Foreign Policy in National Elections

May 1, 1944

Report Outline
Partisan Vs, Bipartisan Foreign Policies
Foreign Issues in Early Elections
Foreign Issues in Two World Wars

Partisan Vs, Bipartisan Foreign Policies

Political Observers, see indications that foreign policy may become a leading issue in the 1944 presidential campaign, in spite of efforts of a number of responsible leaders in both parties to keep United States relations with other nations out of partisan politics, and in spite of a widespread sentiment for maintaining political unity on international problems while the war continues. The issue, as these observers see it, will revolve about the extent and nature of American cooperation with other countries after the war. In support of their interpretation, they point to some of the early Republican primaries, particularly the April primaries in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Foreign Questions in Presidential Primaries

In Wisconsin, Wendell Willkie, the most outspoken Republican proponent of international cooperation, staked his bid for the presidential nomination on the results. His overwhelming defeat, after a speechmaking campaign in the state of 13 days, in which he emphasized his opposition to postwar isolationism of any degree, was followed by his withdrawal from the race. In Illinois, the contest for delegates to the Republican National Convention was featured by a strong movement for postwar isolationism, and large pluralities were rolled up by some of the candidates who represented the more extreme assertion of this view.

Superficially, Wisconsin voters favoring postwar isolation would seem to have had little choice as among Dewey, who won 18 convention delegates (15 pledged) out of a total of 24, Stassen, who got three, and Willkie, whose delegates were snowed under in the poll. Dewey has proposed a postwar British-American military alliance, and Lt. Comdr. Stassen, before he resigned as Governor of Minnesota to enter the Navy, in April, 1943, went on record in favor of the establishment of a world state with broad regulatory powers and an armed force to support its man dates. But Gov. Dewey had not campaigned for his proposal and Stassen had been absent from the public forum for a year, while Willkie since the autumn of 1942 had conducted a persistent crusade to convince the American people that a policy of international cooperation had become a vital necessity for the United States. Willkie was therefore the target of the anti-cooperationists, and the newspapers opposing international commitments centered their attacks on him.

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