The President's News Conference at Key West
THE PRESIDENT. I will answer any questions I can, if you want to start in.
[1.] Q. Mr. President, the New York Times this morning carried a story saying that you had suggested Secretary Acheson explore with Senator Vandenberg and other Republicans the possibility of appointing a Republican as Ambassador at Large to help out on bipartisan Asiatic policy.
THE PRESIDENT. The matter has been discussed.
Q. Are you nearing a decision on that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Working on it. No decision as yet.
Q. Have you got a nominee in mind, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I haven't. Several under consideration. It is nothing unusual or new at all. The Republican members of the United Nations delegation and the same people who have been in on the foreign policy have always been consulted about the world policy. It is not an Asiatic policy or a European policy; it is a world policy. The foreign policy of the United States covers the whole globe, and always has ever since I have been President.
Q. Well, Mr. President, is it an Ambassador at Large on Asiatic policy or world policy?
THE PRESIDENT. World policy. The whole thing will be a world policy program. Ambassador Jessup has been making a preliminary survey in the Eastern Hemisphere on the subject. It is not confined to any one place.
We are trying to implement the United Nations on the basis where it will work under the charter for the purpose for which it was intended, where all countries can meet and discuss their problems and come to agreement without having to feud each other over it. That is the object of the whole thing. World peace is what we are working for, and our policy hasn't changed, and our approach to it has never changed since I have been President.
Q. Mr. President, would this particular position be similar to the one held by Mr. Jessup? He is an Ambassador at Large.
THE PRESIDENT. That's right. It's just a part of the foreign policy team of the United States. And it's a bipartisan policy. That is what we have always endeavored to maintain. It has been the same under every Secretary of State since Cordell Hull, who instituted it.
[2.] Q. Mr. President, are you ready as yet to make any announcements regarding some of the reported appointments that are impending?
THE PRESIDENT. When you get through asking questions on other subjects, I will talk to you about it. I don't want that fence broken down. [Laughter]
[3.] Q. Could you comment, sir, on General Eisenhower's statement before the congressional committee?1
THE PRESIDENT. The statements of General Eisenhower before the congressional committee were fundamentally in complete agreement with the policies which we have pursued right along. No fundamental difference between us.
1Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on March 29, 1950. He testified that "several hundred millions" of dollars probably should be added to President Truman's military budget to strike a proper balance between the requirements of economy and security.
Q. What you have laid down in your conferences with the General?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes--well, in the Budget Message. And Eisenhower was in on the conferences that were held. General Eisenhower, and General Marshall, and all those able and distinguished gentlemen-Admiral Nimitz--were consulted with regard to the budget and its program. And the General's testimony was in almost complete agreement with that arrangement.
Q. Mr. President, do you agree with General Eisenhower that our defenses are possibly below the point of safety?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not. I don't think General Eisenhower intended to imply that. I have read his testimony.
Q. I was thinking in terms of his speech Saturday night.2
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, well, you know in making speeches you must remember that everybody has his ideas on public speaking, but the record before the Senate committee is what you have to go on.
2General Eisenhower, president of Columbia University, speaking at the University on March 23, stated that disarmament in some of its phases had gone beyond the degree that he could "possibly advise, until we have certain knowledge that all nations, in concerted action, are doing likewise."
Q. Mr. President, yesterday the stories from Washington said that General Eisenhower said he thought this country was taking chances in the cold war by not spending more on air force, antisubmarine work, and Alaskan bases?
THE PRESIDENT. That is a natural feeling for any military man. If I didn't have in view the overall budget of the United States, the military people would have more than half of it. They asked for $22 billion. You know they can't have that, and they know it, too.
Q. That was the figure which, as I recall about a year ago, you said--coming back from West Virginia--you said that was between $22 and $23 billion, didn't you?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that is correct. I don't blame them for that, because they naturally want a perfected machine. But we have to furnish the best defense machine we possibly can with the funds that we have available.
Q. That is what you said then, sir.
[At this point the President was given his coat, which he put on.]
THE PRESIDENT. Do you think I'm getting cold? [Laughter]
Q. In other words, you don't think this 13 billion endangers the country?
THE PRESIDENT. Not the slightest. If I thought so, I would ask for more money. [Laughter] The budget--I think the budget speaks for itself.
[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you think Senator McCarthy is getting anywhere in his attempt to win the case against the State Department?3
THE PRESIDENT. What's that ?
3 See Item 79 and note.
Q. Do you think that Senator McCarthy can show any disloyalty exists in the State Department?
THE PRESIDENT. I think the greatest asset that the Kremlin has is Senator McCarthy.
Q. Would you care to elaborate on that?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it needs any elaboration--I don't think it needs any elaboration.
Q. Brother, will that hit page one tomorrow !
Q. If you think we are going to bust down the fence on what you have got later, that's a pretty good starter. [Laughter]
Q. Mr. President, could we quote that one phrase, "I think the greatest asset the Kremlin has is Senator McCarthy"?
THE PRESIDENT. Now let me give you a little preliminary, and then I will tell you what I think you ought to do. Let me tell you what the situation is.
We started out in 1945, when I became President, and the two wars were still going on, and the Russians were our allies, just the same as the British and the French and Brazil and the South American countries. And we won the war together.
We organized the United Nations in April 1945, and one of the first questions that was asked me, after I was sworn in at 7:09 o'clock on the 12th of April, was whether or not the San Francisco conference on the United Nations should go ahead. And I said it certainly will. It went ahead and we finally succeeded in getting a charter and getting it agreed to by I think 51 nations, if I remember correctly.
Then our objective was to--as quickly as possible--get peace in the world. We made certain agreements with the Russians and the British and the French and the Chinese. We kept those agreements to the letter. They have nearly all been--those agreements where the Russians were involved--been broken by the Russians. And it became perfectly evident that they had no intention of carrying out the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and the agreements which had been made at Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam. And it became evident that there was an endeavor on the part of the Kremlin to control the world.
A procedure was instituted which came to be known as the cold war. The airlift to Berlin was only one phase of it. People became alarmed here in the United States then, that there might be people whose sympathies were with the Communist ideal of government-which is not communism under any circumstances, it is totalitarianism of the worst brand. There isn't any difference between the totalitarian Russian Government and the Hitler government and the Franco government in Spain. They are all alike. They are police state governments.
In 1947 I instituted a loyalty program for Government employees, and that loyalty procedure program was set up in such a way that the rights of individuals were respected.
In a survey of the 2,200,000 employees at that time, I think there were some 205-something like that--who left the service. I don't know--a great many of them left of their own accord.
Q. How many, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 205. Does anybody remember those figures exactly? It's a very small figure.
Q. Very small.
THE PRESIDENT. An infinitesimal part of 1 percent. We will get the figures for you. And then, for political background, the Republicans have been trying vainly to find an issue on which to make a bid for the control of the Congress for next year. They tried "statism." They tried "welfare state." They tried "socialism." And there are a certain number of members of the Republican Party who are trying to dig up that old malodorous dead horse called "isolationism." And in order to do that, they are perfectly willing to sabotage the bipartisan foreign policy of the United States. And this fiasco which has been going on in the Senate is the very best asset that the Kremlin could have in the operation of the cold war. And that is what I mean when I say that McCarthy's antics are the best asset that the Kremlin can have.
Now, if anybody really felt that there were disloyal people in the employ of the Government, the proper and the honorable way to handle the situation would be to come to the President of the United States and say, "This man is a disloyal person. He is in such and such a department." We will investigate him immediately, and if he were a disloyal person he would be immediately fired.
That is not what they want. They are trying to create an issue, and it is going to be just as big a fiasco as the campaign in New York and other places on these other false and fatuous issues.
With a little bit of intelligence they could find an issue at home without a bit of trouble!
Q. What would it be, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. Anything in the domestic line. I will meet them on any subject they want, but to try to sabotage the foreign policy of the United States, in the face of the situation with which we are faced, is just as bad as trying to cut the Army in time of war.
Q. On that question we were just kidding.
THE PRESIDENT. And that gave me a chance to give you an answer. To try to sabotage the foreign policy of the United States is just as bad in this cold war as it would be to shoot our soldiers in the back in a hot war.
I am fed up with what is going on, and I am giving you the facts as I see them.
[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you consider the Republican Party as a party?
THE PRESIDENT. The policy of the Republican Party has endorsed the antics of Mr. McCarthy.
Q. That affects the bipartisan-
THE PRESIDENT. That's what it is for-that's what it is for. They are anxious for the return of isolationism.
Q. Do you think that this has torpedoed, then, the bipartisan
THE PRESIDENT. It is an endeavor to torpedo the bipartisan foreign policy. They are not going to succeed, because the levelheaded Republicans do not believe that at all, as note Mr. Stimson, Senator Vandenberg, Senator Saltonstall, and a dozen others I could name, who know exactly what is going on and are trying their best to cooperate. And I am going to try to help them prevent it going under.
Q. Well, Mr. President, to carry that out to its logical conclusion, when these people come up for reelection, with the grace of God and so on, there is nothing that the Democratic Party can do except simply to sit on the sidelines and say, "Well?"
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's too bad. It's a dangerous situation, and it has got to be stopped. And every citizen in the United States is going to find out just exactly what the facts are when I get through with this thing.
Q. You will stand up on one side, and they will stand up on the other?
THE PRESIDENT. There's only one side that the people will stay on, and that is the side that will lead to peace. That is all we are after. This is just another fiasco to find an issue. This is not it.
Q. Mr. President, would you like to name any others besides Senator McCarthy who have participated in this attempt to sabotage our foreign policy ?
THE PRESIDENT. Senator Wherry.
Q. Yes, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Senator Bridges.
Q. Yes, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. That's about as far as I care to go.
Q. Okay, sir.
[6.] Q. Now, what I forgot to say was would you like to say anything about Mr. Acheson and Mr. Lattimore,4 and--what's his name--the Ambassador at Large?
THE PRESIDENT. Jessup. I think I made myself perfectly clear that I think Dean Acheson will go down in history as one of the great Secretaries of State. You know very well that Mr. Jessup is as able and distinguished a citizen as this country has ever produced. Lattimore is a member of the faculty of Johns Hopkins University and is a very well informed person on foreign affairs.
4 Owen Lattimore, former official of the Office of War Information.
Q. You don't believe he is a spy?
THE PRESIDENT. Why of course not. It's silly on the face of it.
Q. Mr. President, don't you think the American people recognize this for what it is?
THE PRESIDENT. There is no doubt about it. I am just emphatically bringing it to their attention.
[7.] Q. For direct quotes, could we have that, "I think the greatest asset--
THE PRESIDENT. I would rather you would say that the greatest asset the Kremlin has is the present approach of those in the Senate who are trying to sabotage the bipartisan foreign policy.
Q. Could we have that read back to us?
THE PRESIDENT. Sure. Jack?
Mr. Romagna. I'm all balled up.
THE PRESIDENT. Take your time--take your time.
[As the White House Official Reporter pondered, the President rephrased the statement. ]
The greatest asset that the Kremlin has is the partisan attempt in the Senate to sabotage the bipartisan foreign policy of the United States.
Q. This may seem redundant, but this is just for the record. The partisan effort, of course, is the effort by the Republicans in the Senate
THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I didn't say that, "partisan effort." Leave it at that. Draw your own conclusions.
[8.] I am going to make some changes on the appointment front. I have drafted Stuart Symington to be Chairman of the National Security Resources Board, and as soon as I have named his successor, which will be in a week or 10 days, he will take over. He will stay as Secretary for Air until his successor is appointed and confirmed.
I am going to make Gordon Gray, for the time that he has left--you see he is going down as president of the University of North Carolina--between now and the time that he goes I am going to make him a Special Assistant to the President, to mobilize and coordinate the work in the various agencies of the Government, for an analysis of the factors bearing on the "dollar gap" disparity between exports and imports in the United States. I hope that out of these studies and a full public discussion of the issues will be developed, along bipartisan principles, policies and programs which seem most likely to offer a solution to that urgent problem. That is the greatest problem with which we are faced now. Charlie5 will furnish you with a statement on it regarding Gordon Gray.
5 Charles G. Ross, Secretary to the President.
I am going to make Frank Pace Secretary for the Army. I am going to appoint him-he has to be confirmed, you understand-and Fred Lawton, who is now Assistant Director of the Budget, will be Director of the Budget. And Elmer Staats
Q. How is that name spelled?
THE PRESIDENT. S-t-a-a-t-s--Elmer B. Staats will step up from the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Budget Bureau to the Assistant to the Budget Director. He will take Fred Lawton's place.
Q. Mr. President, this raises the question about Lawton. He has been in and out of that job, I'd say two--three times. There has always been a question as to his status.
THE PRESIDENT. He has always been "acting" before, and he is going to be the Budget Director now. That is what we are trying to get at. He will be the Budget Director.
Q. Mr. President, are there any more?
THE PRESIDENT. I have got one more--no more appointments, no.
Q. Will Frank Pace become Secretary of the Army right away then, or very soon?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes--immediately. All these appointments will be set up, and just as soon as they are confirmed, he will take over.
Q. May I ask on one point, whether Thomas K. Finletter will succeed Symington?
THE PRESIDENT. I am not ready to answer any questions on that. When the time comes, I will announce his successor 6
6 The Senate confirmed the nomination of Thomas K. Finletter as Secretary of the Air Force on April 13, 1950.
Q. Will Gray leave now to take on his new appointment?
THE PRESIDENT. Now, yes. As soon as Pace is confirmed.
[9.] Q. Mr. President, that dollar gap you spoke of, that would make it possible only by stimulating imports to the United States?
THE PRESIDENT. That is what I am appointing this Director for, to find out just exactly what the remedy is. Last year we exported $16 billion worth of goods and services and received in return $10 billion worth. You can't keep on doing business on that basis. That's what this is for, to find out what the answer is, and I can't give you the answer now. If I could, I wouldn't have to appoint the fellow.
[10.] I had a telegram from the Governor of Montana, informing me that there had been an extreme emergency caused by late snow up there, and I have asked the General Services Administration to make an investigation and if it develops, why we will follow the same procedure we did before in the same circumstances.
Q. Give them money?
THE PRESIDENT. How's that? Furnish them with the machinery.
[11.] Q. How long will Mr. Gray stay in this new job?
THE PRESIDENT. Takes about 3 or 4 months. He will probably want to leave before school starts in North Carolina.
Q. That will mean, say, in August?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am willing for him to stay as long as he can under the circumstances. He will probably stay at least until the first of August. It won't take long to get the facts and things, and then we will go on from there.
Q. In other words, this is a specific job?
THE PRESIDENT. That's right. This will be the beginning of it. What he is doing will be to coordinate it, and we go on from there. When he has to go to North Carolina, we will appoint another Director.
[12.] Q. Mr. President, I don't like to go back, but
THE PRESIDENT. Go right ahead.
Q.--I just wondered whether the question of a world policy program, which you mentioned previously in connection with the appointment of a new Ambassador at Large, is that something entirely new that you are now planning?
THE PRESIDENT. No, no, no. You see, John Foster Dulles was in that capacity before. We have got Mr. Cooper7 in the Dulles place, when Mr. Dulles went into politics, and we are now enlarging the thing to some extent. Along with Cooper, we are going to appoint another outstanding Republican, who believes in the United Nations, to go along with us and help us continue to coordinate the foreign policy of the United States.
7 John Sherman Cooper.
Q. Would it be United Nations?
THE PRESIDENT. No, this is a United States program.
Q. In effect he will succeed Jessup?
THE PRESIDENT. That is correct--that's right.
Q. Jessup, then, will no longer have the title of Ambassador at Large in his new position ?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. What is his new title?
THE PRESIDENT. Assistant to the Secretary of State.
Q. Mr. President, have you asked Mr. Vandenberg and other Republicans to suggest a candidate for the job?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have.
Q. You have?
THE PRESIDENT. I have. I have, through the Secretary of State. I authorized the Secretary of State to make such a request.
Reporter: Mr. President, we have had a wonderful time at your lawn party, and thank you very much.
Note: President Truman's two hundred and twentyfirst news conference was held on the lawn of the Little White House, Key West, Fla., at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, 1950. The White House Official Reporter noted that preceding the conference the President had entertained the newsmen at a picnic on the lawn.
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/230873