Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Press Conference

January 14, 1941

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think I have any news. Anybody got any news?

Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on the proposition to put a time limit on the lend-lease bill?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, no; because if I start commenting on one, you boys will be asking me about two or three every Tuesday and two or three every Friday; and you merely start a chain. Don't let's start one of those chains now.

Q. Did you intimate, sir, the name of the new Ambassador to England?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven't done anything about it. That's about all there is.

Q. Have you personally made your selection for the Ambassador, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Q. Could you tell us—

THE PRESIDENT: [interposing] No.

Q. Could you tell us, sir, whether he is acceptable to the British?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven't even asked them; and he doesn't know, either.

Q. He doesn't know?

THE PRESIDENT: No—that he has been selected. Isn't that an awful mystery? You could almost write an Oppenheim novel around that—probably will, so it's all right! (Laughter)

Q. A lot of people uncertain, sir.

Q. Would it narrow the matter down to—

THE PRESIDENT: [interposing] Yes—before you finish your question- it would. (Laughter)

Q. I didn't ask the question, but close to it, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Don't do any guessing; because I haven't mentioned this to anybody at all—not even to myself out loud. (Laughter)

Q. Will it be a surprise? (More laughter)

Q. You may not realize it, sir, but we are trying to encourage you to mention it now.

THE PRESIDENT: Down East they would say, "You don't say!"(Continued laughter)

Q. Mr. President, what lies behind the increased purchases of mercury by this country from Mexico?

THE PRESIDENT: Stocking up—that's all. Mercury is one of those metals that we produce in very limited quantities ourselves, and it's on that list of metals—mostly metals- that we don't have enough reserve war stocks of, and we have been gradually building them up.

Q. Could you tell us, sir, about this home defense plan you were discussing?

THE PRESIDENT: No, except that we are discussing it; that's as far as we have got. There is no plan yet that has been accepted.

Q. Can you tell us about the objective in home defense you are striving for?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's to give everybody who wants to do something toward defense a method of doing his or her part, no matter where they live—in every State in the Union, every big city, small city, town, farm, and everything else-give them an opportunity to do their share.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the label that has been put on the lease-lend bill as a "blank-check" bill?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I suppose so; the easiest answer is: "Write me another that you would not put that label on but which would accomplish the same objective."

That is a perfectly good answer to all these people. That is not an answer at all, however, to those who talk about plowing under every fourth American child, which I regard as the most untruthful, as the most dastardly, unpatriotic thing that has ever been said [referring to remark made by Senator Burton K. Wheeler]. Quote me on that. That really is the rottenest thing that has been said in public life in my generation.

Q. Did you say quote you on that?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Q. I wasn't prepared for that. Would you repeat it, please?

THE PRESIDENT: Fred's [Mr. Essary's] ears were. "wacky"; he didn't hear it. Foote, read it back, beginning with, "That is not—."

[The reporter then read the sentences referred to.]

Q. May we have the question before that?

THE PRESIDENT: I said my answer on the question of the label wasn't an answer to this other thing.

Q. Mr. President, where was the statement made—the original statement?

THE PRESIDENT' I read it in the paper; it has been quoted by several people. It was quoted in one of the radio debates the other night by somebody else.

Q. You say you don't remember who said it?

THE PRESIDENT: No; it was said by three or four people. In other words, it's a good time to kill a proposed slogan, at birth.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209777

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