tv The Contenders CSPAN August 8, 2016 8:00am-10:04am EDT
oregon with mrs. dewey by his side. he makes another stirring bid -- he has at least one ardent supporter. those are some of the region's finest specimens. we will know soon. in november is just around the corner. president truman continues his swing around the circuit. the chief executive get a president. he writes to the home of his own -- his old friend cactus -- aand it's a war record warm welcome on route to. he visits the alamo. the historic shrine of texas independence. in austin, a big crowd to greet the president as he continues his campaign for the lone star state's 23 electoral votes.
on his tour, the president spoke and visited with sam rayburn, former soup -- former speaker of the house. in fort worth, to try to bring the southern vote back into line. >> "dewey defeats truman," the famous headline from the 1948 presidential campaign. as we know,. truman won the election. his rival, thomas e. dewey had to accept defeat. we are live from the roosevelt hotel in nyc, which in november posted the republican headquarters and thomas dewey's campaign. he used this we whenever he was in new york during 12 years of governor. he and his family and the closest aides gathered in this
room on election night. corning me is richard norton smith. it is november 2, 1948 at the roosevelt hotel. what happens here? >> well, the day began with a virtual unanimity in the nation's press corps that this election was over. it was thomas e. dewey's to lose. there were pollsters who had stopped polling after labor day. they were so convinced there was no contest. gov. dewey and mrs. do we want to vote at midday not too far from here. he got out of his car and decided to walk back to the hotel. reporters thought it was a good sign. he was a new dewey,a warmer dewey that people have seen on
the campaign trail. they had an election night tradition of having dinner with their friends, robert strauss who was a publisher. the family went there for an early dinner. while they were there, some disturbing returns came in from connecticut in particular. thomas dooley had relied along the accountants as much as anyone else, almost -- always had a respect for the numbers. the numbers were a little out of sync with what the pollsters had predicted. that was at the beginning of the night long ordeal in this suite. the secret service had sent to their top agents here. they thought thomas dooley was going to be president like everyone else. it went on and on. it out to 3:00 in the morning,
the agents began to slip away. that was their nonverbal way of communicating a truly historic upset was taking place. at one point before dawn, the governor of new york pulled his head through the door and said it to a friend, what do you know? the little son of a bitch won. his former -- his formal concession came later in the day. >> before we get to that point where he looks out of the sweet and sees a secret service is gone, there is a confidence at the roosevelt hotel. describe that. >> the confidence was based upon, very understandably, based upon the fact there was a consensus among people on the right, people on the left, not only that thomas e. dewey was going to win. this is what is fascinating. when you see the iconic image
come up thomas e. dewey is known as the man who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. if you go back and read the contemporary press, everybody from drew pearson to walt whitman, then not only expected him to win, they had praise for the campaign he had run. they thought it was high minded, and they had a lot of criticism for the campaign harry truman ran against him. it is an example of how a snapshot of history can be superseded very quickly. >> we want to show our viewers from that night early on when the returns are starting to come and, thomas e. dewey's campaign manager and the confidence they had early on. take a look. >> champagne flows freely. victory is in the air. the first returns had truman in
the lead, but republicans are not worried. and then he brings good news secured >> we now know that governor do we will carry new york state by 50,000 votes and he will be the next president of the united states. [applause] >> white were republicans are confident they could get the white house in 1948? >> by the way, carrying york state was no small feat. it was the first time in 20 years of republican had managed to do it. new york was the cradle of the new deal. for him to announce that and it predicted based upon that that victory was in the air, that was perfectly understandable. 1948 -- what we did not know going into 1948, america had
become a new deal country. the death of franklin roosevelt had ended one presidency. the approaching government, the expectation that government would be more involved in insuring prosperity, the government would be used to fight economic downturns as the new deal had in the 30's and 40's. whether or not he believed in the success of those efforts, the assumption was that when fdr died, the new deal died with him. the set of expectations -- the relationship between the average american and his government which had been transformed by the new deal, that was not the case. on election day in 1948, a americans enjoyed record prosperity, record employment. the reasons the republicans in spite of that thought they could
win was very simple -- here truman. we forget today that here a true man in his first term was a very unpopular president. there was talk about the little man from missouri. truman had a very difficult assignment. every president after a war has a process of readjusting economically, culturally, the agriculture sector. inflation, strikes -- all of that came due on here trimming's watch. the consensus in 1946 and 1947 was he did not handle it very well. it was so bad the republicans to congress in 1946 which only fed their expectation that the presidency would fall into their lap two years later. >> how are republicans viewing the truman administration at this point?
>> that is a great question. the problem as there was no such thing as the republicans. that was part of thomas e. dewey's problem. the party was evenly split between what is called the eastern establishment, the old teddy roosevelt wing of the party. charles hughes was in that tradition. thomas e. dewey represented that. opposed to that were the conservatives, but westerners, many of them isolationists who rallied around bob rttaft. he had precipitated the split. that never really healed. when republicans took congress, it was the conservatives who became the face of the party. on the other hand, you had
people like thomas e. dewey, many of the governors who were much less cost out to the new deal, much more willing to work with its promises. >> thomas e. dewey is our contender to night. he ran, he lost, but he changed history anyway. here he is launching his campaign in 1948 and the criticism he has of the truman administration. >> on january 20, we will enter in a new era. there will begin in washington the biggest on raveling, on spiraling operation and our nation's history. >> what do you make of what he says there? >> that does to his strength and
the perception after a's witness. thomas e. dewey had been governor of new york for several years. he had untangled it, on traveled a lot of bureaucratic cobwebs. he had taken what many people would see as a hybrid of conservative and liberal ideas to make government more responsive, in some ways to make it smaller. taxes were reduced to make it from the year to the private sector. when he had done in new york, he proposed to do on the national level. one critical element that sets thomas e. dewey apart his civil rights. he is in the forefront on that issue. new york state is the first state in america to pass anti- discrimination legislation. thomas e. dewey took them very
seriously. it did not meet with universal agreement, even with republicans in new york. >> we are talking about thomas e. dewey's campaign. we will be joined a little bit later by his son, thomas e. dewey, jr. we will be taking your phone calls this evening. you can start dialing in startrichard norton smith. we are working our way back. let's go to the fall campaign and the issues that are there. is hillary truman popular? >> he is not popular at the beginning of the campaign. it is a reversal of what we see now. people were content with record high employment, but they did not attribute it to harry truman. also, global issues were eight huge factor here. one of the things that truman
has been criticized in retrospect but at the time was widely praised was running a campaign of national unity in which he tried -- first of all, the idea of bipartisan foreign policy is part of thomas e. dewey's political allegis -- legacy. it is something that began in the 1944 campaign. he supported truman on the airlift to berlin. he supported truman on recognizing the state of israel. at the same time, he wanted to increase the defense budget by $5 billion. there is no doubt he would have been -- he supported the marshall plan, but he would have asked more questions before just turning american tax dollars over two left-wing governments in europe. it was a campaign that in many ways is what we claim we want in a candidates.
it was not hitting below the belt, there were not a lot of possible -- personalities, there were not a lot of name- calling. >> is that showing up in the polls? in a do we vs. truman hypothetical? >> the popular notion is that thomas e. dewey drowned in a sea of complacency. he was taken by surprise by what happened in the suite that night. the fact is, he knew. he was the first candidates to have a full-time polling unit as part of his campaign. he listened to the pollsters. he had an appreciation of their art. he was well aware of the fact his lead was slipping. there were people who came to him in the last 10 days of the campaign and he acknowledged that the lead was slipping. to one of them, he said "never talk when you are a had a."
>> what happens next then? are the democrats behind truman? are they solid behind -- >> i will tell you who was solid behind it true men. one of the factors behind the loss, they had organized labor which they saw as an attack on many of the rights and privileges that had developed under the new deal. it put thomas e. dewey in an awkward position. by and large, he agreed with much of the bill. at the same time, he is governor of new york. this is a labor state. this is a liberal state. in some ways, he was walking on a fine line. what it did was organize labor has nothing ever did. 1948 was the single election in which organized labor played the biggest role throughout america. in race after race after race,
the democratic ticket ran a head of here truman in part because of his relative unpopularity and also because organized labor turned out in record numbers and voted democratic. >> or the other players in the democratic party at this time? >> you have four candidates in the 1948 election. you have former vice president henry wallace who believes that truman has started the cold war. truman is a tune to the possibility of peace with the soviet union. on the foot -- on the far right, you have thurman who walked out of the democratic convention because a young man introduced and passed a pro civil rights plank. so the conventional wisdom was, this would hurt truman. he would lose votes on the left, he would lose votes on the
right. in fact what it did was, it made. trim and a man in the middle. neither thurman or wallace turned out to have anywhere near the impact it was believed it would have. >> the economy at the time, what is it like? >> the economy is truman's great strength. as i say, record employment. more than that, what he did very shortly in his campaign, he does to thomas e. dewey what he did to the republican congress. the fact of the matter was, a democratic president riding the crest of prosperity in the fall of 1948 could point a finger at the republican congress and in the fact suggest people. truman was not bashful about doing it. if you return republicans to complete control of the white house and congress, you can
expect to see a return to the economic policies that produced the great depression. it was not that long since the great depression. people to talk members were very sharp. that came into play without a doubt. >> what about the role of communism? >> it is fascinating. truman had taken some heat for introducing this charge that fdr had inadvertently allowed congress to take root in his administration. in 1948, i think we have a -- the first nationally broadcast presidential debate revolved around one issue. shall the communist party in america be outlawed? thomas e. dooley, takes the civil libertarian view that, no, it should not be outlawed for
reasons he expounded. his opponent took the position that it should be outlawed. it was a turning point. that is also the same year that do we have to figure out how to handle the issue. >> we are going to get to that debate a little bit later coming up. first i want to show our viewers what tom dewey had to say about communists in 1948. >> some >jeer at the problem calling it a red herring. some people get panicky about it. i do not belong to either of those groups. we must neither ignore or outlaw them. if we ignore them, we give them the of unity that they want. if we all love them, we give them the marty down that they
want even more. we well in the government we get to last january -- we will keep the american people informed or there are, who they are, and what they are up to. >> that is classic dewey. that is very much what his approach was. it raises the fascinating prospect that had he been elected in 1948, we would have never heard of joe mccarthy. mccarthyism would have never entered the language. senator mccarthy, who was in many ways a product of republican frustration over losing an election that they thought was a sure thing.
tom dewey was a political boss, other things. he would have controlled the republican party nationally. i can tell you, he would have never allowed a joe mccarthy to rear his head. >> we talk some domestic issues -- we talked some international issues. >> we are well into the cold war. dweey is supportive of the marshall plan. he supports nato. to some degree, he had put in america's economy on a cold war footing. dewey is supportive of all that. if anything, he thinks we need to spend more money on defenses. he thinks we have neglected conservative forces.
for example, charles de gaulle who is out of power in preference -- in france. he thinks a creed of american diplomacy could put people like that to good use. >> how does he differ from the other prominent republicans in the party at that time? who are they? >> bob taft, mr. republican from ohio, is fair to say he was the champion of the isolationist wing of the republican party. that is to say, the wind profoundly suspicious of international organizations like the u. n. suspicious of litter on the korean war. suspicious of projecting american military power around the world as opposed to building
up a american defenses here at home. former president herbert hoover would have been in that camp as well. the thomas e. dewey is somebody who had morphed. from a young man, he had been an isolationist. one of the interesting things is to watch him become a committed internationalists and a champion of bipartisan foreign policy. >> given that, what is the impa of that attitude on all of his presidential bid? he runs in 1940, 1944, 1948. >> i think it was safe to say it was statesmanlike. it did not win him any votes. in 1944 there was a significant conflict between thomas e. dewey and fdr. they disagreed over the united nations. specifically, would the united
nations have an army that it could employ a without first securing the permission of member states at the united states? franklin d. roosevelt said, yes, he supported that. thomas e. dooley was not supportive of that. he said later on that history was proven i was right. >> to talk about the divide in the republican party over international issues. do they come back together in temper the 1948 campaign? taft and dewey winds come back together? >> it was very shrewd on his part to see that as the achilles heel. to try to almost eliminate dewey and suggest if you vote for this man that we are right to get is
the midwest conservative republican party. to be fact,dewey did very little. him and taft despise each other. their rivalry is one of the great intellectual contests in american history. it is about something. it is not just about personal ambition. it is about a different view of the world, different view of government at home, a different view of what the republican party stands for, a different view of what abraham lincoln's legacy is. >> tonight we are coming to you live from the roosevelt hotel here in new york city to talk about thomas dewey. this is our 14th week series. our first phone call is brian in springfield, illinois. go ahead. >> thank you so much for the
series. mr. smith, we still miss you here in springfield. i had a question about 1952. i remember reading about and illinois senator who was a taft supporter and a convention here in chicago. he went up to nominate taft and wag his finger at dewey who said you had led us down the wrong path twice. of course he lost to eisenhower. what role did he play convincing people to play -- to select nixon, and what kind of role that he play in the campaign? >> he was instrumental in getting eisenhower into the race. i will tell you a story. at this point, eisenhower was over in paris as the commander
of nato. he really did not want to leave. he did not want to sully himself by campaigning actively for the nomination. at one point,dewey wrote a letter. no copy exists. his secretary for years told me this story. he writes the letter, she mailed it. it in it, do we says that if you don't come home and actively seek the nomination, my fear is that the delegates will nominate douglas macarthur. that was the ultimate hot button to push with eisenhower. three shortly after the letter was received, he heard the call of duty and came home. we talk about the split between taft and dewey, it was never more dramatic than that night when he whacked his finger at
dewey and said you took us down the road of defeat twice. dewey had the evidence because the next night he was able to announce 87 delegates for eisenhower. finally, he was more responsible than anyone else for richard nixon been on the ticket. he spotted him as a young talent in 1948. he brought into new york to speak at the annual dinner of the republican party. he sat down, he took the cigarette holder out of his mouth. he said, making a promise. don't get fat. don't be lazy trade some day you can be president. >> we will go back to those moments later on in the show. the will talk about his legacy and what he was able to accomplish even though he was not successful for the white
house. first, let's hear from a shell from kansas city, missouri. >> giddy dewey campaign actually exploit his ties with the organization in kansas city? some of the things they did back then helped him get in the position he was at. thank you. >> that is a very good question. no, they did not. that was part of dewey's approach which was very consciously to stay away from personal attacks, to keep this thing on a very high plane. some would say vapid, content free. bearing little resemblance to modern attack campaigns. >> let's go back to the primary. we worked our way back, fall campaign, general election. let's go to the primary. set the stage for us. who else is running? >> well, of course, bob taft is
running and has a substantial following, not just in the midwest, but throughout the country. harold stasesson, who, before he became something of a comical figure, who ran every four years to various levels of disdain, was, in fact, a very formidable candidate. and then you had arthur from michigan who reminded a lot of people of the old fred allen character, senator foghorn. he was the quintessential sort of potbellied and pompous -- but he'd become a statesman. arthur vandenberg had undergone this conversion from isolationist internationalist tom dewey was to emulate, so you had -- it was a pretty distinguished field and it was by no means a sure thing. other person who wanted to run although he never formally
announced his candidacy, was douglas mcarthur who was in the jungles of asia but his agent in wisconsin saw to it that his name was on the ballot and of course, one other candidate, who went to wisconsin, and saw his campaign end there, was the 1940 nominee of the party, wendell wilke. >> let's talk about the impact of the oregon primary and the debate you touched on earlier. why is it important? >> it's important for a number of reasons. first of all, i'm sure it's on youtube, i'm sure it's easy to get. anyone who is watching what passes for debates at the moment among the republican candidates, or, quite frankly, who has watched the fall "debates" in recent years between the opposing parties, i would just urge you, go and listen to the duey stassen debate. it is as close in a modern
context to lincoln-douglas as anything could be. it is not a collection of sound bites. on the contrary, it is an opportunity -- i believe it was an hour -- for these two men to develop thoughtful, opposing viewpoints on a very critical and very polarizing issue in america, and to do it in a way that raised the public standard of discourse as opposed to lowering it. >> we have a little bit of that debate. let's listen in and we'll talk about it. >> there's no such thing as a constitutional right to destroy all constitutional rights. there's no such thing as a freedom to destroy freedom. the right of man to liberty is inherent in the nature of man. to win it, and to maintain it requires courage and sacrifice and it also requires
intelligence and realism and determination in the establishment of the laws and the systems of justice to serve mankind. i submit that the communist organization in america and in the freedom loving countries of the world should be outlawed. >> here's an issue of the height principle in practical application. people of this country are asked to outlaw communism. that means this, shall we in america, in order to defeat a totalitarian system which we detest, voluntarily adopt the method of that system? i want the people of the united states to know exactly where i stand on this proposal, because it goes to the very heart of the qualification of any candidate for office and to the inner nature of the kind of a country we want to live in. i am unalterably,
wholeheartedly, unswervingly against any scheme to write laws outlawing people because of their religious, political, social or economic ideas. i'm against it because it's a violation of the constitution of the united states and of the bill of rights, and clearly so. i'm against it because it's immoral and nothing but totalitarianism itself. i'm against it because i know, from a great many years experience in the enforcement of the law, that the proposal wouldn't work, and, instead, it would rapidly advance the cause of communism in the united states and all over the world. >> richard norton smith, what's the impact of this debate on dewey's primary bid? >> in the immediate sense, it won him the victory in oregon which was absolutely critical. he had fallen behind. he had gone in as the pre-emptive favorite, having been the nominee in 1944, and then stassen had done well in
the early primaries so it all came down to this extraordinarily dramatic confrontation over this one issue. that's dewey at his best. and there are a lot of people after the fact who thought, if he had only talked like that with that degree of specificity and conviction and credibility, until november of 1948, that maybe the result of the election would have been different. >> how many people are listening to this debate at the time? >>60 million -- 60 million people it's estimated tuned into the dewey-stassen radio debate. >> and the role of radio at that time? radio was the chief medium by which the news was disseminated and of course this is another aspect of tom dewey. he had come to new york in the 1920's, not necessarily wanting to be a lawyer. he wanted to be an opera singer,
which surprises people, and you heard his voice. it's a very cultured voice, a very trained voice. some people thought it lacked spontaneity, but it's also true that it was the one republican voice that, on the radio, was able to hold the magical franklin roosevelt to something of a draw. >> what if people could have seen that debate? would it have a different outcome? >> that's a great question. dewey liked television. dewey thought television was -- it was like the courtroom, you know, it was -- as a young man, he had become famous as the man who broke up the rackets in new york, who was the gangbuster and inspired all of these hollywood movies and radio shows like "mr. district attorney" and if you think about it, a television studio is not terribly dissimilar from a courtroom. the strength he had in the courtroom, the ability to make his case, to connect, whether it was with a jury or with viewers,
there are some early television kinescopes in his third race for governor, for example, where he is very effective in front of the camera and i think he probably wished, in retrospect, that he could have run the 1948 campaign in front of a television camera. >> let's go to the g.o.p. convention in philadelphia in 1948. how did he get the nomination? were there ballots? >> yeah, in fact there were several ballots. dewey is the last republican candidate who required more than one ballot to be nominated. even though he had turned the tide, if you will, in oregon, there was still determined opposition led by, above all, senator taft, and to a lesser degree at that point harold made a name for himself as a so-called boy governor of minnesota in his early 30's, a real prodigy. of course, dewey was a real
prodigy. anyway, it took, i believe, three ballots. and then of course you had to pick a vice president. and he wanted earl warren who was a very popular governor of california, and warren would not agree. four years later, he would, to his regret. but instead, to unify the party, dewey picked the governor of ohio, taft's friend, fellow conservative, a man named john bricker, and one of the slogans was, the war will end quicker with dewey and bricker. >> let's get to a phone call. marvin in los angeles. go ahead. caller: thomas e. dewey was a reasonably young man in 1953 and he, of course, was very influential in general eisenhower running. was dewey offered a job by eisenhower after all his v.p. governor warren of california was offered the job of chief justice? >> that's a great question.
there is some debate over it. i believe he was informally approached, shall we put it, you know, about the supreme court. when you stop to think about it, really nothing else made sense, except perhaps secretary of state and there he had the next best thing, maybe better, his long-time political ally and his kissinger, john foster dulles. one of the things about dewey that is often overlooked is the extent to which he brought into the american political process a whole generation of very talented people. i mean, dwight eisenhower, richard nixon are the most obvious, but there's a whole host of people who would remain, some of them here in new york, but others, kim hagerty was the white house press secretary, to this day regarded as the best press secretary in white house history. he earned the job in new york under tom dewey.
herbert brownell, the attorney general under eisenhower, was dewey's campaign manager, and the list is a very long one. >> richmond, virginia, you're next. caller: hello? >> you're on the air, go ahead. we can hear you >> caller: i'm sorry, can you hear me? >> we can. caller: it's an interesting subject. this was the first presidential election, my mother, a life-long republican, voted in and one of the things she told me was that she found dewey unattractive because of -- she mentioned his greasy hair and mustache. my main interest was understanding the role a future major player in the democratic party, lyndon johnson, played in this election. >> well, l.b.j. tried to get elected himself to the senate in texas so he was not a significant factor in the national, in the presidential
race. dewey's appearance is revealing in a number of ways. dewey was someone who, i think, today would be in despair of the handlers. dewey could not be handled. there were people throughout his career who said, you know, tom, you'd shave off that mustosh and get your teeth fixed. he had a couple of missing teeth from a high school football scrimmage. well, he kept the mustache and kept the teeth, or the non-teeth, for a simple reason, francis dewey liked him the way he was. but you're right, there are times when people, in print, compared his appearance to charlie chaplin or adolph hitler, and in 1948 or 1944, little brown mustaches were probably not a terribly politically potent weapon. >> let me give you a look at the 1948 g.o.p. convention in
philadelphia when thomas e. dewey accepts the nomination for president from his party. >> there's been honest contention, spirited disagreement, and i believe, considerable arguments. but don't let anybody be misled by that. you have given here, in this hall, a moving and dramatic hope of how americans, who honestly differ, close ranks and move forward for the nation's wellbeing, shoulder to shoulder. [applause] let me assure you that, beginning next january 20, there will be team work in the government of the united states of america. when these rights are secure in this world of ours, the
permanent ideals of the republican party shall have been realized. [applause] the ideals of the american people are the ideals of the republican party. we have, tonight, and in these days which preceded us, in philadelphia, lighted a beacon in this cradle of our own independence as a great america. we've lighted a beacon to give eternal hope that men may live in liberty with human dignity and before god and, loving him, erect and free. [applause] >> thomas e. dewey, our
contender this evening, accepting the g.o.p. nomination at the convention in philadelphia in 1948. we are coming to you live this evening from the roosevelt hotel, where thomas e. dewey, in 1948, was here with his family, with his closest aides to watch and listen for the election results to come in. joining us now is thomas e. dewey jr. sir, bring us back to the 1948 convention. were you there? >> no. >> you weren't there. >> no. >> what were your father -- what do you think it meant to him to win that nomination both in 1944 and 1948? >> you know, i'm not going to be able to answer that because we didn't talk about who wanted what and who was going to do what. we were teenagers and we were in
school and my parents, neither of them, was particularly forthcoming about, i really want that, or no, we won't do that. it's just, you went forward and did what you were supposed to do or what you thought you were supposed to do. >> and what were you supposed to do in 1948 during the campaign? what was your role? >> student at albany academy. >> did you participate at all? were you part of commercial ads or were you out on the campaign trail with your family posing for pictures? >> no, no and no. >> and why not? was the dynamic there? >> we were in school. that was our job. his job was government and politics and we were, you know, the kids. what did you talk about around the dinner table, though? i mean -- >> not much memory there. i think maybe more of what we're doing.
we didn't really talk about what was going on in the campaign and that kind of thing. >> it wasn't a household suffused with politics. >> no, it was not. >> even after he lost in 1948 and 1944, years later, did he ever talk to you about politics? what do you remember him saying? >> he was not very reflective about that. >> he wasn't? >> no. >> what about your mother? what do you remember her telling you about politics? >> no memory of that. >> do you have memories of the campaign in 1948? >> not really, no. >> no. >> were you here on election night? >> yes, yes. >> what's your memory of that? >> watching returns, being sent to bed, and the next morning, i forget, it was relatively early in the morning, i do remember
dad coming into the bedroom where john and i were, in his bathrobe and said, well, we lost. and that was that. >> didn't talk about it after that? >> no. >> just said, "we lost." >> right. >> do you think it was something he carried with him? i mean, as a ball and chain, the rest of his life? or did he, in fact -- . . . . of. . . . ever thought very much like the biography you're currently writing. he never thought, oh, well, that was something i could have done differently. maybe he did, but we didn't hear that. he went on to do his job, which was being governor in new york, until -- and fully hoping to retire in 1950, which he, then,
his sense of duty, when the koreans went to war, his sense of duty impelled him to, you know, take four more years out of what would have been a very good legal practice, and run for another term, to make sure that he could hold his republican coalition of mostly governors, many in the northeast, together to get a non-taft candidate in 1952, which he thought was necessary to get the presidency. >> it's consistent with what you say, that i think might surprise people, is that your dad, in his early days, certainly never thought of himself as embarking upon a political career. that is to say, someone seeking office as a way of making a living. when he first came to new york, it was at columbia law school, and a friend asked, what do you want to do in life? and he said he wanted to lead a
great law firm and he wanted to make a hell of a lot of money. and he did it, but there was this 20-year detour along the way called politics. >> 24 years. >> what kind of man was your father? >> in what respect? >> i mean, you know, what was his style like? how would you describe him? >> how might he surprise people? the images have come down, the man on the wedding cake and the stereotypes that have been produced by and large because of what happened in 1948. if he were to walk in that door, what would it be like to be around thomas e. dewey? >> well, you know, it's a type that i think i'm not sure we see anymore. he came from a small town in michigan. his father had died, as you
know, very early in life, and he had a very strong mother, and he emerged from michigan with what used to be called the proudest of ethic -- protestant ethic, and those ideals, and they never changed. >> he was a workaholic? >> he was that. he was that. i mean, he loved his golf game and he loved his farm, but he was taken on to do four or five different jobs and each one he did well enough so that the next one came along. >> one thing, i guarantee you people don't know, in 1937, after his success with the gangbusting, breaking up the rackets in new york, getting luciano, for example, john foster dulles tried to hire him at sullivan and cromwell for $150,000 a year. >> 100 is the number i remember.
>> ok. in any even, a lot of money. >> yes. >> and he was drafted, literally, drafted to run for district attorney for new york county for the grand sum of $20,000 a year. >> right. >> we're going to get to the rise of your father and how he came to national prominence, but, richard, given what thomas e. dewey jr. has said about his father, take that and describe for us his campaign style. >> it differed, frankly. it's interesting. for someone who has sort of been often caricatured, he's actually a much more dynamic campaigner. when he ran for district attorney, for example, in new york county, new york county was one county and there were people all over the burroughs of new york city that day who wanted to vote for thomas dewey. thomas dewey wasn't on their ballot. he had electrified this city
with his exploits taking on the rackets. and because new york, even more then than now, was the heart of american communications. you had the loose press. you had, obviously, the radio networks. i mean, to become a phenomenon in new york meant potentially a national phenomenon. tom dewey was the inspiration, i don't know if you ever saw the movies, but hollywood was cranking out a movie a week at one point in the late 1930's, inspired by his exploits. in 1939, 37 years old, the district attorney of new york county, is leading franklin roosevelt in the gallup poll by 16 points in a mythical matchup. it's hard to imagine. it went beyond hero worship, but it's hard to imagine -- i can't
think of anyone since. i mean, lindbergh, in his own way, in his own sphere, you know, at one point had that kind of universal appeal. but your dad is still, i think, i unique figure. some people compare rudy giuliani as a prosecutor to your dad. >> rudy does. >> i was going to ask you. what do you make of that comparison? >> let's leave it at that he does. >> ok. >> no, there was an ascetic there and the good baritone voice and of course the courtroom theatrics, which was perhaps -- certainly was a revulsion against the excesses of the 1920's, which were still very much in memory at that point. >> sure. >> and against the continuing
mob scene headquartered, in many respects, in new york. >> and the alliance between the mob and the political machine. that's what, i think, people often miss. there was a relationship of mutual dependence that maybe grew out of prohibition. jimmy walker, you know, had not been out of city hall all that long. as a boy, in michigan, your dad had it drummond in his head by his father that tamine hall represents all that is evil and who could have predicted at that point, you know -- there's one other aspect, one quick thing about your dad which was clearly a limitation in an era of popular campaigning. what your godfather, arguably his best friend, elliott bell,
an economics writer for the "new york times," would have been secretary of the treasury in a dewey administration, when he left the administration to make some money, governor dewey's counsel came to him, looked at the letters drawn up to mark the -- and he said, you know, these are all wrong. they're too formal, there's no intimacy here, there's no warmth here, and your dad said something to him i think is so revealing, he said, i'm not going to display my emotions in public. >> ok, i was not privy to that. but that surprises me not at all. >> there's a kind of integrity to that but it's also a political limitation. >> we need to -- >> yes. >> we need to go ahead to election night, 1948, because we want to talk about his national prominence coming up here. so what happens? what are the results? >> well, the results, truman is
re-elected by about two million votes. he has a rather healthy -- i think it's 303 to 189 in the electoral college. if you look at the electoral map in 1948, it would be of very little resemblance to today's. dewey swept the east. he did very well in the industrial midwest. he lost the farm belt and he always said, when people asked him to explain 1948, he said, you can analyze the results resm here to kingdom come, the farm vote changed in the last 10 days. >> how did wallace and thurmond do? >> they brought up the rear. thurmond did carry several southern states, 39 electoral votes. wallace came in fourth and did not carry any states. >> what about the coverage of that night? the media's covering it? how long does it go? >> it's really the first
election where television is a factor at all. it's a fairly minor factor but the nbc studios had cooked up this huge model of the white house and they had, they had aly enough, parade of donkeys all ready to go through and around the white house as soon as the formalities were observed and your dad was proclaimed the winner. no one had thought to weigh in a supply of democratic donkeys. they had republican elephants, rather. that, in a nutshell, is what the media expected that night. >> richard norton smith and tom dewey jr. are our guests tonight. as we take your calls live from roosevelt hotel in new york city. our next discussion here is about his rise to power, his national prominence. and part of that is his role as a prosecutor. here's a little bit from his
1937 bid to become district attorney in new york. >> you've been given a most captioning performed by vitac >> i need a small squad of detectives who will go to work on this job as they never have before, who will know that the mayor and the commissioner are behind them personally all the time. >> is everything said? >> is that a full list? every gangster in the mob is being watched this minute. >> any signs of leaks? >> they don't suspect a thing. at 10:00 tonight, pick up the ringleaders first. here are the sealed orders for the men. with new york detectives, dewey's round-up was skillfully directed. mob after mob was taken by surprise.
simultaneously all over the city, the underworld was rounded up. >> we have made a real start of cleaning up the gangsters of new york. for 20 years the underworld has preyed on our people and frightened them into silence. but now the day of fear of the gangster is coming to an end. >> richard norton smith, how did you become a prosecutor? >> well, as tom said, we went to the university of new york. he loved music. it was a lifelong love. he was surrounded by music growing up. and actually, that's where he met mrs. dewey as well. they had a shared love of music. but eventually he settled on the law and wound up working as assistant u.s. attorney. a man named george mcdally
trained him above all in thoroughness. the dewey hallmark was -- we talk about him as a workaholic. he had his men go over -- they traced 100,000 telephone calls and 200,000 bank slips in order to get a bootlegger named waxy gordon for proprietor in a corrupt prohibition defying elements and the government, the local government. >> i want to get to a phone call here but i want to go through some names real quick in his fight against organized crime. dutch schultz. >> dutch schultz, on the food order, on the pecking order, you had waxey gordon on the bottom. dutch schultz came in and took
his empire, which was largely based on alcohol. but not only alcohol, it was something called policy, the numbers game. and it was gambling for the masses. again, this helps to explain dewey's appeal across the demographic range because millions in harlem in particular, millions of poor people were being taken advantage of in this racket. the money was flowing to the underworld. dutch schultz was making $20,000 a day. >> lucky luciano. >> lucky luciano was the next significant step above. dutch schultz decided that he would assassinate tom's dad when the heat got too great, and the underworld decided that was a step too far.
so before dutch could carry out his plan, mr. luciano and crew took care of dutch. >> tom dewey, jr., the impact of this on your family. were there threats to your family? >> oh, sure. >> what was it like? did you know about it? >> no. you're talking about -- i'm three years older than john. what's happening here in 1936, 1937 i'm 4 or maybe 5. and they wouldn't -- being the people who they were, they would not share that with us. >> did they later tell you about that time? >> no. no. one had to find another way. there was an illusion to it, but one found out for one's self-. >> what did you find out, tom? what were others doing to try to protect your dad and his family? >> he had 24/7 protection and a car and a detective and a driver.
i think it was later that the only incident is that we did find out about was the missed opportunity to kill him. he went across the street, 96th street where we lived, to a diner there to have breakfast every morning, and dutch shultz arranged to have the boys there on a morning, and it would have been curtains, except that day he got up early and went to the office and they missed it. shortly thereafter, the boys took care of dutch shultz. >> do you think you weren't aware of it because your dad didn't let it bother him? he kept to his routine? >> yes. >> he just went forward? >> right. >> maybe it's an exaggeration, but when i was doing research for the book, that your dad had developed the habit at that
point in his life that he maintained throughout his life, when he was in a restaurant, he would sit with his back to the wall. >> always. >> i don't go back to the '30s, but every time we went somewhere, you know, in later years, it was always back to the wall. >> let's get to a phone call here. august has been waiting for us patiently in parkland, florida. august, go ahead. >> how are you? amazing story because in 1948 my family moved up to duchess county in new york. during that time, i was going to school. and after school i used to work with governor dewey at his farm on reservoir road. it was amazing because his farm was probably one of the first farms that came out with automatic milking machines for the cattle. and mrs. dewey had her own
beautiful garden she maintained for years. i remember he had his own personal guard house in front of his mansion. in 1964, '65, their barn burned down. i worked for little thomas in new york. it was amazing that those farms were so large and so big. they raised crops of corn and we bailed hay and it was amazing. i was listening to this program and i couldn't believe it. i'm 68 years old and i worked on his farm bailing hay and farming. >> thanks, august. let's talk about the farm. your father runs in 1938 for governor. he loses and then buys the farm
up there that the caller was talking about. he decides to run for governor. why? richard norton smith? >> i can only speculate that it was a throwback to his youth, to his childhood. he had come from a farming environment. in world war i, he was too young to enlist and he worked on a farm in the oaso area. my sense is, and you know much better, that he was just very happy being a dairy farmer. it was a side of him that would probably surprise the public, and i'm not sure your mother was wild about it, i'm not sure you were wild about living there. >> what about it like? >> we were given a choice, i guess to some extent, she wasn't either. i do remember he was very pleased, as the caller said, very pleased to have the early
stage milking machines because i remember the period before that, i mean, in the very beginning when we first -- i think we rented in '37 and bought it in 38, people would be horrified today, but we were drinking unpasteurized milk because that's what one did on a farm. then when he became governor, that guardhouse was insisted by the police, but you have a very good memory of all of that. except i would not put ed lowell and larry thomas in the same categories of farmers. they were people who had some land, but they were basically broadcasters and they were there for weekends. >> the caller referred to a mansion. that house had a mortgage on it for a very long time. >> which one? >> appledeer.
>> it did get paid off. >> why was it so important to your father? >> i have no idea. it was his number one hobby. >> what's the significance of this area, richard norton smith, where he buys the farm? >> it's just gorgeous. a little bit of historical footnote, trivia, 1944 was the only election in american history where both major candidates come from the same county. >> let's hear from john next in eugene, oregon. john, you're on the air. >> hello? >> we're listening, john. go ahead. >> thanks, this is a great series of c-span. i'm really enjoying it. quick comment and then a question. first of all, professor smith, i enjoy hearing you and i learn a lot whenever you're on. i did not know that oregon had played a role in tom dewey's
political fortunes in the primary. i must correct you on one thing. out here we pronounce it oregon and not oregon. >> i stand corrected. thank you. it's not the first time. >> secondly, a question. could you comment on the republican race for the nomination in 1944? was there a race? and then in the campaign itself, particularly from the republican side. thank you. >> well, there was a race in '44, which is interesting because frankly, i'm not sure dewey thought the nomination was worth all that much. wendell wilkie wanted a second shot at the presidency. general mcarthur's admirers, and we have reason to believe, that the general himself would have liked to have been nominated. taft flirted with it for a while, but he went john bricker who we already mentioned sort of ran it instead. i suppose there was a halfhearted contest.
governor dewey did not announce his candidacy, i think, until the last minute. it was a quasi-draft, and it's an unusual year because it's war time and the great issue -- anyone who won the republican nomination would have a challenge. it's not only that you're running against this formidable wartime commander in the middle of the war, but you don't know when the war is going to end. and the dewey appeal was, if america was at peace in 1945, it was believed he'd have a much stronger electoral case than if the country was still at war. >> we'll go to naples, florida next. stewart? >> good evening. thank you for having me. i just want to commend richard norton smith and ken burns for preserving the history which is so important to america. they both do a great job.
and in regards to mr. dewey, his passion with music from michigan, richard dreyfuss said in mr. holland's opus, music is not about notes on a page. it's about passion. and that's what dewey had. i think we're losing that. and what mr. norton is doing, god bless him. i worked with governor rockefeller and i met him and being in politics and part of that. and also the history of the roosevelt hotel is important. i was fortunate enough to work with phil d'antoni and we shot a scene from the 7-ups in that hotel. when i was in that hotel, you felt a part of history. and the waldorf astoria had something they didn't want to
photograph him so you're all doing a great job and god bless dewey for what he did because those are the times when people were close. it was an intimate working situation. today people are tweeting and it's very -- it's very distant. >> thanks, stuart. >> we have a sense of stories. the next generation, they don't even know -- they can't even converse with you sometimes. >> we're going to leave it there. we're going off on another area here. >> music. how important was music in your parent's household? >> as you remarked earlier, dad came to new york to go to law school. my mother came to new york to study singing, having won a
contest in oklahoma where she came from. they met at the studio where they both studied. dad also supplemented, whatever he didn't have any income, i guess, he supplemented what was sent by singing in synagogues and churches, et cetera, and of course, my mother, upon finishing the course, went on the stage singing actress kind of thing. i would say it was very important then and it diminished for both of them. >> really? >> well, they were great opera fans and they had a box at the metropolitan opera, which i still have, and they enjoyed the opera very much. i don't think they went to the symphony that much in their later years, and so while it was extremely important in getting them together -- >> yeah. >> -- i think it wasn't
all-consuming later on. >> were they big theatre goers? >> fair. not terribly often. >> thomas e. dewey is our contender tonight. he's our eighth in a 14-week series. he ran in 1944 and 1948. he also ran in 1940. i want to show you his campaign announcement in 1939. >> i appreciate your confidence and that of my associates in the republican party in the state of new york. i appreciate your support. i shall be glad to lead the fight. >> that was tom e. dewey in his campaign announcement in 1939. goes on to run for governor again in 1942 and wins. why does he decide to run for governor? >> one thing that really should
be mentioned in 1940, he made history in 1940. he had the first female campaign manager that year, a woman named ruth anna mccormick simms. her father was mark anna, by no means a political operative himself, but it's revealing -- you mentioned his singing in synagogues. one of the things that he did when he was certainly in his legal career, particularly the racket days, when he put out sort of a help wanted sign, 20% of the lawyers in new york applied. a disproportionate number who were hired were jewish at a time when the old law firms didn't necessarily hire jews. i mean, that's one revealing aspect of the man's character. >> let's talk a little more about his record. he runs for governor in 1942. what does he do with that position?
>> oh, gosh. i would call governor dewey a thrifty liberal. and a liberal in the 19th century sense in a lot of ways. he used to say that before there was government, there was mayhem and government rose to meet man's needs. in the modern industrial society that we live in, that means security as well as individual freedom. so it was that constant balance. in terms of the operations, he cleaned out the cobwebs in albany. albany had been run by one party for 20 years. there was waste and fraud and abuse, but in a more creative way, he cut taxes every year he was governor. >> his record on civil rights? >> he was out in front. new york state, because of governor dewey, passed the first antidiscrimination legislation to ban discrimination for religious or racial reasons in employment.
>> los angeles is next. joe? >> just wanted to state that i really enjoyed mr. smith's books and commentary on history and when he speaks on tv. my question is about polling. i had heard during the 1948 election, and i don't know if dewey was the first to actually hire pollsters, but one of the reasons that the polls were wrong because they sampled from people that owned cars, people that had driver's licenses, and this led to a wrong result about what the actual election was going to be. i just wanted to get more information about that. thank you. >> that's a fascinating question. one of tom dewey's best friends was george gallow. it wasn't a professional friendship, it was a personal friendship, but no doubt dewey was fascinated by the science of polling, and that's how he regarded it.
the big problem in 1948, i think, is they stopped polling. they stopped early. even the late polls, which by the way, showed. if you look at the polls at the end of the '48 race, they are anywhere from a five-point lead to a nine-point lead. that's substantial, but it's not the kind of overwhelming cut and dried that one would believe. but the demographic issue is legitimate. 1936, the famous literary digest poll went out of business. it alone predicted alfred landon would beat franklin roosevelt, because it turned out it was a telephone poll, and in america in 1936, the people who did not have telephones were likely to vote for fdr. >> david in sioux city, iowa. >> first time caller for me. i'm a little bit nervous here. mr. dewey knew everything about law and had the farm so he knew
about agriculture. when he ran for president, you have all these other issues like commerce, interior, helping the poor people and that kind of thing. what are his issues, what were his strengths and what issues was he lacking in which he needed a little bit of help? that's my question. thank you. >> what were his vulnerabilities? >> oh, i think curiously the flip side of his straights, there were a lot of republicans, conservative republicans that never forgave him to be a new yorker. new york has always been the city that some people like to hate, or at the very least, misrepresent. >> would your father consider himself a new yorker. >> he did, absolutely. that was back in the days, and i did get this from my parents, that so many of the people at the top in commerce and other
areas in new york were transplants from somewhere else, as they both were, and they thought that did not bar them from being real new yorkers. >> richard norton smith. >> yeah, i think there's a cultural divide in many ways, which is still with us in some senses. i think in '44 he had a very difficult situation. he had two hands tied behind his back. the 800-pound gorilla was the issue of franklin roosevelt's health. we now know fdr was dying in the fall of 1944, but it was not something you could possibly touch. of course, the other issue was the war and in particular, the whole issue on pearl harbor and the speculation that still swirls around it as to what, if anything, the president might have known. and your dad had, i think, some fairly pronounced views on that subject.
>> that's correct. well, we -- there was not ironclad, but presumptive proof that we had broken the japanese code before pearl harbor and did nothing about it, and that was widespread at the time, and, in fact, i think you've got a chapter on this in the book, roosevelt sent a colonel up from washington to see him during the campaign and said, you know, i trust you're not going to mention this, because they are still using the same code, which was an absolute lie, and you're going to cost a lot of our boys their lives by doing it. and dad sucked it up and never did mention it. >> i think it was general marshall who -- but it is a logical assumption general marshall would not have acted on his own. >> that's been my assumption. >> james in los angeles. >> i was 20 in 1947 and
top-secret cryptographic, what i'm commenting on is dewey was way ahead in the polls, and he ran the dumbest campaign i've ever seen. he didn't attack truman, and he ran as if he were already president. truman was broke and he'd started the korean war and he'd started the berlin blockade and they had pearl harbor as suspected being set up by roosevelt and the communists in his cabinet and all that stuff. dewey just acted like he was going to win. he didn't attack, and truman was broke and he recognized israel in '47. they gave him $800,000 for his campaign and he squeaked out a victory, so dewey should have
been a shoe-in, but he had the worst campaign in the history of american presidents. thought he did good in new york -- >> all right. richard norton smith. >> i've always said that tom dewey was one of those people who, i think, without a doubt would have been a better president than he was a candidate for president. >> why? >> well, if you look at his record of governor of new york, it is universally recognized today. he, along with maybe al smith -- >> recognized as what? >> as one of the absolute finest governors in a state that's had a history of distinguished gubernatorial leadership. al smith had a falling out with fdr and all that, and the two
could not be more different, yet they absolutely clicked. afterwards, the reporters said to al smith, what do you think of that guy? he said there's only one thing wrong with that guy, he's a republican. and ironically, for all of their differences, they were great administrators who were, what i would call, practical liberals operating within a balanced budget with concern for the taxpayer and a productive private economy. >> and what does that do for the republican party at the time? >> well, it made new york one of the most republican states in the country. i mean, from being one of the most democratic states, the state that gave us fdr, gave us al smith, gave us the new deal. dewey had -- we haven't mentioned herbert lehman, the man he almost defeated in 1938, the man who had appointed him the gang buster several years earlier.
herbert lehman was a very distinguished and very popular governor who was a huge favorite to win another term, and it's a tribute to the campaign, the excitement that dewey created that lehman won in the end by 1%, and four years later, there was no doubt that, you know, dewey would win. the first republican in 20 years, and he went on to build an organization. some might call it a machine, but it was an odd organization. it was a good government machine, if you can imagine such a thing. >> john in -- go ahead. >> i'm not sure that i would -- organization, yes, machine, no, because it didn't outlive him. >> yeah. you're right. it didn't outlive him, but, you know, machines can be personal. rather than ideological or
enduring for that matter. >> like the subject of your next book. >> he appreciates that plug. let's hear from john in crown point, indiana. >> caller: yes, during the 1944 campaign, tom dewey delivered, i think, one of his best speeches in his career in oklahoma city. he really took off the gloves and hit roosevelt. now, prior to that, he delivered what i call 1948-type of speeches whereas you talk about home and mother and god and the american flag, but after that oklahoma city speech, i think that convinced most republicans they really had a chance to beat roosevelt. i wonder if mr. norton is familiar with that speech in 1944 and the effect on the republican party. thank you. >> thank you for the call. that's fascinating. that speech, largely forgotten today, reverberated in ways that no one could imagine at the
time. there had been, remember, the famous phallus speech, someone said later on there was a contest between dog and goat. dewey had been running this high-minded campaign, and he was, to some degree, goaded into responding, and it was the prosecutor. he brought everything together, all of the allegations of new deal, incompetence, new deal, economic failure, on and on and on. >> you're talking at what point now? >> late september. about a month before the election, 1944. it is true, i think a lot of republicans at that point were close to despair. they thought, you know, they wondered how badly he wanted to win. he gave this speech. the campaign was broke. dewey and his friends raised $27,000 in order to put together a national radio network.
he delivered this speech. it was galvanizing. 40 newspaper correspondents afterwards, 23 of them said he had come out ahead of roosevelt in the exchange. but the irony is, he later decided -- he said, and i think the importance of the speech is its impact down the road four years later. if you want one reason why he ran the campaign, he ran in '48. he told a friend that was the worst speech i ever gave. he was just terribly uncomfortable. he didn't want to be the prosecutor. there's some element that he didn't want to be elected as, you know, as the honest cop. he wanted to be more than that, and there was something about that speech. and i had been led to believe your mother also thought that it was a -- somehow a departure in
terms of the dignity and respect to the office, et cetera, et cetera. did you feel that tension at all? >> first of all, i was not 12 yet. >> you were not consulted on this. >> no, never, so i have no personal knowledge, but that would have been her view. >> let's take a moment -- >> where did she come from, where did that view come from? >> i think she and dad's mother disagreed on practically everything, but they both had this strong sense of you have to be dignified in whatever you're doing, and you don't demean yourself by attacking the other guy. not necessarily smart in politics, but, you know, they were when they were. >> let's show a moment from tom dewey criticizing the new deal.
>> the record of this administration at home is one long chapter of failure. but still, some people tell us we agreed that the new deal is a failure at home, but its foreign policies are very good. let me ask you, can an administration which is so disunited and unsuccessful at home be any better abroad? can an administration which is filled with back biting where we can see it be any better abroad where we cannot see it? these things we pledge to you, an administration in which you will not have to support three men to do one man's job.
an administration which will root out waste and bring order out of present chaos, an administration which will give the people of this country value received for the taxes they all pay. an administration free from the influence of communists and the domination of corrupt big-city machines. an administration which will devote itself to the single-minded purpose of jobs and opportunity for all. >> richard norton smith, we're in the 1944 campaign, how does tom dewey position himself to take on fdr and truman? >> well, again, it's really a
question of -- that he couldn't answer as to what the status of the war would be at the beginning of the next term. there's no doubt that he ran against fdr and what he called the tired old men, which was, i think probably as close as you could get to raising the health issue, but certainly, there was a sense of intellectual exhaustion after 12 years. and what dewey represented was youth and vigor and energy. i mean, in the way that john kennedy symbolically represented more than the turning of a page from the oldest president to the youngest president. tom dewey had that same quality in 1944. plus, he could point to his record in new york. he had not gutted the social programs that people had come to expect from government in new york, but he made them work better and he managed to cut taxes at the same time. >> who's his v.p. pick and why?
>> john bricker of ohio, his fellow governor. not someone, i think, he regarded as a scintillating intellect, but on the other hand, he had bad luck with running mates. he wasn't a big fan of earl warren either after 1948. he referred to him as that big dumb swede. did he talk about warren at all in his later years? >> no, no of the. >> so what are the results of the '44 election? >> he came closer than anyone else, you know, the four people who ran against fdr, dewey came by a considerable margin closer. he won 99 electoral votes, and someone did the math after and said the shift of 3,000 votes in the right states would have given dewey the majority. so it was the closest race since 1916.
>> let me add bill to the conversation. >> hi, you were talking about earl warren, who i think i read about this, he was the governor of california in '48 when dewey had his vice presidential running mate. if dewey had won california, which i think he lost maybe to truman by a few votes, would dewey have swung the election and would he have won? >> the answer is no. you are right. he came to something like 18,000 votes, very close in california. but you have to remember, california was much smaller in 1948 than it is today. an alternate theory can be argued that the man who thought he was going to be governor dewey's running mate, a man named charlie halick from indiana, republican leader in
the house, who later on served in that role until 1964, charlie halick was a representative of the farm belt, and it can be theorized that if there had been someone on the ticket who was sensitive as halick was to the blatant unhappiness to the farmers that fall, that perhaps some things might have been done differently, but who knows. >> let's go back to the '44 campaign. he loses. he makes a concession speech. i want to show our viewers a little bit of that and we'll come back and talk about it. >> it is clear that mr. roosevelt has been re-elected for a fourth term and every good american will wholeheartedly accept the will of the people. i extend to president roosevelt my hearty congratulations and my earnest hope that his next term will see speedy victory in the
war, the establishment of lasting peace, and the restoration of tranquillity among our people. i am confident that all americans will join me in a devout hope that in the difficult years ahead, devine providence will guide and protect the president of the united states. >> richard norton smith, when does he make this speech? >> well, he made it the day after. there was some grumbling up at high park that, you know, that he had gotten the concession on election night, in fact, fdr, famous story, says to an aide, fdr had worked himself up into a lather over your dad. i'm sure everyone who runs for office, it was personal in this case.
but the last words on election night before fdr goes to bed, i still think he's a son of a bitch. did your dad talk about roosevelt? >> no. >> never? >> no. >> that's fascinating. >> just another example of turning the page. >> yeah. >> he's not tomorrow's concern. >> it's just that practical outlook. it's not that it was a painful chapter, that he didn't want to revisit it. >> if there was pain, we didn't see it. >> or talk about it. >> or talk about it. you couldn't talk about it unless you saw it. and you're back to his mother and his wife, stiff upper lip. >> yeah. can i ask you one quick -- because i was told by someone who was at the law firm, and it sounds almost too cruel to be true, but it's a pretty good source, that one year he went to
the christmas party -- went to the christmas party, i guess, regularly, but one year, for some reason, and the band played "hail to the chief," and the story is he turned around and didn't go back to another firm christmas party. does that sound possible? >> no, it sounds out of character and impossible. >> yeah. >> sounds out of character why? >> had the band -- remember, this was his law firm, very much capital h and capital l. had the band done that, they would not had the temerity to do that, and had they done that, i think he would have just gone on. he certainly wouldn't have walked out. but you forgot earlier his major walk out in the '56 convention after dirks had dissed him so vigorously in '52, where i was in that convention, and in '56,
dirkson was introduced to make a speech, dad got up and walked all the way down the aisle, out of the auditorium, gone. take that, dirkson. >> i think he said afterwards, he'd been waiting four years to take that walk. >> he did say that. >> must have been very gratifying. >> tom dewey jr. is referring to the law firm his father was partner of after his political career was over. he was partner of a law firm here in new york, a successful law firm. what about his role in that? >> i think that was his great love. i think the law was what he wanted to do, and as we've said, politics was something of a detour. and so i think the idea of really creating or recreating a firm, i guess he didn't found it technically, but he remade it. >> it was an old white shoe law
firm, which he joined and then it became dewey valentine. had about 90 lawyers when he joined in 1955, and he attracted many of the big companies in the united states, foreign governments, et cetera. when he died, prematurely in 1971, they had 300 lawyers. >> let's get to a phone call here. paul in demotte, indiana, is that right? >> demotte, indiana. birth place of house leader charlie halick. talking to frank smith, biographer on charlie halick, he said charlie was under the belief if he threw support under dewey he'd be the running mate in '38. since that didn't happen, halick said the only regret he had was --
>> you know, paul, you're breaking up there a little bit. i think we lost paul. do you want to take what you heard there? >> i heard the same story. i mean, there's no doubt that charlie halick thought he was double crossed. charlie halick thought, and, you know, people hear what they want to hear, but there's no doubt that charlie halick believed, going into that convention, that he had an understanding with dewey forces that he would be on the ticket. >> duncan in rootstown, ohio. >> hi. the disney character dewey was named after thomas dewey. how did thomas dewey feel about that? >> you know what, i didn't hear that. duncan, i apologize, didn't hear the question there. let's move on to cheryl in bakersfield, california.
>> yes, i've been following the series, and the one thing that comes to my mind was what was his relationship with the tammany hall people down in new york city during that time, because my mother comes from brooklyn and my father was a farm boy in california, was always amazing that they always split their votes during the '50s and '60s, when i was growing up. she being a committed democrat, while my father changed to republican when dewey ran in 1948. thank you. >> interesting. well, you might say tammany hall was the making of tom dewey in some ways. from a very early age, he had it drummed into his head that tammany hall was the epitome of political and civic evil, and as fate would have it, he would spend a significant part of his public career demonstrating the truth of that. >> adam, long island, new york.
>> hello, my name's adam. i'm actually a college student from new york. i actually read part of the book that mr. norton wrote about dewey, and i was just wondering what did dewey think of his chances of going into the 1948 campaign about winning the race? i mean, i know that dewey was supposed to win that race, maybe mr. smith could talk about that, about what were his prospects about winning the '48 campaign against roosevelt. >> now, the '48 campaign against truman. i think the '44 campaign against roosevelt, i'm not sure he ever really expected to win. i think he certainly expected to win four years later. but again, as we talked a little bit earlier, you may have missed it, he was not the complacent
figure sitting unquestioningly upon his leave that you might think from some of the textbook accounts. he was very cognizant of the fact that public opinion was a dynamic thing. he sensed slippage in the last days of the campaign, and i think he felt in some ways trapped. he had a strategy, it had brought him this far. there was no reason to believe it wouldn't carry him across the finish line first. >> as tom dewey jr. has told us several times tonight, his father turned the page, he moves on. after he loses in 1944 and 1948, he goes on, though, to still play a role in party politics. what is it, what's his influence? >> first of all, imagine being an elder statesman in '46. that's something. >> and he continues to be governor of new york. >> he remains governor of new york for another six years.
as tom said, in 1950, he wanted to retire, he wanted to get about that business of creating a great law firm, but the korean war came along and the party really had no one else. so he was nominated, ran again, and was reelected. but he was very glad, i think, to leave four years later. in between, of course, you have this extraordinary show of political strength that i don't think anyone would have predicted the day after the '48 election, where he and his organization, his national organization, really puts dwight eisenhower over the top, writes a platform to the liking of the moderates in the republican party, brings richard nixon on to the national scene at the age of 39. i often thought your dad saw some of his younger self in young nixon. i mean, they had some temperamental similarities.
>> they did. they did. i think it's easy to say that geography had a lot to do with it, just as it did with earl warren in '48, but it was also important that you mollify the taft wing of the party, and while they are not selecting somebody from the taft wing in the midwest, nixon was seen as the closest plausible guy. i was there the night that dad said, okay, there's your vice president, to eisenhower. >> where were you? where were you? >> i was at the convention. i wasn't in the room. >> okay, you weren't in the room. >> i was opening doors and carrying notes, as a college sophomore should do, but i know that's what happened. >> right. >> and i don't know whether it was temperamental likeness or it was getting the taft wing on
board and everybody used to have to talk about geographical balance, it was a big thing back then. >> and age. you know, one thing about your dad, he used to say -- of course, burst on to the scene himself at an impossibly young age. at the end of his life, he said everything came too early for me, which is a pretty shrewd observation, but he always liked to surround himself with people who he said whose careers were ahead of them, and the fact that nixon was 39 years old was a way of not only mollifying the taft wing of the party, but in some ways projecting out into the future his vision of the republican party. >> and he was successful at keeping the taft wing of the party at bay. >> well, yeah. first of all, senator taft, unfortunately, died early in the eisenhower presidency. it's a very touching scene where dewey goes to the hospital without telling anyone. he goes in and slips in to visit
taft, what must have been a somewhat surreal final meeting in the hospital, and i would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. >> do you know anything about that meeting? >> no. >> let's hear from bob next, west new york, new jersey? >> caller: good evening. what did governor dewey think of governor rockefeller as an inheritor of the dewey mantle of eastern republicanism? >> well, i'll defer to tom, who was there. >> you go first. >> but, i mean, i think he -- there is some debate over that, and in the book i'm working on that's -- i haven't quite made up my mind. but i'll tell you this, tom dewey was much more of a fiscal conservative than nelson rockefeller was. there's a wonderful meeting toward the end of his life where i think they're at a party of some sort, maybe a party event, and dewey says to rockefeller, you know, nelson, i like you,
but i'm not sure i can afford you. and dewey's approach to government was much more fiscally orthodox. he hated debt. he hated bonds. and nelson, of course, as we know, was a good deal less restricted in that regard. >> that's a very nice way of saying that. as far as the nixon v rockefeller, dad did not attend the 1968 republican convention because the rockefellers, going way back, had been maybe his largest campaign contributors, worked hard for him. they were good friends. but my take from that was that he thought that the party should be nominating nixon in '68 and he wasn't going to get involved in it.
>> and it's also been suggested that, quite frankly, his law firm -- i mean, he had reasons not to alienate nelson rockefeller. >> i don't know if they had anything to to with the law firm. his law firm was never the rockefellers' law firm. that was millbank tweed. >> right. >> i don't think there were economic reasons, but i think he by that time felt uncomfortable with the amount of money nelson had spent. >> let's hear from debbie in schenectady, new york. she's been waiting. go ahead. >> caller: yes. i have a very interesting subject to talk about. i'm going into the kitchen so the tv doesn't bother you. sarah palin and todd palin and i have been conversing on the internet facebook, and the occupy wall street just started, you know, at the same time her victory session started.
[ inaudible ] the obama -- >> debbie, can you relate this to our topic this night? debbie, what's your question about tom dewey? >> caller: my question is about, why haven't the democrats put biden in office and send obama back to africa where he was born? >> we're going to move on. john, pennsylvania. go ahead. >> caller: in 1944 -- i'm a world war ii veteran, i'm 86 years old. i've still got a good brain, i still remember things. and i feel that in 1944 it was roosevelt's time. i think dewey was a very, very smart person, but i think the people were so ready for roosevelt and they just wanted to keep him in office because we were at war. i think if we were not at war
dewey would have won hands down. what do you think? >> richard norton smith. >> that's exactly as i said earlier. that was the conundrum you couldn't know. but it's interesting that that comment all these years later reflects what dewey himself believed, the strategy was that, in a peacetime environment, people grateful as they were to fdr -- remember what the british did to churchill -- would have been willing to turn a page and embark upon a different kind of domestic policy. >> let's go to bill in pauling, new york. bill. >> caller: yes, good evening. i'm residing in virginia now, but, as a youngster about 13 or 14 years old, i grew up about three miles from governor dewey's farm. i had an occasion on more than one time to caddie for the governor on quaker hill golf course.
one particular time i remember, after the afternoon was getting late, and his golf partners, lowe thomas -- let's see. there was a judge murphy from new york city and edward r. mur they wanted to play, continue playing at mr. murrow's park. they asked me to caddie but it was getting late in the day. i said, i'm about eight miles away and i need a ride when we're through. well, one gentleman spoke up and said, oh, don't worry, i'll take you. to make a long story longer, when they finished, that man got in his car and left and i was stranded there. well, governor dewey saw to it that i had a ride back to the village, and i'll never forget that. i was very grateful for him. that's my comment. >> all right. that was bill in pauling, new york.
mike, staten island, new york. >> caller: yes. i'd like to ask mr. smith if mr. dewey had won the 1944 election, what would his policy as far as ending the war have been? >> 1944, did you say? >> caller: yes. >> i think it's a fair question, but, i think if you look at the calendar and you see where the armies were in january of 1945, i think at that point the nazi defeat was only a question of time. the larger question, of course, for example, yalta, how dewey might have conducted diplomacy differently if it had been him meeting churchill and stalin. >> what about the atomic bomb? do you think dewey would have done that? >> it's hard for me to believe
that any president, after we'd spent $2 billion to do this thing, knowing that if he didn't use the bomb and if the war were prolonged, quite frankly, it would lead to impeachment. what was the point of -- i think this retrospective argument over truman and whether it was moral to use the bomb and so forth and so on, it's hard to believe any american president not taking advantage of the opportunity to end the war that the bomb represented. i can't imagine tom dewey would have -- >> yes, to add, on your earlier comment on yalta, dad was bitterly critical for years thereafter about giving away all those people in the eastern european countries into soviet slavery communism. he was consistent on that subject. >> i would give anything to see your dad sitting across the
table from joseph stalin. someone who had prosecuted gangsters all his life. >> right. >> let's try to it get a couple more phone calls in here as we wrap up tonight's "contenders" taking a look at thomas e. dewey. charles in lexington, virginia >> caller: first of all, thank you very much for this wonderful program, part of a wonderful series. i'm glad toward the end here we did get back to the question of foreign affairs. my question has to do with professor smith's reference earlier on to john foster dulles, his role as an adviser to governor dewey in foreign policy and their relationship and what that had to do with dulles becoming the secretary of state in eisenhower's cabinet. >> well, i think you're absolutely right. i mean, they all fit together. the relationship with dulles was a uniquely close one with, intellectually substantive.
at one point your dad appointed dulles to united states senate seat, which he was unable to hold on to in the election. but there's no doubt that john foster dulles became dwight eisenhower's secretary of state as an outgrowth of the long record of association creative foreign policy association that he had with tom dewey. >> i would agree with that. he was maybe the most senior of a group of dad's advisers who went to washington. you mentioned jim haggerty, tom stevens, who was appointment secretary, and there were quite a number of them. >> one thing we haven't mentioned is the through way. one of dewey's great innovations was the new york state thruway, which now bears his name, a road without a traffic light from new york city to buffalo, which probably did more for upstate
new york economic development than anything since. but the man who built the thruway was named bert talami. he is the man who went on to build the interstate highway system under dwight eisenhower. >> right. >> i want to throw out a couple names here as we finish. hubert humphrey and tom dewey's relationship with him. >> it's one of the many surprising aspects of a very surprising life. in 1964, tom dewey was at the white house, lbj wanted to get him to chair a national crime commission. in any event, he begged off of that, but he pointed out to lbj, he said, have you looked at the schedule of your convention in atlantic city? he was meeting with marvin watson who was the president's top aide, chief of staff it in effect. anyway, there was a day set aside as a tribute to president kennedy, and it was up front.
and dewey pointed out that, you know, if this happens, jackie will be there, rose and bob and teddy and the whole family and people will cry and there will be this emotional -- and before you know it, bobby kennedy will be your running mate whether you like it or not. the story is the president got on the phone and said, move kennedy day from day one to day four. hubert humphrey became the running mate instead, humphrey was in dewey's debt until the day he died. >> and they were social friends. both friends of dwayne andrews, and they spent parts of winters together. i even went to the races with the humphreys and the deweys once. >> well, we are all out of time, gentlemen. want to thank the both of you for being our guests tonight and talking to our viewers. talking about tom dewey, 1948 campaign. our "contenders" and our 14-week series.
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and click on the video library search bar. here you can type in the name of a speaker, the sponsor of a bill, or even the event topic. review the list of search results, and click on the program you'd like to watch, or refine your search with our many search tools. if you're looking for our most current programs and don't want to search the video library, our home page has many current programs ready for your immediate viewing. such as today's washington journal, or the events we covered that day. c-span.org is a public service of your cable or satellite provider. so if you're a c-span watcher, check it out at c-span.org. each week american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. and up next, liberty university professor michael davis looks at the 1944 presidential election between democrat franklin roosevelt seeking an unprecedented fourth term and his republican challenger thomas dewey. with the u.s. and its alls