944)


Stokes: Mrs. Dewey’s day

By Thomas L. Stokes

Sapulpa, Oklahoma –
“You know where she’s from, don’t you? She was born in Sherman – she’s a Lone Star girl.”

He was a tall, rangy fellow, with a big hat and a drawl Texas pride would out, just like Oklahoma pride. And Oklahoma pride bubbled through the crowd that jostled about, under a hot sun, around the flag-draped stand in front of the courthouse, men, women and children, thousands of them.

She sat quietly on the stand, her head just showing over the rail, with that strained, suppressed look she always wears on public occasions, whenever her husband speaks. But today she had more occasion to look that way, as if holding herself in tight, for this was her day among the homefolks of Sapulpa. There was a smile, a cover for the strained, intense look.

She had ridden through the streets of her hometown in an open auto, smiling graciously upon the throngs which had come from miles around to pay her homage – and, of course, to see her husband. She had ridden under a great banner stretched across Dewey Avenue, the main street named for Adm. George Dewey.

It reminded her of girlhood days, of high school, and the eager thrill that came the day she left here to go to New York to study voice, with visions of a career on the concert and operatic stage.

Career diverted

That career was diverted into a different channel that brought her here today in the role she could never have imagined then – the wife of a handsome man running for President of the United States.

The tall Texan spoke again: “He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he ain’t money-made.”

“He” sat at his wife’s side on the stand, When he was called to the front to speak, he thanked the people for taking in the little girl who had come from Sherman, Texas, to live with them at the age of 11, for bring nice to her, and most of all “for letting her go to New York where I met her.” She had been going around for many years as Mrs. Tom Dewey, he explained, and this was his first experience as “Mr. Frances Hutt.” He seemed to be enjoying it.

Her high school mates were there, sitting on a special stand to the left – the class of 1921 – rising one at a time as their names were called, a little awkward under the public gaze,

There was, too, to introduce Mrs. Dewey, a short, plump, nervous woman, the efficient arranger type known to every community. She presented Mrs. Dewey with a bunch of orchids, stepping over to where the guest of honor sat. But Mrs. Dewey did not come to the front. She kept in the background throughout.

A fine-looking couple

Later she and Governor Dewey went to the high school and had their pictures taken together on the steps, as fine looking a couple as you’ll see.

As they drove up to the school, two young girls – free from high school for the event – ran along, shouting shamelessly, “We want Roosevelt.” And when two high school boys tried to shush them, they shouted back, “This is America, a free country, isn’t it?" And one of the boys said to the other, “That’s a woman for you.”

It was Mrs. Dewey’s day, but it was like so many. Patiently she goes through the routine of campaigning – appearing with her husband on the back platform of trains, on the platform at meetings, at the receptions held for her at every stop, at press conferences where she is always asked the same questions by excited lady reporters.

Her face lights up when they ask about her two boys. That’s where her heart is, there at home, with her husband and the boys.

But she goes cheerfully through the show, like the trouper she might have been, had she not met another singer in New York who decided to study law as a backstop and found himself eventually in that profession.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 28, 1944)


Stokes: Dewey optimism

By Thomas L. Stokes

With Dewey party –
Governor Dewey came back to New York from his transcontinental trip in quest of the Presidency, with his spirits and those of his campaign managers in a state of optimism, largely as a result of the fighting technique he adopted in the final stages with his direct attack on President Roosevelt at Oklahoma City.

Throwing off the wraps had an obviously elating effect upon the Republican presidential candidate, again the young District Attorney prosecuting a case, as it did upon Republican Party workers encountered since, in Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Talking back to Mr. Roosevelt is the medicine that was needed to pep up the campaign, they said.

The enthusiastic response of his audience at Oklahoma City had an exhilarating reaction upon Governor Dewey. His managers immediately scheduled four additional stops in Oklahoma and Missouri.

About once an hour until midnight he was out on the back platform, smiling down upon hilarious crowds at every stop, a rousing stump speaker denouncing Sidney Hillman, Earl Browder, Secretaries Harold Ickes, and Frances Perkins and Harry Hopkins, pledging a housecleaning it he goes to Washington, satirizing bureaucratic government.

Different figure now

Mr. Dewey was a different figure than the calmer man who had devoted his previous major speeches to catching up with the New Deal social welfare program as he traveled down the Pacific Coast, now with a bit of the air of the rabblerouser. He spit out harsh adjectives, calling the New Dealers “that motley crew,” “that leprous collection,” and referring to the minions of the big city bosses – Ed Kelly of Chicago and Frank Hague of Jersey City and Tom Pendergast of Kansas City – as “hoodlums.”

Comparing notes in the private car, the candidate and his aides toted up these gains as they saw them from his western tour:

  • They forced President Roosevelt to take the political stump earlier than had been expected, noting that the President has now added additional “political” speeches to his October program.

  • They drew blood from the administration by the charge that it was planning to keep millions of men in the Army after the war to take up probable unemployment, at least that is what they read in Maj. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey’s statement that Selective Service accepted responsibility for demobilization and the lifting of controls by the War Manpower Commission on veterans so they could seek any sort of civilian jobs they wanted.

  • Governor Dewey has now removed the post-war international organization issue and the New Deal social welfare program from the realm of debate, leaving him free now to devote himself to an analysis of the defects of administration by the Roosevelt administration.

  • He injected new enthusiasm into part workers by the conferences he held with them in the states he visited.

Republicans optimistic

Republicans were found by newspaper correspondents who talked with them on the trip to be in a very optimistic frame of mind, even in states now seemingly safe for President Roosevelt, working hard, expecting some sort of break to play into their hands, and ready to capitalize upon it.

The campaign plainly took a new turn with Governor Dewey’s frontal attack on President at Oklahoma City, and it will be interesting to watch whether this is the beginning of a trend, or whether President Roosevelt can still hold the advantage that he apparently now holds.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 29, 1944)


Stokes: Looking back

By Thomas L. Stokes

New York –
It is trite to say it, but it is more true every time you experience it – the thrill that comes from going across the country and back again by train, as a number of us have done with Governor Dewey.

It gives you fresh enthusiasm and fresh energy for the plunge back into the selfish and self-confident East, which is not near so important as it thinks it is, and not half as human and thoughtful.

The experience makes you humble, almost reverent, wo see how much we have and how fine it is, and from what we started and what we have made of it.

It makes you understand why farm boys and city boys fight for it, and die for it. We massed them on this journey into America.

They will be back, the larger part of those boys, and they will grumble at what they find back home. That is as it should be. too, for that is what made us what we are, that continual discontent with things as they are. Some of them, too, will go to hospital beds, and some will lie there, disconsolate, watching the sands of life run out. And these, and so many others, will be disillusioned.

America is their sustenance and America cannot fail them again, as it did once before. Somehow, too, alter seeing America again, you have a faith that she will not fail them. We surely have learned much in the years between.

They will go back

They will go back to the places we have seen on this trip.

And they are good places, for the most part, except for those bleak tenements you see in the large cities. They are still there, though not so many as they once were.

The rolling prairie of Illinois, with the corn standing there in contentment, whispering to the wind. Iowa at dusk, a gracious country, with its comfortable farm houses and its big barns silhouetted against the horizon. The great stretches of Nebraska, now bare, now fruitful. The uplands of Wyoming and Montana where the sheep and cattle graze. And the mountains in the distance, with the cool and quiet refuge among the trees that you are conscious is there. and the jumping stream, hopping down the rocks, that the Indians knew and our children and our grandchildren shall know.

Suddenly, one morning, you raise the shade, and there are the Cascade Mountains, like long lines of furry bears, ambling off into the distance. Then you are riding down the Pacific Coast, through her lovely valleys so green and inviting, like the green pastures in the Psalms. There is San Francisco and that gorgeous harbor, and the people who live with a grace that New York cannot know. Los Angeles rises up like a great, luscious lady of pleasure, demanding her price always, a beautiful face and a cold heart.

It is a relief to strike the waste places again, desolate as they look from the train window, in Arizona and New Mexico, against the background of stark, lonely mountains for there at least is space, and some place to move around as an individual.

Good to remember people

Always, everywhere, are the small towns, lined up along the railroad track, where people still go to church on Sunday, where they grumble now at the restrictions somebody in Washington puts on them, and yet who give their boys unsparingly. To understand that, you have to know America.

It is good to remember the people as we saw them, so friendly to the stranger, so hospitable, so thoughtful, and yet apologetic, in a pioneer fashion, at what they offer to the visitor from the East who is so grateful for it all, and yet unable to say his thanks, self-conscious and humble in the realization of it.

And you remember, as you look back, the stout, dominating ladies of the GAR Auxiliary at Des Moines who were shepherding the handful of Civil War veterans about at their convention; the trainman and his wife who lived in a railroad car on the high plateau of the Cascades, sitting there watching the Dewey special train as it stopped for water; the four little Negro girls, neat and shining, who stood, hand in hand, along the street to watch the New York governor and his wife ride by in the parade at her home town of Sapulpa.

And the kids who run along the street and shout “Fooey for Dewey” and “We Want Roosevelt” and who, if the President should come along. Would probably invent some slogan that wouldn’t be complimentary to him.

For that’s the way American children are, and that’s why they fight for their rights when they get older.

And that’s the way their older brothers were who now are fighting in earnest somewhere.

It’s a great land – and it is still free.