The Pittsburgh Press (July 24, 1944)
By S. Burton Heath
S. Burton Heath, writing a series of articles from Albany, is substituting for Peter Edson, regular conductor of the Washington Column, who is absent from Washington for a few days.
Albany, New York –
A short campaign and probably a red-hot one is beginning to shape up as Governor Dewey prepares methodically for his attempt to break President Roosevelt’s lease on the White House.
Both the Republican candidate and his campaign manager, National Chairman Brownell, declined to hint about details. They say nothing definite has been decided yet.
I think it is safe to prophesy that the Dewey campaign will begin soon after Labor Day; that it will include one – probably no more – major swing around the circuit; that it will rely heavily upon radio.
For the next month and a half this campaign probably will resemble a “pony war.” President Roosevelt will be busy as Commander-in-Chief. His supporters will taunt Governor Dewey with inaction. Mr. Dewey will go about his chores in person and through a lot of lieutenants who will appear to have a “passion for anonymity” and reticence.
But when the storm does break early in September it will be of blitz proportions, and there will be activity enough for two months to satisfy the most ambitious.
There are a number of reasons for a short campaign, and the war ranks as No. 1. Skilled politicians believe that the public would resent a long siege of oratory and travel in the midst of all-out war. Nor is it necessary for Governor Dewey to set as hard a pace as for a candidate less well known at the outset. He does not need to take weeks to introduce and identify himself; he can start right in selling his bill of goods.
This does not mean that the remainder of July and the month of August will be wasted. Quite the contrary. They are already being utilized efficiently.
Focus on 26 states
The campaign, as has been pointed out, is planned around the 26 states that have Republican Governors and which, in the aggregate, cast about 60 more electoral votes than Mr. Dewey would need to win.
Each of these states has an aggressive, successful GOP organization which elected its governor, and in turn has been strengthened by him. Each has candidates for Senate and House seeking election and reelection.
Mr. Dewey has talked with National Committee members and state chairman from all the states. He is meeting all 26 Republican Governors in St. Louis. State by state, delegations of Congressional candidates are calling on him.
These visitors have been leaving the executive chambers loud in their praise for Mr. Dewey. They are in position to go before their constituents and remark, casually:
“As Tom Dewey said to me–” or, perhaps oftener: “As I said to Tom Dewey–” That builds them up with the folks at home. It also builds up Candidate Dewey.
Possible blitz plan
Meanwhile, skilled assistants who have campaigned with Mr. Dewey in other years are quietly gathering material for the blitz in September and October, whipping it into shape, giving the candidate opportunity to know before he starts into the field what he has and how it can best be used.
Obviously, there will have to be one trip to the Pacific Coast. Naturally that would take one route – perhaps the northerly one – going, and another route – perhaps the southerly – returning. There would be stops at major cities for speeches and conferences and handshaking.
It is too early to be certain, but that one trip, plus perhaps visits to two or three major Eastern cities, and the use of radio, might constitute the campaign.
Radio will be used heavily in any event. The GOP feels that for the first time since Franklin Roosevelt entered the scene, he will be up against a skilled orator who can meet him on the air without a handicap. Every attempt will be made to capitalize on Mr. Dewey’s radio personality.