Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 10, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I have appointed a Committee on Government Contract Compliance, with Dwight Palmer as Chairman; James B. Casey; Dowdal H. Davis; Irving Engel--

Q. Pardon me, Mr. President, would you give us the spelling of the third man-Dowdal?

THE PRESIDENT. D-o-w-d-a-l, H. Davis; Irving Engel; Oliver Hill; George Meany.

And this has been mimeographed and you will have a copy of it.

Mr. Short: That second name was James B. Carey, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. He is Secretary-Treasurer--James B. Carey; but you will have copies of this, so there won't be any errors.1

1For the President's statement upon signing Executive Order 10308 establishing the Committee on Government Contract Compliance, see 1951 volume, this series, Item 299.

The Committee was composed of the following members representing the public: Dwight R. G. Palmer, chairman of the board, General Cable Corp., who served as Chairman; James B. Carey, secretary-treasurer, Congress of Industrial Organizations; Dowdal H. Davis, general manager, Kansas City Call; Irving M. Engel, chairman, executive committee, American Jewish Committee; Oliver W. Hill, attorney, Richmond, Va.; and George Meany, secretary-treasurer, American Federation of Labor.

In addition to the above-named members the Committee was composed of representatives of five Government agencies: Russell Forbes, Deputy Administrator, General Services Administration, who also represented the Defense Materials Procurement Agency; Michael J. Galvin, Under Secretary of Labor; Everett L. Hollis, General Counsel, Atomic Energy Commission; and John D. Small, Chairman, Munitions Board, Department of Defense.

See also Items 26 [1], 389.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, I was just wondering if you are aware now of General Eisenhower's availability for the Republican presidential nomination? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I read five or six papers every morning, and I am. [More laughter]

Q. Mr. President, can you say whether that availability has made any change in your plans for 1952?


Q. You can't say, or it has not?

THE PRESIDENT. It has not. [Laughter]

[3.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us, sir, what the significance is of your request to Mr. McKinney 2 and through him to Senator Humphrey that your name not be entered in the Minnesota preferential primary ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the same situation, as it has always prevailed: I am not ready to make any announcements.

2 Frank E. McKinney, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Q. Your failure--I mean your request that it not be entered--doesn't necessarily mean that you have decided not to seek

THE PRESIDENT. It doesn't preclude me from anything.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, last week, when the Attorney General left your Cabinet meeting, he said that he anticipated no change in his status. Would you care to comment on that ?

THE PRESIDENT. He is correct. There will be no change.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, a few months ago I believe you told us that your favorite candidate for the Republican ticket was Senator Taft. Have you changed your opinion?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, I take it that this Committee on Government Contract Compliance is different from any cleanup commission that you have appointed in the Government?

THE PRESIDENT. This is strictly a Contract Compliance Commission.

Q. Yes sir--yes sir. Congressman Poage of Texas has suggested that it might be nice to name a commission--for cleaner-uppers in Government--of Jim Farley, Judge Patterson, and Stuart Symington. 3 Would you care to talk to those three men ?

THE PRESIDENT. They are fine gentlemen. The Attorney General will carry out the job that is necessary.

3James A. Farley, former Postmaster General, and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Robert P. Patterson, former Secretary of War, and W. Stuart Symington, Administrator of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, would you tell us why you think Mr. Taft would be the easiest for the Democrats to beat?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, if you can't figure it out, there's no use my trying to. [Laughter]

Q. I know what I think. I wondered what you thought?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

Q. Mr. President, how do you rate Harold Stassen 4 along that line?

THE PRESIDENT. A wonderful man.


4 President of the University of Pennsylvania and former Governor of Minnesota.

Q. Would he be harder to beat than Taft?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Q. Mr. President, there has been a lot of talk that your eventual course might be determined by the identity of the Republican candidate. Would that affect your thinking, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will give you the information on my course before there is any Republican nomination, Joe. 5

5 Joseph A. Fox of the Washington Star.

Mr. Fox: Thank you, sir. [Laughter] That means I beat Smitty 6 out of $5.

THE PRESIDENT. You beat him out of $5?

6 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Mr. Fox: That's the way I read that.

THE PRESIDENT. Why didn't you tell me? [More laughter]

[8.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you would give us your personal estimate of your visit with Prime Minister Churchill ?

THE PRESIDENT. Very satisfactory.

Q. Would you care to comment about it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. The communique tells you everything that is necessary to be said. 7

7 See Item 6.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, you said the Attorney General would carry out the socalled cleanup. Does that mean that there will be no special commission such as was talked about at one time?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. Mr. President, you said "if necessary." Do you think it is necessary?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not.

Q. I mean, the Attorney General will carry out the job if necessary.

THE PRESIDENT. He will carry it out. And of course whatever is necessary will be done by the law enforcement officer of the Government.

Q. But you do think it is necessary to do something about it ?

THE PRESIDENT. Whatever is necessary to be done will be done. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, does that--I didn't hear-does this mean that the commission idea of your previous plan has been discarded?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that the law enforcement officer of the Government is the one to carry out a cleanup, if a cleanup is necessary, and in some places I think it is; and we have cleaned up a lot of places.

Q. We had a report that Daniel Poling from Philadelphia--your old friend-had been asked.

THE PRESIDENT. He has always been a consultant of mine. He is a good Baptist.

Q. Well, how will he figure in this, if the Attorney General is going to dean up ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will answer that when it becomes necessary.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, you said at the start, after reading your paper--you were aware of General Eisenhower's availability for the Republican presidential nomination. What do you think of that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I answerer that question back in August, when I said I thought Eisenhower was a grand man. I have the utmost confidence in him, and I gave him one of the most important jobs that this Government has to offer. My ideas and my position with regard to General Eisenhower haven't changed.

Q. Mr. President, at that August press conference, 8 as I recall it, the question was about a statement that you had made to General Eisenhower in 1945.


8 See 1951 volume, this series, Item 188 [11].

Q. 1945, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. No, it was in 1948. 1948 is the one referred to, I am sure, but go ahead.

Q. The statement, sir, being that there was no job the General might want that you wouldn't help him get, and if-this specifically included the Presidency of the United States in 1948. And I asked you at the August press conference whether that statement applied equally to 1952 as it did[loud laughter interrupting, as Joseph Short (Secretary to the President) handed the President a piece of paper].

THE PRESIDENT. Here is a transcript of that press conference, and you are entitled to read it. That still stands.

Q. The statement still stands?


Q. What stands, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Read it. All you have to do is to read it.

Q. We don't have it.

Q. Could we have it read to us?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we'll let you read it, Tony. 9 [Much laughter, as the paper was handed to him ].

9 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. Read it slowly.

THE PRESIDENT. Tony, read it slowly! [More laughter]

Mr. Vaccaro: This is the question. [Reading] "I would like to ask you about another statement. In the General's book 'Crusade in Europe,' he quotes you as having told him, when you were in Europe one time, that there was no position he wanted that you wouldn't help him get, and that specifically included the Presidency in 1948. I would like to know if that applies to 1952 as well as 1948?

"THE PRESIDENT. It certainly does."

Q. It certainly does?

"THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I am just as fond of General Eisenhower as I can be. I think he is one of the great men produced by World War II "

THE PRESIDENT. [Interposing] That is absolutely true, Tony. Go ahead.

Mr. Vaccaro: [Continuing reading]" and I think I have shown that by giving him the most important job that is available for his ability.

"Q. Mr. President, would that mean that if General Eisenhower wants to be President, you would help him get that job?

"THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that. [Laughter]

"Q. Well, Mr. President, I would like to know what was--not to cross-examine you, but what were you referring to when you said 'It certainly does' to Bill Lawrence's statement ?

"THE PRESIDENT. Well, you will have to translate that any way you can, Smitty. I am glad "[Loud laughter at the way this was read]

"--as I say, I am very fond of General Eisenhower. I don't think he is a candidate for President on the Democratic ticket--"

THE PRESIDENT. [interjecting] And he said that, just the other day.

Mr. Vaccaro: [Continuing reading] ". and I couldn't very well help him to be a candidate on the Republican ticket, because I don't think that would do him any good. [More laughter] Anyway, I have another candidate on the Republican ticket.

"Q. Would that be Senator Taft, sir? "It would be."

THE PRESIDENT. There's your answer! [Much laughter]

Q. Mr. President, I'll have to congratulate you for giving Vaccaro the microphone and getting it back again.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Tony is always telling me to go slowly, and I just wanted him to try his own hand at the thing. [More laughter]

Q. He didn't get a chance to make any notes.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any understanding with General Eisenhower about how long he will continue in his present assignment? 10

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have. He said he would continue as long as it was necessary, or as long as he thought--as I thought he ought to. I have that in writing.

10 Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.

Q. Mr. President, in that connection, you were asked at an earlier press conference', how long that might be?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer.

Q. You said--I think you said--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer.

Q. I think you said that it wouldn't interfere with any ideas General Eisenhower might have

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q.--in connection with the Presidency ?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. I want to stand in his way at all, because I think very highly of him, and if he wants to get out and have all the mud and rotten eggs and rotten tomatoes thrown at him, that is his business, and I won't stand in his way.

Q. Well, Mr. President, the General' statement the other day said that he would not ask to be relieved, so that leaves initiative with you, does it not?

THE PRESIDENT. Unless he is nominated in which case he will have to be relieved.

Q. Well, Mr. President, would you consider that if you were a Democratic candidate and he were a Republican candidate you would be standing in his way?

THE PRESIDENT. Not the slightest. I always hoped he would turn out to be a Democrat.

Q. Mr. President, as of the moment, does it appear that General Eisenhower would stay in Europe at least until July ?

THE PRESIDENT. He will stay there, I am sure, as long as it is absolutely necessary him to stay. That may be July.

Q. What I meant by that, sir, was, do you anticipate that there is a possibility of the situation being so that you could make the change in commanders between now and July?

THE PRESIDENT. I shall not ever relieve General Eisenhower except at his request.

Q. Well, he said he would not ask to be relieved, and I was trying to get your timing as to July--

THE PRESIDENT. I am saying to you that I will not relieve him except at his request.

What's on your mind, May? 11

11 Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Mrs. Craig: That brings it down to the nomination of the candidate, because he said he would not ask to be relieved.

THE PRESIDENT. All right, you had better consult him. I have told you what I am going to do.

Q. You said a moment ago, didn't you, that if he were nominated he would have to ask to be relieved, is that correct?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course he would. Can't run for President and be the commanding general in Europe.

Q. Mr. President, if I may assume to clarify Mr. Lawrence's 12 question, I take it that lie wants to know whether you think that the situation in Europe will be easier by next July than it is now so he could be spared ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question because I don't know. I hope it will be.

12 William H. Lawrence of the New York Times.

Q. Did you know last August that General Eisenhower was not a Democrat and would run preferably as a Republican ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have been told that--I had been told, at that time, that he was a Democrat.

Q. That he was a Democrat?


Q. Until now?

THE PRESIDENT. I was told by a brother of a former Governor of Kansas that in 1918 General Eisenhower was one of the precinct workers for George Hodges when he ran for Governor on the Democratic ticket in Kansas, and was elected. That is all the information I had at that time.

Q. Who was that, sir, the Governor of Kansas?

THE PRESIDENT. George Hodges.

Q. Hodges?

THE PRESIDENT. H-o-d-g-e-s.

Q. Mr. President, what do you think of Senator Paul Douglas's proposal that both parties nominate General Eisenhower?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have always been against a one-party system. I think that is the road to communism.

Q. Mr. President, when did you find out he was a Republican, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. When his announcement--

Q. I mean, previously in a press conference you said that you thought that he was a Republican.

THE PRESIDENT. I came to that conclusion after a!] the conversation that had gone on, and I was assured of it in the statement that he made.

Q. Yes, sir. This was some weeks ago?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I tell you, I was thinking about the situation. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, a moment ago I understood you to say that he would stay on at least until July, is that correct?

THE PRESIDENT. He will stay on as long as I can keep him there, because I want him to stay. I like him. And he is doing a good job.

Q. Mr. President, what is your general thinking on the question of a professional military man in the Presidency?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I might refer you to a historical document in the American Dictionary of Biography. In 1852 a General ran for President. Read that. His name was Winfield Scott. That will give you the answer.

Q. Could you sort of give us a clue, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. You are going to have to do your own reading. [Laughter] I am not going to quote history to you. I will teach you some history. Read! Just read the biography of General Scott. And you might read also the biography of the fellow that beat him. His name was Franklin Pierce, who was a brigadier general in Scott's army. And it is most interesting. Read them both, it will do you good.

Q. Mr. president, do you mean that if the next President cannot be a Democrat you think that Eisenhower would make the best President for the country among the Republicans?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that--I didn't say that. I don't think the country would be good under any Republican. [Laughter]

Q. That is not what I asked, sir.

Q. Mr. president, are you comparing Eisenhower with Winfield Scott?

THE PRESIDENT. Read the biography and then see what you think.

Q. I have read something about it.

THE PRESIDENT- Well, read it. You haven't read it all. You had better read Franklin Pierce's, too.

Q. Mr. President, how could you run against a fellow you liked so well?

THE PRESIDENT. Easily. I have done it before.

Q. Do you intend to, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. That I will answer at a later date.

Q. Mr. President, you said you would answer that before the Republican Convention.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. Your decision--will Mrs. Truman be happy with your decision?

THE PRESIDENT. You ask her. I don't speak for her. I call her "the boss." [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, when are you going to get back on your train?

THE PRESIDENT- Well, whenever the Democratic Convention is over, I shall go out and try to elect a Democratic candidate-whoever he may be. [Laughter]

Q. Do you anticipate it before the convention?


[11.] Q. Mr. President, to go back to this commission for just a minute, did Justice-Judge Murphy's declination change the manner--was it because he turned it down that you abandoned the commission idea? 13

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I came to the conclusion, after much thought, that it is the business of the Office of the Attorney General to do the job.

13 See Item 2 [20].

Q. Mr. President, I have one question on that. David Lawrence's column said today that you had offered the Attorney General's office to Justin Miller? 14

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

14 President of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Q. Mr. President, did you get a declination of that from Judge Murphy in writing?


Q. Could you make that letter public, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I shall not.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, after all this beating around the bush--[Laughter]--if somebody asked you right out will you run again, would you answer?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I will not. You wouldn't have anything to talk about at the next press conference if I answered that.

[13] Q. Mr. President, you said you didn't think the country would do well under a Republican. Do you think that the country, however, would be in good hands under General Eisenhower?

THE PRESIDENT. I said under a Republican. I stick to that.

Q. Well, Mr. President, do you think that the General has enough Democratic information so that it wouldn't make too much difference?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that because I haven't talked to him about it.

[14.] Q. We have a report from Paris this morning that General de Lattre de Tassigny the French High Commissioner in Indochina, is dying. 15 I wonder if you had any--

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard that, and I am extremely sorry to hear that that is true, because he is a great man and has done a wonderful job in Indochina.

15 Gen. Jean de Lattre de Tassigny died in Paris on January 11, 1952.

Merriman Smith: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and eighty-ninth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, January 10, 1952.

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/231575

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