Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 07, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I have a couple of statements I would like to read to you. They are all mimeographed and ready for you outside. I am not going to read them but once.

[Reading] "I am very sorry to say that we have had a terrible drought situation in several States, and the Federal Government is going to do everything it can to help the farmers in those areas.

"At the request of Governor Wetherby of Kentucky, and Governor Browning of Tennessee, I have just this morning declared these two States disaster areas, and allocated $3 million of emergency funds to buy and distribute feed to save the basic dairy and beef herds in those areas. This money will be advanced by the Housing and Home finance Agency to the Department of Agriculture, and will be used to distribute hay and other feed to farmers on reasonable terms.

"Tennessee and Kentucky herds have been the hardest hit so far. As other States ask for help, they will get immediate consideration. The Department of Agriculture, under its own authority, has already recognized disaster conditions in 10 States, and is offering credit and other assistance.

"There was a time when such disasters were shrugged off as local misfortunes. We have come to understand in this country that the whole Nation loses in these circumstances, and we must all pitch in to do what we can to help."

That is the end of that statement.

[2.] [Reading] "Everybody is talking about the November election these days, but it seems to me they are putting the cart before the horse. The first order of business is registration. This is something that all Americans ought to think about right away.

"Americans are mighty proud of their democratic system of government, but when it comes to voting, many other countries put us to shame. In 1948, for instance, only 51 percent of the eligible voters in this country went to the polls. In the last general election in France, 75 percent of the eligibles voted; in Italy, 89 percent voted; in Canada, 75 percent; in Japan, 71 percent; in Israel, 72 percent; in Sweden, 80 percent; in England, 83 percent; and in the last election in Belgium, 90 percent of the voters went to the polls.

"I am informed that as of January of this year, more than 29 million adult Americans were not even registered to vote. I think we should all be disturbed by the fact that all during this century more and more citizens are staying away from the polls. In the election of 1900, for instance, more than 73 percent of our citizens voted. In 1880 more than 78 percent of the eligibles voted.

"The privilege of voting is one of the most treasured rights on earth, as those who live in totalitarian countries can testify, but we cannot have a big vote in this country without a big registration.

"Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, and other media can do much to enlist interest in this subject. So, too, can many nonpartisan organizations that exist in every community. A great decision will be made by the electorate on November 4 of this year, and I hope every American of voting age will participate in it."

That surely is of vital importance.

Q. Mr. President, what do you think is the reason for this low--

THE PRESIDENT. Laziness and indifference. They think "George" will do it. "It will be all right, anyway. You don't need me. I would rather go on a vacation, if I have the day off, than go and vote."

[3.] Q. Mr. President, there is a lot of speculation that Ellis Arnall has asked you to accept his resignation. Could you clarify that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on it.1

1On August 26 the White House released the text of Ellis Arnall's resignation as Director of the Office of Price Stabilization and the President's letter of acceptance.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, could you say whether.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on it.

Q. I wasn't going to ask about that.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make.

Q. You don't know what I was going to risk.

THE PRESIDENT. GO on and ask.

Q. Are you considering calling an extra session to consider the price control?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have it under consideration.

Q. If so, sir, at what time would that be likely--

THE PRESIDENT. I say I have it under consideration. We'll have to wait for further developments to see whether it's necessary or not. If it's necessary, I will call one.

[5.] Q. Mr. President--

THE PRESIDENT. What is it?

Q. I hate to ask this--

THE PRESIDENT. Go ahead. [Laughter]

Q. You took a good beating out in Missouri--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't. No, I didn't at all. The President has a right to vote for anybody he pleases in a primary, and if the other fellow wins, the President always supports the ticket. I am just as fond of Symington as I always was, but I was in the frame of mind to vote for the other fellow, which I did; and I have that right, the same as you have, or any other citizen. And that doesn't affect my standing in the State of Missouri one little bit.2

2 In the primary election held in Missouri on August 5, W. Stuart Symington won the Democratic nomination for Senator over J. E. "Buck" Taylor, the State Attorney General.

Q. No I didn't mean that.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, you did.

Q. No, sir--

THE PRESIDENT. That's what you are trying to do, make it appear that I have been discredited. [Laughter]

Q. No, sir, not at all.

THE PRESIDENT. All right. Your question is answered. [Laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, are you pleased with the action of the South Carolina Democratic convention.3--

THE PRESIDENT. I am always pleased when the Democrats vote as they should.

3The South Carolina State Democratic convention, which met in Columbia, S.C., voted, on August 6, to support the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Q. Are you pleased with Mr. Byrnes's speech,4 saying he would vote--

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't read it.

4Governor James f. Byrnes' address opening the South Carolina convention.

Q.--for Stevenson--

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't read it.

Q.--that he would vote for Stevenson and Sparkman ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am glad he has been converted. [Laughter]

[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you talked to Averell Harriman at all about the New York Senate race ?

'THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

Q. Would you like to see him as the candidate against Mr. Ives? 5

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, that is a matter for Mr. Harriman himself to decide. I don't select candidates outside the State of Missouri, anyway. [Laughter]

5 Irving M. Ives, incumbent Republican Senator from New York seeking reelection.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, is the price situation the only thing which is causing you to give consideration to an extra session ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. That is the only

THE PRESIDENT. That is the only thing now that is causing me to consider that situation.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you could clear up a little point in history for me.

THE PRESIDENT. Try my best.

Q. I was in Chicago when you were here considering who to support for the presidential nomination. We got several different reports. The first one was that you had decided to back Vice President Barkley, and another was that you decided to back Harriman. Would you clear up that whole area in there ?

THE PRESIDENT. Why, it's easily enough cleared up. The Vice President went from here expecting to be a candidate for President. Had he been a candidate and stayed a candidate, I would have supported him. However, I think we nominated a man who can be elected--the best man we could possibly pick. And that is no reflection on any of the other candidates.

Q. Have you ever, sir, considered supporting Harriman ?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Q. You never said you would support Mr. Harriman, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Mr. Harriman asked me if it would be all right for him to get the New York delegation for himself, and I said certainly, it would be all right with me for him to do whatever he pleased.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, this week you saw the musical show "Porgy and Bess." I wonder if you would say whether you enjoyed it, and whether you think the Europeans might enjoy it?

THE PRESIDENT. I enjoyed it very much, and I know that the Europeans will enjoy it. It is an excellent show. And I would advise all of you to go see it, because you can get in on passes, I think. I can't. I have to pay my way. [Laughter]

[11.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Sparkman 6 has written a letter to you, urging you to release a portion of the Trade Commission's report on the international oil cartel. Do you plan to do so as a result of that

THE PRESIDENT. It is under consideration, and has been all the time.7

6 Senator John Sparkman of Alabama, Democratic candidate for Vice President.

7 On August 18 the President released the report, "The International Petroleum Cartel" (Government Printing Office, 1952, 378 pp.).

[12.] Q. Mr. President, do you know whether there is any precedent for the invitation you have extended to Governor Stevenson to come here on Tuesday, whether any other President in office has asked the nominee of the party to sit in on Cabinet

THE PRESIDENT. Whenever the President is to be succeeded by the nominee of his own party, he always does that. But Governor Stevenson and I had a session in Chicago, and he suggested that it would be a very fine thing for the party if we could discuss the situation. Therefore, I asked him if he wouldn't come to Washington, and he was very glad to come.

Q. Discuss what situation ?

THE PRESIDENT. The program for the election of the Democratic ticket. There has to be a program.

Q. Mr. President, will you discuss your role in the campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Everything that is necessary to make the Democrats win will be discussed. Now, you can take the whole category from start to finish and you won't have to ask me any special questions. Everything will be discussed that is necessary.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, what has been your reaction to General Eisenhower's speeches since he has been home?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, what is your reaction to Governor Stevenson's remark about cloture, that he believes the Senate has the right to--

THE PRESIDENT. I am standing on the Democratic platform.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you think conservation will be an important issue in the campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly do. Reclamation and conservation, and all the farm program, will be most important in the campaign. It was in 1948, if I remember correctly.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's three hundred and eleventh news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 7, 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/231257

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