Election 1944: To correct ‘foes,’ Roosevelt says (10-25-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 25, 1944)


Roosevelt: To correct ‘foes’

Forced to campaign, President feels
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer

Washington –
President Roosevelt will travel almost halfway across the continent and make three – possibly five – political speeches between now and Election Day, but he does not feel that he will be campaigning in the usual sense. He feels his speeches are necessary to correct misrepresentations.

The President will leave here tomorrow to speak in Philadelphia Friday. He will speak in Chicago Saturday and has a Boston date for Nov. 4. Between the Chicago and Boston appearances, it is reported that Cleveland and possibly Detroit speeches are under consideration.

Announced by Hannegan

Chairman Robert E. Hannegan of the Democratic National Committee announced in New York that the President would stop at Wilmington, Delaware, Friday en route to Philadelphia and would find time during that day to visit Camden, New Jersey. He said the presidential special would stop in Fort Wayne, Indiana, en route to Chicago.

A New York State Liberty Party delegation, headed by Alex Rose, administrative chairman of the party, conferred with Mr. Roosevelt today and represented the President as being “optimistic not only of carrying New York State but most of the other states.”

300,000 majority predicted

Mr. Rose said his party expected the President to carry New York City by 800.000 votes and the entire state by 300,000.

In 1940, Mr. Roosevelt carried the city by 720,000 and the state by 224,000.

Me. Hannegan’s was the first official word that the Chicago speech was definite.

With most of that in mind, correspondent Merwin H. Brown of the Buffalo Evening News, inquired at yesterday’s White House news conference whether the President was now campaigning “in the usual partisan sense.”

Idea rejected

Mr. Roosevelt instantly rejected the idea that he was doing as Mr. Brown suggested. He also rejected the idea that Mr. Brown had properly stated that proposition. On the contrary, the President said he had caught “all” the newspapers, even the reputable ones, at fault on the subject.

Then he explained that the newspapers had been guilty of quoting half a sentence from his July 20 acceptance speech as delivered by radio to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The President recalled that he had then made a statement about not campaigning in the usual sense but had continued the sentence with the word “except” to lead into the qualifying conditions under which he might make political speeches.

A look at the record

Correspondent Bert Andrews of the New York Herald-Tribune broke in to say that the qualification was not in the same sentence. Mr. Roosevelt said maybe his sentence was broken by a comma, but that it was the same sentence, all right, although some people pay no attention to a comma.

Right there a lot of people, including your correspondent, wished they had the documents in question before them. So before going further here is what the President did say last July:

  • In a letter to Mr. Hannegan prior to the convention, in which he agreed in advance to accept the presidential nomination, the President said: “I would accept and serve, but I would not run, in the usual partisan political sense.” That is the complete sentence and there is no qualification of it elsewhere in the letter to Mr. Hannegan. That is the phraseology that some Washington reporters have been using in recent weeks with respect to Mr. Roosevelt’s enlarging campaign activities.

  • In his radio acceptance speech delivered to the Chicago convention July 20, Mr. Roosevelt returned to the same line of thought, but with qualifications:

I shall not campaign in the usual sense for the office. In these days of tragic sorrow, I do not find it fitting. Besides, in these days of global warfare, I shall not be able to find the time. I shall, however, feel free to report to the people the facts about matters of concern to them and especially to correct any misrepresentation.

Enjoys discussion

The news conference had been a dull, monosyllabic business until the campaigning question came up. Mr. Roosevelt evidently enjoyed the discussion.

To show the ridiculous potentiality of quoting only half a sentence to avoid qualifying language, Mr. Roosevelt told Mr. Andrews he probably could ask him to remain in the presidential office after the conference and shoot him – except that he probably would go to the electric chair for that.

Why not quote it all, the President asked his conferees.

Mr. Brown, who is a hometown reporter first and a Washington correspondent second, kept plugging at a question whether the President would also speak in Buffalo and Mr. Roosevelt wouldn’t tell him. He refused, in fact, directly to confirm White House Secretary Stephen T. Early’s previous announcement that he would speak in Chicago and evidently did not know of Hannegan’s announcement.

The Chicago speech will probably be delivered before 190,000 or more persons in Soldiers’ Field. Mr. Hannegan has been almost precipitant in some of his announcements of presidential engagements and Mr. Brown, when last seen, was talking of asking Mr. Hannegan about Buffalo.