Harry S. Truman photo

Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Indiana and Ohio

October 26, 1948

[1.] SOUTH BEND, INDIANA (Rear platform, 9:35 a.m.)

Governor Schricker, and ladies and gentlemen--and fellow Democrats of this great city of South Bend, Indiana:

I am extremely happy to be here this morning, and I wish I could stay longer. This is not my first visit to South Bend. I have been here on several occasions, when I was Chairman of the Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program in the Senate. I paid two or three visits to this town, and I found that the people of this town and the manufacturers of this town were making a great contribution to the war effort. I never found any fault with what they were doing, and that was unusual. I would like also to stay long enough to see the great Notre Dame football team in action. I have seen them in action. But, as you all know, I have a job to do, and I can't stay very long in any one city. That job is to tell the American people just exactly what is at stake in this election. They aren't finding out from the Republican candidates-they aren't finding out from the Republican controlled newspapers, either. But I believe, and I believe that the Democrats believe that the people ought to know the truth. That is why I am here.

Now I am going to tell you about one of the differences between the Democratic and Republican Parties that shows which party really has the interests of the people at heart. South Bend is one of the great melting pots of this country. Families of a great many races and religions work here together side by side as Americans, for the welfare of this great Nation of ours.

You know that being an American is more than a matter of where you or your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break. It is a respect for the dignity of men and women without regard to race, creed, or color. That is our creed. That is the creed of the Democratic Party.

Unfortunately, there are some people in the United States who have not learned that lesson yet. They seem to forget that their own ancestors did not get over here very long ago either, comparatively, when you speak about the age of the world and the age of the countries in the world. All of our ancestors are newcomers, no matter how much we may brag about them.

Some people don't want the victims of World War II to come to the United States and get a fresh start in life. The Republican 80th
Congress has a lot of men who felt this way, and their record proves it.

After World War II, when millions of Europeans were drifting around homeless, afraid to return to their birthplaces because the Communists had taken over or because their homes were totally destroyed, I urged the Congress to help them.

When I was in Potsdam in 1945 I paid a visit to the displaced persons camps over there and I found about 1,200,000 displaced persons in those camps. They were from all the countries of Europe which had been overrun-they were Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Romanians--people from Austria and France and other countries in those camps. They were so arranged that I suggested that we send 100,000 Jews to Palestine, that we take 400,000 people in this country--400,000 of those people in this country--send 400,000 to South America, and let the British colonies take another 400,000.

Now all the other countries fell in with that idea, to some extent, but our own country failed to act.

I asked the Congress to admit those 400,000 displaced persons to the United States. That is our fair share of the displaced persons in Europe. And they were good people, the finest in the world--I looked them over. Nobody would be ashamed to associate with any of them. And we needed people in industry here so badly we could have done it easily without displacing anybody or losing anybody his job.

But that Republican Congress said, "oh, no; 400,000 is too many"--and they waited 3 years. And so the 80th Congress passed a law to admit only 202,000 people. They did that grudgingly, at the end of the present session. And to make it worse the Republican leaders wrote so many restrictions into the law which discriminate against people of certain religions--and will serve to keep them out of the United States.

I asked the Congress to change that law and make it a decent law--an American law, which we could be proud of instead of ashamed of. But the Republican leaders absolutely refused to change that law. This means that we will be leaving at least 200,000 homeless people in Europe--people whom we ought to have working right here in the United States, now.

A majority of the Democrats in both Houses--in the House and in the Senate, voted for amendments to improve the displaced persons bill. They know we need the courage and the skills of the Europeans now, just like the country needed your ancestors and mine.

A majority of the Republicans in both House and Senate voted to keep the laws they passed, because they don't want homeless, suffering Europeans of certain religions to get into the United States.

If this country is to move ahead in our position of world leadership, we must demonstrate to the world that we practice what we preach.

When we tell the world that we believe that all men are entitled to earn a decent living, without regard to race or national origin, or religion, we have got to live up to what we say.

If we are to live up to the ideals which have made this country great, then we must elect a Congress and an administration that believes in the principles that have made this Nation great.

You people here in South Bend have a fine candidate for Congress in Thurman C. Crook. He is as straight as they come. You are going to have the opportunity on November 2d of electing a man who will vote for the interests of the plain people of this country--and the plain people of all the world. The Democratic Party has a great many fine candidates like Thurman Crook. The Republican Party, unfortunately for this country, has very, very few.

Now, if you fail to vote, as two-thirds of you did in 1946, you will get another Republican "do-nothing" Congress, the kind of Congress that refused to help you meet the rising cost of living, or find a decent home, a Congress that refused to do anything about the frightfully crowded conditions of our schools and hospitals.

It is your duty, as an American citizen, to vote. It is your duty to study the record and know just exactly where the two parties stand.

If you want decent housing, lower prices, better schools, more social security, more doctors and hospitals, and a government that acts American and doesn't just talk American, you must go to the polls on the 2d day of November, and vote that Democratic ticket straight from top to bottom--and you will have a Democratic Governor and a Democratic Congressman.

And you will have a President in the White House who believes in the welfare of the people--and I won't be troubled with the housing shortage.

[2.] ELKHART, INDIANA (Rear platform, 10:15 a.m.)

Governor, I appreciate that prophecy, and I think you are a good prophet. You are going to be the next Governor of Indiana and I am going to be the next President of the United States--I am sure of that.

It is a great pleasure to be here in Elkhart this morning. This is a fine turnout. It proves that the people of Elkhart are concerned about the great issues facing the country today, just as the people are every place I have been on my trips in the last 6 weeks.

This campaign has made two facts perfectly obvious to everyone.

The first fact is that the Republican candidate for President is in complete sympathy with the desire of the reactionary Republican leaders of the 80th Congress to run this country backwards to the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover days when the Government in Washington was run for the benefit of the wealthy, privileged, special interests.

The second fact in this campaign is that the Democratic Party is always fighting on your side--on the side of the people. That has been the case ever since the Democratic Party was organized by Thomas Jefferson. It has been the party for the people and not for special privilege.

We are determined to keep our Government a people's Government. We believe that the Government should work for the prosperity of the farmer, of the laboringman, of the small businessman, and the white-collar man.

The Democrats believe that everybody should have a fair share of the national income. We do not believe, as the Republicans do, that the rich should skim off the cream and leave the leftovers for the rest of us. They tried it once and it didn't work. The money just did not trickle down as they said it would.

Now, for 2 long years I had to fight the Republican 80th Congress to keep them from selling out, lock, stock, and barrel, to the lobbies of big business. I used to think that the election of the Both Congress was a tragedy for this country. Now I think maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because it has brought home to all of us exactly what the Republican Party stands for, and it showed us exactly where the Republican candidate for President stands today. He is standing squarely on the record of that "do-nothing" 80th Congress. He boasts about it.

Now, the Republicans refused to pass a housing bill.

They refused to pass a health bill. They refused to extend social security.

They refused to increase the minimum wage.

They refused to do anything about the crisis in education.

And they refused to do anything about high prices.

But they did exempt the railroads from the antitrust laws. They did try to tear down our public power policy. They did take social security away from nearly a million workers. They knocked the props out from under the farmers' prosperity. They did all they dared to crush the strength of organized labor by passing the Taft-Hartley Act.

Every time big business snapped its fingers, the Republican leaders in Congress obeyed orders.

Now you know what the remedy is. You must get out to the polls on November the 2d and vote the Democratic ticket straight, and then you will have the remedy.

We got the 80th Congress because only a third of the voters in this country took the trouble to go to the polls in November 1946. I have here in my hand a report of an interview by one of the leading public opinion experts in this country. This man said, and I quote: "If everyone in this country voted, it would be hard to elect any Republicans."

What is true of the country is true of Elkhart, Ind. If every one of the registered voters here goes to the polls, I know you will elect a straight Democratic ticket. You learned your lesson from the Republican 80th Congress. You know what you would get from a Republican President and another Republican Congress.

If you want to bring prices down, if you want good places to live, if you want prosperity in this country fairly shared by everybody, and if you want a strong United States that can lead the world to peace, then go to the polls on the second of November and elect Henry Schricker here Governor of Indiana, and send Thurman Crook to Congress. That is the best thing you can do for your own safety. Vote for yourselves. When you vote for yourselves you will vote a straight Democratic ticket--then you will be on the safe side.

If you will do that, you will have public officials who will work for me for peace and prosperity in the next 4 years--and for places in which to live while you enjoy the prosperity that is justly yours, and the peace which you won for this Nation by the shedding of the blood of your sons and brothers and cousins.

I want you now to vote in your own interests on election day. I reiterate that, and keep reiterating it, because when you do that you cannot do but one thing--you can't do anything but vote for the party that is working always in the people's interests, and that is the Democratic Party.

Now, go out to the polls on November 2d and vote that Democratic ticket straight, and you can go home and be satisfied that the country will be in safe hands for another 4 years.

[3.] TOLEDO, OHIO (Civic Auditorium, 2:02 p.m.)

Mr. Mayor, I thank you most sincerely for that cordial welcome. I appreciate most highly the introduction of your next Congressman from this district.

This is not my first visit to Toledo. I have been here on several occasions, and I have always had a most cordial welcome. The last time I was here it was late at night, and there were more than 7,000 people down at the station from Toledo to greet me. And I think that shows that people are interested in this campaign and the campaign issues. Now, I have been in nearly all the great cities of the country--and I will be in the rest of them before this campaign is over-and I haven't had any more cordial welcome than I had here in Toledo.

Now, here in Toledo, in the heart of the "Arsenal of Democracy," I want to talk to you about national defense. I don't mean bombs and ships, and I don't mean guns and planes. I mean people--you people right here in Toledo, and your neighbors. The basis of our national defense is not weapons-it is the spirit of the men behind them--the spirit of the men and women who make up this great Nation.

It is the American spirit, not our wealth, that gives us strength. It is the spirit of a free people, devoted to liberty and justice. It is the spirit of people who are peaceful-peaceful and unafraid.

That is the kind of national defense I believe in. This is the kind of national spirit which makes America's strength so important a force for peace in the whole world.

National defense begins at home. It begins with the things that make life worthwhile for the average industrial worker, for the average farmer, for the average small businessman.

Now the leaders of the Republican Party just don't understand that sort of defense. They may understand munitions contracts on a cost-plus basis, but they don't understand human rights on a man-plus basis.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Pearl Harbor had come 9 years earlier, 1932, when the Republicans were in power--when we had 12 million unemployed; when the farmers were desperate, losing their farms, thousands a day; when the banks were being closed--you were afraid to go into a bank in those days, afraid it would blow up in your face; when our whole free enterprise system was tottering and there was talk of revolution.

We would have pulled ourselves together, of course, and we would have won the war just the same. But it would have taken much longer and cost many more thousands of American lives.

Fortunately, when the war did come, we were better prepared. We were better prepared because this Nation had been made strong by a great Democratic President-Franklin Roosevelt.

President Roosevelt knew that national defense started with the welfare of the people. He knew that a nation is best defended by people who have a stake in that nation.

It is exactly the same today as it was in the 1930's.

The strength of America in the worldwide struggle against hunger and hatred, against fear and distrust, lies in our eagerness to defend a form of democracy that has given us so much to live for.

The strength of this great Nation lies in its people and in their happiness and prosperity. It lies in its people and in their happiness and prosperity--I repeat that. It lies in the Four Freedoms proclaimed by Franklin Roosevelt--freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.

The Democratic Party believes in that kind of America. The Democratic Party has a practical program for seeing to it that we have that kind of America.

We have a program for better health and medical facilities--more hospitals, more doctors, more nurses--paid through a system of regular insurance payments. And you know, the Republicans have spent more by misrepresenting that health program than nearly any other one thing in this campaign. They talk about the medical profession being slaves to the Government. They talk about socialized medicine. And they add a lot of other foolish things that have no connection whatever with this plain, commonsense program of mine which would help the doctors and help the nurses and help the hospitals; and it would give the great middle class of this country, who do not have the proper medical care, a chance to pay the doctor by an insurance system that is perfectly sound. Sometime or other I am going to explain that to you in detail and show you just how far wrong these 'people are who are misrepresenting this health insurance program of mine--and it is my program.

The Democrats stand for that. Do you know what the Republicans say ? They say: "We're against it." You will find that the Republicans were against every forward-looking measure that Franklin Roosevelt brought forward--and they haven't changed a bit.

The defense of this great United States of America lies in more and better schools, more and better homes in American towns and cities and on American farms.

The Democrats stand for that. But here again the Republican Party has said: "We're against it." They want special privilege. They don't want anything that's good for the everyday citizen.

I won't read off the long list of things on which the two parties differ. You know them as well as I do. You know that the Republican Party is responsible for high prices and that the Democratic Party tried to control inflation. You know that just as well as I do. I have merely mentioned a few because they show that there is a vast difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It is the difference between a weak America and a strong America.

I do not say that the Republican candidate wants a weak America, but I do say that he doesn't know how to get a strong America, and I do say that the Republican Party would not, and could not, let him take these steps which are absolutely necessary to maintain and develop the strength of this great Nation. He would have the same old leadership in the 81st Congress that I had in the 80th if he were elected with a Republican Congress--and he couldn't do a thing about it.

On this point, I have made my position plain. A strong United States is absolutely essential if the world is to remain at peace.

Peace is the most important question in the world today. I know that the American people do not want any part in the horrors of modern war. And I say that advisedly. I think I can speak on that better than anybody here. I know that none of the people of the world wants any part in the terrible destruction locked up in the atom and in other new and deadly weapons. That is why we must not let our strength be destroyed.

I hold that it is the solemn duty of the President of the United States to take every possible step to lead to peace.

Now, I don't believe in peace at any price--no honest man does. But I don't believe that because peace is difficult that war is inevitable.

For peace, I took it upon myself to make one of the most terrible decisions that any man in the history of the world had to make. Near the close of the Japanese war, I had to order the dropping of the atomic bomb. That was the most terrible decision that any man in the history of the world had to make.

I studied that question with everything I had. I called in the most able men that I could get who would give me advice. I talked to the Secretary of War. I talked to the Chief of Staff of the Army. I talked to the Chief of Staff of the Navy. I talked to the Secretary of War, who at that time was Mr. Stimson. I talked to the Secretary of the Navy, who at that time was Mr. Forrestal. I talked to General Marshall. I talked to Admiral King and Admiral Leahy, and discussed the program. And the judgment of all these able and distinguished men was that it would be a life-saying proposition to bring the war to a close as quickly as possible, and that while we might find it necessary to wipe out a couple of Japanese cities devoted entirely to munitions manufacture, in the long run we would save a quarter of a million young Americans from being killed, and we would save an equal number of Japanese young men from being killed. And I ordered that bomb to be dropped. I never want to have to do that again, my friends. I never want to have to do that again. Right then and there I made up my mind that that must never happen again if it could conceivably be avoided. My friends, I am working for peace, and everybody knows it. Everybody knows that I am doing everything I possibly can as President of the United States to get a just and lasting peace--and that, my friends, is the most important thing in this world. I would much rather have that peace than to be President of the United States. I am trying to dispel the dark cloud of fear and suspicion--and everybody knows that too. And I am keeping the United States strong and firm as well as fair and friendly--and the whole world knows that.

That's what worries the Communists. The Communists want a Republican victory. Think about that carefully now. They are helping the Third Party to split the Democratic Party so the Republicans can win, and the Communists want a change in administration. They are supporting that Third Party--and they know that it has no chance of winning--but they do hope that the Third Party will take enough votes away from the Democrats so the Republicans
Can Win.

I know there are many fine people in this country who are accustomed to voting the Republican ticket. But they should consider well the strange bedfellows the Republican Party has this year.

Communists count on a reactionary Republican administration to make all the mistakes that ignorance and greed can inspire. And they expect that a Republican administration will reduce the American people to another Hoover depression that will undermine the Marshall plan and pave the way for world revolution. That's what they want. That's what the Communists want.

The Communists believe that a Republican victory means a weak United States. And that is exactly what I think--we're together on that. But I am going to beat them and there won't be a weak United States.

Now, we mustn't let that happen. There is only one way to stop the spread of communism in this Nation and in the world, and that is by the application of real Democratic principles. We must keep on working for the Democratic programs that make this Nation strong. That is our best national defense. That is our answer to the threat of world war and the plan for world revolution.

Because it is the right answer, I know we are going to win this election for that very reason.

American democracy is on the march. The Democrats are leading the way, as in the past, to peace and justice. We are leading the way to a victory for freedom--freedom here at home and freedom and peace everywhere in the world.

Now, my friends, that situation is entirely in your hands. You, on the second day of November, will either vote for yourselves and your own interests or you will vote against yourselves and your own interests-or you will do like you did in 1946 and not vote at all, and get another 80th Congress-which will be called the 81st Congress, but it won't be any different from the 80th if you stay at home and don't vote.

Now, the best thing you can do for the welfare of this great Nation and for your own interests is to get out early on election day and vote the Democratic ticket straight--and you will be safe then.

I can't thank the great city of Toledo, Mayor DiSalle, the police department, and everybody concerned, enough for this most cordial and kind reception that you have given me, and have given me a chance to explain to you what I think is one of the vital issues in this campaign.

I hope that on November the 3d you will send me a telegram of congratulation.

[4.] SANDUSKY, OHIO (Rear platform, 3:37 p.m.)

I am very happy indeed to be here this afternoon. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this wonderful turnout. I sincerely hope that you will send Dwight Blackmore to the Congress. We need Democrats in this next Congress to look after the interests of the people, and you can't do better than to send Dwight Blackmore to the Congress. I know very well that you are going to elect Frank Lausche as Governor.

I have it in my bones that you are not going to put a new occupant in the White House.

I wish I had time this afternoon to make an inspection of Sandusky Bay, which is certainly one of the finest natural harbors on the Great Lakes. I have been there before. You know, I believe in doing everything I can to develop our natural resources, and I have been fighting throughout my term as President for the St. Lawrence Seaway. I believe that the St. Lawrence Seaway would bring a tremendous new boom to ports like Sandusky, and that it would bring great benefits to the whole Middle West.

I can't see for myself how any Congressman or Senator in the Great Lakes region can be against the St. Lawrence Seaway project, because it makes every city on the Great Lakes a seaport.

The Democratic Party has always believed in building up the resources of the country. We don't stop at just developing natural resources, however. We work just as hard to improve the welfare and well-being of the people, who are the greatest natural resource that this country has.

We believe that all Americans, whatever their job, or whatever their income--wherever they live or whatever their race or creed, are entitled to a good education, good medical care, and a decent place to live.

I have been doing everything in my power to raise the level of the health in this country. Each year, about 325,000 Americans die needlessly for lack of proper medical care. I believe that there should be a national health program to correct this shocking condition. I also believe that we need a program of Federal aid to the States to help them meet the acute crisis in education. Now, we had an education bill that passed the Senate in this last Congress, but the Republican leadership in the House would not let the House vote on that education bill.

Now I believe very deeply that we must have a comprehensive national housing program to dear away city slums, and provide better rural houses and public low-rent housing projects. That bill passed the Senate and was known as the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill. It was killed in the House, because the leaders would not let the House membership vote on it.

I not only believe in these things, I have been fighting for them--and so has the Democratic Party.

If there ever was any doubt in anybody's mind about what the Democrats believe in, this campaign has taken care of those doubts. Everybody knows now what we have been doing, because I have been telling them exactly what we have been doing. That is the only way you can find out, because most of the press--90 percent of the press--are against me and my administration, so I have to come out and tell you exactly just what I stand for.

Now I have faced at least 6 million people in these United States and have explained to them just exactly how I stand on every fundamental issue before the people today. Now if you can get the Republican candidate to do that, you are good. He hasn't been able yet to tell anybody what he stands for.

There are some papers in this country, however, that give us a fair deal. Just the other day, I saw a copy of the newspaper called Labor, which is published by 15 railroad labor organizations. In this issue of Labor, it makes recommendations on which Congressmen and which Senators to vote for in this election. Now, 92 percent of the men recommended in that publication, that railroad labor newspaper, recommended 92 percent Democrats. That is not surprising. The workingmen and women of this country know that the Democratic Party stands for programs that will benefit them, and benefit the country as a whole. The farmers know that the Democrats stand for programs that will benefit them too. The small businessman and the white-collar man know that the Democratic Party is their party.

If you are interested in government which will help build a better Sandusky, and a government that works for all the people and not for just a few big interests, then the best thing for you to do on election day is to go to the polls and make no mistake-just vote the Democratic ticket straight, then you will be voting for yourselves and your own interests.

I believe that is what you are going to do.

[5.] ELYRIA, OHIO (Rear 'platform, 4:24 p.m.)

Thank you, thank you very much. I can't tell you how very much I appreciate this wonderful turnout here in Elyria. It is wonderful--that fine band, these military contingents turning out to pay respects to the Commander in Chief. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it, and then to see all these good voters come out to find out what this is all about.

I know one thing you are going to do, and that is to send Waiter Huber to Congress. You can't help but do that after studying what the 80th
Congress did to you.

I am on a campaign to tell the American people the truth about the issues in this election. They are not getting the truth from the Republican candidate, who is trying to pretend that there aren't any issues. He is just going around the country saying he likes some of the Democratic laws and programs of the last 16 years so much that he would like to run them for awhile, and his slogan is, "Me too, but I can do it better." I don't think you want a President like that.

One of the big reasons why the American people have prospered since 1933 is because they have received the active support of the Government. The Democratic Party has always believed in working for the people and with the people. The Republican Party doesn't believe that. They worked against the people for 12 years, from 1921 to 1933, and as a result we got the worst depression in the history of this country. And when the Republicans got control of the 80th Congress 2 years ago they proved they haven't changed a bit. They began working against you and began working for special interests.

I have had to come right out here and tell the American people just what is going on, just how their interests are being sabotaged by the Republicans. Perhaps a good name for this train ought to be, "The People's Special," because my campaign is being fought for the benefit of all the people.

Let me give you one example of how the Republican Party has been working against you for the benefit of the big corporations. The Republicans don't believe in cooperatives because it means that big business can't get a rake-off. The Republicans opened a congressional investigation against cooperatives with noisy smears. The Republican chairman of the investigating committee claimed that cooperatives were a threat to democracy. He said this, and I quote him: "Communism will be on the march. Red fascism will have arrived, and representative government will have become a farce and a delusion." That is what the Republicans think of our cooperatives.

You know that these wild and silly accusations are not true. Cooperatives right here in Lorain County have benefited the farmers, and the great prosperity of our farmers has brought benefits to all the businessmen in this area.

I talked about cooperatives as an example to show you how the Republican leaders think in terms of doing whatever they can to help big business and special interests, and nothing for the farmer and the workingman. They think the same way about the workingman, the small businessman, and the white-collar man as they do about the farmer.

This November you will have your choice at the polls. You can vote for the party that believes in working for and with the people, or you can vote for the party that is interested only in doing things for special interests. If you want to do something for yourselves, if you want to exercise your right to run this Government--and when you exercise the right to vote you are the government--don't fail to go to the polls on election day; and to be absolutely sure that you are voting in your own interests, just vote a straight Democratic ticket--and then you will have a Democratic Governor in Ohio, a Democratic Congressman from this district, and a Democratic President in the White House. If you do that you are taking care of your own interests. You know that, because all you need to do is just study the record and study the platforms of the two parties. Look at the promises in the Republican platform--and when I called them back into special session in July and gave them a chance to carry out those promises they said I was just playing politics. Well, I was playing politics. I was playing politics in your interest, and I have been going around this country letting you know just what these interests are.

Note: In the course of his remarks on October 26 the President referred to Democratic candidate for Governor Henry F. Schricker and Democratic candidate for Representative Thurman C. Crook, both of Indiana; Mayor Michael V. DiSalle of Toledo, Democratic candidates for Representative Thomas H. Burke and Dwight Blackmore, Democratic candidate for Governor Frank J. Lausche, and Representative Walter B. Huber, all of Ohio; Henry L. Stimson, former Secretary of War; James Forrestal, former Secretary of the Navy; Secretary of State George C. Marshall, former Chief of Staff of the Army; Fleet Adm. E. J. King, former Commander in Chief, United States Fleet; and Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Harry S Truman, Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Indiana and Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233855

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