When the wartime 1944 presidential election campaign geared up late that spring, Franklin D. Roosevelt had already occupied the White House years longer than any other president. Sensing likely weakness, the Republicans mounted an energetic and expensive campaign, hitting hard at FDR's liberal domestic policies and the war's ongoing cost. Despite gravely deteriorating health, FDR and his feisty running mate, the unexpected Harry Truman, campaigned vigorously against young governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York and old-line Ohio governor John Bricker. Roosevelt's charm and wit, as well as the military successes in Europe and the Pacific, contributed to his sweeping electoral victory. But the hard-fought campaign would soon take its toll on America's only four-term president.
Preeminent historian and biographer Stanley Weintraub recaptures FDR's striking “last campaign” and the year's momentous events, from the rainy city streets where Roosevelt, his legs paralyzed by polio since 1922, rode in an open car, to the battlefronts where the commander-in-chief's forces were closing in on Hitler and Hirohito. The tale is unforgettable.
Weintraub, a historian and bestselling author (11 Days in December), dissects Franklin D. Roosevelt s historic fourth and last presidential campaign in 1944. Republican kingmakers believed a frail Roosevelt was ripe for defeat and ran a ticket of two governors Thomas E. Dewey and John Bricker. Roosevelt, suffering from heart disease, was advised by his doctors not to run, but the popular politician looked forward to building a stronger nation based on his New Deal reforms while a younger Dewey decried an old, tired, stubborn administration allied, he said, with Communists. With news accounts and political cartoons, Weintraub paints a vivid portrait of the public mood and of FDR literally willing himself to victory with a relatively unknown running mate, Harry Truman. Roosevelt juggled both the sputtering national economy and the wartime effort with equal parts savvy and grit, only to succumb to longstanding medical ailments soon after his inauguration. Historically satisfying, bringing the events to life with telling anecdotes (like Truman s terrifying, prescient nightmare that Roosevelt had died and he, Harry S. Truman, was now president ), Weintraub s book portrays a political icon determined to make his mark on America and the world in the twilight of his life. 25 b&w photos.