Ike! Where Are You When We Really Need You?
Commenting on this, John said, “Of course, Father has no false modesty.”
So much for the Republicans. They went off happily politicking at their National Convention, in which the leading candidates of the liberal and internationalist wing were Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan and former Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota. The conservative, neo-isolationist front-runners were Senator Taft and Speaker of the House, Joseph W. Martin.
The Democrats were desperate. President Harry S. Truman was at his nadir of popularity. The party chieftains knew he could not win. In their frantic search for a candidate outstanding and popular enough to take the nomination away from a President in office, they approached Eisenhower, who, true to his West Point training, had never voted or joined a political party, though all his instincts, based on his youth in Republican Kansas, and his natural conservatism made him at heart a Republican.
However, to everyone’s surprise Eisenhower did not repeat the flat denial he had given the Republicans; he said nothing.
After a bitter battle at the Republican Convention late in June, Governor Dewey was nominated. He looked like a sure winner unless Ike accepted the Democratic offer. Rumors flew.
In June Parent’s Magazine asked me to write a brief biography of General Eisenhower’s first grandson, David, who was three months old. I got permission to do so from the Eisenhowers, who asked us to lunch on the Fourth of July so we could photograph the baby. As Ruth and I drove through 125th Street, my eye caught a bright red headline:
“Ike Will Accept.”
We stopped and bought the paper.
When we reached the Eisenhowers’ house we found an unexpected visitor—George Allen, who was President Truman’s round, merry court jester, political fixer—and hatchet man. It soon became evident that Allen had come on a mission from the President to plead with Ike to make another positive denial that he would accept the Democratic nomination.