Thomas E. Dewey - October 25, 1944

Thomas E. Dewey - GOP Candidate for President in 1944. First of two tries.

October 25, 1944 – A Thomas E. Dewey Campaign Address – Minneapolis – Past Daily Reference Room

Thomas E. Dewey - October 25, 1944
Thomas E. Dewey – GOP Candidate for President in 1944. First of two tries.

October 25, 1944 – Thomas E. Dewey – Address from Minneapolis – CBS Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

October 25, 1944 – with days to go before the end of the 1944 Presidential election campaign. Thomas E. Dewey, Governor of New York was running against Franklin Roosevelt, who was heading toward his fourth term in the White House.

Dewey’s foreign-policy position evolved during the 1940s; by 1944 he was considered an internationalist and a supporter of projects such as the United Nations. It was in 1940 that Dewey first clashed with Robert A. Taft. Taft—who maintained his non-interventionist views and economic conservatism to his death—became Dewey’s great rival for control of the Republican Party in the 1940s and early 1950s. Dewey became the leader of moderate Republicans, who were based in the Eastern states, while Taft became the leader of conservative Republicans who dominated most of the Midwest.

Dewey was the frontrunner for the 1944 Republican nomination. In April 1944 he won the key Wisconsin primary, where he defeated Wendell Willkie and former Minnesota governor Harold Stassen. Willkie’s poor showing in Wisconsin forced him to quit the race. At the 1944 Republican Convention, Dewey’s chief rivals—Stassen and Ohio governor John W. Bricker—both withdrew and Dewey was nominated almost unanimously. Dewey then made Bricker (who was supported by Taft) his running mate. This made Dewey the first presidential candidate to be born in the 20th century.

In the general election campaign, Dewey crusaded against the alleged inefficiencies, corruption and Communist influences in incumbent president Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, but mostly avoided military and foreign policy debates. Dewey had considered including the conspiracy theory that Roosevelt knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor beforehand and allowed it to happen and to say: “… and instead of being re-elected he should be impeached.” The allegation would have suggested the then-secret fact that the U.S. had broken the Purple code still in use by the Japanese military. Dewey eventually yielded to Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall’s urging not to touch this topic. Marshall informed Harry Hopkins of his action in late October that year; Hopkins then told the president. Roosevelt reasoned that “Dewey would not, for political purposes, give secret and vital information to the enemy”.

During the campaign, in a first, Roosevelt provided Dewey with information on the war efforts, such as the breaking of Japanese naval code. This was the first time that an opposition presidential candidate was given briefings by the incumbent presidential administration.

Dewey lost the election on November 7, 1944, to President Roosevelt. He had polled 45.9% of the popular vote compared to Roosevelt’s 53.4%, a stronger showing against FDR than any previous Republican opponent. In the Electoral College, Roosevelt defeated Dewey by a margin of 432 to 99.

Here is that address from Minneapolis, as carried by CBS Radio (with a slightly dodgy network feed) from October 25, 1944.

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