Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

July 12, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] The Secretary of the Treasury called me just before I left the office over there, and said he wanted me to be sure to remind you that there is going to be a defense bond drive this fall. He announced it in Rochester, N.Y., and it will begin Labor Day, September 3d--there will be a national broadcast of the opening program, in which I will in all probability take part. 1

1 Item 213.

Defense is everybody's job, and buying defense bonds is a highly effective way to help do the job. Volunteering for work in the bond drive is another way of paying for the defense program. The Treasury will see that the time and the talent of every volunteer worker is put to use.

And I guess we will call on all of you to work on it.

Anybody that has any questions now, I will try to answer them.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you consider that the disclosure within the House Armed Services Committee that only 87 B-36's are ready to fight is a breach of security?

THE PRESIDENT. The information given to the Committee was confidential information, and I think it goes without saying that that sort of information is not for release. The Defense Department, I think, made a statement on the subject.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, I have a couple of questions. When the armistice becomes effective in Korea, will the fleet remain to protect Formosa ?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when the operation takes place.

[4.] Q. The other question is, can you tell us anything specific that is being done to help obtain the release of William Oatis ? 2

THE PRESIDENT. Everything that is possible is being done, just as was done in the case of Vogeler,3 and as has been done in the case of the Archbishop.4 And the same procedure is being followed. We are doing everything we can.

2 See Item 145 [7].

3 Robert A. Vogeler, an American citizen, was arrested in Hungary on November 18, 1949, and was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on charges of espionage and sabotage. He was released on April 28, 1951, after long negotiation between the U.S. and Hungarian Governments.

4 In June 1951, Archbishop Josef Grosz, successor to the imprisoned Cardinal Mindszenty as head of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary, was tried with eight other Hungarian citizens on charges of conspiracy and violation of currency regulations. Attempts were made at his trial to implicate employees of the American Legation at Budapest.

Q. You don't want to mention anything specific--


[5.] Q. Mr. President, have you done anything, or will you do anything soon, regarding the appointment of those three badly-needed Federal judges in Illinois? 5

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Whenever I get ready to make the appointments, I will let you know about it.

5 Item 132 [12].

[6.] Q. Mr. President, when you appointed General Eisenhower to the present job,6 was there any understanding between you as to a specific period of time this job would last?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there was not.

6 The President designated General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, on December 18, 1950 (see 1950 volume, this series, Items 308, 310).

[7.] Q. Could I ask one more question? Could you say approximately when you expect to announce, sir, your decision whether you will be in politics in 1952? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will give you plenty of notice on that. I will make that announcement in my own time. Did you have something?

[8.] Q. Yes. Mr. President, Harold Stassen made this statement about your appointment of Governor Youngdahl 7 for a local judgeship. He said it was a brazen attempt to grab the governorship of Minnesota in 1952 for Senator Hubert Humphrey or one of his henchmen. Any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

7Luther W. Youngdahl, Republican Governor of Minnesota, nominated by the President to become a Federal judge in the district court of the District of Columbia.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment to make on Mr. Harriman's mission?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Harriman is leaving tomorrow for Iran, and I hope that his mission will be successful. I am going to talk with him about it in the morning.8 He is with the Secretary of State now.

8 See Item 155.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, I understand that a labor leader has asked you to appoint a Negro to fill the vacancy created by Mr. Niles,9 and I wonder if you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I shall not do that. Mr. Niles in all probability will come back to his job--I hope.

9 David K. Niles resigned as Administrative Assistant to the President, effective May 31, 1951.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip are to visit Canada at the end of September. Would you invite them to the United States?


Q. You would?

THE PRESIDENT. Have done it.

Q. Have you received a reply, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Just done today. [Laughter]

[12.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to speculate politically on what you know of General Eisenhower--would you say he was a Democrat or a Republican?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, that would be pure speculation. I don't know. I never discussed the matter with him at all. The best way to find out about that is to ask the General himself. I am sure he would give you an answer. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, I have a question in that connection. You once told us that you took General Eisenhower at his word, and that you did not expect him to ever run for President?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no--I didn't put the word ever in there. I said I had taken him at his word when he told me in January of 1948 that he would not run in 1948 for President. That is as far as I went on that.

Q. Do you still have that view, Mr. President?

[13.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to your announcement of the defense bond drive, the present control legislation that Congress is working on does not seem to be indicated as much of a weapon against inflation, and I was wondering if the administration plans to do anything to safeguard the buyers of defense bonds against inflation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I can't answer questions about that controls bill until it gets to me. It is not legislation as yet. It is still being made up. When it comes to me, then I will answer your question.

Q. I was trying to direct my question more to the defense bonds--

THE PRESIDENT. I can answer your question when I see what sort of bill they give me. What was your question?

[14.] Q. Do you have any assurance about General Eisenhower beyond 1948?

THE PRESIDENT. I had no discussion with him on the subject at all.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you care to express any opinion at this time on the progress of the truce talks in Kaesong? 10

THE PRESIDENT. I wish you would ask that question again ?

10 On July 8 U.N. representatives met with Communist officers at Kaesong, on the 38th parallel, to arrange for discussions of a truce in Korea. The discussions began on July 10.

Q. Do you care to express any opinion at this time on the progress of the truce talks in Kaesong?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have no comment on that.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the cable from the American labor delegation at the Milan conference? 11

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't know about it. What did it say ?

11The 2d congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Q. I was under the impression that the cable had been sent by the delegation from the CIO and the Mine Workers and the A.F. of L., asking you to take immediate action on the Hungarian deportation--

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen it. No such cable has reached me.

Mr. Short.12 Mr. President, it was received and referred to Dr. Steelman.13

THE PRESIDENT. Joe says it was received and referred to Dr. Steelman. I haven't seen it. 14

12 Joseph Short, Secretary to the President.

13John R. Steelman, The Assistant to the President.

14For the President's statement on the mass deportations in Hungary, see Item 173.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, when are you going to reappoint that renegotiation board on defense contracts ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is a matter that is up to the Defense Department, and we have been discussing it; and as soon as it is necessary for such a board to be in operation, why it will be appointed.

Q. Thank you.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to say anything about the initialing today of the Pacific Security Pact ?

THE PRESIDENT. There was--the only thing that was done with the Pacific Security Pact--that was discussed by the Secretary of State and myself, and was approved by me for negotiation. We hope it will be signed in San Francisco at the same time the Japanese treaty is signed. 15

15 A draft tripartite security treaty was initialed by the United States, Australia, and New Zealand on July 12. The ANZUS Treaty was signed September 1, 1951, ratified by the President April 15, 1952, and entered into force April 29, 1952.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, will Mr. Harriman be authorized to discuss the Iranian oil crisis with the British as well as the Iranians?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Of course he will. You can't be a negotiator unless you can talk to both sides.

Q. Does that--

THE PRESIDENT. He is my Special Representative for the purpose of trying to get this thing settled, and I hope he is successful at it. He is very good at that business.

Q. Does that mean he will afterwards go to London?

THE PRESIDENT. It is possible. If that is necessary, he will, of course.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, this is my first conference. My impression of you is that you look a lot younger than I thought you would. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, sir--if you will--[laughter interrupting]--that' s a mighty good way for you to start out at a press conference! [More laughter]

Q. Could you tell me if you feel like you are in better physical condition now than you were when you first became President?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, I am in better physical condition than I have ever been in my life. I always have been in good physical condition. I don't know that there's any way to compare it. I am still young enough to make a good race--foot race, I mean. [Laughter]

Q. That wouldn't be an announcement, would it ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. I have taken you boys on walks with me on several occasions, and most of them came in with their tongues hanging out. I haven't been bothered with you since. [More laughter]

[21.] Q. Mr. President, although you don't want to talk about the controls bill, you have expressed yourself in the past as fearing that we would get an unworkable controls bill.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. If that bill that comes out of Congress is not as good as you would like to have it, would you feel that this was an instance of that letdown and relaxation which you have also warned against?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, that would require comment on a bill that is not yet--that has not yet been written, and I don't think it is well to comment on legislation when it is in the formative stage. If you will just be a little patient and wait until the bill gets to me, I will make all the comment on it necessary, on whether it is good or bad.

Q. Mr. President, a couple of weeks ago you made a comment to one of our great radio audiences, that you hoped that many of them would write in asking for--asking Congress to support your controls bill. The Post Office--and Congress--says they have not written in--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is--

Q.--the people have not written in. Do you plan to make another appeal?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think I have made all the appeals that it is necessary for me to make.

Q. You have gone as far as you--

THE PRESIDENT. I have done everything I know to do, to inform the people of the United States just what they are up against, and what they may be up against if there is no control.

Q. It's up to them from now on?

THE PRESIDENT. It is a matter that the Congress will have to work on, they will have to take the responsibility.

Mr. Short. You didn't ask any radio audience to write in to Congress, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Joe says I never asked any radio audience to write in to Congress. I don't remember that I had--although I might be mistaken. I don't think I ever asked anybody to write to his Congressman. I don't believe in that. I think that is propaganda. If a man is wholeheartedly inspired to write his Congressman on something in which he is interested, that's all right. I never did--when I was in the Senate, I never paid the slightest attention to propaganda messages, and I used to get them by the thousands.

Q. Mr. President, do you agree with Congressman Rabaut that this is a "horse-meat Congress"?16


16On July 9 Representative Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan, addressing the House, said, "This Eighty second Congress stands at the threshold of immortality. We have an opportunity that few Congresses have to insure our place in history. If we deny to the Government the authority to roll back prices and maintain firm economic controls, we are sure to be remembered. We will be remembered by the American people as 'the horse-meat Congress'--the Congress that put the old gray mare on the family dinner table" (Congressional Record, vol. 97, p.7810).

Q. A "horse-meat Congress"? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't answer that until I get the controls bill.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, the State Department published a version of the Japanese peace treaty today. Would you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think the treaty speaks for itself. I approved it. I approved that draft--I approved that draft that the State Department published.17

I hope the Japanese treaty can be promptly signed, I might say that.

17 The draft peace treaty and two declarations by Japan are printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 25, p. 132).

[23.] Q. Mr. President, if you do decide to make that race--other than the foot race--do you plan to make a swing down South? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I will have to answer that question when the announcement that goes with it is made, and I am not ready to make it yet.

Q. I see. You see, I am from the South.

Q. What was your answer, we didn't hear?

THE PRESIDENT. I said I would have to answer that question when the announcement is made that goes with it, and I wasn't ready to make that announcement yet.

Q. Mr. President, you said when the announcement is made, didn't you?

THE PRESIDENT. No--I said if. If is the word.

Q. Mr. President, I heard different.

THE PRESIDENT. You can use when if you want to, I don't care--doesn't make any difference. When I get ready to make the announcement, that is what it will amount to, anyway, one way or the other--if or when.

Q. Is that it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. That's all I have, unless somebody has another question he wants to put.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and seventieth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 12, 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/230354

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