LaGuardia gets Roosevelt aid (10-24-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 24, 1941)

Party line jumped –
LaGuardia gets Roosevelt aid

President doubts bolt will cause Flynn to quit
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer

Washington, Oct. 24 –
President Roosevelt today endorsed Fiorello H. LaGuardia for reelection as Mayor of New York and praised his administration of the city as the most honest and efficient in his recollection.

Despite his stride across party lines to endorse the candidacy of the Republican candidate, Mr. Roosevelt deprecated reports that it might result in the resignation of Edward J. Flynn as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

When he was told that New York newspapers had speculated on such a possibility, he replied that he did not think there was any story in that situation. Mr. Flynn and other New York City and state Democratic leaders are backing the candidacy of William O’Dwyer, the Democratic nominee.

’Most honest, most efficient’

The President endorsed Mr. LaGuardia in a formal statement, which permitted direct quotation to heighten its effectiveness. The text of the statement:

Although my voting residence has always been Upstate, I have lived and worked in the City of New York off and on since 1904. I have known and observed New York’s mayors since that time.

I am not taking part in the New York City election, but, because the City of New York contains about half the population of my state, I do not hesitate to express the opinion that Mayor LaGuardia and his administration have given to the city the most honest and, I believe, the most efficient municipal government of any within my recollection.

Confined to civic policies

The fact that the city’s election has no relationship to national policies, but is confined to civic policies, is attested by the fact that the constitution of the state provides for the municipal election in off-years when neither a governor nor a president nor members of the House of Representatives or Senate of the United States are to be chosen.

In the last sentence of his statement, Mr. Roosevelt appeared to say, in effect, that he was divorcing his endorsement of Mr. LaGuardia from any state or national Republican organization.

Although the move jolted New York City and state Democratic organizations, it had been expected. Mr. Flynn was reported to have attempted to prevent or minimize Mr. Roosevelt’s endorsement of Mr. LaGuardia, who is also director of the Federal Office of Civilian Defense.

Besides Republican backing, Mr. LaGuardia has the support of the City Fusion, United City and American Labor Party nominations. He has been accused by his opponents of having communist support as well.

Mr. O’Dwyer, the Democratic nominee, has the backlog of Tammany Hall, former Postmaster General James A. Farley, Mr. Flynn, Governor Herbert H. Lehman,Senator Robert F. Wagner and the Democratic organizations of the New York City boroughs.

This scrambled political situation is a curtain raiser for the 1942 general elections in which Mr. Roosevelt is expected to move freely back and forth across party lines in support of Congressional candidates committed to administration foreign policy.

New York dispatches report rumblings in Tammany and New York’s Democratic Congressional delegation. Rep. Martin J. Kennedy (D-NY) roared his discontent:

I cannot conceive how the President could support the candidate of the Republican, American Labor and Communist parties.

But Republican policies are equally off-key. Rep. William P. Lambertson (R-KS) won applause from among 75 or so Republicans in the House yesterday who heard him repudiate the political leadership of Wendell L. Willkie, the 1940 GOP presidential candidate.

Referring to Mr. Willkie as “the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of American politics,” Mr. Lambertson said he would not accept Mr. Willkie’s leadership:

…in this bold attempt to lead us down the ruinous road to war.

He was referring specifically to Mr. Willkie’s announcement this week that six Republican governors and some prominent party members in 40 states were with him in support of Mr. Roosevelt’s all-out efforts against Hitler.

Edge seen for LaGuardia

Mr. LaGuardia is regarded here as having a substantial bulge over Mr. O’Dwyer even without Mr. Roosevelt’s aid.

Although Messrs. O’Dwyer and LaGuardia both endorse Mr. Roosevelt’s beat-Hitler program, political realists assume that practically all of the opponents of his foreign policies who vote at all will vote next month for Mr. O’Dwyer. His election might be construed by isolationists as a rebuff to the administration simply because Mr. LaGuardia is a member of the Roosevelt national defense organization.

Therefore, the Roosevelt endorsement of Mr. LaGuardia may be interpreted in part as a move to prevent even the shadow of rebuff falling across administration foreign policies.

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