Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

June 19, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have no particular announcements to make, but I will try to answer questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you would give us your reaction to the Senate action on your reorganization plans yesterday? 1

THE PRESIDENT. The reorganization plans were right and should have been passed-should have been allowed to stand, let's put it that way.

1 Reorganization Plans 2, 3, and 4 of 1952 were disapproved by the Senate on June 18. See Items 84-87.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you think any Democratic President can reduce taxes 15 percent?

THE PRESIDENT. No, sir, I do not. If they could have been reduced that much, I would have reduced them. The facts in the case are they ought to be increased to meet the deficit. And I am not running for office. [Laughter]

Q. What?

THE PRESIDENT. I'm not running for office, I can tell you the facts.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, you said you want the Democratic Party to have an open convention-choice--

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q.--would you consider that your making your personal preference known before Chicago would in any way limit its action?

THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't think so. As a delegate to the Chicago convention I have a right to a preference.

Q. Do you intend--

THE PRESIDENT. I do not intend to express anything about it until the convention meets, and probably not until the President is nominated.

That's my business, however, and I will do as I please on it.

[4.] Q. Can you tell us anything, Mr. President, regarding Mr. Letourneau's 2 visit here on Indochina?

THE PRESIDENT. Say that again?

2 Jean Letourneau, Minister of the Associated States in the french Government.

Q. Can you tell us anything regarding Mr. Letourneau's visit here on the Indochinese problem ?

THE PRESIDENT. He came in and paid his respects to the President of the United States, and we discussed Indochina and the situation, and that's all there was to it. I have no comment to make on it.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you agree with Mr. Harriman that this District primary vote is a clear-cut victory for the New Dealfair Deal? 3

THE PRESIDENT. Couldn't be anything else. [Laughter]

3 On June 18, Averell Harriman defeated Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee in the District of Columbia primary in the contest for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, to clarify a previous answer, you have said you don't think any Democratic President could cut taxes 15 percent. Do you think any Republican President could?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not, unless he wants to put the country further in the hole than it is.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, this is in reference to the Senate action on recommitting the St. Lawrence Seaway bill yesterday. During the debate, the administration Senators seemed to imply that a decision had been made to let New York State go ahead and develop the power with the Province of Ontario. In your letter to Senator Russell, which was released yesterday, 4 you said that no doubt some future administration will allow New York and Quebec--I presume you meant Ontario--

THE PRESIDENT. That is a mistake on my part. I dictated that letter and I said Quebec. It should have been Ontario. That matter about which you speak is a matter for the Federal Power Commission to pass on, and the matter doesn't come to me until the Power Commission acts on it.

4 The text of the President's letter, dated June 17, follows:

Dear Dick:

I am sending you this memorandum hoping that you can do something to help the St. Lawrence seaway.

It will be one of the worst economic mistakes the country has ever made to allow that great project to go by default. If Canada constructs the waterway then no doubt some future administration will allow New York and Quebec to obtain all of the power. This is one of the worst things that could happen in the northeast section of the country.

I have had in mind a northeast power pool, a southeast power pool, which is almost completed, a southwest power pool and, of course, we have a great one in the northwest and one developing in the middle of the country, so that eventually we will have a power network that will give the country a balanced program fair to every section.

How any midwest or lake bordering State or New England could not see the necessity for this wonderful project is more than I can understand. If Canada builds the waterway, and they expect to build it, we will pay a toil on every ton of steel that comes from the iron deposits in Labrador. It has become necessary for us to import nearly all our iron from Labrador, Liberia, and Venezuela. This waterway would prevent our steel mills in the midwest from moving to the east coast. That situation happened to the textile mills of New England and I don't want to see it happen in the case of the midwest steel mills. Of course, the southern steel mills will be taken care of by the Venezuela ore deposits and are not in any danger from lack of future ores.

I hope you will consider this situation carefully. I think the best showing possible was made before the committee when the project was being considered.

Sincerely yours,


[Hon. Richard B. Russell, United States Senate, Washington, D.C.]

Q. Mr. President, do you feel that in view of this action--will you just lend your support now and tell Canada to go ahead and build the seaway ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have made that statement to the Prime Minister of Canada when he came to see me on the subject. Of course we will support him in building the seaway.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, have you tutored Averell Harriman in practical politics at all?

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon?

Q. Have you tutored Averell Harriman in practical politics?

THE PRESIDENT. I rather think he needs no tutoring. [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, several times recently, beginning with your warning of the prospect of new "Koreas," and then the increase in our antiaircraft precautions in this country, and then yesterday one of your callers said you thought the international situation was very serious, I wonder if this reflects any new note of urgency in the international situation?

THE PRESIDENT. The note of urgency has been on all the time. That's the reason we call this an emergency. We are going through a situation in an endeavor to prevent a third world war--all-out, worldwide--and every effort that we have made has been to prevent that from taking place. We have made great progress in preventing it, and we can't let down now.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, did you read the report of the Senate subcommittee--Lyndon Johnson's report on aircraft? 5

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I read it.

5 The findings of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, based on the results of investigations by the Preparedness Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are printed in the Congressional Record (vol. 98, P. 8609).

Q. What were your reactions to it?

THE PRESIDENT. My reaction was that the action of the President of the United States was the correct one. I have no further comment to make on it.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, does the Army's decision on allowing General MacArthur to keynote the Republican Convention 6 meet with your approval ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Army is in charge. [Laughter]

6 See Item 166 [17].

Q. Do you approve it?

THE PRESIDENT. The Army is in charge. [More laughter]

[12.] Q. Well, if nobody else will ask about the Taft-Hartley, I will.

THE PRESIDENT. What is it you want to ask, May? 7

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

Q. I wanted to ask if you knew that Senator Wayne Morse thinks now that you should use Taft-Hartley, and whether your own opinion on it is that you should or will use it soon?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter is under consideration, May. No decision has been reached.

Q. Are you waiting for House action today?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily. The matter has been under consideration right along without reference to what the House or Senate does, because they can't tell me what to do. Taft-Hartley is a permissive piece of legislation to be used in peacetime.

Q. Excuse me, sir, the reason I brought up Wayne Morse was that I knew he had come to see you last week, and I thought perhaps you had also discussed that.

THE PRESIDENT. We discussed everything that is before the Government today, including that.

Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can tell us on how serious the effects of the steel strike are becoming?

THE PRESIDENT. It is becoming very serious. If you will read the morning papers, you will find that the ford Motor Company has cut down, and Chrysler expects to cut down. It will affect every industry in the United States if it continues. If that is not an emergency I never heard of one.

Q. Mr. President, is it starting to affect defense production seriously ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, of course it is.

Q. I couldn't hear what you said about every industry in the United States--

THE PRESIDENT. Every industry in the United States will be affected by the steel strike if it continues. It is a fundamental basic metal that is absolutely necessary to carry on our economy. I tried to make that perfectly plain time and again. Maybe I didn't.

Q. Did I understand you to say that you wouldn't be governed by the House or Senate action on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they can't tell the Executive what to do. They pass laws, and if I approve them I try to carry them out. I didn't approve that one, by the way.

Q. Mr. President, is there a possibility that you may ask the union representatives and the companies to come to the White House again? 8

THE PRESIDENT. I have not had it under consideration at the present time. They are endeavoring now to get the defense production into operation. They have been holding conference after conference on that subject. I hope they will succeed.

8 For information on the previous meeting with industry and labor leaders, see Items 116, 118.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, you commented that Averell Harriman's victory was obviously a victory for an all-out fair Deal-New Deal campaign in the district. Do you feel that any of the other announced Democratic candidates are campaigning on as much a fair Deal-New Deal program?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't speak for any candidate. I can speak only for myself.

Q. No sir--I meant, as you look at them as an observer, do you regard their campaigns as also New Deal--

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

[14.] Q. Mr. President, after all those speeches he has made, do you still think General Eisenhower is a nice guy ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, of course I do.

Q. You haven't changed--

THE PRESIDENT. I am very fond of General Eisenhower, and he is entitled to his political views. It's all right with me. This is a free country. But I still like him as well as I ever did.

Q. Do you wish him luck?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't say that--[laughter]--he is not running in the Democratic campaign.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, did your Howard University speech 9 reflect your views as to what you think the civil rights plank in the Democratic platform should be ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and if you will read the message of 1948, 10 you will find just exactly what it ought to be. There hasn't been any change on my part.

9 See Item 169.

10 For the President's special message to Congress on civil rights, dated February 2, 1948, see 1948 volume, this series, Item 20.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, do you regard the Taft-Hartley Act as purely a permissive one which is within your discretion to use or not?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. And you don't think any action by Congress one way or the other can force you to use that--


Q.--if you don't want to?

THE PRESIDENT. --I do not. I am pretty hard to force when I don't want to do anything, and I am pretty hard to hold back when I do want to do it.

Q. Mr. President, could I ask this, because I mean it--[laughter]--really, sir, I want to know--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will be glad [Laughter]

Q. If steel production--


Q. If steel production is so absolutely essential, why do you not take the 80 days the Taft-Hartley would give you, while Congress thinks about legislation and you think whatever else could be done ?

THE PRESIDENT. We used 99 days in the same manner, and Congress was thinking of the situation and had been fully informed on it time after time. The 80 days would just prolong the agony--wouldn't help matters one bit.

Q. You would get production for 80 days.

THE PRESIDENT. How do you know that? You don't know that.

Q. Are you implying that they might not obey an injunction?


Q. Would they obey seizure then, if they won't obey the other ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes, they would. They did.

Q. Mr. President, is there any law still available to you that would permit seizure of the steel plants to permit production to go on?

THE PRESIDENT. My attitude on that is just the same, but the court ruled otherwise, and I agreed to abide by the court ruling, which I am doing.

Q. Mr. President, do you find any inconsistency in General Eisenhower's support of the Taft-Hartley Act and his statement that he would like to sit down with Walter Reuther and discuss labor matters, because he liked the ideas of Reuther that he had read ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, that is a political matter between General Eisenhower and the labor people, and I have no idea of interfering with what the General wants to do. He is--as I told you time and again--he is a free agent and a friend of mine.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report circulating--I will have to say it is just a report; we have not been able to verify this--that there is a gentleman in Texas by the name of Mr. Maury Maverick--whom l believe you know, sir--and he has been reportedly telling friends that he has a letter from you saying that his delegation--the loyalist delegation--will be seated in Chicago, and not the delegation headed by Governor Shivers ?

THE PRESIDENT. That's a rumor, I understand you to say. I saw you promoted Maury to a general. He was a Congressman and never was a general.

Q. Did I say general?

THE PRESIDENT. Maury Maverick.

Q. A gentleman, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I thought you said general--so many generals flying back and forth here. [Laughter]

Q. And did you say it was--

THE PRESIDENT. You said it for what it was--a rumor.

Q. That is correct, sir. You didn't say--

THE PRESIDENT. I said it was a rumor.

Q. But you did not

THE PRESIDENT. That's what you said. [Laughter] You said it was a rumor, and I have no further comment to make on it.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. It's all right.

Note: President Truman's three hundred and ninth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 19, 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/231018

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