Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference at Key West

March 01, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. Gentlemen, good morning. I thought maybe you might feel inclined to ask a few questions. I have no statements to make to you, or anything of the sort. Maybe I had better stand up. You can all sit down.

Q. We had better stand up, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I would much rather you just sat down because I can see you better. [Laughter]

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Give the photograph boys a chance now. Well, if you have any questions--sit down--sit down now.

[1.] Q. Well, Mr. President, can we ask you first if there is any circumstance under which American troops might go to Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us about your talk yesterday with former Governor Cox? 1

THE PRESIDENT. Had a very pleasant visit with Governor Cox. He came down to pay a personal call on me. The first time I had ever seen him, except as one of the audience which listened to him speak in 1920, and I wasn't very deep in politics at that time.

1 James Cox, former Governor of Ohio and Democratic candidate for the Presidency in 1920.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment to make on the so-called revolt in the South?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Q. What do you think of Governor Tuck's plan? 2

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think this. Every State has a perfect right to decide on the manner in which it wants to carry on its elections, provided they are fair, and provided they give everybody a chance to express his opinion at the polls.

2 Governor William M. Tuck of Virginia had proposed a new election law providing for unpledged presidential electors and limiting political parties on the 1948 ballot to those which were listed in 1944.

Q. Provided they give everybody the right to vote?

THE PRESIDENT. To express his opinion at the polls. Everybody who is entitled to vote should have the right to vote. If you remember--I will give you a lecture on the Constitution-the electoral college was set up with the idea in mind that the presidential electors would be elected as free agents, and that they would meet in Washington and elect the President. Since 1836 that has not been the case. They have been elected and instructed by the States to cast the ballot a certain way. I think the Virginians want to try to restore the old constitutional approach to the thing. Originally it didn't work very well.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, Czechoslovakia and perhaps Finland seem to be going down the drain in the classic style. Do you think the time may have come for the Western powers to form a military alliance?

THE PRESIDENT. I Can't comment on that at this time.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of lectures, you have been promising to give us a lecture on architecture.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I am saving that up for you, Eddie. 1 When you get back, I have a very, very erudite lecture on architecture that I think you will like. Your paper may not like it. [Laughter]

1 Edward T. Folliard of the Washington Post.

Joseph A. Fox, Washington Evening Star: Mine, too, won't like it!

THE PRESIDENT. I put you in the picture before. Now I think Eddie ought to have a chance. [Laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, have you had any kind of report on the steel investigations?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Q. Do you feel you need the anti-inflation program more than ever?


Q. Take the steel increase as a good argument for it?


[7.] Q. Mr. President, what Paul Leach 1 calls the jackpot question--is it time to ask it? [Laughter] Is it time?


1 Paul R. Leach of the Chicago Daily News.

Q. What can you tell us about your candidacy in 1948?

THE PRESIDENT. I have nothing to say about it. I am so darned busy with foreign affairs and domestic affairs and other situations that have developed that I haven't had any time to think about any presidential campaign, or anything else, except that the presidential year is having a very bad effect on all approaches to the settlement of the difficulties with which we are faced.

Q. Mr. President, do you believe our Senator Pepper would fit in your ticket as vice presidential candidate?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on vice presidential candidates?

Q. Mr. President, this question may be rather puerile--but if nominated by the Democratic convention, would you serve?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when it happens--if it does.

[8.] I would like to ask you some questions. I always sit in the frying pan, and am perfectly willing to do it, and I enjoy it about as much as you do. Have you been well taken care of, and well fed, and are you comfortably situated where you live?

Q. Yes, sir.

Q. Everything is perfect.

Q. Been wonderful.

Q. Been a wonderful trip.

THE PRESIDENT. Who is the banker? I want to interview him. [Laughter]

Q. Joe Short. 1


Q. He has all the money--as usual.

THE PRESIDENT. All the money in the bank, as usual. [Laughter]

1 Joseph H. Short of the Baltimore Sun.

Q. Nevertheless, he has hired a bodyguard to go around with him.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, might we have permission to quote that statement, that the presidential year is having a very bad effect on all approaches to--then I stop there--

THE PRESIDENT. All approaches to the settlement of both foreign and domestic affairs; it can't help but do that. It's a situation which we have to face and meet as well as we can.

Q. Mr. President, you are not quarreling with the situation?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all--just makes it more difficult to meet, that's all, because we have so many candidates for President in the Senate and out of it, and in various other places that it is difficult for them to have an unbiased and nonpartisan approach to these matters. You can't blame them for that.

Governor Cox and I discussed that same situation. In the 1920 campaign we were faced with exactly the same situation--almost exactly the same situation.

Q. In that year, Mr. President, weren't there a number of candidates in the Senate on Capitol Hill?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so. I can't remember. I was not, as I said, as deeply interested in politics then as I am now. I had just returned from the war.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, is there any comment that you could make on the new developments in central Europe?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I prefer not to make any at this time. I may comment on it later.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you been in touch with General Marshall since you have been down here?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have. Every day.

Q. Every day?

THE PRESIDENT. Every day, except when we were at sea.

Q. You mean you talked to him by telephone?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't talked to General Marshall himself, but I have been in touch with the State Department every day since we have been away, and every other department nearly in the Government. I have talked personally to nearly every member of the Cabinet since I have been away. The only thing in connection with this that is different from the White House is just the change of scenery. We have direct wires that go there, and I get a pouch nearly every day, and sign just as many documents and make just as many decisions as if I were sitting at the desk in the Executive Office.

[At this point the President spoke off the record.]

[12.] Q. Did you give us permission to quote that phrase on--

THE PRESIDENT. The effect of the presidential year on the situation in the Government? Sure. Everybody knows that. No harm in quoting it.

[13.] Q. Talking about another ship of state, do you think you might get a new yacht now?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I am perfectly happy with this one.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, there have been reports out of Europe that the Russians have made overtures to you to meet with Premier Stalin. Anything to those reports?

THE PRESIDENT. I never heard of them. No overtures have been made to me or to the State Department or to any other branch of the Government officially--or unofficially, either.

Q. They were supposed to have been from Stockholm. Somebody had a story out of Paris and Berlin that it was suggested you meet with Stalin?

THE PRESIDENT. I saw that in the paper, but that is the only place.

Q. In that connection, Mr. President, you have told us in the past that if there is to be a meeting between you and Mr. Stalin, that it will have to be in Washington?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that is correct. My position on that hasn't changed a bit.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, Jim Farley was down as a guest of the Jefferson Day dinner. I want to ask you, from this time on do you think that he will take a more active part in the party's affairs than he has in the last few years?

THE PRESIDENT. You had better ask Mr. Farley that. He will know and can give you the answer.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, there has been talk of a $200 million loan to Spain. Has that come to your attention?

THE PRESIDENT. Haven't heard about it.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us some of the problems that--on which the approach has been made more difficult because of the presidential year?

THE PRESIDENT. The foreign situation in general, and the housing program in particular at home, and several other domestic matters that are pending that should have only a nonpartisan approach.

[At this point there was a pause in the questioning.]

I made a dangerous mistake by letting you sit down! [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and thirty-eighth news conference was held on the lawn of the President's quarters at the Submarine Base, Key West, Fla., at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 1, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference at Key West Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232406

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