1944

THEO LIPPMAN JR.

October 16, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

The 40th came in the last year of World War II. President Roosevelt agreed to a fourth nomination, saying it was his wartime duty. ''Dr. New Deal'' had become ''Dr. Win the War.'' Republicans nominated the 42-year-old governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey.

Dewey and his party endorsed much New Deal legislation and the total-victory war policy. Dewey campaigned on the theme that after 12 tough years the Democratic leadership was ''tired'' and ''old.'' This played to the subterranean issue: There were whispers that FDR might not live out another term. The rumor was energized by FDR's agreement to dump the very liberal vice president, Henry Wallace, for the more mainstream and acceptable replacement in the White House (in the event of tragedy) of Missouri Sen. Harry Truman.

Many voters felt the commander in chief should not be changed in mid-war under any circumstances. Dwight Eisenhower, then a general, said later when he was president that 1944 was the only election in which he supported Roosevelt. Dewey did better than any candidate had against FDR. He got 46 percent of the vote and carried 12 states, but though diminished, for FDR it was one last landslide victory.

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