Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

October 18, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have no announcements, so you are free to ask questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, I suppose you have read that General MacArthur told the American Legion in Miami that his opposition had wrecked a secret plan to get Formosa to fall to the Chinese Reds, and give Red China a seat in the United Nations ?

THE PRESIDENT. Not based on fact. The General knew it.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Taft, not to be outdone in courtesy, said he would like to see you as the Democratic nominee in 1952. Will you oblige him? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that. I am not ready yet. I told you when the time came I would let you know exactly what I was going to do.

Q. Mr. President, do you think you could beat Taft if you ran against him ?

THE PRESIDENT, No, I can't answer that question, either, until I decide what I am going to do.

Q. Mr. President, I thought you said that you had decided before, that you had made up your mind--

THE PRESIDENT. I have made up my mind, but I am not going to tell you what I am going to do until I get ready.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask another question on the Taft thing ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Senator Taft also said that he thought that the three issues would be: progress within the principles of liberty instead of socialism, the honesty and integrity of government, and also the fatal mistakes of this administration in foreign policy, which built up Russia and led to the Korean war. I wonder if you think that those will be the issues in 1952?

THE PRESIDENT. I am against--I say I am against sin, too! [Laughter]

Q. The Senator also said that other candidates, he thought, should announce within a reasonable time. How far in advance would you go--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is the judgment of every candidate, and I wouldn't try to inform any other candidates when or how they ought to announce.

Q. Mr. President, in the event that you don't run, would you like to see Justice Vinson run?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when I make my announcement.

Q. Mr. President, you spoke of other candidates, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are always plenty of candidates. There will be no dearth of candidates. And of course, I am sorry to say, they don't understand what they are getting into or they wouldn't be candidates. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, since you do understand what you will be getting into, does that mean you won't--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I told you I would answer that question when--

[3.] Q. Mr. President, how would you feel about Governor Sid McMath of Arkansas as the successor to Mr. Boyle?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that situation, because I have not been able to consider successors to Mr. Boyle. You see, the national committee will not meet until October 31st, and we will have plenty of time to think about that. 1

1 William M. Boyle, Jr., chairman of the Democratic National Committee, informed the President of his wish to resign in a letter submitted to President Truman on October 9, 1951.

Q. But you are bound to have some favorites?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is what you think. I didn't say that. [Laughter]

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you looked up the letter of congratulations that Senator Taft sent you after 2--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I looked it up. Not only looked it up but I sent him a copy of it, at his request.

2See Item 251 [3].

Q. Could you tell us, sir, what it did say ?

THE PRESIDENT. I wish I had brought it over so I could read it to you. I thought he read it yesterday ?

Q. Senator Taft read it.

THE PRESIDENT. Senator Taft read it to you at the Press Club, and I hope he read my reply.

I told him that I appreciated it then, I appreciated it now, and I understood that he had thrown his hat in the ring and he was going to have a lot of fun from now on. [ Laughter ]

[5.] Q. Mr. President, a committee of the American Political Science Association has recommended midterm conventions. They want the 1952 party conventions to decide now to meet again in 1954. Does that strike you as something that would help keep public interest alive in politics between the 4-year elections ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have had it under consideration. Had a meeting and a discussion on it, and I think it has merit; but I haven't made up my mind on what the action ought to be.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, since the Midwest flood relief bill passed by the House and the Senate eliminated some provisions for directing grants-in-aid, don't you think there should be further provisions for that made to Congress in the next session?

THE PRESIDENT. I will attend to that in the Message on the State of the Union.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you made up your mind as to when you might make your announcement?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not, Bob,3 I will make it when it's politically expedient.

3 Robert G. Nixon of International News Service.

Q. Well--Mr. President, the other day--

THE PRESIDENT. I will be the sole judge.

Q.--on that, let me tell you something else. The other day two or three callers, union people, came out and they seemed to have gotten the idea that you might make your announcement sooner than, say, next spring or summer.

THE PRESIDENT. Well --

Q. Are they warm ?

THE PRESIDENT. --everybody's entitled to his own thoughts on the subject, but I will reserve the right to do as I please on the subject, Robert.

Q. They also said that they got the idea that you had one or two things that you wanted to get done before you made your announcement. Could you give us any hint as to what they are?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Q. Mr. President, that was the Bartenders' Union. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. It was ?

Q. Yes sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes. I remember when they were in.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, there has been considerable discussion down on Capitol Hill as to whether you have or might ask the CIO to call off opposition to your tax bill. Is that--have you done so, or will you do so?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't asked anybody to interfere with the tax bill. I asked for a $10 billion tax assessment. I am trying my best to get a tax bill that will meet the situation with which we are faced. I am not talking to anybody but Members of Congress about it.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, last week you said that--I mean, in former Secretary Forrestal's diary 4 he said that you had hinted to General Eisenhower that General Bradley be made Chief of Staff. Also in Forrestal's diary, he says that Mr. Wallace wanted to give the A-bomb to Russia. Is that your recollection ?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Wallace is speaking for himself before a Senate committee this morning. He will answer that, and he will tell the truth.

4"The Forrestal Diaries," edited by Waiter Millis with collaboration of E. S. Duffield, New York, Viking Press, 1951.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, will you acknowledge Mr. Boyle's letter of resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, when I get around to it. He didn't write me the letter of resignation.

Q. Well, the notice--

THE PRESIDENT. He didn't write me the letter of resignation, because he has to resign to the committee.

Q. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. And I have talked to Boyle three or four times since the letter came, and after the committee acts, I will probably write him a letter.

Q. After the committee acts ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to clear up one thing. Did you say that when you sent Mr. Taft over a copy of his letter you sent him a little note saying you noticed he had thrown his hat in the ring--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right, and I was sure he was going to have a lot of fun as a result. [Laughter]

[12.] Q. Mr. President, have you talked to John Sullivan5 since Boyle resigned?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

5 John L. Sullivan of New Hampshire, former Secretary of the Navy. Mr. Sullivan had been mentioned in the press as a possible successor to Mr. Boyle.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment to make on the Russian statement by Mr. Vishinsky, to the effect that Russian-American relations are at an all-time low?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the statement, and therefore I can't comment on it.

Q. Mr. President, he said in that--at least as we got it--that one of the reasons they were low was that you had said that agreements with Russia weren't worth the paper they were written on?

THE PRESIDENT. I stand by that.

[14.] Q. Do you intend to try to do anything about--the Rules Committee has bottled up and approved--the so-called Capehart amendment to the Controls Act, the amendment you called terrible, I believe.

THE PRESIDENT. I hope they will pass that amendment so that the controls bill can be operative.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, may I get something clear? Did you say that you would write to Mr. Boyle after the committee meets ?

THE PRESIDENT. After the committee acts on his resignation.

Q. Not before?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have talked to Boyle every day, nearly--on various things-not necessary for me to write him a letter.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, as Congress seems to be about coming to a close in the next few days, what about the whistle-stop tour? Have you made a decision on whether you are going out this year?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't make a whistle-stop tour until I make the announcement of what I am going to do.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, does this delay in sending the Japanese treaty to the Senate mean that you did not expect or want action at this session ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It wasn't ready to be sent. Whenever it is ready, why I will send it down. There is nothing behind the curtain on that at all.

[18.] Q. Sir, you said you can't make a whistle-stop tour until you make the announcement of what you are going to do. Is that the same announcement we have been talking about--

THE PRESIDENT. That is the same announcement.

Q, --with respect to next year?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right--

Q. Mr. President, we are--

THE PRESIDENT. --that's right.

Q.--we are talking about--[laughter]--Mr. President, did you--would you not go out on a whistle-stop campaign, even if you were going to support someone else's candidacy?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that in a negative way: I will not say that I would not. [Much laughter]

Q. Mr. President, I just want to get this clear. When you say announcement, you don't necessarily refer to an affirmative announcement ?

THE PRESIDENT. Or any other kind.

Q. Mr. President, this is semantic, but you said until you make an announcement

THE PRESIDENT. --there would be no decision on a whistle-stop tour, that is what I said.

Q. Suggesting that it would be in the affirmative ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I told Bob that I would not say I would not.

Q. Well, Mr. President, if we are going to get semantic, would you think of calling it something else besides whistle-stop?

THE PRESIDENT. That might be done.

Q. Mr. President, it is--is it this way? [Much laughter] Is it true that you have no plans for any transcontinental speaking tour until after you decide whether or not you will run in 1952?

THE PRESIDENT. The situation is this. Between now and the middle of January it is necessary for me to prepare three terrific messages, one on the State of the Union, one the Budget, and one the Economic Message. And that is going to take every minute of my time from now until I get them delivered. And after that is done, why we will be in a position to talk about other things.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, are you asking Mr. Boyle to stay or reconsider his resignation, provided the committee votes that way ?

THE PRESIDENT. I asked him to do that before he decided to resign. No matter what is being said about Mr. Boyle, it is his health that caused him to quit.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, have you picked a TVA Director yet?

THE PRESIDENT, No, I haven't. I will announce it whenever I do.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, are you concerned over the tax bill situation in Congress--

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I am concerned over it

Q. I know that--I mean--

THE PRESIDENT. --because that has a tremendous effect on the budget.

Q. Are you confident, sir, that they will pass the bill before adjournment?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not confident of anything that the Congress will do. I hope they will pass a tax bill.

Q. Thank you. [Pause]

Q. Smitty.6 Hey, Smitty!

6 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. Wait till I finish writing the answer.

THE PRESIDENT. Somebody might ask a question before you get through, Smitty. [Laughter]

[22.] Q. I will ask one, Mr. President. Are you going to withdraw the nomination of Frieda Hennock? 7

7 See Item 283.

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right, Smitty.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and eighty-third news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, October 18, 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/231072

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