Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

December 30, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make today. I thought maybe you might be curious and would like to ask a few questions, and I will try to answer them if I can.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, a Hungarian correspondent for a Hungarian language paper in New York asked me to ask you whether you had any comment over arrest of the Roman Catholic Cardinal over there this week?

THE PRESIDENT. I think Mr. Lovett effectively covered that in his press conference yesterday, and I am in agreement with what Mr. Lovett had to say.1

1 In his press conference on December 29 Acting Secretary of State Robert A. Lovett denounced the arrest on espionage charges of Josef Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary. He declared the action was obviously based on false charges and was the culmination of a long series of oppressive actions in Hungary.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to ask for the abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee?

THE PRESIDENT. That is not in my bailiwick. That is a legislative matter.

Q. Have you any comment on proposals for reforming committee rules--

THE PRESIDENT. That also is a matter that the House itself will have to work on.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can tell us yet about the return of Ambassador Smith from Moscow?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't tell you anything--only what I have seen in the paper.

Q. There were reports from there that he had sent his things back and apparently was resigning?

THE PRESIDENT. That's all I know about it--just what I have seen in the paper.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report to the effect that Vice President-elect Barkley may have been to Europe on special credentials from you, and may have met with Soviet representatives when he was in Europe, the purpose being to lay the groundwork for some negotiations for rapprochement between East and West?

THE PRESIDENT. Isn't it remarkable the extent to which speculation can go! He was not.

Q. It was suggested that he met with Mr. Litvinov,1 and it was right after that that you had said there were some people in the Soviet Government who wanted to have peace?

THE PRESIDENT. I say it's a wonderful thing the extent to which speculation can go. Just keep on speculating. It's good.

1 Maxim M. Litvinov, former Soviet ambassador to the United States.

Q. Mr. President, will you clarify what you did say about the Russian situation?

THE PRESIDENT. It cannot be clarified. I said it just as plainly as it possibly could be said at the time I said it; and I have nothing further to say to it.

Q. You have said something like that before?

THE PRESIDENT. Time and again.

Q. Exactly the same way.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it meant the same thing. It was in substantially the same language.

Q. Not new, so far as you are concerned?

THE PRESIDENT. Not new, so far as I am concerned.

Q. Mr. President, does that refer back to what you said, that "I like old Joe"?

THE PRESIDENT. It had no connection with that.

Q. Mr. President, would you attempt to put emphasis on the fact that there are some Russian leaders friendly to this country, or that Russia does not keep her commitments?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I made both statements, and they are both correct.

Q. I just wondered if there was any emphasis--

THE PRESIDENT. No emphasis whatever. Just a statement of fact, if you read the statement-it speaks for itself.

Q. Have you been in contact of any sort with any Soviet leaders, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask what part do you think television played in this last campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Bryson,1 you want a plug? Well, television was, I think, very important where it was in use. It didn't cover enough territory, was the only trouble. I wish it had covered more territory.

1 Bryson B. Rash of the American Broadcasting Co.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, have you seen the Soviet Embassy's announcement that MacArthur has been ordered to rebuild the Japanese army, and to rebuild the highways throughout Japan?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't seen that. I haven't seen that. I haven't heard anything about it--any such orders.

Q. lust came in today.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's news to me.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, there have been charges by Communists that Chiang Kaishek and other Chinese Nationalist leaders should be considered war criminals. Mr. Lovett says that is unthinkable. Would you comment?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Lovett made the proper statement on the matter. That is the recognized government of China by all the governments of the world.

Q. Mr. President, have you decided yet when you will ask for aid for China in the new Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter that will come out in the messages.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any general idea on the message that is going up--detailed or general, or how long it is going to be?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the Message on the State of the Union will cover the waterfront. There will be a message on the economic situation, which will be in some detail. There will be the Budget Message, which will be entirely in detail, but I will discuss it with you before it goes down to Congress.

Q. On that point, have you decided when you are going to have the seminar?

THE PRESIDENT, No. I will tell you, though, in plenty of time so that you can get ready.

Q. Will you send the Budget Message up the week of the third?


Q. The following week?

THE PRESIDENT. Probably the following week.

Q. You said something about a foreign policy message also, in the statement--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, probably the foreign policy message will come at a later date. Of course, every subject will be included in the Message on the State of the Union. It will have to be.

Q. Do you know, Mr. President, how long the State of the Union Message will run?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope it won't run over 30 minutes, because Congressmen get tired listening to an outsider speak when they talk over 30 minutes, although some of them can talk for 3 hours without help.

[9.] Q. What about our Ambassador to the Philippines, are you going to appoint one soon?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes. I will let you know, just as soon as I am ready to make the announcement.

Q. Have you decided--

THE PRESIDENT. I will appoint him just as soon as I can.

[10.] Q. Do you think an increase in taxes will be necessary to cover your new budget?

THE PRESIDENT. I will discuss that in the Message on the State of the Union.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about your conference with the CIO leaders yesterday, I think it was?

THE PRESIDENT. It was in the nature of a courtesy call. We had a very pleasant visit together. Discussed all the subjects in which labor is interested.

Q. Can you tell us anything about the procedure--with respect to procedure on the Taft-Hartley Act?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I can't comment on that now. That is a legislative matter. I am going to have a meeting of the Big Four tomorrow, and we will probably discuss that procedure.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, what can you tell us on the conference with Mr. Barkley and Mr. Rayburn?

THE PRESIDENT. They will come in to see me tomorrow, and I will discuss everything on the waterfront with them.

Q. Who else is coming with them, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. The two leaders, Mr. McCormack and Senator Lucas.

Q. They haven't been officially elected yet, have they, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think you can make a better guess on that than you did on the election. [Laughter]

[13.] Q. You said aid for China would come out in your State of the Union Message?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't say it would go in the State of the Union Message. said it would go in messages to the Congress, at the proper time. That matter doesn't come up until the 1st of April.

Q. Does that mean you would ask for it?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question in the message.

Q. Do you have any further plans to see Madame Chiang ? She is still here.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't any plans.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and sixty second news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 30, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232293

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