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tv   The Contenders Thomas E. Dewey  CSPAN  October 15, 2020 12:50pm-2:54pm EDT

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country from a continuation of the 80th congress and from misrule from now on. i must have your help. you must get in and push and win this election. the country can't afford you're watching american history tv. cspan3. created by america cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. >> governor dewey, making a plea for world peace and striking communist elements in government, the gop leader draws big audiences.
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next step is portland, oregon. he makes another stirring bid for the northwest ballots. well, it appears he has at least one hardened supporter. those are some of the regions finest salmon specificitiments. we'll know soon. november is just around the corner. president truman continues his swing. the chief executive gets a present which he said will be on the white house lawn for the next four years. he rides to the home of his old friend, cactus jack, for a real texas breakfast and and gets a warm welcome. later, he visits the alamo. a shrine of texas independence. in austin, a big crowd meets the president as he continues his campaign for the lone star state. 23 electoral votes.
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addressing civil rights, saying the republicans don't want public unity. on his tour, the president spoke and visited with sam raburn, former speaker of the house. at the boarder, bringing the southern vote back into line. >> dewey defeats truman. from the 1948 presidential campaign. harry s. truman, pictured here, won that election, and his riva are live from the roosevelt hotel in new york city, which in november of 1948, hosted the republican party's headquarters and new york governor thomas dewey's campaign. he used this suite, number 1527, when ever he was in new york during his 12 years as governor.
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joining us is richard norton smith, biographer of dewey. so, it's november 2nd, 1948, at the roosevelt hotel. what happens here? >> well, the day began with virtual unanimity in the nation's press corps. that this election was over. that it was dewey's to lose. there were pollsters who stopped polling after labor day. they were so convinced there was no contest, really. governor and mrs. dewey went to vote at midday, not too far from here, were cheered all the way along. he got out of his car, decided to walk back to the hotel. reporters thought that was a good sign. the new dewey, they said, the warmer, more versatile dewey
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than in '48. they had an election night tradition of having dinner with their dear friends, the strauss'. roger strauss, who was a publisher. and the family went to the strauss' for an early dinner. and while they were there, some disturbing returns came in from connecticut in particular. and dewey of course as gang buster had relied upon accountants to convict the likes of adams and schultz. always had great, great respect for the numbers and the numbers were already a little bit out of sync with what the pollsters had predicted. that was the beginning of a night listening ordeal in this suite. the secret service had sent their top agents here. they thought dewey was going to be president like everyone else,
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seeming seemingly. et went on and on and about 3:00 in the morning, the agents began to slip away. which was their non verbal way of communicating a truly historic upset was taking place. and at one point before dawn, the governor of new york poked his head through that door and said to a friend, what do you know? the little son of a bitch won. his formal concession came later in the day. >> before we get to that point though, where he looks out suite 1527 and sees that secret service is gone, there's a confidence at the roosevelt hotel. describe that. >> well, the confidence was based upon, very understandably, the fact there was a consensus among people on the right people on the left. not only that dewey was going to win. this is what's fascinating. when you see that iconic image.
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he is remember today a lot of people as the man who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. but if you go back and read the contemporary press, everyone from drew pearson to walter lipman to the alsop brothers, they not only expected dewey to win, they had praise for the campaign he had run. they thought it was statesman like, high minded. in fact, a lot of criticism for the campaign president truman had run against him. it's a fascinating example of how a snapshot of history, often contained in jumpournalism, can superseded. >> we want to show our viewers from that night, early on, when the returns are starting to come in, dewey's campaign manager. >> dewey's headquarters, champagne flows freely.
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victory is in the air. the first returns were truly leaved, but the republicans aren't worried. and then republican campaign manager, herbert brownel, brings good news. >> we now know that governor dewey will carry new york state by at least 50,000 votes and that he will be the next president of the united states. >> so, why were republicans so confident they could get the white house? 1948? >> by the way, carrying new york state was no small feat. the first time in 20 years that a republican had managed to do it. new york was the kracradle of n deal, the home of roosevelt new dealism. so for brown to announce that, that victory was in the air, was perfectly understandable. 1948, what we didn't know going
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into 1948, what it confirmed, was that america had become a new deal country. the death of roosevelt had ended one presidency. the approach to government, the expectation that government would be more involved, for example, in ensuring prosperity. that government would be used to fight economic downturns as the new deal had in the '30s and the '40s. whether or not you believe and dewey had very grave doubts about the success of those efforts, but nevertheless, the a assumption was that when the new deal died, dewey died with it. turns out that wasn't the case. on election day, 1948, americans enjoyed record prosperity, record employment.
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the reason the republicans inspite of that thought they could win in 1948 is simple. harry truman. we forget today, but truman in his first term, was a very unpopular president. the heir is truman. there was talk about the little man from missouri. someone dwarfed by the fwoes of fraghost of franklin roosevelt. truman had a difficult assign. . every president after a war has the process of readjusting economically, culturally, the agriculture sector. it's very difficult. inflation strikes. all of that came due on truman's watch. and the consens sesensus in '46 '47, he wasn't handling it very well. it was so bad the republicans took congress in 1946, which only fed their exations
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peckations. >> so, how are republicans viewing the truman administration, at this point, heading into '48? >> there was no such thing as the republican. and that was part of dewey's problem. republican party was almost evenly split between what's called the eastern establishment. the old teddy roosevelt wing of the party. charles evans hughes, who was profile d earlier in this serie, was very much in that tradition. tom dewey represented that in the '30s, '40s and into the 'oo 50s, then eisenhower. opposed to that were the conservative midwesterners. many isolation iists, who ralli around bob taft. ironically, president taft, who with tr, had precipitated the split in 1912. that split never really healed. so in 1946, when the republicans took congress, it was the conservatives who became the face of the party.
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you had the other governors who were much more willing to work with the new deal premesis. >> tomas e. dewey ran, lost, but changed political history any way. here he is launching his campaign in 1948 and the criticism that he has of the truman administration. >> we enter into a campaign to unite all americans. on january 20th, we will enter a new era. there will begin, in washington, the biggest unraveling, unsnarling, unhatangle ining opn in our nation's history. >> what do you make of what he
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says there? >> dewey had been governor of new york for several years and he had unhang led and unsnarled a lot of pubureaucratic cobwebs. he had taken what many would see as a hybrid to make government more responsive. in some ways, to make it smaller. taxes were reduced to make it friendlier to the private sector. so what he had done in new york, he proposed to do on the national level. one critical element that sets dewey apart and that of course is civil rights. he's in the forefront of that issue. new york state is the first state in america to pass antidiscrimination legislation. and he took that very seriously. it did not necessarily meet with
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universal agreement. even among republicans in new york. but it was something he cared about a great deal. >> we're talking about thomas dooe dewey. we'll be joined by his son and we'll be taking your phone calls this evening, so you can start dialing in. we're working our way back from election night. so let's go to the fall campaign and the issues that are there. is truman popular? >> he is not terribly popular at the beginning of the campaign. it's a curious reversal. the president was less popular than his policies. in other words, people were perfectly content with record high employment, but didn't necessarily attribute it to truman. also, of course, global issues were a huge factor here. one of the things for which dewey has been criticized for in
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retrospect but at the time was wildly praised, was running this campaign of national unity, in which he tried. first of all, the whole idea of bipartisan foreign policy is part of tom dewey's political legacy. something that began with he and john foster dull is in the 1944 campaign and they carried it. he, for example, supported truman on the air lift to berlin. he supported him on recognizing the state of israel. at the same time, he wants to increase the defense budget. he supported the martial plan, but would have asked more questions before just turning american tax dollars over to left wing governments in europe. so it was a campaign in many ways that is what we claim we want in a candidate.
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there wasn't a lot of personalities. a lot of name calling and the critics said even then, it's dull. that it lacks specifics. >> is that showing up in the polls? >> in a dewey versus true man. >> the popular notion has been that he drowned in a sea of complacency. the fact is he knew he was the first national political candidate to have a full time polling unit as part of his campaign. he listened to the pollsters. he had a real appreciation of their art and he was well aware of the fact his legal slipping. there were people who came to him in the last ten days of the campaign and he acknowledged that the lead was slipping. to one, he said, but remember, never talk when you're ahead.
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>> so what happens next, then? are the democrats behind truman? are they solid in their -- >> i think who is solid behind truman. one of the contributing factors in dewey's loss, the republican congress passed the taft harley act, which organized labor, i think rightly saw as an attack upon many of the rights and privileges that developed under the new deal. it put him in a really awkward position. by and large, he agreed with much of the bill. at the same time, he's governor of new york. this is a labor state. a liberal state. so in some way, he was walking a fine line there. but what the taft act did was energize organized labor as nothing ever did. 1948 was probably the single election in which organized labor played the biggest role throughout america and in race
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after race after race, the democratic ticket ran ahead of harry truman. in part, because of truman's relative unpopularity, but also because organized labor, to a man, turned out in record numbers and voted democratic. >> who are the other players in the democratic party? >> you have four candidates in the 1948 election. you have on the left, former vice president henry wallace. who believes that truman has started the cold war. that he is insufficiently attuned to the possibilities of peace with the soviet union and on the far right, you have strom thurmond, who walked out of the democratic convention because a young man from minneapolis named hubert humphrey had introduced and subsequent ly passed a strog pro civil rights play. so the conventional wisdom was that this would hurt truman.
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that he would lose votes on the right and left. in fact, what it did was make truman the man in the middle. and neither thurman or wallace had any of the impact that it was believed they would have. >> the economy at the time. what's it like? >> it's truman's you know, great strength. he ran less against dewey than he did against the republican congress and the ghost of hoover. the fact of the matter was that a democratic president riding the crest of prosperity in the fall of 1948, could point a finger at the republican congress and if you return
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republicans to complete control to the white house and congress, you could expect to see a return to the economic policies that caused the great depression. it wasn't that long since the great depression. people's memories were very sharp and that came into play. without a doubt. he had taken heat in 1944 for introducie ining charge that fr allowed congress influence to take root to some degree in his administration. in 1948, i think we've got a clip. okay. . >> show that. >> the first nationally broadcast presidential debate resolves around one issue. shall the communist party in america be outlaw and thomas do dewey says no, it should not be outlawed for reasons he
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expouzed. his opponent, who had taken lead in that primary race, harold stasen, before the oregon primary, took the position it should be outlawed. it was a turning oint out. >> we're going to get to that debate later here coming up, but first, i want to show our viewers what dewey had to say on communists in 1948. >> the communists here in our midst. some people jeer at the problem, calling it a red herring. some people get panicky about it. i don't belong to either of those groups. we must neither ignore the communists nor outlaw them. if we aigner them, we give them
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the cloak of immunity they want. if we ignore them, we give them the martyrdom they want even r more. we will keep the american people informed where they are, who they are and what they're up to. that's very much what his approach was. it raises the fascinate iing prospect under the what if, had dewey be elected in 1948, that we would have never heard joe mccarthy. senator mccarthy, who was in many ways, a product of republican frustration over losing an election they thought
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was a sure thing. tom was a political boss among other things. he controlled the republican party in the state. he would have controlled the republican party nationally and i can tell you, he never would have allowed joe mccarthy to rear his head. >> internationally, what's going on in '48? >> we're well into the cold war. dewey is in support of the martial plan. the defense department created central intelligence agency. to some degree, put america's economy on a cold war footing. dewey is supportive of all this that. if anything, he believes that we need to spend more money on our defenses.
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about who was seen as a bulwark against communism in france. dewey think that is a creative american diplomacy could people like that to good use. >> how does he differ from the other prominent republicans in the party at the time and who are they? >> bob taft. mr. republican from ohio. it's fair to say was the champion of the ice laigsist wing of the republican party. that is to say the wing profoundly suspicious of international organizations, like the u.n. suspicious of later on, the korean war. suspicious of projecting american military power around the world. as opposed to building up
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american defenses here at home. hoover, who had been in that camp as well. d dewey has morphed. as a young man, he had been a quasi isolationist. and a champion of bipartisan foreign policy. >> given that, what is the impact of that attitude on all of his presidential bids? he runs in '40, '44, '48. >> i think it's safe to say it was statesman like and not sure if it won many votes. obviously didn't win in the presidency. in 1944, there was a significant conflict between dewey and fdr even though he agreed to the idea that politics stops at the waters edge. and specifically, with the
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united nations have an army tha could employ without first securing the permission of member states like the united states. and roosevelt said yes, he supported that. dewey was not supportive of that. roosevelt won the election and history's prove than i was right. >> you talk about the divide there in the republican party over this international issues. do they come back together in time for the '48 campaign? do the taft and dewey wings come together? >> it was papered over, but in fact, it was very shrewd on truman's part so see that as the achilles heel that republican unity was unity in name only and to try to almost eliminate dewey and to suggest that if you vote for this man, what you're going
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to get is bob taft you know, the midwest conservative republican party. and to be frank, dewey did little. he and taft des pized each other. their rivalry is one of the great intellectual and personal in history. on the scale of jefferson and hamilton. it's about something. not just about personal ambitious. it's about a different view of the world. a different view of government at home. a different view of what the republican party stands for, a different view of what lincoln's legacy is and a different view of the future. >> we're at the roosevelt hotel in new york city to talk about thomas e. dewey in our series look iing at those folks in our american history who ran, lost, but changed political history. we want to get to your phone calls here. first one is brian in springfield, illinois. go ahead.
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>> hello. good evening. thank you so much for the series. mr. smith, we still miss you very much here in springfield. >> very kind of you. thanks. >> yeah. not a problem. i actually had a question about 1952. i remember reading about an illinois senator who was a taft supporter and the convention which was here in chicago. he went up to nominate taft and kind of wagged his finger at dewey who was in the crowd and said you led us twice down the path of defeat. don't do this again and of course, taft blocked that nomination and fight to eisenhower. my question is, what role did dewey play in getting him to run and what role did he play in eisenhower's fall campaign? >> boy, that's a huge subject. he was instrumental in getting eisenhower into the race. when eisenhower at this point was over in paris, commander of
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nato, he really didn't want to leave. he didn't want to come home. he didn't want to sully himself by campaigning actively for the no, ma' nomination. at one point, dewey, who was a shrewd student of human psychology, wrote a letter. no copy exists. his secretary told me the story. he writes the letter. she mailed it. it went to general eisenhower in paris and in it, dewey says to eisenhower, if you don't come home and actively seek this nomination, my fear is that the delegates will nominate douglas mcarthur. well, that was the ultimate hot button to push with eisenhower and shortly after that letter was received, he heard the call of duty. and he came home. talking about the split between
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taft and dewey, it was never more dramatic that night than when he wagged his finger and said you took us down the road of defeat twice. dewey, the next nikt, was able to announce 87 of 97 new york delegates for eisenhower and finally, yes, he was more responsible for everyone else for nixon being on the ticket. he had spotted nixon as a young l talent. first during his case in 1948. he brought him to new york to speak to the annual dinner of the republican party. which was a try out. when nixknicks finished, he sat down. said make me a promise. don't get f. don't get lazy and some day, you can be president. >> we'll go back to those moments later in the show and talk more about dewey's legacy in the republican party and what he was able to accomplish even though he was not successful for
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the white house, but first, let's hear from michelle in kansas city, missouri. good evening. >> good evening. did the campaign actually exploit truman's tie to the organization in kansas city? some of the things he did back then helped true map get in the position where he was at. thank you. >> that's a very good question. no, they did not. that was part of dewey's approach, particularly '48, which was consciously to stay away from personal attacks. to keep this thing a very high plane. some would say vapid. content free. but certainly very little resemblance to modern attack. campaigns. >> back to the fall campaign. to the primaries. set the stage for us. who else is running? >> bob taft is running.
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before he became a comical figure who ran every four years. to various levels of disdain. then you had vander burg from michigan who reminded a lot of people of the old cartoon character, fog there is horn. the quintessential pot belly and pompo pompous, but had become a statesman. he had become a conversion from isolatiocsolationist to internat that tom dewey was to emulate. it was a pretty distinguished field. by no means, a sure thing.
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one of the persons who wanted to run was mcarthur, who of course was in the jungles of asia. had his agents in wisconsin saw to it that his name was on the ballot. was the 1940 nominee of the party. z >> let's talk about the impact of the oregon primary and the debate you touched on earlier. why is it important? >> a number of reasons. first of all, i'm sure it's on youtube. i'm sure it's easy to get. anyone who is watching what passes for debates. go and listen to the debate.
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it's as close in a modern context to lincoln douglas as anything could be. thoughtful, opposing viewpoints on a critical and polarizing issue in america and to do it in a way that raised the public standard of discourse as opposed to lowering it. >> we have a little bit of that debate and we'll come back and talk about it. >> there's no such thing as a constitutional right to destroy all instituticonstitutional rig. there's no such thing as a freedom to destroy freedom. the right of man to liberty is inherent in the nature of man. to win it and to maintain it requires courage and sacrifice
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and it also requires intelligence and realism and determination in the establishment of the laws and the systems of justice to serve mankind. i submit that the communist organization in america and the freedom loving countries should be outlawed. should i want the people of the united states to know where i stand on this proposal.
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i'm against any scheme to i'm against it because it's a violation of the united states and into the bill of rights and clearly so. i'm against it because it's immoral and nothing but total itself. i'm against it because i know from a great year's many experience in the law that the proposal wouldn't work and instead, it would rapidly advance the cause of communism in the united states and all over the world. >> he had gone in as the
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preemptive favorite, having been nominee in 1944 and had done well in the early primaries. so it really all came down to this extraordinarily dramatic confrontation over this one issue. now, that's dewey at his best and there are a lot of people i think after the fact, who thought if he had only talked like that, with that degree of specificity and conviction and credibility until november of 1948 that maybe the result of the election would have been different. >> how many people are listening to this debate at the time? >> 60 million people. >> on the radio. >> it's estimated tuned in to the radio debate. just phenomenal. >> and the role of radio at that time. >> well, radio was the chief medium by which the news was disseminated. this is another aspect of tom
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dewey. he had come to new york in the '20s. not necessarily wanting to be a lawyer, an but an opera singer, which surprises people. and you heard his voice. it's a very cultured voice. a very trained voice. some thought it lacked spontaneity. but it's also true that it was the one republican voice that on the radio was able to hold the magical franklin roosevelt to a draw. >> what if people could have seen that debate? >> that's a great question. dewey liked television. he thought it was, it was like courtroom. you know? as a young man, he had become famous as a man who broke up the rackets in new york, who became the gang buster and inpyred all these hollywood movies and shows like mr. district attorney.
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an ability to make his case to connect, whether it was with a jury or with viewers. there are some early television scopes in his third race for governor, for example, where he is very effective in front of the camera. i think he probably wished in retrospect he could have run the '48 campaign in front of the camera. how does he get the nomination? were there ballots? >> yeah, several. dewey is the last republican candidate who required more than one ballot to be nominated. even though he had turn ed the tide, if you will, in oregon. there was still determined opposition led by above all, senator taft and to a lesser degree at that point, harold, who had by the way, made a name for himself as a so-called boy governor of minnesota. while in his early 30s.
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a real prodigy. of course dewey was a real prodsy. it took i believe three ballots. instead to unify the party, he picked the governor of ohio, taft's friend, fellow conservative, a man named john bricker. and one of the slogans was the war will end quicker with dewey and bricker. >> marvin in los angeles, go ahead. >> hello, thomas dewey was a reasonably young man in 1953 and was very influential in general eisenhower running. was he offered a job by eisenhower after all his vp, governor warren of california, wusz ovffered the job of chief
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justice. >> he was informed about the supreme court. when you stop to think about it, nothing else made sense. except perhaps secretary of state and there, he had the next best thing. maybe better. his long time political ally and john foster dulles. one of the things about him that is often overlooked was that he brought into the american process a whole generation of very talented people. risen ho eisenhower and nixon are the most of course. there's a whole host of people who would remain, some here in new york. kim is regarded as the best press secretary in white house history.
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the list was a long one. >> os mopd in richmond, virginia, you're next. >> hello? >> you're on the air. go ahead. >> thank you. >> can you hear me? >> we can. >> okay. this is the first presidential election my mother, a lifelong republican, voted in and she told me she found dewey unattractive, she mentioned his greasy hair and mustache. understanding the role, the role lyndon johnson played in this election.
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>> he was not a csignificant factor in the national, in the presidential race. his appearance is reveal ng a number of ways. he was someone who i think today would be in despair. he could not be handled. there were people throughout his career, said, you know, tom, if you'd shave off that mustache and get your teeth fixed, he had a couple of missing teeth from a high school football scrimmage. well, he kept the mustache and kept the teeth or the non teeth, for a very simple reason. francis dewey liked him the way he was. but you're right. there are times when people, in print, compared his appearance to charlie chaplain or adolf hitler and in 1948 or 1944, little brown mustaches were probably not terribly political potent weapon.
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>> the convention in philadelphia when dewey accepts the nomination from his party. >> there's been honest contention, spirited disagreements and i believe considerable argument as. but don't let anybody be misled by that. you have given here in this call a moving and dramatic proof of how americans who honestly differ close ranks and move forward for the nation's well being shoulder to shoulder. let me assure you that beginning january 20, there will be team
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work in the united states. when these rights are secure in this world of ours, the permanent ideals of the republican party shall have been realized. the ideals of the american people are the ideals of the republican party. we have, in these days which proceeded us, in philadelphia, lit a beacon in this cradle of our own independence as our our great america. we've lighted a beacon to give eternal hope that men may live in liberty with human dignity and before god and loving him stand erect and free.
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>> ak cementing the gop nomination at the convention. in philadelphia in 1948. we are coming to you live this evening from the roosevelt hotel. where dewey was here with his family, his closest aides, to watch and listen for the election results to come in. joining us now is thomas e. dewey jr. bring us back to the 1948 convention. were you there? >> no. >> what were your father's, what do you think it meant to him to win that nomination? both in '44 and '48? >> did he want it in '44? >> you know, i'm not going to be able to answer that because we department talk about what was going to do what.
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we were teenagers and we were in school and my parents, neither of them, was particularly forthcoming about no, we won't do that. it's just you went forward and did what you were supposed to do or what you thought you were supposed to do. >> and what were you supposed to do in '48 during the campaign? what was your role? >> student. >> did you participate at all? were you part of commercial ads or were you out on the campaign trail posing for pictures? >> no, no and no. >> and why not? what was the dynamic? >> we were in school. that was our job. his job was government and politics and we were, you know, the kids. >> what did you talk about around the dinner table though? >> not much memory there. i think maybe more of what we're
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doing. didn't really talk about what was going on in the campaign and that kind of thing. >> so, it wasn't a household infused with politics. >> no. it was not. >> years later, did he ever talk to you about politics? >> he was not very reflective about that. >> and what about your mother? what do you remember her telling you about politics? >> no memory of that. >> do you have memories of the campaign in 1948? >> not really, no. >> were you here on election night? >> yes. >> what's your memory of that? >> watching returns bei. being sent to bed and the next morning, i forget that it was
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relatively early in the morning. i do remember dad coming into the bedroom where john and i were, his bathrobe and said, well, we lost. and that was that. >> and didn't talk about it after that. >> no. >> just said we lost. >> right. >> do you think it was something he carried with him as a ball and chain the rest of his life or did he in fact -- i mean, there are people who move on and you know, that's that. >> ball and chain. no. i don't think he ever thought very much like the biography you're running. he noefr v never thought, that was something i could done differently. maybe he did, but we didn't hear that. he went on to to do his job, which was being governor of new
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york. until and fully hoping to retire in 1950, which he then, sense of duty when the koreans went to war. impelled him to take four more years out of what would have been a very good legal practice and run for another term to make sure that he could hold his republican coalition to get a nontaft candidate in 1952 which he thought was necessary to get the presidency. >> it's consistent with what ub that might surprise people is that your dad, in his early days, certainly never thought of himself as embarking upon a political career. that is to say someone seeking office as a pway of making a living. when he first came to new york, he was at columbia law school and a friend asked what do you
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want to do in life. he said he wanted to lead a great law firm and make a lot of money. he did it, but there was this 20-year detour along the way called politics. >> 24 years. >> what kind of man was your father? >> in what respect? >> i mean, what was his style like? how would you describe him to people? >> or how might he surprise people? the imannals have come down, little man on the wedding cake and the stereotypes that have been produced because of what part in '48. if herp to walk he were to walk that door, what would it be like to be around him? >> it's the type that i think i'm not sure we see anymore. he came from a small town. in michigan.
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his father died quite very early in life and he had a very strong mother. and he emerged from michigan with what used to be called the protestant ethic and those ideals. >> he was a work a holic? >> he was that. loved his golf game and farm. but he, he was taken on to do four or five different jobs. each one he did well enough so that the next one came along. >> one thing, i guarantee you, in 1937, his success breaking up the gangs in new york, john foster dulles tried to hire him
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for 150,0$150,000 a year. >> okay, 100 is the number i remember. >> okay. in any event. a lot of money. >> yes. >> and he was drafted. literally drafted to run for district attorney of new york county. for the grand sum of $20,000 a year. >> we're going to get to the rise of your father and how he came to national prominence, but given what tom has said about his father, take that and describe for us his campaign style. >> he's a much more dynamic campaigner. when he ran for district attorney for example in new york county, new york county is one county. there were people all over the burr roroughs of new york city day who wanted to vote for tom.
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he wasn't on their ballot. he had electrified this city with his exploits taking on the rackets. the heart of communications, you had the loose press. you had obviously the radio networks. i mean, to become a phenomenon in new york meant potentially a national phenomenon. he was the inspiration. hollywood was cranking out a movie a week in late '30s inspired by his exploits. in 1938, 37 years old, it went
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beyond hero worship. i can't think of anyone sense. lind burg in his own way, in his own sphere had that appeal. your dad is still a unique f figure. some people compare rudy giuliani as a prosecutor to your dad. >> well, rue di does. >> i was going to ask you, what do you make of that comparison? >> let's leave it that he does. >> there was an aesthetic there. and the good baritone voice and of course the courtroom thee attics, which was perhaps certain certainly was a revulsion against the excesses of the
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'20s, which were still muvery mh in memory at that point. against the continuing mob scene in headquartered in many respects in new york. >> and the alliance between the mob and political machine. that's what i think people often miss. walker had not been out of city hall that long. tammany as a boy this michigan, had it drummed into his head, that tammany hall represents all that old and evil. who could have predicted it. one quick thing about your dad, which was clearly a limitation in an era of popular campaigning.
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when your god father, elliot bell, economics writer in a dewey administration, when he left the administration to make some money, governor dewey's counsel came to him. look at the letters that were drawn up and he said you know, these are all wrong. they're too formal. there's no intimacy here. he said i'm not going to display my emotions in public. >> okay, i didn't, you know. i was not privy to that, but that surprises me not at all. >> but when you, there's a kind of integrity to that, but it's also a political limitation. >> we need to -- >> yes. >> we need to go ahead to election night, 1948 because we want to talk about his national prominence coming up here. so what happens? what are the results?
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>> well, the results, truman is re-elected. by about 2 million votes. the if you looked at a map, it would be a similar resemblance to today. he swept the east. did well in the industrial midwest. lost the farm belt. he alms said when people asked him to explain '48, he said you can analyze result frs here to kingdom come. the farm vote changed in the last ten days. >> how did wallace and thurman do? >> they brought up the rear. thurman carried several southern states. about 1 million votes. wallace came in fourth. did not carry any states. what about the coverage of that
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night? the media's covering it. how long does goit go? >> it's really the first election where television is a factor. fairly minor factor, but the nbc studios had cooked up this huge model of the white house and they had interestingly enough, they had a parade of donkeys ready to go through the and around the white house as soon as the formalities were observe and your dad was proclaim ed th winner. no one thought of donkeys. they had republican elephants rather. that in a nutshell was what the media expected that night. >> richard and tom are our guests this evening as we take your calls live from the roosevelt hotel in new york city, we're talk u iinging abou tom dewey's bid for the presidency in 1944 and '48. our next discussion here is
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about his rise to power, his national prominence and part of that is his role as a prosecutor. here's a little bit from his 1937 bid to become district attorney in new york. >> you've been given a most difficult task, an opportunity to be of great help to the people of this city. what can we do for you? >> i need a small squad of detectives, who will go to work on this job as they never have before, who will know that the mayor and commissioner are behind the them personally all the time. every gangster in the mob. pick up the 15 ring leaders first. >> his lineup was skillfully directed. lob after lob was taken.
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>> we have made a real start on cleaning the gangsters out of r them and then frightened them into silence. but now the day of fear of the gangster is coming to an end. >> richard norton smith, how does he become a prosecutor? >> well, as tom said, he went to the university of michigan, the law school. he came to in order thinking his -- he loved music. he was a lifelong love. he was surrounded by music growing up and that's where he met mrs. due ewey as well. they had a shared love of music. eventually he settled on the law and wound up working as
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assistant u.s. attorney. his mentor trained him above all in thoroughness. the dewey hallmark was -- we talked about him as a workaholic in one of the early cases, he had his men go over -- they traced 100,000 telephone calls and 200,000 bank slips in order to get a bootlegger named waxy gordon. in many ways, symbolic of this alliance between corrupt -- well, prohibition-defying elements and the government. the local government. >> so i want to get to a phone call here, but i want to go through some names real quick in his fight against organized crime. >> dutch schultz. dutch schultz took away gordon's
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empire which was largely based on alcohol. but not only alcohol, there was something called policy, the numbers game. and it was a gambling for the masses. and, again, this helps to explain dewey's appeal across the demographic range because millions in harlem in particular, were being taken advantage of in this racket. the money was flowing to the underworld and dutch schultz was making $20,000 a day. >> lucky luciano. dutch schultz decided he would assassinate tom's dad when the heat got too great. and actually the underworld decided that was a step too far
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and so before dutch could carry out his plan, mr. luciano and crew took care of dutch. >> the impact of all of this on your family. were there threats to your family. >> sure. >> what was it like? did you know about it? >> no. you're talking about -- i'm three years older than john. what's happening here in 1936, 1937, i'm 4 or maybe 5. and they wouldn't -- being the people they were, they shouldn't share that with us. >> did they later tell you about that time? >> no. one had -- well, there was illusion to it. one found out for one's self. >> what did you find out about that time. what were they doing or others doing to try to protect your dad and family? >> he had, you know, 24/7 protection and a car, detective, and a driver.
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i think it was later that -- the only incident that we did find out about was the missed opportunity to kill him. he went across the street -- 96th street where we lived to a diner there to have breakfast every morning. and dutch schultz had arranged to have the boys there on a morning. and it would have been curtains, except that day, he got up early and went to the office and they missed it. and shortly thereafter, the boys took care of dutch schultz. >> do you think you weren't aware of it because your dad didn't let it bother him? kept to his routine? >> yes. >> he just went forward. >> right. >> he said, maybe it's an exaggeration, that -- i remember when i was doing research for the book, that your dad had developed a habit at that point
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in his life quite understandably, that he maintained throughout his life when he was in a restaurant, he would sit with his back to the wall. >> always. always. >> throughout time. >> yes. >> you remember that? >> yes. >> well, i don't go back to, you know -- >> sure. >> -- to the '30s. but every time we went somewhere, you know, and later years, it was always back to the wall. >> let's get to a phone call here. august has been waiting for us patiently in parkland, florida. august, go ahead. >> caller: how do you do today? it's an amazing story. in 1948, my family moved up to duchess county, new york, and during that time i was going to school and after school i used to work for governor dewey up on his farm on reservoir road. it was amazing because his farm was probably one of the first farms to come out with automatic milking machines for the
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catholicattle. and mrs. dewey had her own garden that she maintained for many years. in 19 -- i think it was '64, '65, their barn burnt down. terrific fire, unbelievable. and i worked for thomas ed murrow on all of those farms. the farms were so large and big, they had to raise crops of corn and we bailed hay. it was amazing. i listened to this program that i couldn't believe it that here i am sitting here, i'm 68 years old and i worked on his farm bailing hay and farming. i thought i would just -- >> thanks, august. let's talk about the farm. your father runs in 1938 for
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governor and loses and buys the farm. he's made a name for himself at this point. decides to run for governor. why? >> i could only speculate that it was the -- some ways a throwback to his youth, to his childhood. he had come from a farming environment. he had, in fact, during world war i, he was too young to enlist and he worked on a farm in the area. my sense is -- you know much better, he was very happy being a dairy farmer. it was a side of him that probably would surprise the public. and i'm not sure your mother was wild about it. i'm not sure you were wild about living -- >> what was it like? >> we were givenn't given a cho. he was very pleased as the caller had said, very pleased to have the early stage milking
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machines because i remember the period before that. in the very beginning when we first -- i think we rented in ' '37 and bought it in '38. we were drinking unpasturized milk because that's what one did on a farm. of course, when he became governor, that guard house was insisted ongoi insisted on by the state police, down there by the entrance. but you have a very good memory of all of that. except i would not put ed murrow and lowell thomas in the same group as farmers. they were basically broadcasters and there for weekends. >> and the caller refer today a mansion. that house had a mortgage on it for a very long time. >> which one? it wasn't a very big one, but it
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did get paid off. >> why was it important to your father? >> i have no idea. he just liked farming. this was his number one hobby. >> what is the significance of this area, richard norton smith, where he buys the farm? >> duchess county is gorgeous. 1944 is the only election where both candidates come from the same county. john, you are on the air. >> caller: hello? >> we're listening, john, go ahead. >> thanks. this is a great series, c-span. i've been enjoying it. a quick comment and a question. professor smith, always enjoy hearing you and i learn a lot whenever you're on. i did not know that oregon had played a role in tom dewey's political fortunes in the primary year.
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out here we pronounce it oregon, not oregon. >> i stand corrected, thank you. >> not the first time. secondly a question, could you comment on the republican race for the nomination in 1944, was there a race and then in the campaign itself, particularly from the republican side? thank you. >> well, there was a race in '44 which is interesting because frankly -- i'm not sure governor dewey thought the nomination was necessarily worth all that much. but certainly wendell willkie wanted a second shot at the presidency. as i say, general mcarthur would have liked to have been nominated. taft flirted with it for a while. but he went john bricker who we've already mentioned sort of run at his dad. i suppose there was a
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half-hearted contest. governor dewey did not announce his candidacy i think until the last minute. it was a quasi-draft and it's an unusual year because, of course, it's wartime. and the great issue -- anyone who won the republican nomination would have a challenge. it's not only that you're running against this formidable wartime commander in the middle of a war, but you don't know when the war is going to end. if america was at peace in january of 1945, then it was believed he would have a much stronger electoral case than if the country were still at war. >> we're going to naples, florida, next. stuart? >> caller: thank you for having me. i just want to commend richard norton smith for preserving the history which is so important to
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america. they both do a great job. in regards to mr. dewey, his passion with music in michigan, richard dreyfuss said in mr. holland's opus, music is not about notes on a page. it's about having fun and passion. that's what dewey had, a lot of passion, which is missing today. today it's texting and nobody communicates and that's -- i think we're losing that. what mr. norton is doing, god bless him. i work with governor rockefeller and i've met him and being in politics and part of that and also the history of the roosevelt hotel is important. i was fortunate enough to work with antoni and we shot a scene in that hotel. when you were in that hotel, you felt a part of history. and the wall doer of has a spot
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under ground where teddy roosevelt used to come in. you're all doing a great job and god bless dewey for what he did, because those were the times when people were close, it was an intimate-working situation. today people are tweeting and it's very -- it's very distant. >> thanks, stuart. >> caller: we have a sense of stories, great stories. the next generation, they don't even know -- they can't converse with you sometimes. so, again -- >> we're going to leave it there. we'll leave it there because we're going off on another area here. >> music, how important was music in your parents' household? >> well, as you remarked earlier, dad came to new york to go to law school. my mother came to new york to study singing, having won a
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contest in oklahoma where she came from. they met at the studio where they both studied. dad supplemented -- he didn't have any income, i guess. he was supplemented what he was sent by singing in synagogues and churches, et cetera, and of course my mother, upon finishing the course, went on the stage singing/actress kind of thing. i would say it was very important then and it diminished for both of them. >> really? >> they were great opera fans and they had a box at the metropolitan opera which i still have and they enjoyed the opera very much. i don't think they went to the symphony very much in their later years. and so while it was extremely important in getting them
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together, i think it wasn't all-consuming later on. >> were they big theater goers? >> fair. not terribly often. >> thomas e. dewey is our contender tonight. he's our eighth in our 14-week series. i want to show you his campaign announcement in 1939. >> i appreciate your confidence and that of my associates in the republican party in the state of new york. i appreciate your support. i shall be glad to lead the fight. >> that was tom e. dewey and his campaign announcement in 1939. goes onto run for governor again in 1942 and wins. why does he decide to run for governor? >> one thing that should be
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mentioned about 1940, he made history in 1940. he had the first female campaign manager that year. a woman named ruth hannah mccormi mccormick simms. her father was mark hannah, no mean political operative himself. but it is -- it's revealing -- you mentioned his singing in synagogues. one of the things that he did when he was in his early legal career, particularly the racket days, when he put out a help wanted sign, 20% of the lawyers in new york applied, a disproportionate number who were hired were jewish at a time when law firms didn't hire jews. >> let's talk more about his record. he runs for governor in 1942. what does he do with that
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position? >> oh, gosh. i would call governor dewey a thrifty liberal. he used to say that before there was government, there was mayhem. and so government arose to meet man's needs. in the modern industrial society that we live in, that means as much economic security as is consistent with individual freedom, so it was that constant balance. in terms of the operations, he cleaned out the cobwebs in albany. albany had been run by one party for 20 years. there was waste and fraud and abuse. but in a more creative way, he cut taxes every year he was governor. >> and his record on civil rights? >> he was out in front. new york state, because of governor dewey, passed the first antidiscrimination legislation at the state level in america. it was to ban discrimination for
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religious or racial reasons in employment. >> los angeles is next. joe? >> caller: i just wanted to state that i enjoyed mr. smith's books and his commentary on history and when he speaks on tv. my question is about polling. i had heard during the 1948 election -- i don't know if dewey was the first one to hire pollsters. but one of the reasons that the polls were wrong is that they sampled from people who owned cars, people who had driver's license and this led to a wrong result about what the actual election was going to be. i just wanted to get more information about that. thank you. >> that's a fascinating question. one of tom dewey's best friends was george gallop. it was a personal friendship. there's no doubt dewey was fascinated by the science of polling. and that's how he regarded it.
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the big problem in 1948, i think, is they stopped polling. they stopped early. even the late polls. which, by the way, showed -- if you look at the polls at the end of the '48 race, they're anywhere from a five-point lead to -- in one case -- a nine-point lead. that is substantial. but it's not the kind of overwhelming cut-and-dried that one would believe. but the demographic issue is legitimate. in 1936, the reason that the digest poll went out of business, it predicted that alford landon would beat franklin roosevelt because it turned out it was a telephone poll. in america in 1936, the people who did not have telephones were disproportionate likely to vote for fdr. >> david in sioux city, iowa. >> caller: first-time caller for me. mr. dewey was -- he knew everything about law and of
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course he had the farm so he knew a thing about agriculture. when he ran for president, you have these other issues like commerce, interior, helping the poor people, what were his -- what were his strengths and what issues was he kind of lacking in where he needed a little bit of help? that's my question. thank you. >> what were his vulnerabilities? >> oh, i think curiously, the flip side of his strengths, there were a lot of republicans, there were a lot of conservative republicans who never forgave him for being a new yorker. new york is always been the city that some people like to hate or to misrepresent -- >> would your father consider himself a new yorker? >> he did, absolutely. >> he did? >> yeah. that was back in the days and i did get this from my parents, that so many of the people at the top in commerce and other
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areas in new york were transplants from somewhere else, as they both were. and they thought that did not bar them from being real new yorkers. >> richard norton smith? >> i think there was a cultural divide in some ways which is still with us in some senses. in '44 he had a difficult situation. he had two hands tied behind his back. the 800-pound gorilla was the issue of franklin roosevelt's health. we all knew he was dying but it was not something you could possible touch and the other issue was the conduct of the war and the whole issue of pearl harbor and the speculation that still swirls around it as to what if anything the president might have known. and your dad had, i think some
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fairly pronounced views on that subject. >> that's correct. >> well, we -- there was not ironclad but presumptive proof that we had broken the japanese code before pearl harbor and did nothing about it. and that was widespread at the time and in fact i think you've got a chapter on this in the book, roosevelt sent a colonel up from washington to see him during the campaign and said, you know, i trust you're not going to mention this because they're using the same code which was an absolute lie and you're going to cost a lot of our boys their lives by doing it. and dad sucked it up and never did mention it. >> general marshal who -- but it is a logical assumption that gener general marshal would not have acted on his own.
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>> that was my assumption. >> caller: i'm a distant cousin of almost vice president in '64. dewey was way ahead in the polls and he ran the dumbest campaign i've ever seen. he didn't attack truman and he ran as if he was already president. truman was broke and he started the korean war and he started the berlin blockade and they had, you know, pearl harbor was being set up by roosevelt and a communist in his cabinet and all that stuff. dewey just acted like he was going to win. he didn't attack and truman was broke and he recognized israel in '47. and they gave him $800,000 for his campaign and he squeaked out a victory.
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dewey should have been a shoo-in, but he had the worse campaign in the history of american presidency. he did good in new york -- >> all right. richard norton smith? >> i've always said that tom dewey was one of those people who i think would have been a better president than he was a candidate for president. >> why? >> if you look at his record of governor of new york, it is universally recognized today. he along with al smith -- >> recognized ads what? >> as one of the absolute finest governors in a state that has had a history of distinguished gubernatorial leadership. it's interesting that when your dad became governor, one of the first people he invited up to albany was al smith who had had a falling-out with fdr and all that. the two that could not be more different and they absolutely
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clicked and afterwards, the reporter said to al smith, what do you think of that guy? he said there's one thing wrong with that guy, he's a republican. and ironically for all of their differences, they were as -- they were great administrators who are practical liberals operating within a balanced budget with concern for the taxpayer and a productive private economy. >> what does that do for the republican party at the time? >> well, it made new york one of the most republican states in the country. from being one of the most democratic states, the state that gave us fdr, that gave us al smith, that gave us the new deal, dewey had, you know -- we haven't mentioned herbert lehman who was the man he almost defeated in 1938, the man who had aappointed him the gangbuster.
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he was a very distinguished and very popular governor who was a huge favorite to win another term and it's attributed to the campaign, the excitement that dewey created that he -- lehman won in the end by 1%. and four years later, there was no doubt that, you know, dewey would win. the first republican in 20 years. he went onto build an organization, some might call it a machine, but it was an odd organization. it was a good government machine. if you can imagine such a thing. >> john -- go ahead. >> i'm not sure that i would -- organization, yes. machine, no. because i didn't outlive him. >> yeah. you're right. i didn't outlive him. but machines can be personal rather than ideological or
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enduring, for that matter. >> like the subject of your next book. [ laughter ] >> yes. >> he appreciates that plug. let's hear from john in crown point, indiana. >> caller: during the 1944 campaign, tom dewey delivered, i think, one of his best speeches of his career in oklahoma city. he really took off the gloves and hit roosevelt. now, prior to that, he delivered what i call 1948 type of speeches, talked about home and mother and god and the american flag. but after that oklahoma city speech, i think that convinced most republicans they really had a chance to beat roosevelt. i wonder if mr. norton is familiar with that speech and the effect on the republican party. >> thank you for the call. that's fascinating. that speech largely forgotten today reverberated in ways that
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no one could imagine at the time. there had been remember the famous speech fdr delivered in d.c., someone said afterwards from then on, it was a contest between roosevelt's dog and dewey's goat. and the fact is, dewey had been running this kind of high-minded campaign. and he was to some degree goated into responding and it was the prosecutor. he brought everything together. all of the allegations of the new deal, incompetence, new deal, economic failure, on and on and on. >> you're talking at what point now? >> this is in late september. a month before the election, 1944. it is true, i think a lot of republicans at that point were close to despair. they thought -- they wondered how badly he wanted to win. he gave this speech. the campaign was broke. dewey and his friends raised $27,000 in order to put together
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a national radio network. he delivered this speech. it was galvanizing, a poll of 40 newspaper correspondents afterwards said -- 23 of them had had said he had come out ahead of roosevelt in the exchange. but the irony is he later decided -- he said, and i think the importance of the speech is its impact down the road four years later. if you want one reason why he ran the campaign he ran in '48, he told a friend that was the worst speech i ever gave. he was just terribly uncomfortable. he didn't want to be the prosecutor. i think there was some element that he didn't want to be elected as, you know, the honest cop. he wanted to be more than that. and there was something about that speech. and i had been led to believe that your mother also thought that it was -- somehow a
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departure in terms of dignity and the respect that you show the office, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. was that -- did you sense that tension at all? >> first of all, i was not 12 yet, okay. >> right. >> you were not consulted on this. >> no, never. and so i have no personal knowledge. but that would have been her view. >> let's take a moment -- >> where did she come from? where did that view come from? >> i think she and dad's mother disagreed on practically everything. but they both had the strong sense of you have to be dignified in whatever you're doing. and don't demean yourself by attacking the other guy. not necessarily smart in politics, but, you know, they were who they were.
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>> let's show a moment from tom dewey criticizing the new deal. >> the record of this administration at home is one long chapter of failures. but still, some people tell us we agree that the new deal is a failure at home, but its foreign policies are very good. let me ask you, can an administration which is so disunited and unsuccessful at home be any better abroad? can an administration which is filled with quarrelling and back-biting where we can see it be any better abroad where we cannot see it? these things with pledge to you, an administration in which you will not have to support three men to do one man's job. [ cheers and applause ]
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an administration which will root out waste and bring order out of present chaos, an administration which will give the people of this country value received for the taxes they all pay. [ cheers and applause ] >> an administration free from the influence of communist and the domination of corrupt big-city machines. [ cheers and applause ] >> an administration which will devote itself to the single-minded purpose of jobs and opportunity for all. [ cheers and applause ] >> richard norton smith, we're in the 1944 campaign. how does tom dewey position himself to take on fdr and truman. >> again, it's really a question
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of -- that he couldn't answer as to what the status of the war will be at the beginning of the next term. there's no doubt that he -- he ran against fdr and what he called the tired old man which was as close you could get to raising the health issue. there was a sense of exhaustion after 12 years. what dewey represented was youth and vigor and energy in the way that john kennedy symbolically represented more than the turning of a page from the oldest president to the youngest president. tom dewey had that same quality in 1944, plus he could point to his record in new york. he had not gutted the social programs that people had come to expect from government in new york. but he made them work better and he managed to cut taxes at the same time. >> who is his vp pick and why?
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>> john bricker of ohio. his fellow governor. not someone i think he recorded as an intellect. he referred to him as that big, dumb sweed, and i don't think he was a fan of warren's performance on the supreme court. but you might know better than i. did he talk about warren at all in his later years? >> no. >> so what are the results of the '44 election? >> he came closer than anyone else. the four people who ran against fdr, dewey came by a consider margin closer. he won 99 electoral votes and someone did math afterwards and found the shift of 300,000 votes in the right states would have given dewey a majority in the electoral college. it was the closest race since
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1916. >> let me add bill in kings port, tennessee, to the conversation. >> thank you. >> caller: when you were talking about warren, he was the governor in california in '48 when he tapped him as his vice presidential running mate. if dewey has won california, which i think he lost to truman by a few votes, would dewey had spung t swung the election, would he have won? >> the answer is no. you're right, he came -- 18,000 votes. it was very close in california. but you have to remember that california was much smaller in 1948 than it was today and an alternate theory can be argue that had the man who thought he was going to be governor dewey's running mate, charlie hallick
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from indiana who later on served in the role until 1964, charlie hallick was a representative of the farm belt. if there had been someone on the ticket who was sensitive as hallick was to the latent unhappiness of the farmers, that fall that perhaps some things might have been done differently. but who knows? >> let's go back to the '44 campaign. he loses, he makes a concession speech. i want to show our viewers a little bit of that and we'll come back and talk about it. >> it's clear that mr. roosevelt has been re-elected for a fourth term and every good american will wholeheartedly accept the will of the people. i extend to president roosevelt my hardy congratulations and my earnest hope that his next term
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will see speedy victory in the war, the establishment of lasting peace, and the restoration of tranquility among our people. i am confident that all americans will join me in a devote that in the difficult years ahead, divine providence will guide and protect the president of the united states. >> richard norton smith, when does he make this speech? >> well, he made it the day after. there was some grumbling up at hyde park that, you know, he hadn't gotten the -- fdr has worked himself up into a lather over your dad. i'm sure everyone who runs for president discovers that their opponent has all sorts of hidden defects. but i think it was personal in this case. anyway, the last words on
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election night before fdr goes to bed was, i still think he's a son of a bitch. did your dad talk about roosevelt? >> no. >> never? >> no. >> that's fascinating. >> just another example of turning the page. >> yeah. >> he's not tomorrow's concern. >> it's a practical outlook. it's not that it was a painful chapter -- >> if there was pain, we didn't see it. >> or talk about it. >> or talk about it. you couldn't talk about it unless you saw it. and you're back to his mother and his wife. stiff upper lip. >> can i ask you one quick -- i was told by someone who was at the law firm -- it sounds almost too cruel to be true. but it's a pretty good source. that one year he went to the
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christmas party -- he went to the christmas party, i guess, regularly. one year for some reason, and the band played "hail to the chief." and the story is, he turned around and didn't go back to another firm christmas party. does that sound possible? >> it sounds out of character and impossible. >> sounds out of character, why? >> had the band -- remember, this was his law firm, very much capital "h" and capital "l." had they done it, i think he -- he certainly wouldn't have walked out. but you forgot earlier his major walkout in the '56 convention after dirkson has dissed him in '52, where i was in that convention. in '56 dirkson was introduced to
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make a speech, dad got up and walked all the way down the aisle out of the auditorium, gone. [ laughter ] >> take that, dirkson. >> i think he said afterwards, he had been waiting four years to take that walk. >> he did say that. >> must have been very gratifying. >> he's referring to the law firm that his father was partner of after his political career was over. his partner in a law firm here in new york, a successful law firm. what about his role in that? >> i think that was his great love. i think, you know -- the law was what he wanted to do. as i said, as we said, politics was something of a detour. and so i think the idea of really creating or recreating a firm -- i guess he didn't found
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it, technically. he remade it. >> it was an old white shoe law firm which he joined and became -- then it became dewey ballentine. it had about 90 lawyers when he joined in 1955. and he attracted many of the big companies in the united states, foreign governments, et cetera. when he died prematurely in 1971, it had 300 lawyers. >> let's get to a phone call here. paul in demote, indiana, is right? >> caller: it's the birthplace of former house minority leader charlie hallick. mr. smith, talking to the biographer on charlie hallick, he had said that charlie was under the belief if he threw support behind mr. dewey, he would be the running mate in i believe in '48. when that didn't happen, the
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only regret he said he had politically was -- >> you're breaking up there a little bit. i think we lost paul. do you want to take what you heard there? >> i heard the same story. there's no doubt that charlie hallick thought he was double crossed. charlie hallick thought. and people hear what they want to hear. there's no doubt that charlie hallick believed going into that convention that he had an understanding with the dewey forces that he would be on the ticket. >> caller: the disney character dewey was named after tom stewy. how did tom stewy feel about that? >> i didn't hear the question here.
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let's move on to sheryl in california. >> caller: yes, i've been following the series and the one thing that comes to my mind was, what was his relationship with the tammany hall people down in new york city during that time, because my mother comes from brooklyn and my father was a farm boy in california, they always split their votes during the '50s and '60s when i was growing up, she being a committed democrat while my father changed to republican when dewey ran in 1948. thank you. all right. interesting. you might say tammany hall was the making of tom dewey. he had it drummed into his head that tammany hall was the epitome of political and civic evil and as fate would have it, he would spend a significant part of his career demonstrating the truth of that assertion.
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>> adam, long island new york. >> caller: i'm a college student from new york. and i read part of the book that mr. norton wrote about dewey. and i was just wondering what did dewey think of his chances of going into the 1948 campaign about winning the race? i know that dewey was supposed to win that race. maybe mr. smith could talk about that, about what were his prospects about winning the '48 campaign against roosevelt? >> the '48 campaign against truman, i think the '44 campaign against roosevelt, i'm not sure e ev he ever expected to win. i think he expected to win four years later. you may have missed it as we were talking about it a little bit earlier, he was not the
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complacent figure sitting unquestioningly upon his lead i think you might think from some of the textbook accounts. he was very cognizant of the fact that public opinion was a dynamic thing. he sensed slippage in the last days of the campaign. and he -- i think he felt somewhat trapped. he had a strategy and it brought him this far. there was no reason to believe that it wouldn't carry him across the finish line first. >> as tom dewey jr. has told us several times tonight, his father turned the page, he moved on. after he loses in 1944 and 1948, he goes onto still play a role in party politics. what is it? what is his influence? >> first of all, imagine being an elder statesman in '46, that's something. >> and he continues to be governor of new york. >> he remains governor of new york for another six years.
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as tom said, he wanted to retire. he wanted to get about that business of creating a great law firm. but the korean war came along and the party had no one else and so he was nominated, ran again and was re-elected. but he was very glad, i think, to leave four years later. in between, of course, you have this extraordinary show of political strength and i don't think anyone would have predicted on the day after the '48 election where he and his organization, his national organization, puts dwight eisenhower over the top, writes a platform to the liking of the moderates in the republican party, brings richard nixon onto the national scene at the age of 39. i often thought your dad saw some of his younger self in young nixon. they had some temperamental
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similarities. >> they did. it's easy to say that geography had a lot to do with it, just as it did with earl warren in '48. but it was also important that you mollify the taft wing of the party and while they're not selecting somebody from the taft wing in the midwest, nixon was seen as the closest, plausible guy -- i was there the night that dad said, okay, there's your vice president to eisenhower. >> where were you? where were you? >> i was at the convention. i wasn't in the room. i was opening doors and carrying notes as a college sophomore should do. but i know that's what happened and i don't know whether it was temperamental likeness or it was
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getting the taft wing on board and everybody used to have to talk about geographical balance. it was a big thing back there. >> and age. one thing about your dad, he used to say, he burst on the scene at an impossible young age. at the end of his life, he said everything came too early for me which is a shrewd observation. he always liked to surround himself with people whose careers were ahead of him. and the fact that nixon was 39 years old was a way of not only mollifying the taft wing of the party, but in some ways projecting out into the future his vision of the republican party. >> and he's successful at keeping the taft wing of the party at bay. >> yeah. first of all, senator taft, unfortunately, died early in the eisenhower presidency. it was a touching scene where dewey goes to the hospital without telling anyone.
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he slips in to visit taft. what must have been a somewhat surreal final meeting in the hospital and i would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. >> do you know about that meeting? >> no. >> let's hear from bob next. >> caller: what did governor dewey think of governor rockefeller as an inheriter of the dewey mantle of eastern republicanism? >> well, i'll defer to tom who was there. >> you go first. >> i think he -- there is some debate over that. in the book i'm working on, i haven't quite made up my mind. but tom dewey was much more of a fiscal conservative than rockefeller was. i think they're at a party of some sort, a party event, and dewey says to rockefeller,
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nelson, i like you, but i'm not sure i can afford you. and dewey's approach to government was much more physically orthodox. he hated debt. he hated bonds. and nelson, of course, as we know was a good deal less restrictive in that regard. >> that's a nice way of saying that. as far as the nixon v. rockefeller, dad did not attend the 1948 republican convention because the rockefellers going way back had been maybe his largest campaign contributors, worked hard for him, they were good friends, but my take from that was that he thought that the party should be nominating nixon in '68 and he wasn't going to get involved in it.
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>> it's also been suggested that quite frankly his law firm -- he had reasons not to alienate nelson rockefeller. >> i don't know whether they had anything to do with the law firm. his law firm was never the rockefeller's law firm. i don't think there were economic reasons. >> okay. >> but he -- i think he -- by that time, he felt uncomfortable the amount of money that nelson has spent. >> let's hear from deb in new york. she's been waiting. go ahead. >> caller: yes, i have a really interesting subject to talk about. i'm going into the kitchen so the tv doesn't bother you. sarah palin and today todd palen have been conversing on facebook, and occupy wall street started. i gave sarah pallen my password
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on the obama -- >> debbie can you relate this -- what's your question about tom dewey? >> caller: why haven't the democrats put biden in office and sent obama back to africa where he was born. >> we're going to move on. john, pennsylvania. go ahead. >> caller: 1944, i'm a world war ii veteran. i'm 86 years old. i still got a good brain and i still remember things. and i feel that 1944 it was roosevelt's time -- i think dewey was a very, very smart person. but i think people were for roosevelt and they wanted to keep him in office because we were at war.
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if we were not at war, i think dewey would have won hands down, what do you think? >> and that's exactly as i say earlier. that was the coconundrum. you couldn't know. but it's including that that comment reflects what dewey himself believed. the strategy was, peacetime environment, people grateful as they were to fdr, what the british did to churchill, they would having willing to turn a page and embark upon a different kind of domestic policy. >> let's go to bill in new york. >> caller: good evening. i'm residing in virginia now. as a youngster about 13 or 14 years old, i grew up about 3 miles from governor dewey's farm and i had an occasion on more than one time to caddie for the governor on quaker hill golf
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course. and one particular time i remember after the afternoon was getting late and his golf partners, lowell thomas, let's see there was a judge murphy from new york city and edward r. murrow, they wanted to play -- continue playing at mr. murrow's park and so they asked me to caddie. but it was getting late in the day. and i said, i'm about 8 miles away and i need a ride when we're through. one gentleman spoke up said, don't worry, i'll take you. to make a long story longer, when they finished, that man got in his car and left and i was stranded there. governor dewey saw to it that i had a ride back to the village and i will never forget that. i was very grateful for him. >> that was -- that was bill in new york. mike, staten island new york.
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>> caller: i would like to ask mr. smith, did mr. dewey had won the 1944 election, what would his policy as far as defending the war? >> 1944, did you say? >> caller: yeah. >> i think -- it's a fair question. but i think if you look at the calendar and you see where the armies were in january of 1944, i think at that point, obviously, the nazi defeat was only a question of time. the larger question, of course, for example, how dewey might have conducted diplomacy differently if it had been him meeting churchill and stalin -- >> what about the atomic bomb? do you think dewey would have done that? >> you know, it's hard -- it's hard for me to believe that any
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president after we had spent $2 billion to do this thing, knowing that if he didn't use the bomb and if the war were prolonged, quite frankly, he would be subject to impeachment. what was the point -- i think this retrospective argument over truman, whether it was moral to use the bomb. it's hard to believe any american president not taking advantage of the opportunity to end the war that the bomb represented. and i can't imagine tom dewey -- >> yes, to add, on your earlier comment, dad was bitterly critical for years thereafter about giving away all those people -- those eastern european countries into the slavery of soviet communism. he was consistent on that subject. >> i would give anything to see your dad sitting across the
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table from joseph stalin. someone who had prosecuted gangsters all of his life. >> let's try to get a couple more phone calls in here as we wrap up tonight's contenders, taking a look at thomas e. dewey. which is charles from virginia. >> caller: thank you for this wonderful program, part of a wonderful series. i'm glad that toward the end here we did get back to the question of foreign affairs and my question has to do with professor smith's reference earlier onto john foster dulles, what the relation between the two was and what that had to do with dulles coming the secretary of state in eisenhower's cabinet? >> i think you're absolutely right. they all fit together. the relationship was dulles was a uniquely close one,
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intellectually substantive. at would be point your dad appointed dulles to a senate seat which he was unable to hold on to in the election. but there's no doubt that john foster dulles became dwight eisenhower's secretary of state as an outgrowth of the long record of association creative foreign policy association that he had had with tom dewey. >> i would agree with that. he was won -- maybe the most senior of a group of dad's advisers who went to washington. you mentioned jim haggardty and there were quite a number of them. >> i don't think we mentioned the through way. one of governor dewey's great innovations was the new york state throughway which bears his name, a road without a traffic
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light from new york city to buffalo which did more for upstate new york than anything since. but the man who built the throughway is the man who went onto build the interstate system under dwight eisenhower. >> i want to throw out a couple of names here. hubert humphrey and tom dewey's relationship with him? >> it's one of the surprising aspects of a surprising life. in 1964, tom dewey was at the white house. he pointed out to lbj, he said, have you look at the schedule of your convention in atlantic city? and he was meeting with marvin watson who was the president's top aide, chief of staff in effect. and, anyway, the -- there was a day set aside as a tribute to
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president kennedy. and dewey pointed out that if this happens, jackie will be there and bobby and teddy and the whole family and people will cry and there will be this -- before you know it, bobby kennedy runningmate whether you like it or not and the story is the president got on the phone and called watson and said move kennedy day from day one to day four. hubert humphrey became the runningmate instead. humphrey was in dewey's debt until the day he died. >> and they were social friends. >> they were social friends. >> they were both friends of dwayne andrews and they spent parts of winters together, and i even went to the races with them with the humphries and the deweys once. >> we are all out of time, gentlemen. i want to thank the both of you for being our guests tonight and talking to our viewers and talking about tom dewey and the 1948 campaign and our contenders in our 14-week series and we want to thank all of you for
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watching tonight and calling in and the staff of the roosevelt hotel here who have been very helpful to our crew tonight. a big thanks to everyone. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> weeknights this month on american history tv, it's the contenders. our series that looks at 14 presidential candidates who lost the election, but had a lasting effect on u.s. approximately
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ticks. today we feature the life and career of 1952 and 1956 democratic nominee adlai stevenson. he was drafted by generalizen hower. he was defeated in the general election and lost to senator john kennedy who later appointed him as ambassador to the united nations. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span3. >> american history tv on c-span3, exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. coming up this weekend, saturday at 5:00 p.m. eastern, author neil baskin, talks about his book "hunting " post doctoral fellow at the virginia fellow
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for civil war studies. on sunday at 9:00 a.m. eastern the final debate between ronald reagan and walter mondale. then at 10:30 a.m. eastern the second debate between george h.w. bush and michael dukakis and at 4:00 p.m. eastern on reel america, john f. kennedy's 1960s speech on church and state followed by ronald reagan's 1966 the myth of the great society speech. exploring the american story, watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3. >> up next on american history tv, a june 1944 newsreel from the office of war information. it includes stories about the 1944 presidential election. the fall of mussolini and franklin roosevelt signing the g.i. bill. ♪ ♪


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