Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 04, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated, gentlemen.

[1.] I changed the arrangement around a little bit, and we have set some microphones around all over the place so that everybody can hear. I think this will probably be a more satisfactory arrangement, to have this desk up here from the other corner.

I have no special announcements to make. If you have any questions, I will make an endeavor to answer them.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you interpret the defeat of Senator Pepper1 as a defeat for the Fair Deal or your administration?


1 Senator Claude Pepper of Florida was defeated in the primary election on May 2 by Representative George A. Smathers.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, on Tuesday you sent the Niagara water treaty up to the Senate.2 Yesterday, Senator Lehman and Congressman Roosevelt introduced bills for Federal construction but State control and eventual ownership of the project. Do you endorse that plan ?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't gone into the plan, and I don't think we can decide on plans until the treaty is ratified. After that we will go into plans.

2 See Item 99

[4.] Q. Mr. President, the other night Harold Stassen who is, I think, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, and who I believe once aspired to the office you now hold, said that you were the cleverest politician and the worst President. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. That's quite a statement. I have no comment on it.

Q. I just wondered if you shared those sentiments ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's wait a little further until history is made, and then we will see.

Q. Mr. President, if you are the cleverest politician ever in the White House, do you consider that smart politics to call the President "the worst President"?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it takes a politician to become President of the United States. I will say that you have to have.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, James Roosevelt is intimating in California that he has made peace with the White House and he has had assurance from you that all is forgiven. Is that true?

THE PRESIDENT. I never had any ill feeling toward Jimmie Roosevelt. He supported the ticket in 1948, after it was nominated. [Laughter]

Q. But he didn't support it before it was nominated ?

Q. One more question on that subject, if you please, sir. He also is implying that you would like to see him Governor of California ?

THE PRESIDENT. I would like to see a Democrat Governor in California.

Q. A Democrat?


[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Dr. Nourse's3 a statement the other day that we are spending too much for armaments ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment on that. The budget speaks for itself. And the budget has been carefully made up by me on every occasion since I have been President. And it is a good budget, and it is as tight as it could be made.

3 Edwin G. Nourse, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Q. He made the statement, you might recall, that every time Joe Stalin throws a scare into us, why we pour additional billions into armaments.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think there is anything to that.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Tydings said yesterday that it would he remarkable if the United States and Russia did not get into trouble ending in a shooting war.

THE PRESIDENT. I think the Senator is unduly alarmed. I think he is unduly alarmed. I think the situation now is not nearly so bad as it was in the first half of 1946. I think it is improving. Maybe I am an optimist, but I have to be, to be President of the United States.

Q. I didn't get the question, Mr. President. I got your

THE PRESIDENT. My comment on the statement that Senator Tydings made yesterday, that we were close to a shooting war with Russia.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, Trygve Lie, before he left for Europe the other day, announced that he is now going to Moscow trying to interest Russia's leaders--Stalin, if possible--in a meeting of the heads of states with the Security Council. I wonder if you would care to comment on that, in particular as to whether that question was brought up with you?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Lie came to see me to pay me a courtesy call, the second call he has made at my office since he has been the Secretary General of the United Nations. He made the statement to me then, at that meeting, that he expected to call on the heads of states and discuss world affairs with all of them. I did not go into detail with him on what he intended to discuss with anybody, and we only discussed the welfare of the world and the hope for peace.

Q. Do you agree with him to a meeting at a time in which we might propose, to bring the heads of states together with the Security Council ?

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

Q. Mr. President, did you give Mr. Lie a message for Moscow, or encourage him in his mission?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't have anything but just a plain, everyday discussion with Mr. Lie. He was paying me a courtesy call, and we had the usual conversation.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, would you comment on the argument being heard more frequently in the Senate these days, that in view of the prospective size of the deficit we can no longer afford Marshall plan aid if present conditions--

THE PRESIDENT. Isn't that an old argument? Hasn't that been the argument of the "anti's" ever since the Marshall plan was instituted? The reason for the deficit is because the Congress has not given the necessary taxes to carry on the Government of the United States. Since we are fighting the cold war, we have to use every means at our command to do it. The Marshall plan is one of the principal means in fighting that cold war. It will be cheaper than a shooting war would be, as I have said time and time again.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, some observers trying to figure out some of the primary election results gave me the suggestion that Communists in Government are a factor. I wonder if you could tell us whether--in the White House mail and what you hear from around the country--you find a growing concern among the American people--

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't noticed any particular growing concern. The people have always been uneasy about an organization that believes in the overthrow of the Government of the United States by violence. And I don't think there is any unusual trend in that direction. At least, I haven't heard about it.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, you indicated that you did not think the Florida primary results constituted a repudiation of your program. Would you mind telling us why?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that the Florida primary campaign was a Florida campaign, and certain issues entered into that which have no bearing whatever on the national picture.

[12.] Q. Do you wish to give us any information regarding the present status of the possible credit arrangement affecting Argentina, which is being extensively

THE PRESIDENT. I have been informed by the various departments of the Government that the Finance Minister of the Argentine Republic is up here negotiating some loans, and things of that sort. They have--the situation has not been put up to me for a decision. I think I should look favorably on it, when it is put up to me.

Q. Favorably?


[13.] Q. Do you plan a greatly increased defense budget for next year; and is that, one, because you cut it too low this year or, two, because of the increasing international emergency?

THE PRESIDENT. The defense budget next year will be smaller than it is this year, and we are continually cutting it by economies. And we are not alarmed in any sense of the word. We are simply maintaining a defense program that is adequate for the defense of this country.

Q. Excuse me, sir, have you not already increased it this year?

THE PRESIDENT. We have asked for some contract authorizations for the purchase of some planes. The other increase is some savings that have already been made. Read the statement of the Secretary of Defense before the committee down there and you will have the whole thing just as it is.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, many of the people in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska feel that they have been written off as expendable in case of war. On your forthcoming trip, will you tour the defenses of the Pacific Northwest.

THE PRESIDENT. I will not. I will not. Their fears are unfounded and unnecessary, I will say that right here.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to make any comment on ex-President Hoover's proposition to revamp the United Nations by excluding Communist nations? 4

4 Speaking before the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27 President Hoover stated, "What the world needs today is a definite concrete mobilization of the nations who believe in God against this tide of Red agnosticism.

"It needs a moral mobilization against the hideous ideas of the police state and human slavery. The world needs mobilization against this creeping Red imperialism. The United States needs to know who are with us in the cold war against these practices, and who we can depend on.

"Therefore, I have a proposal to make.

"I suggest that the United Nations should be reorganized without the Communist nations in it. If that is impractical, then a definite new united front should be organized of those peoples who disavow communism, who stand for morals and religion, and who love freedom."

The full text of President Hoover's address is published in the Congressional Record (vol. 96, p. A3148)

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. President Hoover called on me, at my suggestion, to discuss the reorganization plans that are now before the Senate and the House. And incidentally his speech of a night or two ago was brought up. Mr. Hoover and I are not in agreement on the United Nations program. I am in full support of the United Nations, both as an individual and as President of the United States. The United Nations is organized for the purpose of discussion of problems with which nations are faced, in the hope of arriving at a peaceful settlement of these problems. It is working, in most instances. We shall continue to support the United Nations as long as I am President of the United States.

I discussed the other section of President Hoover's speech, which was the mobilization of the moral forces of the world against the unmoral forces of the world. I have been trying to do that for 5 years, and we are having some success in that. And I complimented him on that part of his speech. I did not agree with him on his proposed reorganization of the United Nations, and we are perfectly friendly, Mr. Hoover and I are.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, has Senator Taylor of Idaho5 been invited to accompany you through Idaho on your May trip?

THE PRESIDENT. He has not. Senator Taylor has been, of course--he is a United States Senator from Idaho. When we go through Idaho, I will be glad to see the Senator from Idaho and shake hands with him, as I will with every other public official. But no one has been specifically invited to ride on the train, except the President's party and a few newspapermen. [Laughter]

Q. A few!

5 Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho, Vice Presidential candidate in 1948 on the Progressive Party ticket.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, 2 years ago, you recall, on that June trip the local politicoes were not invited to ride on the train, and there was some discussion, notably in Montana as I recall. Will they be invited this time?

THE PRESIDENT. I will see any of them that want to see me, but I am not inviting people to ride on the train out in the States where there are primary fights. I try to be as neutral and fair about it as possible--be as polite to the public officials as I can.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, will you give us your reaction to McCarthy's description of General Marshall as incompetent?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on anything McCarthy may say. It isn't worth commenting.

[19.] Q. Mr. Guy George Gabrielson6 has announced quite firmly that he is out to capture two Southern States if possible between now and 1952--Virginia especially, and Tennessee--by some coalition of the Dixiecrats and the Republicans. Would you consider the possibility, sir, of coming yourself to Richmond, or to Tennessee, and giving aid and comfort for the administration? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, I would be very glad to come to Richmond or Nashville, Tenn., at any time, under the proper auspices. And I think Gabrielson is rather optimistic in his prognostication. He can't get those two States, I will say that definitely and categorically right now.

6Chairman, Republican National Committee.

Q. Well, the proper auspices will be furnished, sir. [Laughter]

[20.] Q. Mr. President, would you comment on the National Science Foundation bill 7 which is on your desk?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't finished the analysis of it yet. It seems to be in good order. I am very happy that it passed, and I hope to be able to sign it.

7See Item 120.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to ask for the registration of women for future defense service or industrial service in case of war?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. I think that it should be done.

Q. Is it not too late by the time an emergency arises for the registration?

THE PRESIDENT. No emergency is here yet. We are working out plans that are adequate, and those plans are not for publication.

Q. May I ask if you are studying foreign systems, as in England particularly?

THE PRESIDENT. We are studying foreign systems in every country in the world.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and twentyfourth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 4, 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/230349

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