Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

July 21, 1942

THE PRESIDENT: I actually have something today.

Number one: Admiral Leahy has been ordered to active duty, and to be Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief. He takes on the duties immediately.

Then number two: I have here the report of William R. Boyd, Jr., Chairman of the Petroleum Industry War Council, the gist of which is that they have collected during this scrap rubber drive 454,155 tons of scrap rubber, which is a net addition to the Government's stock pile. I only just got it this minute.

Number three: The Secretary of State [Cordell Hull] was in this morning, and I went over with him a speech which he is going to deliver on the air, I hope in the next two or three days, on the general subject of the seriousness of the war, what the winning of the war means, what victory will mean to human security, and liberty, and civilization, including the seriousness of all that those things mean to every man, woman, and child, not only in this country but throughout the world.

And he showed me the draft of what he is going to say, and all I can say is that it is a very able and conclusive summary of the present world situation. And as I say, that will be delivered in the course of the next two or three days.

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what the scope of Admiral Leahy's position will be?

THE PRESIDENT: Chief of Staff. I think that's all that's necessary.

Q. Will he have the staff of the Army, Navy, and Air also under him?

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't got the foggiest idea; and it has nothing to do with the "price of eggs.". . .

Q. Mr. President, what can we do to relieve some of this German pressure on Russia?

THE PRESIDENT: I wouldn't tell you if I—I wouldn't say if I could. I won't tell you. Obviously, the question shouldn't be asked or answered.

Q. (interposing) Mr. President, do you plan to freeze wages?


Q. Mr. President, now that they have got this rubber, what are they going to do with it?

THE PRESIDENT: Use it. (Laughter)

Q. Mr. President, does the appointment of Admiral Leahy as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief mean that the Commander in Chief will take a more active direction of the strategic conduct of the war?

THE PRESIDENT: That will be almost impossible. (Laughter)

Q. Could you tell us any more about the Admiral's duties as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, put it this way: whatever's necessary from the point of view of the Commander in Chief. Now, as a matter of fact, I wouldn't go guessing around about things, in assigning more importance to this than it really deserves.

The reason I answered the other question that way was that, of course, I do spend an awful lot of time on it, from the American point of view. And at the same time, in so doing, there are all kinds of things that I have to read, all kinds of opinions that I have to get, and do get, and it takes a very long time. It takes a great deal of time, which after a pretty careful survey for seven months, I should say I should be helped to save, by somebody else doing an awful lot of legwork, and indexing work, and summarizing work, and at the same time somebody in whose judgment I have got a good deal of real confidence. And it is going to save me a great many hours of work and all kinds of tasks—instead of doing them myself, finding out about things—if I can get somebody else to do the leg-work. . . .

Q. Mr. President, isn't that a rather unprecedented position? Will that require Senate confirmation of the appointment, or is it purely in your executive—

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) No. An order—an order to duty. Just a naval order, that's all.

Q. He will definitely be Chief of Staff —

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) To the Commander in Chief.(Laughter)

Q. Yes, sir.

Q. of the Army and Navy, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: No. To the Commander in Chief. (More laughter)

Q. (aside) Getting nowhere fast.

THE PRESIDENT: YOU see, the Army has a Chief of Staff of the Army, and the Navy has the equivalent Chief of Operations of the Navy, which is practically the same thing as the Chief of Staff.

Q. Mr. President, you attached an "if" a while ago to the remark about—if anything would be said it will be said in a Message to Congress soon.

THE PRESIDENT: (interjecting) Yes.

Q. (continuing) Can we definitely count on that Message in the next few days?

THE PRESIDENT: I hope so. I hope so.

Q. Do you expect to see the Congressional leaders tomorrow on that subject, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't know yet. I haven't worked out the schedule. Some of them, maybe.

Q. Mr. President, is this going to be confined to the one subject, or is this going to be a cover-all on the problems involved in the war picture now?

THE PRESIDENT: You mean this Congressional Message?

Q. The Message, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it will relate to what I described on back-Oh, what was it?—the twenty-seventh of April domestically, as one of the very great essentials in the war, to keep a thumb on the cost of living, because that goes into every home and every club in the country.

Q. Well, I meant you aren't going to make this a general discussion of the war picture?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, no. Oh, no. This is the principal domestic problem in carrying on the war. Of course a lot of other things are dependent on it, that's true. This is the first real essential.

Q. Mr. President, is there anything you could tell us about Mr. [Lauchlin] Currie's visit to China?

THE PRESIDENT: The second one. (Laughter) That's about all I can say.

Q. (aside) Let's go.

VOICES: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: I gave you plenty today.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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