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tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 8, 2016 8:00pm-10:01pm EDT

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next, historian richard norton smith and thomas e. dewey iii talk about the life and career of thomas e. dewey. in two hours, a closer look at that 1944 presidential election when thomas dewey ran against president franklin roosevelt, and in three hours, we talk about the book about the 1948 presidential campaign when harry truman beat thomas dewey, despite predictions to the contrary. tomorrow night, american history tv in primetime focuses on the presidential campaign of adlai stevenson. we begin with the contenders, our series of candidates that didn't win. that's followed by adlai stevenson's democratic acceptance speech and the election of 1952. american history primetime starts at 8:00 eastern each night this week.
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at you can watch any time from your convenience. here's how. go to our home page,, and click on the video library search bar. here you can type in the name of a speaker, sponsor of a bill, or even event topic. review the list of 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 the most current programs, you'll want to search the video library. our home page has them ready for your immediate viewing, such as today's washington journal or the events we've covered that day. is a public service of your cable provider. check it out at and now the contenders, our 14-week series of people who ran for president and lost but nevertheless changed political history. we feature thomas dewey, former prosecutor who ran for president
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in 1944 and 1948. this program was recorded at the roosevelt hotel in new york city. it's about two hours. this is american history tv only on c-span 3. >> governor thomas e. dewey of new york, republican nominee, reaches oakland, california, on his whirlwind campaign around the nomination. making a plea for world peace and striking at communist elements in government, the gop leader draws big audiences. next step is portland, oregon, with mrs. dewey by his side. in kelso he makes another stirring bid for the northwest ballots. well, it appears at least he has one ardent supporter. those are the region's finest salmon specimens. we'll know soon november is just around the corner. >> president truman continues his swing around the circuit
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meeting former vice president garner in texas. the chief executive gets a present which he said he'll pasture on the white house lawn for the next four years. he rides to the home of his old friend cactus jack for a texas breakfast and gets a warm welcome en route. later in nearby san antonio he visits the alamo, historic shrine of texas independence. in austin, a big crowd greets the president as he continues his campaign for the lone star states 23 electoral votes. stressing civil rights, the president struck at the republicans, saying they don't want public unity. on his tour, the president spoke and visited with sam rayburn, former speaker of the house. at fort worth, thousands turn out as he fights to bring the southern vote back into line. >> dewey defeats truman, the famous photo of that "chicago tribune" headline from the 1948
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presidential campaign, of course we know, in fact, harry s. truman pictured here won that election and his rival new york governor thomas e. dewey had to accept defeat. this week on "the contenders" we are live from the roosevelt hotel in new york city which in november, 1948, hosted the republican party's headquarters and new york governor thomas dewey's presidential campaign. dewey used this suite, 1527, whenever he was in new york during his 12 years as governor and he and his family and closest aides gathered in these rooms on election night. joining us evening is richard norton smith, historian, biographer of thomas e. dewey. so richard morton, it's november 2, 1948 at the roosevelt hotel. what happens here? >> well, the day began with virtual unanimity in the nation's press corps that this election was over, that it was
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thomas e. dewey's to lose. there were pollsters who stopped polling shortly after labor day they were so convinced that there was no contest, really. governor and mrs. dewey went to vote at midday not too far from here were cheered all the way on. he got out of his car, decides to walk back to though tell. reporters thought that was a good sign. a new dewey, warm dewey. they had an election night tradition of having dinner with dear friends the strauss's, robert strauss who was a publish. the family went for an early dinner and while they were there some disturbing returns came in from connecticut in particular and dewey, of course, as gang
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buster had relied upon accountants as much as anyone else to convict the likes of lucky luciano and dutch schultz, always had great respect for the numbers and the numbers were a little bit out of sync with what the pollsters predicted. that was the beginning of a night long ordeal in this suite. it went on and on, and at about 3:00 in the morning, the agents began to slip away, which was their nonverbal way of communicating a truly historic upset was taking place. and at one point before dawn, the governor of new york poked his head through that door and said to a friend, what do you know? the little son of a bitch won.
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and his formal concession came later in the day. >> before we get to that point, though, where he looks out suite 1527 and sees that the secret service is gone, there is a confidence at the roosevelt hotel. describe that. >> well, the confidence was based upon, very understandably, based upon the fact that there was a consensus among people on the right, people on the left. not only that dewey was going to win. this is what's fascinating. because, of course, when you see that iconic image, the fact is dewey, to a lot of people today, is remembered primarily as the man who snagged defeat from the laws of victory. but if you go back and read the
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contemporary press, everyone from drew pearson to walter whitman, they had a respect for the campaign and thought he would win. in fact, they got a lot of criticism for the campaign that president truman had run against him. and it's a fascinating example of how a snapshot of history often contained in journalism can be superceded very quickly. >> we want to show our viewers from that night. early on, when the returns are starting to come in, thomas dewey's campaign manager and the confidence he and the campaign had early on. take a look. >> at dewey headquarters in new york, champagne flows freely. victory is in the air. the first returns put truman in the lead, but the republicans aren't worried. and then republican campaign manager herbert brownell brings good news. >> we now know that governor dewey will carry new york by at least 50,000 votes and that he
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will be the next president of the united states. [ cheering ] >> so, richard norton smith, why are republicans so confident they will get the white house in 1948? >> by the way, carrying new york state is no small feat. it was the first time in 20 years a republican had managed to do it. new york was the cradle of the new deal, the home of herbert's liberalism. so for them to announce that and based upon that victory was in the air was completely understandable. 1948 -- what we didn't know going into 1948, what 1948 confirmed was that america had, in fact, become a new deal country. the death of franklin roosevelt had ended one presidency. but the approach to government, the expectation that government
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would be more involved, for example, in ensuring prosperity, that government would be used to fight economic downturns as the new deal had in the '30s and the '40s. whether or not you believe -- and dewey, frankly, happened to have grave doubts about the success of those efforts. but nevertheless, the assumption was when fdr died, the new deal died with him. and the set of expectations, the relationship between the average american and his government, which had been transformed by the new deal, turns out that wasn't the case. on election day 1948, americans enjoyed record prosperity, record employment. the reason the republicans in spite of that thought they could win in 1948 is very simple. harry truman. we forget today, but truman, in his first term, was a very unpopular president. the crack to err is truman. there was talk of the little man from missouri. truman had a very difficult assignment. every president after a war has
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the process of readjusting economically, culturally the agriculture sector. ifrtsz very difficult. inflation strikes, all of that came due on truman's watch. and the consensus in '46 and '47 was he wasn't handling it so well. it was so bad that republicans took congress in 1946 which, of course, only fed their expectation that the presidency would fall into their lap two years later. >> so how are republicans viewing the truman administration at this point heading into '48? >> it's a great question. the problem is there was no such thing as the republican. and that was part of dewey's problem. the republican party then, much more than now, was split, almost evenly split between what's called the eastern establishment, the old teddy
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roosevelt wing of the party. charles evans hughes was very much part of that tradition. thomas dewey represented that in the '40s and into the '50s. and then with dwight eisenhower. opposed to that were the conservative midwesterners, many of them isolationists, who rallied around bob taft. the son of former president, ironically president taft who with t.r. precipitated the split in 1912. that split had never really healed. so in 1946, when republicans took congress, it was the conservatives who became the face of the party. on the other hand, you had people like dewey, many of the governors, for example, who were much less hostile to the new deal, much more willing to work with its premises. >> thomas e. dewey is our contender tonight. he ran, he lost, but he changed political history, anyway. here is thomas e. dewey launching his campaign in 1948 and the criticism he has of the truman administration.
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>> we enter upon a campaign to unite all americans. on january 20, we will enter on a new era. next january 20, there will begin in washington the biggest unraveling, unsnarling, untangling operation in our nation's history. [ cheers ] >> richard norton smith, what do you make of what he says there, unsnarling? >> that goes to the heart of dewey's strength and the perceptions of truman's weakness. dewey, after all, had been governor of new york now for several years. and he had untangled it, unsnarled and unravelled a lot of bureaucratic cobwebs. he had taken what many people would see as a hybrid of conservative and liberal ideas
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to make government more responsive, in some ways to make it smaller. taxes were reduced to make it friendlier to the private sector. so what he had done in new york he proposed to do on the national level. one critical element that sets dewey apart, and that, of course, is civil rights. dewey is in the forefront on that issue. new york state is the first state in america to pass anti-discrimination legislation, and, you know, dewey took that very seriously. it did not necessarily meet with universal agreement, even among republicans in new york, but it was something he cared about a great deal. >> we're talking about thomas dewey's campaign in 1948 for president. we're going to be joined a little bit later by thomas dewey's son, thomas e. dewey,
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jr. he'll be joining us to take your questions and comments. we'll take your phone calls this evening so you can start dialing in for thomas dewey and thomas dewey, jr. is truman popular? >> truman is not terribly popular at the beginning of the campaign. it's a curious reversal of what we've seen since then. the president was less popular than his policies. in other words, people were perfectly content with record high employment, but they didn't necessarily attribute it to harry truman. also, global issues were a huge fact here. one of the things dewey has been criticized for in retrospect but at the time was widely praised was running this campaign of national unity in which he tried -- first of all, the whole idea
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of bipartisan foreign policy is part of tom dewey's political legacy. it's something he had in the 1944 campaign -- he, for example, supported truman on the airlift in 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 that he would have been -- he supported the marshall plan, but he would have asked for questions before just turning american tax dollars over, particularly to west wing government in europe. so it was a campaign in many ways that is what we claimed we want in a candidate. it wasn't hitting below the belt, it wasn't a lot of personalities, it wasn't a lot of name calling, and the critics said even then it's dull, that it lacks specifics. >> and is that showing up in the
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polls? >> it's a great question. >> in a dewey versus truman hypothetical era. >> the popular notion is that dewey had drowned in a sea of complacency, that he was totally taken by surprise at what happened in the suite that night. the fact is, he was the first national political candidate to have a full-time polling unit as part of his campaign. he listened to the pollsters. he had a real appreciation of their art. he was well aware that his lead was slipping. there were people who came to him in the last ten days of the campaign. he acknowledged that his lead was slipping.
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but he said, remember, never talk when you're ahead. >> so what happens next, then? are the democrats behind truman? are they solid in their unanmity behind -- >> the republican congress had passed something called the taft-hurley act which organized labor as an attack upon many of the rights and privileges that had developed under the new deal. and it put dewey in a really awkward position. by and large, he agreed with much of the bill. at the same time, you know, he was governor of new york. this was a labor state, this was a liberal state, and so in some ways he was walking a fine line there. but what the taft/hurley act did was generalize labor like nothing did. 1948 was probably the first year that organized labor played the biggest role throughout america, and in race after race after race, the democratic ticket ran ahead of harry truman in part because of truman's relative unpopularity, but also that
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organized labor turned out in record numbers and voted democratic. >> who are the players in the democratic party at that time? >> you have four candidates in the 1948 election. on the left, former vice president henry wallace who believes that truman has started the cold war, that truman is insufficiently attuned to the possibilities of peace with the soviet union. and on the far right you have strom thurman who walked out of the democratic convention because a young man from minneapolis named hubert humphrey had introduced and subsequently passed a strong pro civil rights plaque. so the conventional wisdom was that this would hurt truman. that he would lose votes on the left, that he would lose votes on the right. in fact, what it did was put truman as the man in the middle and neither thurman nor wallace turned out in the end. didn't have the impact that it was believed they would have. >> the economy at the time. what's it like? >> the economy is truman's great stay. record employment. not only that, what truman did in his campaign was he
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re-enlisted against dewey. 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 effect, suggest to people, and truman was not bashful about doing it, that if you returned republicans to complete control of the white house and congress, you can expect to see your return for the economic policies that produced the great depression. you know, it wasn't that long since the great depression. people's memories were so sharp, and that came into play without a doubt. >> what about the role of communism during this campaign? >> it's fascinating, because
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dewey had taken some heat in 1944 introducing this charge, that if the fdr had inadvertently allowed communist influence to take root in this administration. in 1948, the first nationally broadcast presidential debate revolves around one issue. shall the communist party in america be outlawed? and thomas dewey, the old prosecutor, takes the civil libertarian view, no, it should not be allowed. for reasons he expounds. his opponent, who actually took the lead in that primary list, albert statson. this is before the oregon primary. took the position it should be outlawed. that's a turning point. dewey has to figure out to handle the issue.
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>> we're going to get to that debate a little later. i want to show our viewers on what he had to say about the communists in 1948. >> there are communists in our midst. some people jeer at the problem, calling it a red herring. some people get panicking about it. i don't belong to either of those groups. we must neither ignore the communists nor outlaw them. if we ignore them, we give them the cloak of anonymity that they want. if we outlaw them we give them the martyrdom that they want even more. we will in the government we get next january, we will keep informed and keep the american people informed where they are, who they are, and what they're up to. >> richard norton smith. >> that's classic dewey. some would say setting up the strong man of the left and right
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and carving out the middle of the road for himself. it raises the distinct possibility of what if dewey had been elected in 1948 that, among other things, we wouldn't never have heard of joe mccarthy. mccarthyism would never have 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, among other things. he controlled the republican party of the state, he would have controlled the republican party nationally, and i can tell you he never would have allowed a gil mccarthy to rear his head. >> we talked domestic issues. skberj -- internationally what's going on in '48? >> we're in the cold war.
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dewey is a supporter of the marshal plan. he supports nato -- the big overall truman organized the war department, defense department, created the central intelligence agency, to some degree put america's economy on a cold war foot judging. dewey is supportive of all of that. in fact, if anything, he believes we need to spend more money on our defenses. he also thinks that we have neglected conservative forces, for example, charles de gaulle in france who is out of power at this point but who is seen as a bull wart against communism in france. dewey thinks a creative american diplomacy could put people like that to good use. >> so how does he differ from
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the other prominent republicans in the party at the time, and who are they? >> bob taft, mr. republican from ohio, it's fair to say was the champion of the isolation swing of the republican party. that is to say, the wing profoundly suspicious of international organizations like the u.n. suspicious of, later on, the korean war. suspicious of projecting american military power around the world as opposed to building up american defenses here at home. former president herbert hoover would certainly have been in that camp as well. dewey, on the other hand, is someone who had morphed. as a young man, he had been a quasi isolationist and the
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unique thing was to watch him back an analyst and a champion of bipartisan foreign policy. >> given that, what is the impact of that attitude on all of his presidential bids? he runs in '44 and '48. >> it didn't win all the votes, it's fair to say. it didn't win the presidency. in 1944, there was a significant conflict between dewey and fdr. even though dewey had agreed that politics stops at the water's edge, they didn't agree on the united nations. specifically would the united nations have an army that it could employ without first securing the permission of member states like the united states?
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and roosevelt said yes he supported that. and dewey was not supportive of that, and dewey said later on, roosevelt won the election and history has proven that i'm right. >> you talk about the demise of the republican party? over these international issues. do they come back in time to the '48 campaign? do the tafts and the dewey wings come together? >> it was papered over. it was very shrewd on dewey's part to see that as the achilles heel. and to try to eliminate dewey and to suggest if you vote for this man what you're going to get is bob taft and the midwestern conservative republican party. to be frank dewey did very little. they despised each other. it's about something. it's not just about personal ambition.
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it's about a different view of the world, a 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. >> we're going to talk about thomas e. dewey, our eighth contender in our 14-week series, looking at those folks in american history who ran, lost but changed political history. i want to get to your phone calls. first one is brian in springfield. brian, hello. >> thank you very much for the series. mr. smith, we still miss you very much here in springfield. >> thank you. >> not a problem. i actually had a question about 1952. i remember reading about an illinois senator, edward dirksen, who was a taft supporter at a convention that was here in chicago. he went up to nominate taft and kind of wagged his finger at
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dewey who was in the crowd and said, you led us before down the path of defeat. don't do that to us again. of course taft lost that nomination to eisenhower. what role did dewey do to convince eisenhower to run. what role did he play in eisenhower's fall campaign? >> that's a huge subject. let me try to handle it as quick as i can. he was instrumental in getting eisenhower into the race. i'll tell you a story. when eisenhower was over in paris, commander of nato, he really didn't want to leave. he didn't want to come home, he didn't want to sully himself by campaigning actively. at one point, dewey, wrote a letter. no copy exists. his secretary for 37 years told me this story.
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he wrote the letter. she mailed it. it went to general eisenhower in paris and he says, if you don't come home and actively seek this nomination, my fear is that the delegates will nominate douglas mcarthur. that was the ultimate hot button. and shortly after that letter was received, he heard the call of duty and he came home. you're absolutely right. you're talking about the split between taft and dewey. it was never more apparent, more dramatic than that night when he wagged his finger at tom dewey and said you took us down the road of defeat twice. dewey, however, typically, had the revenge because the next night he was able to announce 87 of 92 new york delegates for eisenhower. and finally, yes, he was more responsible for richard nixon
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being on the ticket. he had spotted nixon as a young talent, first during the case in 1948. he brought him to new york to speak to the annual dinner of the republican party, which was a try out. when nixon finished, he sat down, dewey took the cigarette holder out of his mouth and he said make me a promise. don't get fat, don't get lazy and some day you can be president. >> we'll go back to those moments later on in the show and we'll talk more about thomas e. dewey's legacy in the republican party and what he was able to accomplish. even though he was not successful for the white house. let's hear from michelle in kansas city, missouri. good evening. >> good evening. did the dewey campaign actually exploit his ties to the pendergast organization? thank you. >> that's a very good question. actually, no, they did not. that was, again, part of dewey's approach, particularly in '48,
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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, but certainly bearing very little resemblance to modern attack campaigns. >> let's go back to the primary. we've sort of worked our way back, fall campaign, the general election. let's go to the primary. set the stage for us. who else is running? >> of course bob taft. he is running and has a very substantial following not just in the midwest but throughout the country. harold stassen, who, before he became something of a comical
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figure, who ran every four years to various levels of disdain was, in fact, a very formidable candidate. and then vandenburg from michigan. he was a quintessential sort of pot-belly rather pompous but became a statesman. and so you had -- it was a pretty distinguished field. and it was by no means a sure thing. one of the persons who wanted to run, although he never formally announced his candidacy, was douglas macarthur, who was on the battlefield, but his people made sure his name was on the ballot. and one other candidate who went to wisconsin and saw his campaign end there was the 1940 nominee of the party, wendell wilkie.
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>> let's talk about the impact of the oregon primary and the debate you touched on earlier. why is it important? >> a number of reasons. 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 who watched the fall debates in recent years between the opposing parties. i would just urge you to go and listen to the dewey/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
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that raised the public's standard of discourse. as opposed to lowering it. >> we have a little bit of that debate. let's listen in and we'll come back and talk about it. >> there is no such thing as a constitutional right, to destroy all constitutional rights. there is 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.
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>> here's an issue of the higher and moral principal in this country. people are being asked to outlaw communism. it means this. should we in america in order to defeat a system that we oppose. this goes to the heart of qualification of any candidate for office and to the inner nature of the kind of a country we want to live in. i am full-heartedly against any scheme to outlaw people because of their religious, political, socio or economic ideas. i'm against it because it is a violation of our constitution of the united states, and nothing but totalarianism itself.
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i'm against it because i know from 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 preemptive favorite having been the nominee in 1944. then stassen had done well in the early primaries. so it came down to this dramatic confrontation over this one issue. that's dewey at his best. there are a lot of people, i think after the fact, we thought if he'd only talked like that
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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 tuned into the dewey/stassen radio debate. just phenomenal. >> and the role of radio at that time? >> the radio was the chief medium by which the news was disseminated. this is another aspect of tom dewey. he had come to new york in the '20s. 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. it's a very trained voice. some people thought it lacked spontaneity, but it was the one
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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. as a young man, he had become famous as the man who became the gang buster and inspired all these hollywood movies and radio shows like mr. district attorney. if you stop to think about it a television studio is not dissimilar from a courtroom. the strengths 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 scopes in his third race for governor, for example, where he's very effective in front of the camera. and i think he probably wished in retrospect he could have run the '48 campaign in front of a camera. >> let's go to the gop convention in philadelphia in
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1948. how does he get the nomination? were there ballots? how did it work? >> yeah, there's 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 taft. and to a lesser degree, howard stassen who made a name for himself as the boy governor in the 1930s. a real prodigy. of course dewey was a real prodigy. it took, i think, three ballots. and then you had to pick a vice president. 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,
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fellow conservative, a man named john bricker. one of the songs was, the war will end quicker with dewey and bricker. >> let's get to a phone call here. marvin in los angeles. go ahead. >> hello. thomas dewey was a reasonably young man in 1953 and he, of course, was influential in general eisenhower running. was dewey offered a job by eisenhower after all his vp governor warren of california was offered the job of chief justice. >> that's a great question. there's 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, nothing else made sense except perhaps secretary of state and
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there he had the next best thing, maybe better. his long time political ally and his kissinger, john foster dulles. one thing about dewey that is often overlooked is to the extent in which he brought into the political process a whole generation of very talented people. dwight eisenhower, richard nixon the most obvious, but there are a whole host of people that would remain -- some here in new york. kim haggerty was the press secretary. to this day regarded as the 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. >> osmond in richmond, virginia. you're next. >> hello? >> yeah, you're on the air. go ahead. >> thank you. this is a very interesting subject --
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>> we can hear you. >> i'm sorry, can you hear me? >> we can. >> okay. this was the first presidential election my mother, a lifelong republican, voted in, and one of the things she told me was she found dewey unattractive because -- she mentioned his greasy hair and his mustache. if you can comment on that. but my main interest was understanding role that lyndon johnson played in this election. >> well, lbj tried to get elected himself to the senate in texas, so he was not a significant factor in the presidential race. dewey's appearance is revealing in a number of ways. dewey was someone who i think today would be a despair. of the handlers. dewey couldn't be handled. there were people throughout his career that said, you know, tom, if you shaved off that mustache and get your teeth fixed. he had a couple missing teeth
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from a high school football scrimmage. well, he kept the mustache and he kept the non-teeth for a very simple reason. frances dewey liked him the way he was. but you're right, there were times when people from print compared his appearance to charlie chaplain or adolf hitler. in 1948 or 1944 little brown mus tachs were probably not a terribly politically potent weapon. >> let me give you a look at the 1948 gop convention in philadelphia when thomas e. dewey accepts the nomination for president from his party. >> an honest contention, spirited disagreement, and i believe considerable hot arguments. but don't let anybody be misled by that. you have given here in this hall
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a moving and dramatic proof of how americans who honestly differ close ranks and move forward for the nation's well being, shoulder to shoulder. let me assure you that beginning next january 20, there will be teamwork 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. the ideals of the american people are the ideals of the
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republican party. we have tonight and in these days which proceeded us in philadelphia lighted a beacon in this cradle of our own independence as a great america. we have lighted a beacon to give eternal hope that men may live in liberty with human dignity and before god and loving him stand erect and free. >> thomas e. dewey, our contender this evening, accepting the gop nomination 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.
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dewey, jr. sir, bring us back to the 1948 convention. were you there? >> no. you weren't there? >> no. >> what were your father's -- what do you think it meant to him to win that nomination, both in '44 and '48? >> did he want it in '44? >> 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. i mean, we were teenagers and we were in school, and my parents, neither of them, were 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 '48 during the campaign? what was your role?
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>> student at albany academy. >> were you participating at all? were you part of commercial ads? were you out on the campaign trail with your family posing for pictures? >> no, no and no. >> and why not? what was the dynamic? >> 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. he didn't really talk about what was going on in the campaign and that kind of thing. >> so it wasn't a household fused with politics? >> no. it was not. >> and even after he lost in '48 and '44, years later, did he ever talk to you about politics? what do you remember him saying?
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>> 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 he said, well, we lost. and that was that. >> and didn't talk about it after that? >> nope. >> just said, we lost? >> right.
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>> do you think it was something he carried with him as a ball and chain the rest of his life? there are people who move on and, you know, that's that. >> well, ball and chain, no. i don't think he ever thought -- very much like the biography you're currently writing, he never thought, 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 of new york until -- fully hoping to retire in 1950, which he then, his sense of duty when the koreans went to war, his sense of duty impelled to take four more years out of what would have been a good legal practice and run for another term to make sure that he could hold his republican coalition of mostly governors,
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mostly in the northeast together to get a non-taft candidate in 1952, which he thought was necessary to get the presidency. >> you know, 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 on a political career. that is to say, someone seeking office as a way of making a living. when he first came to new york, he was at columbia law school and a friend asked, what do you want to do in life? 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? >> well, you know, what was his style like? how would describe him to people? >> or how might he surprise
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people? the images have come down, the little man on the wedding cake and the stereotypes that have been produced because of what happened in '48. if he were to walk in that door, you know, what would it be like to be around thomas e. dewey? >> well, you know, it's a type that i'm not sure we see anymore. he came from a small town in michigan. owosso. 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 protestant ethic and those ideals, and they never changed. >> he was a workaholic? >> he was that. he was that.
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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 lucky luciano, for example. john foster dulles tried to hire him on to cromwell for $150,000 a year. >> 100 is the number i remember. >> okay, in any event, a lot of money. >> yes. >> he was drafted, literally drafted to run for district attorney of new york county for the grand sum of 20rks$20,000 a. >> right.
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>> we're going to get to the rise of your father and how he came to national prominence, but richard, given what thomas dewey jr. has said about his father, describe to us his campaign style. >> it differed, frankly. for someone who has been caricatured, he's actually a much more dynamic campaigner. when he ran for district attorney, for example, in new york county, new york county is one county. and there were people all over the burroughs of new york city that day who wanted to vote for tom dewey. well, tom dewey wasn't on their ballot. he had electrified this city with his exploits taking on the rackets. 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
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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 '30s inspired by his exploits. in 1939, 37 years old, the district attorney of new york county is leading franklin roosevelt in a gallup poll in a mythical match-up. it's hard to imagine -- i can't think of anyone since -- i mean, winberg in his own way, in his own sphere at one point, had that kind of universal appeal. but your dad is still, i think, a unique figure. some people compare rudy giuliani as a prosecutor to your dad. >> well, rudy does.
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>> i was going to ask you, what do you make of that comparison? >> let's leave it that he does. >> okay. >> there was an ascetic there and the good baritone voice, and of course, the courtroom theatrics certainly was a revulsion against the excesses of the '20s, which were still very much in memory at that point. >> sure. >> and against the continuing mob scene head quarter, 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 -- you know, a relationship of mutual
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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 drummed into his head by his father that tammany hall represents all that was evil, and who could have predicted it at that point. but one quick thing about your dad which was clearly a limitation in an era of popular campaigning. when your godfather, arguably his best friend, elliott bell, an economics writer for the "new york times," would have been secretary of the treasury in the dewey administration. when he left the administration to make some money, governor dewey's counsel came to him, looked at the letters drawn up, and he said, these are all wrong. they're too formal, there's no intimacy here, there's no warmth
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here. and your dad said something to him that i think is so revealing. he said, i'm not going to display my emotions in public. >> okay, well, i didn't -- yeah. i was not privy to that, but it surprises me not at all. >> there is a kind of integrity to that, but it's also a political limitation. >> 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? >> the results, truman is reelected by about 2 million votes. i think it's 183 to 189 in the electoral college. if you looked at the electoral map of 1948, it would be very little resemblance to today's. dewey swept the east. he did very well in the industrial midwest.
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he lost the farm belt. and he always said when people asked him to explain '48, he said, you can analyze the results from here to kingdom come, but farm vote changed in the last ten days. >> how did wallace thurman do? >> they brought up the rear. thurman did carry several southern states, 39 electoral votes, wallace came in fourth. did not carry any states. >> what about the coverage of the night? the media is covering it. how long does it go? >> it goes through the night. it's the first election where television is a factor. it's a fairly minor factor, but the nbc studios had cooked up this huge model of the white house and interestingly enough they had a 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.
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no one to thought to bring in 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 the roosevelt center. we're talking about tom dewey's bid for the presidency in 1944 and 1948. our next discussion here is about his rise to power, his national prominence. part of that is his role as a prosecutor. here is a little bit from his 1937 bid to become district attorney in new york. >> you've been given the most difficult task, an opportunity to be a great help to the people of this city. what can we do for you? >> i need a small squad of detectives who will go to work on this job as they never have
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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 15 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 robbed them, and then 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?
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>> well, as tom said, we went to the university of michigan, law school. we came to 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 his mentor, trained him, above all in thoroughness. the dewey hallmark was -- we talk about him as a workaholic. in one of the early cases, i mean, he had his men go over 100 -- they traced 100,00 telephone calls and 200,000 bank slips in order to get a
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bootleger named waxy gordon for proprietor in a corrupt prohibition defieing 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 away gordon's 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
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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 four or maybe five.
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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
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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? was that his personality? >> 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. always. >> throughout time? you remember that? >> yes, yes. i don't go back to, you know -- >> sure. >> -- the '30s. but every time we went somewhere, you know, in later years, it was always back to the
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wall. >> let's get to a phone call here. august has been waiting for us patiently in parkland, florida. august, go ahead. >> caller: 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. and, i -- i remember he has his own personal guard house in front of his mansion. in 1964, '65, their barn burned down. horrific fire, unbelievable. i worked for little thomas in new york.
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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. here i am sitting here, 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. hees he's made a name for himself, 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
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farm in the owosso 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 was 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,
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that guardhouse was insisted on by the police, down by the entrance. 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 wasn't a very big one, but it did get paid off. >> why was it so important to your father? >> i was no idea. he loved farming. 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
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party cant candidates come from the same county. >> let's hear from john next in eugene, oregon. john, you're on the air. >> caller: hello? >> we're listening, john. go ahead. >> caller: 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. >> caller: 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
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because frankly, i'm not sure governor due 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 run it as dead. 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.
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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, 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? >> caller: 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. a lot of passion, which is missing today. today,itis texting. nobody, you know, communicates. i think we're losing that.
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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 a hidden train station underground that teddy roosevelt used to come in because of him being in a wheelchair, they didn't want to photograph him. you are 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.
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>> caller: we have a sense of stories. great stories. the next generation, they don't even know -- they can't even converse with you sometimes. so, again -- >> 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
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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.
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>> 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
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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 as much economic security as is
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consistent with 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? >> caller: 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
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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
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legitimate. 1936, the reason 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. >> caller: first time caller for me, so 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
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flip side of his straights, there were a lot of republicans, there were a lot of conservative republicans that never forgave him for being 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. >> he did? >> 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
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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
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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. >> yes. >> james in los angeles. >> caller: 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.
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truman was broke and he'd started the korean war and he'd started the blockade and they had pearl harbor as suspected being set up by roosevelt 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
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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. it's interesting when your dad became governor, one of the first people he invited was al smith who had a falling out with fdr and all that. and the two that 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.
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>> 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,
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but it was an odd organization. it was a good government machine, if you can imagine such a thing. >> john in crown -- go ahead, tom. >> 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
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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 roosevelt's dog and dewey's goat. dewey had been running this high-minded campaign, and he was, to some degree, goated into responding, and it was the prosecutor.
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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. >> okay. >> 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. a poll of 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.
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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 --
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>> 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
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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 horder out of presence 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
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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.
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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. privately, he referred to him as that big, dumb swede. did he talk about warren at all
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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. >> caller: thank you. hi. you were talking about earl warren who i think i read about this, he was the governor of california in '48 when dewy had hiss vice presidential running mate. if dewey had won california,
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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
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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 reelected 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.
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>> 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 president has all sorts of hidden defects. i think 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.
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>> 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?
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>> 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
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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.
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>> let's get to a phone call here. paul in demotte, indiana, is that right? >> caller: 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 rksz, i believe '48. since that didn't happen, halick said the only regret he had was due dewey -- based on -- >> 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
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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. >> caller: 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 bakersville, california. >> caller: 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.
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she being a committed democrat, while my father changed to republican when dewey ran in 1948. thank you. >> all right. >> interesting. well, you might say tammany hall was the making of tom dewey in some ways. as we said earlier frrks a very early age, he had it drummed into his head that tammany hall was the apit mee 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. >> caller: 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?
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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 future his vision of the republican party. >> and he is successful at keeping the taft wing of the party at bay. >> well, yeah. i mean, i think -- first of all, senator taft, unfortunately, died early in the eisenhower presidency. there's a very touching scene where dewey goes to the hospital without telling anyone. he goes in, he slips in to visit taft. they have this -- 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. >> no. let's hear from bob next. west new york -- new jersey. >> caller: good evening.
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what did governor dewey think of governor rockefeller as an inheriter of the dewey mantel of eastern republicanism? >> well, i'll defer to tom who was there. >> you go first. >> i think he -- there is some debate over that, and in the book i'm working on that. 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, and there's a wonderful meeting toward the end of his life, where i think they are at a party of some sort, maybe a party event, and dewey says to rockefeller, 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
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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 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 -- he had reasons not to alienate nelson rockefeller. >> i don't know whether they had anything to do with the law firm. his law firm was never the rockefellers' law firm. that was milbank tw achlt d. i don't think there were economic reasons. but i think he -- by that time
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he 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 -- the interesting subject going into this -- we have been conversing on sessions on the internet facebook and the occupy wall street just started. you know, the same time the victory sessions started. and my password being password on obama -- >> debbie, can you relate this to our topic this night? what's your question about tom dewey? >> caller: my question is about why haven't the democrats provided an office and sent obama back to africa where he was born? >> all right. we're going to move on.
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john. lafayetteville, pennsylvania. john, sorry, butchered the name of your town there. but go ahead. >> caller: lafayetteville, pennsylvania. >> there you go. >> caller: 1944 -- i'm a world war ii veteran. i'm 86 years old. i still have 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, you know,
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grateful as they were to fdr, 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, lowell thomas, let's see, there was a judge murphy from new york city, and edward r. murrow, they wanted to play, continue playing at mr. murrow's park.
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and so they asked me to caddy 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. well, 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? >> 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
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armies were in january of 1945, i think at that point, obviously, 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 be subject 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
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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 the slavery of soviet 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. >> that's right. >> let's try to get a couple more phone calls in here as we wrap up tonight's "contenders" taking a look at thomas e. dewey. let's hear from charles first in lexington, virginia. >> caller: first of all, thank you very much for this wonderful program, part of a wonderful series.
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i'm glad that 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 what the relation between the two was and what that had to do with dulles's 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, intellectually substantive. at one point your dad appointed dulles to a 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
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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 thruway. one of governor 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 everything since. but the man who built the thruway was named bert talami. burt talami 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


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