Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

October 25, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. I apologize for being late. I hardly ever am.

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

[1.] Q. Mr. President, may I ask one? I understand Senator Douglas has submitted to the Chicago Bar Association eight additional names for screening on those two judgeship vacancies.1 Have you had any contact with him or discussion on the new judges--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't, but the bar association doesn't make Presidential appointments.

1See Item 165 [8].

Q. I am aware of it, sir.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, have the accusations of the government of Governor Luis Munoz Marin of Puerto Rico as a dictatorship come to your attention, and if so--

THE PRESIDENT. I have heard nothing about it.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, referring to the Chicago judgeships, have you any names--can you say whether you will resubmit the names that you have submitted to the Senate--

THE PRESIDENT. They can't be resubmitted because they have been rejected. I have others under consideration.

Q. Can you tell us who they are, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No sir. I will let you know when the time comes.

Q. There are actually other lawyers you have in mind that are under consideration?

THE PRESIDENT. I have a great many names under consideration, yes.

Q. Will you make recess appointments of those, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't made up my mind yet.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, aboard the battleship Roosevelt October 17th, General Eisenhower in an interview referred to the fact that with sufficient strength in Europe any proposal made for general disarmament would be given added weight. Do you agree with General Eisenhower ?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question at a little later date.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, possibly looking forward to that date, the Herald-Tribune this morning came out for General Eisenhower, and among the people who commented favorably on this fact is Jake Arvey of Chicago.2 I wonder if you had any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Jake was of the same frame of mind in 1948, if I remember correctly. [Laughter]

2 Jacob M. Arvey of Chicago, chairman of the Cook County Central Committee of the Democratic Party.

Q. Mr. President, pushing that one step forward, do you suppose Jake will change his mind like he did in 1948?

THE PRESIDENT. I think--I think Jake's a Democrat.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any suggestions for the chairman of the Democratic National Committee?

THE PRESIDENT. I have plenty of suggestions, but--

Q. I said have you made--

THE PRESIDENT. No, because the committee will not meet until October 31st. I am not ready to make any suggestions. It may not be necessary for me to make them.

Q. Mr. President, in that connection, would you be willing to say what--whether you would favor a chairman coming from the South, or West, or from the outpost States ?

THE PRESIDENT. When I get ready to make the announcement on that, I will tell you about it.

Q. Mr. President, I was a little unclear on the--you said it may not be necessary for you to make any recommendations--

THE PRESIDENT. The committee may come up with somebody that I will approve.

Q. Oh, I see. [Laughter]

[7.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the unusual historical interest in this Clark nomination, would you care to give us any chronology of how you arrived at the decision, any more than 3 --

THE PRESIDENT. I have been studying the matter for a long time ever since Mr. Taylor resigned, and I find that nearly all the great nations are represented at the State of Vatican City, and I finally came to the conclusion that the cause of peace would be served by our having a representative at the Vatican City.

3On October 20 the White House released the following statement by Joseph H. Short, Secretary to the President:
The President has decided that it is in the national interest for the United States to maintain diplomatic representation at the Vatican.
He has therefore nominated Gen. Mark W. Clark to be Ambassador to the State of Vatican City.
During the war, the late President Roosevelt appointed Mr. Myron Taylor as the Personal Representative of the President to His Holiness the Pope.
During and after the war the Taylor mission performed an extremely useful service not only in the field of diplomacy but in the amelioration of human suffering. That service is set forth in official correspondence published from time to time.
The President feels that the purposes of diplomacy and humanitarianism will be served by this appointment.
It is well known that the Vatican is vigorously engaged in the struggle against communism. Direct diplomatic relations will assist in coordinating the effort to combat the Communist menace.
Thirty-seven other nations have for a great many years maintained at the Vatican diplomatic representatives.

Q. Mr. President, there has been some criticism of the fact that the appointment was put in at the very last day of the session. Would you be able to say--

THE PRESIDENT. The only reason why that was done was because I wasn't ready to put it in before.

Q. Mr. President, could you tell us why you chose to make it an Ambassador rather than a Personal Representative?

THE PRESIDENT. Because I wanted an Ambassador there. That is my choice.

Q. There are quite a few differences --

THE PRESIDENT. That is my choice.

Q.--which follow from an Ambassadorship, such as the concordat--

THE PRESIDENT. I say, that is my choice-nobody else's.

Q. Mr. President, you are quite a lifelong Baptist and familiar with the church, I was just wondering if--do you think this appointment in any way would conflict in time with our own doctrine of separation of church and state?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly would not.

Q. That is the principal criticism I have heard, that's the reason--

THE PRESIDENT. You hear all kinds of criticisms. I want to get it off--all off their chests, then we will argue it out.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, I believe this will be slightly noncontroversial. Would you approve, sir, of the creation of a national Rochambeau road commission to stake out the line of march of Rochambeau in the Revolution ?

THE PRESIDENT. What in the world is the interest of your paper in Rochambeau? I don't know anything about it. Haven't given it any thought or any study. Don't even know where he went! [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, on this Democratic chairman affair, I want to get it clear. Did you mean that you will not make any suggestions until after the committee had had a try at coming up with--

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that. I said the committee would not meet until October 31st, and I have the matter under consideration.

Q. But you said the committee might not come up--

THE PRESIDENT. That is possible. That is entirely possible.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, there seem to be a number of trial balloons being floated for India Edwards for chairman.4

THE PRESIDENT. India Edwards is perfectly capable of being chairman. She came over and told me, day before yesterday, that she did not want to be chairman.

4Mrs. India Edwards, vice chairman, Democratic National Committee and director of the Women's Division.

Q. Mr. President, has anyone else said they didn't want to be chairman? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No one else yet has had an opportunity.

Q. Mr. President, have you talked to John Sullivan 5 about the Democratic--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. A long time ago. I told him that if there might be a change, I would like to consider him. And he would not under any consideration want it.

5John L. Sullivan of New Hampshire, former Secretary of the Navy.

Q. Well, Mr. Chairman--[Laughter]-what do you mean by India's opportunity--

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. What do you mean by India Edwards' opportunity? Did she have an opportunity--

THE PRESIDENT. She came in and told me that she did not want to be chairman, and that a lot of people were pushing her for chairman, and she did not want the job. Does that make it clear?

Q. No sir. I understood you to say that no one else had had an opportunity to say they didn't want it?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct, except--

Q. I wonder what her opportunity was ?

THE PRESIDENT. --she came in for the purpose of telling me that, except the long time ago conversation I have referred to.

Q. Was that John L. Sullivan that he had asked about?


Q. Well, Mr. President, could you say--

THE PRESIDENT. I had forgotten that.

Q.--how long ago that might have been?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, when this conversation first started.

Q. Mr. President, there have also been some trial balloons on behalf of Mike DiSalle. 6 Any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I can name you about 30 on which there have been trial balloons. I have no comment to make on any of them.

6Michael V. DiSalle, Director of Price Stabilization, and former Governor of Ohio.

Q. We're just trying.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right. You are perfectly at liberty to try.

Q. Could you tell us anything about the talks with Paul Fitzpatrick 7 the other day? Was that just something--

THE PRESIDENT. He just came in to pay a personal call and to pay his respects.

7Paul Fitzpatrick, chairman of the New York Democratic State Committee.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, are you feeling hopeful, or is there any reason to feel hopeful about the progress of the Iranian talks now?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I am hopeful. They are making some progress.

Q. Is there anything further you could tell us about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you anything further.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, the other day a national committeeman from Wisconsin came in, and when he came out he said that you had expressed yourself in favor of the elimination of Mr. McCarthy from the Senate.

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

[13.] Q. I wondered, aside from that, whether you as a Democrat would feel that it would be a mistake for a Democrat to enter and vote in the Republican primary?

THE PRESIDENT. I would, surely. I am never in favor of that. I believe in a two-party system.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, would this Government be willing to mediate the Egyptian-British dispute--

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

[15.] Q. Mr. President, General Vandenberg said that--yesterday, I believe it was--that the pilots flying these MIG planes in Korea spoke Russian. Would you care to enlarge on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, was Frank McKinney of Indiana 8 one of those mentioned ?

THE PRESIDENT. He has been suggested. He is in the 30 I was telling you about.

8 Frank E. McKinney of Indianapolis became the chairman of the Democratic National Committee on October 31, 1951.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment directly upon the Herald-Tribune's espousal of General Eisenhower ?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no. That newspaper has a right to do whatever it pleases, just as every other newspaper has. And they certainly picked a fine man for their candidate.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, has the General Clark appointment stirred up more hullabaloo than you expected ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Not as much. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, your Foreign Relations chairman of the Senate said he is going to have to oppose him not on religious grounds, but because of Texas--he is opposed to the General because of the 36th Division disaster? 9

THE PRESIDENT. That is his privilege. I hope you saw Crockett's cartoon today. 10

9General Mark Clark was in command of the 36th Division which suffered heavy casualties in Italy in World War II.

10 The cartoon by Gib Crockett, which appeared in the Washington Evening Star on October 25, 1951, depicted Senator Tom Connally of Texas pondering a gift-wrapped package which was marked "Clark appointment, To Tom, From Harry, Do not open 'til after Christmas." Senator Connally was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which was considering the President's nomination of General Clark to be U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, I assume from what you said that Paul Fitzpatrick did not call on you to say he did not want to be chairman ?

THE PRESIDENT. It was not discussed.

Q. Is he on the list of 30 people, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that. I told you about McKinney, but I think Paul is, yes, but he did not discuss it with me. Great long list, I can't remember them all. I did remember McKinney because so many people brought him up.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, about Gen. Mark Clark. As a soldier also under command, how is it that he can elect to say, I don't want to take this job unless I can have it my way?

THE PRESIDENT. He didn't say that.

Q. I see.

THE PRESIDENT. He is having it my way. He never made any such statement as that at all. Mark Clark is a good soldier. What's the matter, May? 11

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

Mrs. Craig. Well, sir--excuse me, but I understood that Clark said that he would not give up his military position?

THE PRESIDENT. When I talked to General Clark about the matter, I told him he would not have to give up his military status.

Q. That was not his condition?

THE PRESIDENT. That was not his condition at all. He had nothing whatever to do with the situation. I would treat him exactly as I treat General Bradley and General Marshall and two or three others who have gone on missions for me

Q. Mr. President, to go back to another point. Do you--you said a moment ago that you thought it was fine that there was bound to be talk about this Clark appointment, and you thought it would be good to go ahead and get it off our chests--

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, Smitty,12 I think I have commented on that quite enough, and made it perfectly plain and dear. I don't care to say anything more about it.

12 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, I am still very much interested in that disarmament proposal. In your Wake Forest speech 13 you referred to a proposal of that type--

THE PRESIDENT. I told you that I would answer that at a later date. I appreciate your persistence, and it's all right. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, have we overlooked anything?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe you have.
Reporter: Thank you.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and eighty-fourth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, October 25, 1951.
13 See Item 256.

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/231187

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