Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

November 02, 1950

THE PRESIDENT [in response to applause1]. I'm not running for anything. That would have sounded mighty good in 1948.

[Laughter]

Thank you. I have got an announcement to make--two of them, in fact.

1On the preceding day two Puerto Rican nationalists had attempted to assassinate the President (see [4] below).

[1.] Mr. E. Roland Harriman will succeed General Marshall as president of the American Red Cross on December 1st, 1950.

General Marshall has served as head of the Red Cross since September 22, 1949, continuing as president after his appointment as Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Harriman, who is a brother of Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to me, is a partner in the New York banking firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman and Co., and chairman of the board of directors of the Union Pacific Railroad.

He has been active in the work of the Red Cross for several years. During the war he was area manager of the North Atlantic area and afterward became a member of the board of governors. He is now vice chairman of the Red Cross. Mr. Harriman served as chairman of the committee on reorganization in 1947.

And by the way, General Marshall did a whale of a job in implementing that reorganization plan presented for the Red Cross by the committee of which Mr. Harriman was chairman.

Now, I have copies of this for your use, after the conference is over.

[2.] I am announcing the appointment of the 24 members of the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation, established under authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950.

There will be a list of that, and there will be copies of that handed you as you go out. There are 24 of those members.

Now I will try to answer questions, if I can.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, when you went to Puerto Rico in 1948, you made a speech2 in which you said something like this: I have said to the Congress several times, and I repeat it here, that the people of Puerto Rico should have the right to determine for themselves Puerto Rico's political relationships to the continental United States. Are those your sentiments now, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. They have never changed. You see, the Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States, just the same as everybody else. They have freedom of movement all over the country. Anywhere they want to go they have got a right to go there, just the same as you have the right to go to California, or go to Puerto Rico yourself.

2 See 1948 volume, this series, Item 35.

The Congress approved the Constitution for the Territory of Puerto Rico at this last session, and the Puerto Ricans are going to vote on Saturday. They seem to be very happily satisfied. I gave them the first native Governor that Puerto Rico ever had, and then we got a bill through Congress authorizing the election of the Governor by the people of Puerto Rico.

Now they are about to adopt a Constitution which will virtually put them on a state hood basis, except they won't have two Senators and Representatives in the Congress.

My position on the treatment of Puerto Rico has been exactly the same ever since I have been President--ever since I have been in the Congress.

Q. One point there, Mr. President. I think you gave them several alternatives-statehood, freedom, or--

THE PRESIDENT. The present thing that they are trying to do--

Q.--independence?

THE PRESIDENT. --and I have decided to adopt this. That is their business, though. Whatever they want to do is all right with me.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, back in 1933 when President Roosevelt was shot at, a lot of reporters were caught off base on the train and didn't get to cover the story; and the President came back to the train, and he dictated to them his own account of the shooting. A lot of us weren't in front of Blair House yesterday3

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I'll tell you--I tell you what you had better do. Why don't you take all the papers, like the New York Times, and Herald-Tribune, and Washington Star, and the Washington Post, and even the sabotage sheet, the Times-Herald-[laughter]--and read the Daily News today. You'll find out everything you want to know on the subject.

3On November 1 Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, members of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, attempted to assassinate President Truman in front of the Blair House in Washington. Torresola was killed in the attempt, and Collazo was seriously wounded and captured.

Pvt. Leslie Coffelt, a White House guard, was shot and killed by the assailants. Two other White House guards, Pvt. Joseph Downs and Pvt. Donald T. Birdzell, were wounded in their efforts to protect the President.

See also Item 277.

Q. And the news services, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. And the news services, that's right. [More laughter] I am not going to have any--there's no story so far as I am concerned. I was never in danger. The thing I hate about it is the fact that these young men--one of them killed, and two of them badly wounded. It's all so unnecessary for a thing like that to happen.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, if we are through with yesterday, may I go back to last Friday?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure.

Q. The Los Angeles city council last Friday adopted a formal resolution asking you to direct Tighe Woods4 to decontrol rents in Los Angeles. That was sent to the White House last Monday. Have you considered that, or has it been--

THE PRESIDENT. I have considered it, and intend to take no action whatever on it.

4Housing Expediter.

Q. No action?

THE PRESIDENT. No action whatever on it. In fact, I have directed Tighe Woods to do nothing about it. The rents ought not to be decontrolled in Los Angeles, if you want to know what I think about it.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you wish to comment on the visit of Mr. Nelson Rockefeller in your office a day or two ago?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I asked him to become the director of the implementation of the point 4 program,5 and he said he would be most happy to do it. He has actually been putting point 4 in operation down in South America, and done a wonderful job down there.

5 See Items 289 and 294.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you under consideration an appointment for Paul Hadley as an assistant to the Attorney General?

THE PRESIDENT. Paul who?

Q. Paul Hadley.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so--I haven't heard of him. [Laughter]

[8.] Q. Mr. President, reverting to my question, does that mean that he is operating head, or head of the advisory committee, or is there any title--

THE PRESIDENT. The matter has not been completely set up yet. It hasn't any title, but he is going to be the--you might call him the managing director.

Q. Well, Mr. President, what will his position be in relationship to Ambassador Waynick,6 who is doing that work now?

THE PRESIDENT. We will work that out. I can't answer those questions in detail, but the thing will be worked out all right. There won't be any disagreement.

6 On November 25 the White House released the text of the President's letter to Capus M. Waynick upon his retirement as acting administrator of the point 4 program. Mr. Waynick returned to his post as United States Ambassador to Nicaragua.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, do you intend to take any action to reappoint Governor Stainback as Governor of Hawaii?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't taken any action on it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, will you call Congress back before the 27th of November?

THE PRESIDENT. I am considering the matter now, and discussing it with Members of the Congress itself, and I can't give you an answer on that until I have reached a decision on it. I have been discussing it with various Members of Congress all over the United States, and with what you call the Big Four, and also some of the minority Members, and I can't answer the question at this date.7

7 The 81st Congress reconvened on November 27, 1950.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you intend to take any action on the Bell report regarding the Philippines?8

THE PRESIDENT. I think the Bell report speaks for itself, and we are going to try to implement it with the cooperation of the President of the Philippines. He seems to be very happy over it.

8 See Items 180 and 238 [5].

[12.] Q. Mr. President, what is your latest prediction on next Tuesday?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, I think I made that prediction some time ago. I haven't changed my mind, and the thing is getting better all the time.

I want to call to the attention of that Los Angeles gentleman back there that there has been a lot of rumors on that rent proposition, and there has been a lot of misrepresentation of Mrs. Douglas9 in the press in California. Whenever they mention her--although they boycott her most of the time--they mention her in an unfavorable manner. They have got out rumors now that she is not wholeheartedly in favor of the foreign policy that is being pursued by the President of the United States.

9 Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas of California, Democratic candidate for the United States Senate.

She is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, and is one on whom we depend very much for the legislation which has to be put through the House of Representatives. She is wholeheartedly in accord with the President's foreign policy, which is more than can be said for most California papers. [Laughter]

[13.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can say about the mechanics of the further investigation of yesterday afternoon's event? Is that in the hands of the Secret Service entirely?

THE PRESIDENT. That is being handled in the manner in which it should. The Secretaries of the Interior and the Treasury, and the Attorney General, are in complete accord on the handling of it, and I don't want to discuss it, Bob.10

Q. Yes sir.

10 Robert G. Nixon of the International News Service.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided on the appointment of an Ambassador to Spain?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no thoughts on that idea at all. It is going to be a long, long time before there is an Ambassador to Spain, and you will have plenty of time to think it over. [Laughter]

Q. Is that your comment on the action of the United Nations which11 --

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

11On November 4, 1950, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which supported Spain's membership in the United Nations. The text of the resolution is printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 23, p. 772).

Q. Is that your comment--I say, is that your comment--

THE PRESIDENT. No comment on the action of the United Nations at all.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fortyfourth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, 1950.

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/230420

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