Harry S. Truman photo

Address at the Municipal Auditorium, Gary, Indiana.

October 27, 1952

Mr. Mayor, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

I am more than happy to be here tonight, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that cordial welcome which you have just given me. I remember very well how well you treated me when I was here in 1948, and I also remember how well you treated me on election day--and I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

Now, I came out here to try to persuade you to do even better for Adlai Stevenson on the 4th. You see, I am not a candidate. I have to tell people that, because my wife came out on the stage the other day, after a demonstration like this--well, it was down in Union Station in Washington--and she said, "Have I been asleep, and are you running for President?" No, I told her, she hadn't been asleep, and I am not running for President, but I am doing my best to see that we get a Democrat in the White House-where we need one.

This year, I am sure you are going to put the whole State of Indiana in the Democratic column where it belongs.

It is a privilege for me to urge you to support the fine men who are running for office from this State on the Democratic ticket.

You have as the Democratic candidate for Senator a man who has already given you distinguished service as Governor of your State--Governor Schricker. I know that you can count on him to continue his fine work when you send him to the United States Senate.

Once again you have a chance to vote for a man who has been a real fighter for your interests in the Congress--my friend, Ray Madden. He always does a good job. He proved that by the way he handled that investigation of the terrible massacre of Katyn Forest. Just this past June the Republicans in the Congress were calling for me to crack down on the steelworkers with an unjustified and useless Taft-Hartley injunction. I wouldn't do it because I thought it was wrong. And Ray Madden was right in there with me fighting against the bitter antilabor attacks of the Republican Old Guard. You can always trust Ray Madden to give you the real representation in Washington that you ought to have.

I feel certain that you have a candidate who will serve as your Governor in the great Democratic tradition--John Watkins. He will continue the fine work that you have known under Democratic leadership in your State capitol.

Now you folks here in Indiana are well acquainted with the Democratic candidate for President, Adlai Stevenson of Illinois.

He has been the chief executive of your neighboring State for the past 4 years. He has made a wonderful record of efficiency, economy, and honesty in running the government of the State of Illinois.

Before that he had some very valuable experience in the National Government--in the Department of Agriculture, in the Navy Department, in the State Department, and as our representative in the United Nations.

The campaign he has conducted as the Democratic candidate for President has given hope and inspiration to our people.

He has met every issue courageously, forthrightly, intelligently, and honestly. He hasn't compromised his principles once, and he hasn't sold out to anybody for anything.

That's why a lot of people who started off supporting the Republican candidate are going to wind up by voting for Adlai Stevenson.

Just as a choice between two men, I know that you people feel as I do that Governor Stevenson is by far the better qualified candidate for President.

But there's something else I want you to bear in mind, and it's just as important.

Remember that when you cast your ballot you are not voting only for a President.

You are also voting for a Vice President. That can turn out to be a most important vote. We never know what fate has in store for any one of us. I never expected that I would have to take over from President Roosevelt, who was only 63 when he died.

When it comes to the Vice President this time, the Democratic candidate is a liberal, and the Republican candidate is a reactionary. It's just as sharp a difference as that, and you can prove it by looking at their votes in Congress. The Democratic candidate votes for the workingman, and the Republican candidate votes against him every time he has a chance.

You will also be voting on election day to determine whether Congress shall be run by the Republican Party or by the Democratic Party.

There is a tremendous difference between these two parties, and the ideas of the men who represent them in the Congress.

The Democratic Party consists of men who believe deeply in the welfare of the common man--the laborer, the farmer, the small businessman, the homeowner, and the consumer.

The whole country knows the story of the Democratic Party--how it lifted us out of the depression in the 1930's--how it brought security to the farm family and security to the city family. The people know how the Democratic Party led the Nation to victory in World War II, and how it is leading the country now to victory in the struggle against communism.

So, since you folks know the record of the Democratic Party, I'm going to talk to you mostly tonight about the Republican Party and it's awful record.

Now I sincerely hope that every voter really gets to understand the Republican Party by the time he steps into that booth on election day.

The Republican Party is the Old Guard, big business party. It plunged this country and the world into the worst depression in history in 1929, and it hasn't changed its basic policies since.

Men with liberal ideas have never had a home in the Republican Party. Theodore Roosevelt got out of it, fighting Old Bob LaFollette got out of it, George Norris got out of it. And just last week another great, fighting liberal got out of it--Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon.

Now, the Old Guard controls the Republicans in Congress with an iron hand. Those Republicans in Congress who really believe in world cooperation and in liberal domestic legislation are a handful--just a tiny, futile, pitiful minority. They have been overwhelmed for 20 years by the reactionary leadership of the Old Guard. If the Republicans capture the Congress this year, the Old Guard would be even more firmly in the saddle.

During the first month of his campaign, I thought the Republican candidate for President was going to line up openly with the Old Guard. He picked an Old Guardsman for his Vice President. He picked an Old Guardsman for his national chairman, he put the Old Guard on his train. He accepted the surrender terms that Senator Taft handed him on Morningside Heights, and he embraced Senators McCarthy and Jenner, and all the rest of the snollygosters and counterfeits who howl liberalism on a campaign-who howl liberalism in a campaign and then vote against the people every time they have a chance in the Congress.

But now the Republican candidate for President has got all that dirty work behind him, and he's gone East. He has struck up a "me too" song to please the less reactionary wing of the Republican Party. He's endorsing one by one the things the Democratic Party believes in, and the good things we've done for the people. He's making promises to give you more of these Democratic good things. The Old Guard hasn't repudiated him, not yet, so I guess they don't believe what he is saying now.

Perhaps nobody really knows which line the Republican candidate for President believes. We don't know anything that he believes in. At least, I haven't been able to find out. But just assuming for a moment that he's sincere about all his new promises, how in the world is he going to deliver on them?

When you hear those pretty promises, just remember, he's asking you to put Bob Taft in control of the Congress. And Taft will be standing there just like Horatius at the Bridge ready to mow down any progressive legislation that comes along.

Now I wonder if the Republican candidate really thinks he can tell Bob Taft what to do? I think I know Bob Taft a lot better than he does. I've been fighting with Bob Taft for 7 years as President, and for a good many years before that in the Senate. The candidate for President fought with Taft for only a month or two before the convention-and since the convention he has not even struggled with him.

Then look who would be standing behind Taft in a Republican Congress. Governor Stevenson called them the "murderer's row," and that's a good name for them-made up of character assassins and reactionaries and isolationists like McCarthy, Jenner, Bricker, Capehart, and Kem, who would control the Senate. Reactionaries and isolationists like Martin, Allen, Halleck, Taber, and Hoffman, who would control the House of Representatives.

The candidate should think twice before he says any more about what he and his team are going to do. And the voters should think about 10 times before they do what the Republican candidate asks them and put that bunch of character assassins of murderer's row back in power in the Congress.

Let's take a few cases and look at what you could expect from them.

In New England, last week, the Republican candidate said he was against depressions. "If there is any sign on the horizon of a recession or an economic collapse," he said, the Republicans would see to it that "the full power of the Government is instantly marshalled, instantly concentrated and localized."

Those are mighty brave words, my friends, but it's just plain naive to talk about getting that kind of action out of a Taft-controlled Congress.

The basic idea of using the powers of Government instantly at the first sign of a depression was one we tried to write into law back in 1946. Senator Taft led the opposition to the whole idea. That would be Government planning, he said. That would be socialism.

Old Guardsman Taft ridiculed the idea of having 60 million jobs after the war. "How can we say that there must be 60 million jobs when perhaps 50 million workers can do all the work of the Nation?" asked Taft. "There is no magic in more jobs--more people working," said Taft.

The candidate for President says they'll move instantly to create jobs if necessary, but Taft says he doesn't see any magic in more people working.

And I can inform the candidate, if he doesn't know it, that Bob Taft doesn't change.

The Republican candidate talked about social security at New Haven. "They say we would like to repeal social security," he said. "When I hear that kind of lying, I don't know anything to do except to get angry."

Now I can suggest something for him to do, when he gets over being angry. That's to look into the record of the men he calls his team in Congress. He really should have done that before he spoke, then he wouldn't have to get mad.

Listen to these words, which were spoken about the original Social Security Act in 1935, and this is a quote:

"Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought in here so insidiously as to prevent the business recovery, to enslave workers, and to prevent any possibility of the employers providing work for the people."

Now that is Old Guardsman Taber speaking-the man that the Republican candidate wants to put on his team as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, without whose blessing money will not be appropriated for social security or for anything else.

Almost to a man, the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to leave the old-age insurance provisions out of the original Social Security Act in 1935.

The men who voted that way are still in control of the Republicans in Congress. They haven't been in a position yet to repeal the program, but in 1948, when they were in control of the Congress, they voted to deny social security protection to 750,000 people. In 1949, 80 percent of the Republicans voted against adding disability protection to social security. lust this year, 66 percent of the Republicans in the House voted against a bill to increase social security payments although some of them changed their votes, a little later on when we gave them a chance to do it.

This is all in the record. Yet the Republican candidate blandly promises the people not only to keep social security but to improve and extend it, and when we question his sincerity, he doesn't know anything to do except to get angry.

I might add that the Republican candidate's own speeches of 3 years ago comparing social security to a prison have certainly not been reassuring to the working population of this great country.

The candidate also gets angry because we accuse the Republican Party, he says, of wanting to beat down labor, to break up unions.

"We must have a high level of wages," he says.

We don't know much about the candidate's own views on labor questions beyond a few vague generalities. But when he says they want to raise wages--meaning he and his fine team of Republican Congressmen-and they don't want to beat down unions, he can't blame us for not swallowing that one hook, line, and sinker.

When he gets over being angry, he ought to look at the record of his team of Republicans that he wants the American people to reelect.

The Republicans in the Senate voted 7 to 1 and the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted by a big majority against the minimum wage law which was passed in 1938, setting a minimum wage of 40 cents an hour. In 1947, Senate Republicans voted 45 to 3 against raising minimum wages to 60 cents. And in 1949, 92 percent of the House Republicans voted not only against raising the level to 75 cents but they also voted to cut 1 million workers from minimum wage protection.

"We must have a high level of wages," says the candidate. But we'll get precious little help from his Republican team, which thinks 75 cents an hour is too much for a workingman to be paid.

As for breaking up unions, the candidate says he doesn't want that to happen. But even he has admitted that the Taft-Hartley Act is written in such a way that it can be used for that purpose. Now does he think that Senator Taft didn't know what he was doing when he wrote that law? And yet Taft is the man he wants on his team as Chairman of the Senate Education and Labor Committee, in charge of labor legislation in the Senate.

Furthermore, the Republican candidate picked as his own running-mate Senator Nixon, who has worked for the passage of union-busting legislation even more punitive than the Taft-Hartley law. When the candidate cools off, he ought to look a little more closely at the people who are on his team. And if he does that, he will understand why we don't believe his pretty promises. Now let's look at agriculture.

"We have worked out a bipartisan farm program to help stabilize agriculture," the candidate said. "We must continue to improve this program."

Now I'd like to know what that other party was, in his bipartisan program. It certainly was not the Republican Party, you can be sure of that.

Listen to these words, spoken in opposition to the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936: "Farmers . . . are to be dominated and regimented for all time. No longer are they to be free men." Those words are the words of Old Guardsman Joe Martin, whom the Republican candidate wants you to put on his team as Speaker of the House of Representatives and third in line for succession to the Presidency.

The candidate's team in Congress voted overwhelmingly against the original Triple-A Act, against Commodity Credit Corporation loans. When the Republicans had control of Congress in 1947 and 1948, they put into effect the sliding scale which let the support prices slide down to 60 percent of parity, and took away from the Commodity Credit Corporation the right to acquire new storage facilities.

And when the farmers found out about that, after I had gone up and down the States of Indiana and Illinois and Missouri and Iowa, and told them what was happening to them, they kicked them out--and they are going to keep them out, don't worry about that. They kicked them out and they haven't been back since. And don't you let them back this time, either.

The Republican candidate has been making a lot of easy promises about national defense.

That brings me to a man from my own State, because the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is a Republican-Republican in Congress, and the Chairman of that Armed Services Committee would be Old Guardsman Dewey Short of Missouri. Now, let's see what he stands for. I know Dewey pretty well.

He was one of the men who voted to end selective service in September 1941, just 3 months before Pearl Harbor. He led the Republican opposition to the extension of the draft in 1946 and in 1948. He tried to block passage of the combat bonus bill for our boys serving in Korea. He is just about the last man in Congress to provide leadership in strengthening our national defense program.

The Republican candidate is taking great pains these last few days to assure us that isolationism is dead. If we don't swallow that one either, the candidate ought to hold his temper and take a look at the other members of his team.

Just as one example, the man he wants on his team as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives is Old Guardsman Chiperfield.

Isolationism may be dead in some places, but it sure lives in Mr. Chiperfield.

Here is his record, or just part of it--I haven't got time to give you all of it.

He voted against aid to Greece and Turkey. He voted against the Marshall plan. He voted against aid to Korea in 1950. He voted against establishing our military aid program. He voted against point 4. He voted last year to slash the Voice of America appropriations by $15 million.

If the Republicans were elected, this man would be in charge of our foreign policy legislation in the House of Representatives. What help would he give us in getting the message of freedom to the Poles and the Czechs and the other distressed peoples behind the Iron Curtain? What help would he give our program of assistance to Israel, and to the Arab countries, and the free nations of the Far East? I ask you, just how much help would we get from Mr. Chiperfield in those lines?

Over in the Senate, Senator Taft would have a good deal to say about our foreign policy. Before the Chicago convention, the Republican candidate for President was reported to have said that Senator Taft is an isolationist. Republican Governor Adams of New Hampshire said that if Senator Taft were President, "he would rob America of friends we simply must not lose." Now, if you elect Eisenhower, Taft will be President, don't you worry about that.

But now the Republican candidate says Taft is on his team, with the other Old Guardsmen like Chairman Chiperfield and Senator Capehart and Senator Jenner. This crew would push our country into an isolationist foreign policy no matter what the Republican candidate might try to do as president.

When you hear the pleasant "me too" line on all these subjects, just remember that the Republican candidate's team is the Old Guard party. The same old Republican anti-party, anti-New Deal, anti-fair Deal, anti-social security, anti-farm parity, anti-price control, anti-rent control, anti-everything else that's good for the people--and anti-foreign policy to go along with it.

Now, my friends, the Republican candidate either doesn't understand the political facts of life, or he is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, when he gives you fine promises of what he and his team will do. He may not know what the Old Guard is, but I think the American people know what it is. And when we express doubt as to the sincerity of the Republican intentions, the candidate doesn't know anything to do about it, except get angry.

Well, let him cool off. Let him look at the record. Then he may understand some things.

The Democratic Party stands on its record. The Democratic Party offers you a team that will really work for your interests. Governor Stevenson and Senator Sparkman and the Democratic Party in Congress stand together for progressive social legislation at home; they stand for strong defenses and strong allies as the surest road to peace.

Remember that, when you go to the polls to vote on November 4. And be sure that you do go to vote. And take all your friends and all your neighbors. This is, my friends, the most important election in your lifetime, and we can't afford to lose it.

Now, if you do your part, you will elect Adlai Stevenson President of the United States, and the country will be safe for another 4 years.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:35 p.m. in the Municipal Auditorium, Gary, Ind. His opening words referred to Mayor Peter Mandich of Gary, Ind. Later he referred to Governor Henry F. Schricker, Democratic candidate for Senator, Representative Ray J. Madden, and John A. Watkins, Democratic candidate for Governor, all of Indiana, George Norris, Representative (1903-13) and Senator (1913-43) from Nebraska, Robert M. LaFollette, Representative (1885-91) and Senator (1906-25) from Wisconsin, Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon, Robert A. Taft of Ohio, Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin, and William E. Jenner of Indiana, Senator Richard M. Nixon of California, Republican candidate for Vice President, Representatives Joseph W. Martin, Jr., of Massachusetts, Dewey Short of Missouri, and Robert B. Chiperfield of Illinois, and Governor Sherman Adams of New Hampshire.
The address was broadcast.

Harry S. Truman, Address at the Municipal Auditorium, Gary, Indiana. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230953

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