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Harry S. Truman
1945-1953


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Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.
  206. Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in California and Arizona  
September 24, 1948

[1.] SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA (Lane Field, 9:15 a.m.)


Mr. Chairman, Mr. McKinnon:

I sincerely hope that you'll send this good Democrat to the Congress from this district. This great section of Southern California needs the right sort of representation in the Congress, and I hope you'll send me a Democrat, so I'll have somebody to work with.

You know, when I got off the train this morning, I was told by your Mayor and several of your good citizens that the principal thing you needed here--two things: One was water. Well, it began to rain just as soon as I got off the train. And the other was a couple of pitchers for the Padres. Well, I hope you'll get the rain. Of course, the manager of the ball team can send you that pitcher business if he wants to.

I think I'm familiar with your problems and the situation in this part of California.

I was here on several occasions during the war. I made investigations of the airplane plant, of your housing shortage, and several things that were bothering you. I was in Washington when President Roosevelt ordered the aqueduct to bring you water with Federal help. And that aqueduct would have been stopped if this 80th Congress had had its way. They're not interested in your welfare.

I called an extra session of the 80th Congress in 1947 and asked them to take action on the housing shortage. They didn't do it. They didn't do it at the regular session.

Then I called another special session of the 80th Congress, after they had given us a platform in Philadelphia. In that platform, they stated that they were for certain things. When I called them back into session in July, what did they do? Nothing. Nothing. That Congress never did anything the whole time it was in session, but they tried to sabotage the West. And if you people stay at home this time like you did in 1946, you'll get just what you deserve.

The Democrats have always been your friends. The Democrats are for the people. The Republicans are for the special interests. They've always been for the special interests.

The water problem of California must be solved in the next year or two because your population is increasing at such a rapid rate you are going to come to the saturation point unless you can get some water to support that population.

I think I know your problems. I think I'm familiar with what you need. And, if you elect a Congress along with the President who is looking to the future and not trying to turn the clock back, it'll be much better for your interests and for the interests of this great State.

Now, election day is on November 2d, and if all of you vote, then we'll know what you want. And, if you want reaction, then you ought to vote for it. If you don't want reaction, if you vote for an organization that's always been working in the people's interest, you'll go to the polls on the 2d and you'll vote the Democratic ticket straight.

[2.] OCEANSIDE, CALIFORNIA (Rear platform, 10:45 a.m.)


I appreciate very much that most cordial introduction of Mr. McKinnon, who I understand is going to be your next Congressman. I am very happy that you are going to send a Democrat to Washington. In your own selfish, special interest you ought to send a Democrat to Washington.

The Democratic Party stands for those things in which you are most interested. The Democratic Party has been responsible for the development of water power, and the other things in which the West is vitally interested. If you read the record, you will find that all these great projects originated under Democratic administrations, and you will find that this Republican 80th Congress has done everything it possibly can to sabotage the West. And they are still at it. You can't afford to allow that to happen.

Now, your great need in this part of the world is water, and we are trying to develop a plan for the whole of the State of Callfornia which will to some extent, and I hope completely solve the water problem which you are up against, and which the whole State is up against, because of the shortage of water. When you go through this beautiful country, it almost makes you weep to think of what could be done if you just had the water to put on this land.

Now, if you will remember, when President Roosevelt was down here, he ordered this aqueduct to be built because it was necessary to furnish water not only to this part of California, but to keep the naval works and airplane factories going that were in San Diego. The first thing the Republicans did, as soon as they got into office, was to try to sabotage that great project, but we succeeded in getting it restored; and the Democrats--are now working on a plan which we hope will increase the water supply to this part of the country.

You are interested in housing. The Republican Congress sabotaged the housing bill. That bill passed the Senate and went over to the House, and the Chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee and the Chairman of the Rules Committee prevented the House from voting on that measure. I am sure that the House, if it had been allowed to vote by the Republican leadership, would have passed that housing bill.

That bill was introduced nearly 3 years ago and it was called the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill. It passed the Senate at that time and was defeated in the House. In the 80th Congress it was introduced again in 1947, and it was called the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill. It passed the Senate, went over to the House, and Senator Taft himself helped to kill that bill--his own bill with his name on it.

That is customary with the present Congress and its leadership, and you want to bear in mind that if you send another Congress back there with a Republican tinge and a Republican majority, you will have the same old bunch of mossbacks in charge that are in charge now, and you won't get a thing.

You ought to bear all these things in mind. In Los Angeles last night, I went into detail as to what the Democratic Party stands for, and you know how I stand on these things.

Try to find out where the rest of the people stand who are in opposition to me. See whether they will tell you or not. I don't think they will, because they are trying to make you believe one thing when they are really going to do another. It's a case of double talk.

You don't have to find out what I mean when I say it. I say it so you can understand it. The record speaks for itself. All you have to do is study the record.

Now, it is up to you to decide whether you want to turn the clock back and leave the saboteurs in the Congress or whether you want to go forward with the Democratic Party and accomplish what is necessary to make this country great.

To do that, you must exercise your Godgiven privilege to vote. That is the greatest privilege that you have in this great Nation, the freedom of the ballot. That means that you are the Government. When you don't vote, and you get something like the 80th Congress, you are to blame for it. If you don't go out and vote the 2d of November, and you have this backward-looking outfit in complete control of the Government, then you won't have anybody to blame but yourselves.

If you do go out and vote, as I am sure you are going to, I am not going to worry about the result, because the people know what is right. The people are usually right if they can get the facts--and I am trying to give them to you. That is the reason I came out here.

[3.] COLTON, CALIFORNIA (Rear platform, 1:56 p.m.)


Congressman Sheppard and fellow Democrats:

I certainly do appreciate this most cordial welcome to Colton. It's wonderful. don't see where all the people came from.

In San Diego this morning at 8:30 by standard time, 9:30 California time, there were 25,000 people out in the ball park and there must have been 50,000 on the street besides that. I never saw anything like that crowd that early in the morning. That's been the sort of reception we have been receiving all over the State, so I know you're interested. I know you're interested in how the President stands and what he stands for, and in words of one syllable, I've been telling the people of California just where I stand, and I think they understand that.

The basic issue in this campaign is as simple as can be: it's the special interests against the people; the special interests against the people. And that was conclusively proved by the Both Republican "donothing" Congress which we just finished with--thank God.

A long time ago, I am told, this town had a fight between the special interests and the people, and they organized a freight train of their own and ran mule teams in competition with the railroad until the freight trains came down to a workable rate.

Now, we're up against this same thing all across the board in this campaign. I explained to the farmers in Iowa and to the whole Nation that their interests are being jeopardized by the policies of the Republican Congress, and that's only a sample of what they can expect to get if the Republicans get complete control of the Congress.

You know what they did to your irrigation and reclamation and water projects in this great State. They would have sabotaged every single one of them if it hadn't been for such fellows as this and for the President of the United States. I can say that conclusively, and he'll back up every word I say.

Republicans are just simply tools of big business. They believe that there is a top strata in the country that ought to run the Government and that ought to profit from the Government.

That's not the Democratic belief at all. We believe that there ought to be a fair distribution of the wealth so that the farmer gets a part of the income, the laboringman gets his part, the small businessman gets his part, and then the distribution is as it should be.

Now, we had an income last year of $217 billion, the greatest in the history of the world for any country, and that income has been equitably distributed.

The farmers got the greatest income they ever had. Labor got the greatest income they ever had, and business has done better than it's ever done in the history of the country.

Now, why do you want to throw that out the window? You have a good chance to do it, if you don't go to the polls and vote and let these birds know where you stand.

They'll tear you apart. I can prove that they have it in mind to sabotage the farm program.

Mr. Stassen gave out an interview in Albany, the capital of New York, and in that interview he made it perfectly plain that they expect to do away with the farm support price, and the Wall Street Journal commented on that interview after our Secretary of Agriculture explained to the people just what Mr. Stassen meant. And here is what the Wall Street Journal said, now--the Wall Street Journal is not a Democratic paper and it's not for any Democrat--in a little column called "Progress of the Week--An Editorial Appraisal." Here is what it said: "Nevertheless the whole import of Mr. Stassen's press conference at Albany was just what Secretary Brannan said it was"--that's the Democratic Secretary of Agriculture-"in essence an attack on the price support system. Mr. Stassen is in fact proposing a far-reaching reform of the farm price support policy or he doesn't make sense."

Now, it's one or the other: either he's double talking and doesn't make sense or he wants the whole thing revised--and if he does that, where will the farmer be?

They compromised the Commodity Credit Corporation so that they can hardly meet the support program when it comes around. They fixed it so that the Commodity Credit Corporation cannot rent storage space and cannot provide storage space. As a joker they slipped it in an appropriation bill. They tried to legislate altogether through appropriation bills.

They cut the throat of the whole reclamation project and they sent a Republican to look over the situation, and the folks out here gave him so much hell he went back and put my program in.

Now, I want you to use good judgment. I want you to use good judgment, and I'm sure you will. You go to the polls on November 2d and take no chances. lust vote the Democratic ticket straight, and then you won't have anything to worry about-we'll have a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President. And I won't be troubled by this terrible housing shortage, for I can stay in the White House for another 4 years.

[4.] YUMA, ARIZONA (Rear platform, 6:30 p.m.)


Governor Garvey, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen--fellow Democrats of Arizona:

It certainly is a pleasure to be here, and I am happy indeed to see so many of you out here this afternoon. I feel like that is a wonderful tribute to the President of the United States, and I accept it as such and I appreciate it.

I am acquainted with the history of this region and know something about it. I spent a lot of time talking to your two Senators about it, and they have told me a great deal about it; and I learned something from the books, too.

Arizona was settled by men of courage and imagination and vision. I know that you have the same vision and courage that your forefathers had. I know it because of what you have accomplished in recent years in developing and using the resources of this great State.

The issue in this campaign is whether men of your caliber will be allowed to move forward in natural resource development, or whether you will be blocked by powerful interests who want to use the resources of this country for their own profit. This election will decide whether we have a Federal Government that will work for the full development of the West, or whether the Government will be controlled by men who obey the big business interests in the East. The Democratic Party has always stood for the full development of the Nation's resources. Under Democratic administrations in the past 16 years, this country has moved further ahead in natural resource development than in all the Republican administrations for the last century. And those developments have been for the benefit of the people and not for a few special interests.

The Yuma Reclamation project is the type of project which the Democratic administrations are building all through the West. The Yuma project, the Gila project, and the All-American Canal project are being directed from your city of Yuma. In all, nearly $140 million will be spent on these projects. As a result of these projects, 600,000 acres will receive irrigation and water.

The Republican Party has consistently obeyed the will of the special interests in blocking the development of the West. They want to keep it an economic colony of the East. They want to have these developments in the hands of special interests and big corporations so that they can skim the cream off your own labor. The Democratic Party does not believe in that sort of stuff. This is proved by the efforts of Republican leaders to cut the reclamation program by more than half. That program was saved from destruction by the Democrats in the Congress, and by the protests of you people in the West.

You know, they took a meat axe to my recommendation for reclamation in the West, and the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee sent one of his Republican friends out here to see how much more he could take off; and he met some of his Republican friends out here and they raised so much fuss he was afraid to cut it any more and I succeeded in getting most of it restored.

You have got three choices before you in November. You can vote for the vested interests who have poured millions of dollars into this campaign to capture Congress for their selfish profits and if you do, it will be at your own expense--you will be voting against yourselves.

I am not only asking you to vote for me, I am asking you to vote for yourselves in your own selfish interests. You can stay away from the polls and allow a minority to elect the same group of men that controlled that 80th "do-nothing" Congress. You see, one-third of you went to the polls the last time, two-thirds of you stayed home. The farmers are fat and rich, they have the biggest income they ever had in their lives-in the history of the country, for that matter; everybody was at work, 61 million people had jobs in this country at good pay and they were just too lazy to go and exercise their rights of franchise, and they got a bunch of birds in the Congress that tried to cut you to pieces.

If that is what you want, then stay away from the polls, or vote the Republican ticket. I don't think that is what you want. I think you will go to the polls and elect a good Democratic Congress just as you have done in the past; and I think you will vote the straight Democratic ticket and keep the country in safe hands. If you do that, the Government will be in the hands of those who have the interests of the people at heart and not the interests of the special interests. Keep that in mind.

Also, you will make it a lot easier on me-I won't have to face this housing shortage, I will have a place in the White House as a place to live.

NOTE: In the course of his remarks on September 24 the President referred to Clinton D. McKinnon, Democratic candidate for Representative from California's 23d District, Harley E. Knox, Mayor of San Diego, Harry R. Sheppard, Representative from California, Harold E. Stassen, former Governor of Minnesota, Charles F. Brannan, Secretary of Agriculture, and Dan E. Garvey, Governor of Arizona.
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.