Election 1944: Willkie demands Ham Fish’s defeat (7-29-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (July 30, 1944)


Willkie demands Ham Fish’s defeat

New York (UP) – (July 29)
Wendell L. Willkie tonight called for the defeat of Hamilton Fish in his campaign for reelection to Congress from the newly-constituted 29th district of New York.

Mr. Willkie’s statement, in the form of a telegram to playwright Maxwell Anderson, followed by one day Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s repudiation of the Republican Congressman for “injecting a racial issue into the campaign.”

Mr. Willkie’s wire said:

Your fight to prevent his [Congressman Fish’s] reelection to Congress is certainly a public service. It is a great public service to all Americans to help terminate the political career of Ham Fish.

The text of the telegram was public when Mr. Anderson requested the 1940 Republican presidential candidate to defend him should Congressman Fish carry out his threat to bring suit because of Mr. Anderson’s action in printing an advertisement reportedly linking Congressman Fish’s name with “certain persons who have been indicted or convicted as Nazi agents.”

The advertisement reputedly links Congressman Fish’s name with Fritz Kuhn, German-American Bund leader, and George Sylvester Viereck, who was convicted for failing to register as an enemy agent.

Mr. Willkie wired the playwright:

In response to your request, I shall count it a public service to represent you in any libel action which Hamilton Fish may bring.

Mr. Willkie based his repudiation on what he called Congressman Fish’s “narrow nationalistic view.” Such a view, he said, is “the inevitable producer of antisemitism and a dozen other perils to democracy.”