Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference at Key West

March 18, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [I.] Sit down, gentlemen, please.

I am having the usual vacation press conference, and there is no significance in it whatever, although I have seen all the questions and all the answers in the Miami papers, and the local paper. I haven't had a chance to read the Washington papers much since I have been down here, but I thought due to the fact that most of the questions have been asked and carefully answered, that maybe there wouldn't be many questions from you this morning. Of course, any prognostications may be in the same line with those of September and October last year, but we can tell about that a little later.

Q. You wouldn't say those answers were correct then, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. The answers will answer themselves at a later date. You have to depend on those because you made them yourself. No--I just thought we would have the usual vacation press conference, and I will be glad to answer any questions I can, as I always do, and I am ready for questions.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, have you given any more thought to a train ride?

THE PRESIDENT. I made the announcement of the train ride, if you remember, on the 24th of February, and no details have as yet been worked out. You will be notified in plenty of time to get your trunk packed.1

1During the course of his address at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on February 24 (Item 39) the President said, "I may even get on the train again and make another tour around the country. If I get on that train, I am going to tell the people how their Government is getting on. And I know how to tell them."

Q. But you are planning to take one--

THE PRESIDENT. I am not making any statement on the subject. There is no further statement than the one that was made on the 24th of February. Can you all hear? Voices: No. No, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I said there were no further plans than those announced on the 24th of February.

Q. Mr. President, your February 24th remarks on that point, though, were on the announcement were they, or plans?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily.

Good morning, Mr. Davis.2 I was over to see you yesterday, but you weren't in.

2 Elmer Davis of the American Broadcasting Company.

Mr. Davis: I was hiding behind some sun glasses.

THE PRESIDENT. Were you? I didn't see you. I'm sorry.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you would care to say about the action of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Mon Wallgren's nomination ?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment on that.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, in view of what is going on in the Senate now, do you still hope to get your civil rights legislation through at this session?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can tell you more about that at a later date. I can't comment on it now, because the matter hasn't reached the conclusion.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you think that the events of the last week indicate that we now have a three party system ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it might be construed that way. We had a three party system in the last campaign.

Q. There was some hope that some of them might have seen the light immediately after election.

THE PRESIDENT. I still have that hope. I think most of them are fundamentally all right. Sometimes they get excited. And you must remember that this is a new Congress, that it had some difficulty in getting adjusted, on account of the fact that there had to be an inauguration ceremony 3 weeks after they met, and they are just practically a month behind in getting started. I think we ought to give the Congress a chance to act, before we comment on what they may do. Nobody knows.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Morse of Oregon in this morning's paper has said that the Senate Democrats and Republicans had agreed on not passing but one civil rights bill--that is, with a new poll tax bill. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. He is in the Congress and I am not. I only advise the Congress on what I think is good for the country. Then they agree as they see fit. We have three independent prongs to the Government of the United States--executive, legislative, and judicial. And neither of the others ought to interfere with the duties of the other two.

Q. Mr. President, a Member of Congress, identified as a spokesman for the Republicans, said with something of good cheer that a good many Democrats seem to see eye to eye with Republicans in the Congress.

THE PRESIDENT. Hasn't that always been the case? It has ever since I have been in the Congress. I don't think that's anything new.

[7.] Q. Would you mind identifying the three parties that you refer to?

THE PRESIDENT. Republicans, Democrats, and Dixiecrats. I don't see why you have to have that identified for you.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, there was a report out of Washington the other day saying the Democratic leaders in Congress had recommended a special session in the summer time on civil rights. Have they made a recommendation to you--

THE PRESIDENT. I have heard nothing about it, but I think it is a little early to talk about a special session, when the regular session hasn't really got started yet.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, by calling these-naming these three parties, do you imply that the people you refer to as Dixiecrats you do not regard as good Democrats?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course they are not. Of course they are not good Democrats.

Q. What has happened to the progressives?

THE PRESIDENT. Ask Bob LaFollette. He buried them.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the several events in both Senate and House in the past week, do you regard those acts that have opposed your policies as being a ground swell against your program in its entirety?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think it has no significance in that regard at all.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, is the rent control bill in its present form agreeable to you ?

THE PRESIDENT. I never comment on legislation that is not before me on the desk, and that hasn't been passed by the Congress as yet.

Q. It's a little bit at variance with your recommendations, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that's a matter for argument. It hasn't come up to me yet.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, could you give us any idea what your plans are upon your return, beginning early next week? Will you meet with--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I will tell you exactly what my plans are. On tomorrow night I think I have to appear at a White House Photographers' dinner. On Monday morning I shall have a session with the "Big Four" as usual, and probably a conference with the Cabinet during the day--not a regular Cabinet meeting but a conference. And for the rest of the week I will probably be signing documents and seeing those people who are interested in talking to the President on matters that are now pending before the Congress. It will be the usual week's work. Probably doubled up a little bit.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, could we sum up-could we say you are still hopeful that the major part of your fair deal program will get through ?

THE PRESIDENT. The program has been sent to the Congress, and the action of the Congress we can only anticipate and comment on--we can only anticipate the action of the Congress, and I can't comment on it until the Congress is finished.

Q. I was just thinking of your hopes.

THE PRESIDENT. I sent my message to the Congress which conveyed exactly what I hoped to accomplish. Hasn't changed any. I think we are going to accomplish the program.

[14.] Q. How is your personal battle coming along with your waistline ?

THE PRESIDENT. Wonderfully well--wonderfully well. Wonderfully well. I am holding my own.

Q. Holding your own?

Q. What do you weigh now, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. 176--bedside weight. [Laughter]

[15.] Q. Mr. President, among those plans for next week, do you by any chance plan to send any new message to the Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of at the present time. I have been in touch with the leaders in Congress all the time since I have been down here. They call this a vacation. It's just a change of scenery with the usual amount of work. Of course, I don't have the appointments and the people coming to see me every day as I do when I am in the White House. That's the only difference. There isn't any difference as far as the work of the President is concerned. I sign just as many documents and read just as many records and carry on the business of the Government as usual. It's only a change of scenery and getting a little sunlight. I understand it's very cold in Washington--snowed up there the other day.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Jacobson3 left for Israel yesterday, and there is a report out of New York that he was going on a special mission. I know he had been intending to go for some time on a personal visit. He is supposed to have carried some letter from you.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know about it. I didn't even know he was going.

3Edward Jacobson was a military associate of Mr. Truman's during World War I, and subsequently went into partnership with him in the haberdashery business in Kansas City, Mo. The partnership lasted from 1919 until 1922.

Q. What was that?


[17.] Q. Do you plan to attend a dinner with Winston Churchill at the British Embassy on the 24th of this month?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Winston Churchill is coming down to Washington to have lunch--dinner with me. It hasn't been arranged, so I don't know anything about any social affairs at the British Embassy.

Q. Got a wire saying so.

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't know anything about it.

Q. You said he will have lunch or dinner?

THE PRESIDENT. Lunch or dinner with me.

Q. Has that date been set?

THE PRESIDENT. Hasn't been set definitely, no.

Q. Has he ever seen Key West, sir? Could you stay and get him to come down here?

THE PRESIDENT. He stopped somewhere up north of here, in a private house, I think, and did some painting. But I don't think he has ever been to Key West, I am sorry to say. I think if he would ever come here, he wouldn't leave. I hate to leave. I have tried to find some excuse to stay over another week, but I can't postpone that Photographers' dinner very well.

Q. Could the local radio station quote you as saying you are returning to Washington with a feeling of resignation, after leaving the sunshine of Key West?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that expresses it pretty well. [Laughter]

Q. Sounds like you are coming down before long?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we'll have to wait and see about that.

Q. It's swell down here in the summertime, too.

THE PRESIDENT. So I have been told--

Q. You ought to try it.

THE PRESIDENT.--but I have never felt like risking it.

Q. It never gets over 93--guaranteed.

THE PRESIDENT. That's what they say about Washington, but sometimes it does.

[18.] Mr. Ross: You might say that this is a regular White House press conference and the regular rules apply.

THE PRESIDENT. You tell them.

Mr. Ross: This is a regular White House conference, and the same rules apply that always apply in the White House as to quotes.

THE PRESIDENT. The President's remarks are supposed to be paraphrased, not quoted directly.

Q. All right.

THE PRESIDENT. I thought everybody knew. But Charlie wanted to be sure, and he is right.

Q. It looks like we have about worn ourselves out, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you haven't worn me out by any means, and I have been on the receiving end. [Laughter]

Reporter: So I will have to say, thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. All right. [Laughter] I hope you have all had a good vacation.

Q. Yes, sir!

Q. Wonderful!

THE PRESIDENT. I wish I could have been at that party last night. It kept me awake until 2 o'clock.

Q. It kept us awake a little later, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You see, I sleep up here on the northeast corner, and I had to get up and shut the windows.

Q. We didn't realize we were making any noise.

THE PRESIDENT. I say it must have been a grand party. I am glad you are all having a good time.

Q. We have, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I am awfully happy that you are having a good time.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and seventysecond news conference was held on the lawn of the Little White House at Key West, Fla., at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 18, 1949.

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/230000

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