• U.S.

U.S. At War: Stassen Speaks

3 minute read

Harold Stassen wrote home every other day. But until this week he had not answered the $75,000-a-year question: What was he planning to do about the Stassen Presidential boom? Instead, good Navy-man Stassen had talked only of other things. Principally, he wanted to know every linguistic gem of 2-year-old Kathleen Stassen, who is launching timidly into speech. Presumably, however, he had ways to know that the first big test of his candidacy was coming up and that the news was not too hopeful.

All of Stassen’s top Minnesota lieutenants were pouring into neighboring Wisconsin, which will choose its Presidential favorites April 4. Stassen’s name so far is entered only in Nebraska, where it will have tough going; in Minnesota, where it will get a solid favorite-son delegation; and in Wisconsin.) Able young Senator Joe Ball led the Stassen invasion of Wisconsin. Joe Ball made a smashing impression in Madison, with a state hookup. But politicos wondered: how much personal liking for Joe Ball would be translated into votes for his candidate, 7,500 miles away at sea? Minnesota’s 5-by-5 state G.O.P. chairman, Dr. R. C. Radabaugh, its Congressmen, Melvin J. Maas and Walter H. Judd, its Governor, Edward J. Thye, Stassen men all, were invading Wisconsin. But they were bucking the on-scene campaigning of Wendell Willkie and the potent Old Guard support of Tom Dewey. Stassenites had candidates entered for 22 of Wisconsin’s 24 convention seats but would be grateful for half a dozen won. The Stassenites had muffed their opportunity to enter for the other two seats—which are in a district sympathetic to Stassen, near the Minnesota border—because their hand-picked candidates negligently waited to file until it was too late.

Joe Ball well knew the size of the odds. Said he to Madison Republicans: “Stassen’s absence now is a severe political handicap. Stassen is from a relatively small midwest state. Stassen is young, 37 years old. He can have his chance later; to push him now may hurt his political career, it is said. Why urge his nomination? We are concerned with what happens to the U.S. for the next four years. . . . So great is the suspicion and antagonism toward the present Chief Executive existing in Congress that a deadlock on both foreign and domestic postwar policies is almost a certainty if a change is not made. . . . Stassen has the abilities that we need.”

This week Lieut. Commander Stassen made things a little easier for Joe Ball. To Secretary of the Navy Knox he wrote saying he would do nothing to seek the nomination, but would “consider it to be my plain duty to accept” if he got it.

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