FEBRUARY 16, 1948
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It is somewhat unusual to find a political campaign starting in earnest so long before the party conventions are held. When one realizes that three Republican contenders for the Presidential nomination took trips practically covering the country last summer, one begins to see that campaigns are no longer confined to a few months before election.
It used to be said that the President had a great advantage over all contenders because his duty might well call him to appear in different parts of the country, and whatever he did at any time could be said to be part of a campaign for reelection.
This new type of campaign, however, where several candidates tour the country and harangue their fellow countrymen long before the conventions, is novel and interesting. I think it has value as long as the individuals themselves can afford it financially and physically. It does give the people of the country an opportunity to know what the candidates think on the important questions of the day, and it gives that growing group of independent voters, who belong to no party all of the time, an opportunity to choose between parties.
I was struck, for instance, by Sen. Robert A. Taft's recent speech in Bloomington, Ill. He wishes the government to be run so that every individual might have true liberty, equal justice under the law, equality of opportunity, particularly in youth, and a standard of living which would make happiness possible. He says the Democratic Administration, both the present one and the previous one has slighted these principles or has invested them with conditions hostile to the country's general welfare.
I feel sure that both my husband and President Truman would agree completely with the objectives which Senator Taft has stated, so it comes down to how you obtain these objectives. Labor might well ask him whether the Taft-Hartley Act was really designed to obtain these objectives. And those who would like certain improvements in the Social Security Act, in housing and in health, might well ask why the Republican Congress has not brought about these improvements.
Mr. Taft, as one of the most influential leaders in his party, must bear some responsibility for the record of Congress. The objectives he names are those which President Truman has urged in his messages. If Senator Taft objects to the methods that have been suggested, why are there no new ones devised and being tried out?
I think, on the whole, this pre-convention campaigning is a good thing. It gives us a chance to see the workings of the minds of the candidates.