Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference at Key West

March 20, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Well, be seated everybody now, and we will start to work. I have no announcements to make. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them.

[1.] Joseph H. Short, Secretary to the President: They are still shooting, Mr. President, and they can't hear very well.

THE PRESIDENT. I had better stand up. Now I think maybe you can hear better if I stand up.

That's enough. Turn out the lights. All right, now!

[2.] Q. Mr. President, we talked with Mr. McKinney yesterday. I just wonder if what he told us accurately reflects your views about the effect the Korean developments will have on whether you run again? 1

THE PRESIDENT. Korea enters not into the politics of this country at all.

1At a news conference held in Key West, Fla., on March 19, frank E. McKinney, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, stated that it was his belief that President Truman would not seek renomination if he attained permanent peace in Korea.

Q. Mr. President, I didn't hear that.

THE PRESIDENT. I say Korea does not enter into the politics of this country at all. Has no bearing whatever on what I may decide to do.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, did you favor a loan to Soviet Russia in 1946, as Henry Wallace 2 said the other day?

THE PRESIDENT. In 1945 I favored one, but not in 1946.

2 former Vice President of the United States and former Secretary of Commerce.

Q. Here is another related question, Mr. President. If the Government was considering a Russian loan as late as 1945, isn't it illogical for the congressional committees to try to stigmatize some of the witnesses for not foreseeing a menace in 1930?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not care to comment on congressional committees. It might not be printable.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to put the public--the papers that are in the book "Mr. President" 3 in the public domain?

THE PRESIDENT. Repeat the question. I didn't hear it.

3 William Hillman, "Mr. President" (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1952, 253 pp.).

Q. Are you going to give the papers you used, your own writings and other papers that appear in the book "Mr. President," to the public domain?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

Q. Mr. President, could you tell me whether you have a right to do so?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, in view of Mr. McKinney's press conference yesterday, do you have anything on Korea that you can tell us as to developments?

THE PRESIDENT. I have never commented on Korea at a press conference, and I can't start it now. I have told you, I think, that any comments from me back here might upset the applecart, and they should not be made.

Q. You are speaking now specifically of the truce negotiations ?

THE PRESIDENT. Whatever goes on over in Korea, or any other foreign place around the world.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, will you let the Chelf 4 subcommittee have the income tax returns of Howard McGrath? 5

THE PRESIDENT. The request hasn't reached me yet. I will answer that question whenever the request reaches me.

4Representative Frank L. Chelf of Kentucky, chairman of a Special Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary. See also Items 60, 91.

5Attorney General J. Howard McGrath.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, we in Key West are very interested in knowing if you are going to come back here next fall for your 12th working vacation ?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope to come back.

Q. Do you expect to be here next spring, Mr. President? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I'll tell you what I will do, I will answer that next fall. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, you said you would answer that next fall. You mean after the election?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. That means you will be interested in the election ?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, since we saw you last, there have been some interesting political developments in New Hampshire and also in Minnesota. I wonder if you could give us your reaction to those two primaries ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on either one of them.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, Walter Lippmann 6 says it is now your duty to bring General Eisenhower back?7 Do you concur in that interpretation ?

THE PRESIDENT. My duty is to see that we attain our objective in Europe. General Eisenhower is the Kerman in attaining that objective, and he understands the situation, I think, very much better than Walter Lippmann or anybody else.

6Walter Lippmann of the New York Herald-Tribune.

7General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower was serving as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers Europe.

Q. Mr. President, doesn't the fact that General Eisenhower has delegates pledged for him make him more of a politician than a military man now ?

THE PRESIDENT. In my book he is a military man, and is doing a military job in a very able and efficient manner. I am not interested in his political career. He has a perfect right to do whatever he pleases in that line, and I told him that personally.

Q. Mr. President, Mr. Short told us the other day that what you told us before still stands, that you won't relieve him except at his personal request?

THE PRESIDENT. General Eisenhower is in the midst of a very important job. He understands what the situation is in Europe much better than I do from this distance. I have told him that he can use his own judgment with regard to his return. Whenever he feels that it is proper and safe for him to return, he is at liberty to do so.

Q. Mr. President, was the statement made to the General in the light of his possible political involvements or associations, whatever they may be?

THE PRESIDENT. It was confined entirely to his military engagements. And his political associations are his own business.

Q. Mr. President, how do you think Ike is doing as a politician these days ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that, for I don't know.

Q. Mr. President, you said that General Eisenhower is at liberty to return whenever it is safe in his judgment. What would the formality be? Would he still write to you and ask for a recall?

THE PRESIDENT. General Eisenhower is at liberty to make a report to the Secretary of Defense whenever he deems it necessary, and if he wants to make it in person, he is at liberty to do that. That is customary, always.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. McKinney said that he hoped to have an answer from you sometime within 60 to 90 days in advance of the convention, and he thinks you will let him know before May 15th. Is that--

THE PRESIDENT. Tony,8 all you fellows have been trying to set a date for me. And I will set my own date. And I will let you know in plenty of time so that you can have all the arrangements made for headlines, and everything that's necessary in that case. But I will set the date myself.

8 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. He had said that, that's the reason I asked. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you boys have said it, too, time and again.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you think it is going to be an open convention as Mr. McKinney suggests?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't answer that until I announce what I am going to do myself.9 Of course, if I am interested in it, it will not be an open convention.

9On March 29 the President announced that he would not seek reelection (see Item 69).

Q. If you announce? What was that last, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I said if I announced for the nomination it will not be an open convention. [Laughter]

Q. It will not be an open convention. That's what I thought. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. There never has been an open convention whenever the President made up his mind that he wanted the nomination.

Q. Well, I just wanted to get that point clear, that was all, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

[12.] I want to ask you a question. I want to know if all you people who are having a vacation the same as I am, are enjoying it, and if you are behaving yourselves while you are having it? [Laughter]

Q. State that in two parts.

THE PRESIDENT. Smitty,10 you always speak for the people by saying "thank you."

10 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. I have seen nothing but perfect decorum.

THE PRESIDENT. That's the answer to the second part of the question. [Laughter] I don't know whether that would contribute

Q. Thoroughly enjoyable.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether that would contribute to your enjoyment or not.

Q. It has its limitations.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, even if you don't run, will it be an open convention--will you not have a great deal to say about the--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, when I decide to make the announcement on the subject, I will let you know about that, too.

Q. I am talking generally. Did you ever see an open convention, where a group did not control it?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not in my recollection seen one.

Q. You will have a great deal to say about your successor, if you do not run?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't want to make that statement flatly, unless I decide to run myself, and then I will have a lot to say about it.

Q. I mean disregarding that?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer the question when the proper time comes.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, on another subject, have you heard anything directly from the Wage Stabilization Board on the steel situation?11

11See Item 82.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not. They are still in conference.

Q. Have you heard anything to encourage you one way or the other about it?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't make any statements, because they are holding a conference this morning on the subject. As soon as they are ready to report to me, they will, and I will let you know the results.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, will Newbold Morris stay on the job without subpoena powers?12

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I am sorry he did not get those powers, because they would contribute to the efficiency of his work, and I think he ought to be allowed to have a chance to do the job.

12See Items 35 [1], 36, 44 [10].

Q. Mr. President, I don't know whether you have been asked this question before, but in a radio broadcast recently Newbold Morris said that if he had been President he wouldn't have appointed Major General Vaughan or Bill O'Dwyer.13 Have you any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment on that.

13Maj. Gen. Harry H. Vaughan, Military Aide to the President, and William O'Dwyer, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. McKinney also said yesterday that he doubted whether your announcement would come by the time of the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. Could you say anything about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that. I told you when I answered Tony's question, I think, that I would make the announcement when I got good and ready, and it will be at my time and behest.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, the boys on the base are getting a little nervous. They want to know when they are going to get the pay raise.

THE PRESIDENT. What pay raise?

Q. Armed forces pay raise.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I can't answer the question. I recommended it.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on Jimmy Byrnes' remarks about your memo? 14

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. All right.

14 Governor James f. Byrnes of South Carolina, former Secretary of State, denied the allegation in William Hillman's book "Mr. President" that President Truman had read to him on January 5, 1946, a memo criticizing Mr. Byrnes' failure to report to the President on the Moscow conference. Governor Byrnes stated that had such a memo been read to him at the time, he would have resigned his post as Secretary of State.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and ninety-seventh news conference was held in the Press Room of Bachelor Officers Quarters No. 128 at the United States Naval Base, Key West, Fla., at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 20, 1952.

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/231539

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