Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953; Warren, Earl, 1891-1974; Stassen, Harold Edward, 1907-2001; Dewey, Thomas E. (Thomas Edmund), 1902-1971; Vandenberg, Arthur H. (Arthur Hendrick), 1884-1951; Taft, Robert A. (Robert Alphonso), 1889-1953.; Hoover, Herbert, 1874-19
Speeches, addresses, etc.; Governors; Legislators; Presidential campaigns

Longhand Draft of Gridiron Dinner Speech of President Harry S. Truman, May 11, 1947. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

Gridiron Speech May 11, 1947

Glad to be here-it was a great show. You've given me a lot of hints which I know will be helpful to us.

I'd like to reciprocate by discussing with you the various techniques of those citizens who are anxious to sacrifice themselves upon the alter of public service and become host to the Nation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The last time I was here I explained to a speaker one method which had been successfully pursued. I hope that explanation proved useful.

Since then I have been observing the various methods pursued by other citizens, who seem to have other ideas on the subject. I am thinking seriously of getting up a primer on the subject-which I am sure would have a large sale among Governors and Senators.

For instance one of them is to get elected Governor of New York. That method has succeeded in the past. It may yet be a good formula. It hasn't always succeeded but you remember that old copy book admonition "If at first, you do not succeed, try, try, again." Platform and policies need not be any trouble-just adopt the Democratic Platform and say you can do it better. Perhaps a non political trip around the country far in advance of the Convention might improve the chances of the aspirant.

Then there is a Senatorial approach. You might say that I used that myself. Get yourself elected from Ohio, one of the States known as the mother of Presidents. Appease and satisfy Labor. See that no legislation is approved which is not satisfactory to all the great labor leaders. You can see according to the public prints how effectively this approach is being used and how it has won the plaudits of labor. This is a unique method and I shall watch it with interest. It may be sure fire-one way or another.

There is a third way being pursued in the Senate-there are dozens of methods being pursued in the Senate but since I mentioned one last year I'll only mention two this time. Be very shy and aloof, say you want to go home and write your memoirs, say you wouldn't touch the crown with a ten foot pole-refuse it at least thrice-but say nothing about just taking it in hand and wearing it at the proper time. This method may bring home the bacon.

There is another and an intriguing method known as the foreign travel method. When following this method heads of foreign states should be interviewed-particularly Uncle Joe. The Generalissimo's views should be carefully publicized. The stay at homes should be impressed by Stalin's love for them and it should be strongly emphasized how well Uncle Joe can talk-I repeat talk cooperation. Who can say-it used to be from the Log Cabin to the White House, now it may be from the Kremlin to the White House, you never can tell it might work. We'll wait and see. lines - cartoons etc. It may work but we shall wait and see.

Now Governor Warren I think you have the only sure fire method. It seems to have worked perfectly in California-all you'll have to do is to get yourself nominated by both Republicans and Democrats-and you can't lose. I saw in one the political magazines the other day that you might get the nomination for President on the Republican ticket and the nomination for Vice President on the Democratic ticket. I would not advise that-the only sure way is to insist on the top place on both tickets-you've conclusively demonstrated that that is sure of success.

Then go into serious things. 4 Stassen foreign. 1 Dewey-get gov. of N. Y. If at first you don't succeed. 3. Vandenberg-don't be a candidate at all. Say you wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. 2. Taft get yourself elected to the Senate and then ingratiate yourself with labor. 5 Warren both parties. Country will go ahead anyway whose ever method comes through successfully.

Our press and the country rise and fall together.

After the usual remarks of courtesy, thanks to the Club, Mr. Hoover etc. then:

I am interested very much indeed in the technique of our citizens who have the ambition to become the host of the nation at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. I explained certain experiences which I had encountered and suggested one approach last year at your banquet in December. Since then I have been observing other citizens who seem to have other ideas on the subject.

For instance there is the approach of becoming Governor of New York adopting the Democratic platform and promising to make that platform work better. Now that method hasn't always succeeded but you remember that old copy book admonition "If you do not at first succeed try-try again." Perhaps a "non-political" trip around nation in advance-far in advance may improve the situation but it will be very hard to find someone to interview for nation wide publicity.

Then there is another approach I've been watching very closely. That is to get yourself elected to the Senate from one of those States known as the Mothers of Presidents and go in for the appeasement and pleasing of what is erroneously known as the Labor Vote. The method is unique and I shall watch it with much interest. Then there is a third method being pursued in the Senate there are dozens of methods being pursued in the Senate but since I mentioned one last year I shall only speak of two this year. This method is to be very shy, refuse the crown at least thrice and insist that you wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. No mention is made by the author of this method of simply taking the bauble in the hand and putting it on the head!

I come now to the foreign travel method. Get yourself elected Governor of your state join the navy win a war and incidently become enamored of foreign travel. Visit heads of States and Then come home and explain to the stay at homes just how much those heads of states love us and how well they can talk-I repeat talk cooperation. This is a grand method for obtaining nation wide head


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