Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

September 13, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I haven't any special announcements to make, but I will try to answer questions as best I can.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, Governor Dewey, out of courtesy to you, refused to tell us what he said to you. However, he did make this statement: Now that we have succeeded in launching the great program for the defense of Europe, our own defenses require that we develop a similar program in southeast Asia.

THE PRESIDENT. I had a very pleasant conversation with the Governor, and he came to make a report to me on his trip. We discussed everything that had to do with his trip. A most interesting meeting, and a very satisfactory one. 1

1 Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York conferred with the President at 12 noon on September 13, at which time they discussed the Governor's recent trip to the Far East.

Q. Was there any comment--

Q. Mr. President--

Q. --pardon me, sir--I wonder if you could comment on what he said ?

THE PRESIDENT. We of course have always endeavored to have a defense in the East, just as we have created a defense in the West. What was your question?

[2.] Q. Mr. President, several years ago, when Congress voted extra funds for the Air Force, you ordered $615 million impounded for the Air Force program, and held it down to 48 groups. Are you going to impound any of the $5 billion in extra finds which Congress hopes will be used to build up a 95-wing Air Force, and expand naval aviation ?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the bill yet. It hasn't reached my desk. I will let you know about it when it comes to me for operation.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what you talked about this morning with the President of the Philippines ? 2

THE PRESIDENT. Discussed the welfare of the Philippine Islands and the Philippine Republic. Had a very pleasant visit with the President. He brought me a beautiful ivory cane with a silver handle on it.

2President Elpidio Quirino. See Items 207, 208.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, what progress has been made in breaking off trade relations with Czechoslovakia ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer your question.

Q. Could you say whether any steps have been taken in that direction?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, could you throw any light on whether you fired Llewellyn Williams as the Secretary of Alaska--or did you fire him?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I fired him. You saw the message I sent to him, I suppose?

Q. No I didn't.

THE PRESIDENT. He was relieved of duty because he was incompetent.

Q. Because he was incompetent?


Q. Were there any political differences ?

THE PRESIDENT. None whatever. I think he's a Democrat.

Q. There are two kinds of Democrats-all kinds of Democrats.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, yes, but that had nothing whatever to do with it. He was just incompetent. We relieved him.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, the Air Force announced today something new, an Air Force squadron to use a pilotless plane to handle a new type of weapon. I was just wondering if that would be the type of weapon you referred to in San Francisco? 3

THE PRESIDENT. That is one of them.

3 The new weapon was the B-61 Matador. See Item 215.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, quite a few folks out your way are concerned that no action has been taken by any committee, or anything else, on this request for flood relief funds for Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Do you have any hopes that Congress will do anything?

THE PRESIDENT. I have been trying my best to get them to act. I don't know what they are going to do. We are putting all the pressure possible to get some action. I want action.

Q. Have you given any consideration to another message calling it to their attention ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, but I have had a conversation with the chairmen of the sponsors of the bill, and we will continue those conversations. 4

4 see Items 196, 269.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you want the Japanese treaty signed as soon as possible, or are you willing to let it go over until next session ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Japanese treaty has been signed, and as soon as it is ready--

Q. I mean ratified.

THE PRESIDENT. --to send up to the Congress, I shall send it to the Senate asking them for prompt action. It is up to the Senate to follow the procedure they set forth.

Q. You want prompt action ?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly do. That is the reason we signed the treaty? 5

5 See Item 216.

Q. There has been some thought that it might be better to let it go over until next session, that is why I sought your viewpoint on it.

THE PRESIDENT. When I send the treaty to the Senate, I shall ask for prompt action, and the Senate will take its own deliberate time, as it always does. Prompt action with the Senate is within a year, sometimes. [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, would you give us some lead as to whether we should anticipate the resignation of Secretary Acheson in the coming weeks or months?

THE PRESIDENT. You needn't anticipate it at all. That is the lead I will give you. As long as I am President of the United States, he is going to be Secretary of State. That may be a good while.

Q. What was that?

Q. Is that the answer to the question we have all been asking, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that is not the answer. [Laughter]

[10.] Q. Mr. President, is there a possibility that you may make the Cabinet slightly bipartisan before 1952?

THE PRESIDENT. The Cabinet is as bipartisan as it is likely to be.

[11.] What did you start to say, Smitty? 6

Q. I just wondered if we could quote that, "As long as I am President of the United States he is going to be Secretary of State"? May we quote that part?

THE PRESIDENT, You can quote it, as I have said it time and again.

6 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. How about the rest of it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think I wouldn't--no, I won't--I don't make any announcements here today.

Q. When you say "long while," you mean 4 or 5 years? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. You know, Tony 7 gets up here with that innocent face of his and asks me a shotgun question like that. You will have to do your own speculating, Tony. [More laughter]

Mr. Vaccaro. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I can't speculate.

7Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. Mr. President, could you relate "long while" as you did "prompt"?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you can say this for sure, that Dean Acheson is going to be Secretary of State until January 20, 1953, and until his successor is appointed and confirmed. You can be sure of that.[Pause]

What are you laughing at, Tony?

Q. I don't know what that last question means, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't want to tangle you up.

Q. Is there any significance to the fact when I said could we quote that--that it will be a long time--you said you did not want to make any announcement today? Is there any significance in that?

THE PRESIDENT. None whatever.

Q. You said we can quote "as long as I am President of the United States he is going to be Secretary of State," but not the part about that lasting a long while, is that correct?

THE PRESIDENT. That is right--that's right. Pause] Well, what's the matter with you? Q. I'll ask one.

Q. We're catching up.

Q. Was there anything cryptic about this "successor appointed and confirmed"?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that's just the rule.

Q. Is that a rule for Secretaries of State?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Of course you never leave the Office of Secretary of State vacant for any length of time unless they have to.

[12.] I want to call your attention to a fact that may interest some of you. You may want to engage my services. I understand that "The Budget in Brief" is the best seller of the Government Printing Office now.

Q. In that--pardon me, sir--in that connection, Mr. President, after you made your General Accounting Office speech,8 there was pretty violent reaction down on the Hill, and some Republicans, and at least one Democrat, characterized your speech as "nonsense." Do you have any comment ?

THE PRESIDENT. You know, a stuck hog always squeals. [Laughter] But I hope you will read "The Budget in Brief." You will have your answer.

8 See Item 221.

Q. What was that?

Q. I didn't hear that beginning.

THE PRESIDENT. You have to be raised on a farm to understand that!

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and seventy-eighth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, 1951.

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/230778

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