Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 08, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. We can't start the conference until the picture boys get through, so just be a little patient.

[photographers continued working]

[1.] Q. We might as well say "Happy Birthday" to you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Tony. 1 [Applause from the press ]

1 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

It's too bad you boys in the front row can't turn around and get in the picture too. [Laughter]

It's a good thing we don't have a birthday at every press conference.

Q. Are those new glasses you are wearing, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. Every once in a while the astigmatic axis goes crazy and I have to have them made over, but the prescription is just the same. The frames are new.

Q. Did you get any presents ?

THE PRESIDENT. Did I!--by the bushel! Yes indeed--I'll spend the rest of the month writing longhand notes thanking people. All right now, we are ready to start.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if, since this is the day on which you declared the victory over Germany back in 1945 2 --I wonder if you have any thoughts today on the outlook for continued peace?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, since the German and the Japanese surrenders, our whole effort has been to attain a lasting world peace. That is what we have been working for constantly and continually.

2 See 1945 volume, this series, Items 26, 27.

When the cold war started in Greece and Turkey, and Berlin, and finally in Korea, we had to put forth every effort possible to prevent all the free world from coming under Communist control.

Up to date, we have been successful in preventing a third world war. Conditions at the present time are very grave. We have been faced with a steel, strike and an oil strike, and we are now faced with some difficulty in the copper industry. And the attitude of the Congress towards the defense program and the mutual aid program is such as to imply that the necessity for those things is at an end.

That, I think, is as good an indication of the situation as I can give you, because what has happened very recently is right down the alley of Mr. Stalin.

Could we maintain our industry on an even keel, could we continue the mutual defense program to its logical conclusion and finish the economic program that is necessary to finish that mutual defense program, there would be no third world war.

I am still hopeful that we can get all these things straightened out and carry our program to a conclusion, in which case we will have a lasting and universal peace.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, on the economic front, would you say that the chief danger now is inflation or deflation?

THE PRESIDENT. There is always the chance of both, and we have to guard against both, and that is the reason we have these powers to meet the situation. So far we have prevented either one.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, are you in a position yet to tell us how the Government happened to offer the steel industry $4 1/2 a ton just prior to--

THE PRESIDENT. The steel industry will not be discussed while it is before the Supreme Court. 3

3 On June 2 the Supreme Court ruled the seizure of the steel plants unconstitutional.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, last Friday the Chilean Government abrogated the agreement with the United States relating to copper, and I noticed that you mentioned copper in your original statement. I was wondering what your views are on that.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't express my views because it's a matter for negotiation between the President of Chile and myself, and I hope we will bring it to a successful conclusion.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, I just wondered what are the prospects for settling the oil controversy ?

THE PRESIDENT. We are working very hard to get it settled.

Q. Is there consideration by the administration to apply the antistrike injunction of the Taft-Hartley Act?

THE PRESIDENT. We have not yet considered it because we haven't come to that point yet. We still hope for a settlement.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, you mentioned the mutual security bill and the actions of Congress. In view of the fact that both House and Senate committees have cut a billion dollars off the bill, can you be more explicit as to the effect

THE PRESIDENT. I will be extremely explicit when the bill reaches me. 4 I can't comment on it now.

4 On June 20, 1952, the President approved the Mutual Security Act of 1952 (66 Stat. 141).

Q. Mr. President, referring to your first statement regarding the attitude of Congress toward the mutual security program, and so on, do you intend to insist that the platform of the Democratic Party contain adequate provisions to carry those out?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I can't write the Democratic platform, but I think it will be a good one when it comes out. If you will remember a certain speech on the 29th of March, 5 I think the platform will be founded on that speech.

5 See Item 69.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, are there any new developments on the appointment of the Defense Mobilizer?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will let you know just as soon as I am ready to make the appointment. 6

6 Henry H. Fowler was sworn in as Director, Office of Defense Mobilization on September 8, 1952. See also Item 246.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, on your 68th birthday, do you have any reflections on life in the Presidency ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have this reflection to make, that I have had a most happy and I guess as full a life as any man of this age. And I have tried my best, in my public career, to give the people everything I had to give. And I am as happy as a man can possibly be on his 68th birthday. And as I told you yesterday, I feel as if I were 28, and that's not bragging a bit, because I expect to put in 10 years doing as I please.

For the last 30 years I have been in elective public office, and I have been a servant of the people. Therefore, I had to adjust some of the things that I would like to do to the necessities of government. From now on, I won't have to do that. 7 Q. Following that up, sir, one day we were discussing the possibility of a meeting with Stalin, and you said that after you left the White House that you would like to travel, and that you would like to go to Russia to see what the place looked like. I wonder if you had any plans like that ?

THE PRESIDENT. It will depend. A situation of that sort will depend altogether on the policy that will be pursued by the President who follows me. I shall support the President in his foreign policy, as every citizen of the country should do, and I will not do anything to embarrass him.

7 Later that day, the White House released the text of the preceding paragraphs on the President's public life as material authorized for direct quotation.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, a question on political philosophy on a local level. What do you think of the prospects of the two major parties combining on a single local candidate, in order to defeat a third party candidate arising, and do you think that there is danger there of one of the major parties losing its identity?

THE PRESIDENT. I am for a two-party system, and I will do everything I possibly can to make the two-party system work, and keep it strong; and that is the only way that our Government can successfully work under the Constitution.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, did Congressman Beckworth of Texas in effect discuss with you his race for the Senate in Texas?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he did not. There wasn't any reason why he should.

Q. Well, maybe that answers my next question. There is a report going around that you have promised him a 7-year appointment on the Interstate Commerce Commission ?

THE PRESIDENT. I make no promises of appointments in a political campaign. I have never done it, and I don't expect to start now--between now and the 20th of January--you don't overturn that rule.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, I will tell you one thing that has us a little confused. The mayor out in Tombstone, Arizona--[laughter]--I don't know whether you have seen the stories about lack Williams 8 --

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes, I have a picture. I have a picture of Jack's marker.

8 Mayor Wally C. Foster of Tombstone, Ariz., had denied that a grave marker such as the one the President described for Jack Williams (see Item 98 [2]) had ever been erected in Boothill Cemetery prior to the President's first mention of the marker "about four years ago."

Q. The mayor says no such person is buried out there, as I remember it.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the committee went out and looked it up and found his grave, and the marker was somewhat disintegrated and they made a new one for him. It's there. I have a picture of it.

It's always good publicity, you know, to charge the President with not being truthful. Maybe the mayor wanted a headline. [Laughter]

Q. Could you tell us what kind of committee-you say a committee went out--

THE PRESIDENT. Of citizens of the city of Tombstone.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, one last question on that copper thing. Have you been in contact with the President of Chile on this matter?

THE PRESIDENT. Not up to date.

Q. Do you intend to see his Ambassador--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't talk about it.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, this 10-years-after period, are you going to write, or speak, or lecture or.

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to have a good time, Pete, 9 and do just as I damn please! [Laughter]

9 Raymond P. Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Q. Can we quote that, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No. [Laughter]

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any plans to make a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee? We understand--

THE PRESIDENT. I have been invited to make a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee. 10 I have not accepted as yet.

10 See Item 241.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, may I ask a frivolous question, and I intend it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

Q. Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, said in an interview today that no American politician could hold office if the facts of his private life were known; and also he said that the United States was becoming a matriarchy, and he suggested that the men here adopt a "down with women" slogan. Any comment, sir? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there's only one part of that that I would like to answer, that there is no American public official can hold office unless his private life is out on the clothesline for everybody to see.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, would you comment on this reported attempt by Senator Mcfarland and others to get a compromise over the FEPC question?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it. I have stated my position on FEPC and it hasn't changed one bit. I am for the Democratic platform, and for the Republican platform on the same question. [Laughter]

[18.] Q. Mr. President, did the Federal Reserve Board consult you about removing the installment credit?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they did.

Q. They did?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they did.

Q. Now they have taken off Regulation W, what about Regulation X? 11

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't discussed that with them at all. Regulation W was the only one that was discussed. And the situation is one that should be flexible to meet the situation as it comes up. I was asked about inflation and deflation over here a while ago, and the action of the Federal Reserve Board is right in line with the way it should be done. Now I hope that won't encourage Congress to take the power of the Board to act away.

11 Regulation W, for the control of consumer credit, was originally issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 1941 (32A CFR, 1951 revision, Chapter XV), and became inoperative after June 30, 1949. It was reactivated by the Defense Production Act of 1950 as amended, and was suspended on May 7, 1952.

Regulation X, for the control of real estate credit, was issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System under the authority of the Defense Production Act of 1950 as amended (32A CFR, 1951 revision, Chapter XV), and was suspended on September 16, 1952.

Q. You want that continuing power?

THE PRESIDENT. I want that continuing power to meet the situation as it comes along.

Q. Now there has been a charge that the administration and the Federal Reserve Board are playing politics with economics, by keeping up the.

THE PRESIDENT. Not a word of truth in it. There's not a word of truth in it. A complete survey of the situation was made, and the decision of the Board was made on its merits.

Q. That was the Federal Reserve?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course. They always charge wrongdoing for whatever you do, when it's in the public interest.

Q. The charge was made--

THE PRESIDENT. That's the charge. It's just a charge to discredit the fact that we are trying to keep the economy on an even keel. And we have done it. It hurts some people, but it's the right thing to do.

Q. Can you make any--not a forecast but a--take a view of what is going to happen during next year? Will it be kept on an even keel?

THE PRESIDENT. If the proper legislation passes, it will be.

Q. And one of those things is a continuance of the Defense Production Act?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

[19.] Q. I would like to ask a political question.

THE PRESIDENT. All right. I was waiting for a political question. I like to answer them. [Laughter]

Q. You have said that you are in favor of a free and open convention in Chicago. You have also said that you have the same right as any other Democrat to express a choice. I just wonder if there is any conflict there, or whether it is possible that you may come out for somebody ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no such intention at the present time, but the President, just because he is President of the United States, shouldn't be gagged when it comes to a choice of men running for office. And I have never been gagged. I have always expressed my opinion as to who I am for, and why I am for him. I am not ready to do that yet.

Q. Well, Mr. President, would you make your feelings known before the Democratic convention ?

THE PRESIDENT. Let's let the river take its course. I will make up my mind when the proper time comes. You know, I am a pretty good judge of political approaches, much to the regret of some people in 1948. [Laughter]

[20.] Q. Mr. President, have you anything to add to your statement on Korea 12 yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment on the Korean situation. My statement and General Ridgway's 13 covered the situation, and there shouldn't be talk about it in the press now.

12 See Item 121.

13 The statement issued by Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, United Nations Commander in Korea and Commander in Chief of the far East Command, is printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 26, p. 786).

[21.] Q. Mr. President, accepting your statement that you are a pretty good judge on political affairs, as they develop, would you be good enough to analyze the situation of the Democratic Party for us right now? We are a little confused. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think if I would analyze it you would quite understand it, so I will not make the attempt.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, on the question of your travel abroad after you retire, you said that you would not do anything to embarrass the next President. Could you say if you have the desire or wish to travel, provided it conforms with the President's wishes then, and, if so, where?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I wouldn't say it in that way. I would say, of course, that I do have a desire to cover some parts of the earth that I have never seen, but I would not want to do anything on that trip that would in any way embarrass the administration or the President who follows me in office, no matter who he is.

Q. Could you tell us where you would like to go ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't want to name any countries because you will just cause me trouble. They will be over here with delegations, and everything else, to get me there.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's three hundred and third news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, May 8, 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/230660

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