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Jack Ranger

A Pen Portrait of an Ambitious Politician

Harold Stassen: ‘Liberal’ Eyes the White House

(14 April 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 15, 14 April 1947, pp. 5 & 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Labor Action is pleased to print here the most detailed and revealing political portrait of Harold E. Stassen, former governar of Minnesota and a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination next fall, which has yet appeared in the American press. Jack Ranger’s article is a thorough expose of the “liberal” pretensions of this Big Business politician. If is valuable, however, not merely as an exposé of this individual politician, but also as a portrait of a certain type: the political agent of Big Business clever enough to try to gain popular support by posing as a liberal. We hope that all of our readers will give this article the wide circulation it deserves.

THE University of Minnesota even back in 1928 already had an enrollment above 10,000, so that the only students you got to know were those in your own fraternity, or athletic squad, or those who shared your special interests. I was on the campus during the same years as Harold Stassen. I had heard of him, but never met him. He was a campus big shot – a debater, politician, active in the ROTC, champion rifle shot.

In their article on Stassen in the September 7, 1946, Saturday Evening Post, the Alsops mentioned Stassen’s success in organizing the Gopher Party on the campus in 1928, based upon the fraternity and sorority vote.

I remember it well. At the time I asked some fraternity brothers who were on the law campus with Stassen what he was like. I got the same answer that, 18 years later, I received when I put the same question to some leading Republicans in Minneapolis: “He’s a smart punkinhead, but a real ................” I have yet to meet anyone who likes him.

John Gunther, writing on Stassen in the January 1946 Harper’s, says that “friends recall that while still an undergraduate Stassen told them he intended to be governor of Minnesota before he was 35.” I recall hearing the same about Stassen. He made it at 31.

Stassen was born in 1907 in West St. Paul, of German parentage, his mother being partly Norwegian. The name and the family background are good for Minnesota politics. Harold was raised in a conservative petty bourgeois Baptist family. His father, a truck driver, was three times mayor of that small community. Harold has three brothers – one is a foreman and was formerly a member of the AFL Sheet Metal Workers, another owns a grocery store, and a third is a state payroller, supervisor in the state petroleum division.

Stassen worked his way through the university, doing night work in a bakery. He also worked for a brief period as a sleeping car conductor.

The year 1929, significant for all of us, was particularly so for Stassen. That year he graduated, married a childhood acquaintance, opened a law office, and had a slight touch of T.B. which put him in a sanitarium for a few months.

Stassen’s law partner was and is Elmer J. Ryan, Irish Catholic and successful Democratic politician in St. Paul. The association has helped both politically.

Ambition Leads Him to Enter Real Politics

The key to Stassen’s make-up is his driving ambition for political power, a passion probably unmatched by any other figure of his generation.

There was no time to waste. He entered politics immediately and was elected county attorney at the age of 23. Stassen is acutely aware of the need for a good press, and has always made it a point to enjoy particularly good relationships with the newspapers and magazines. In the early 1930’s he began to cultivate the county editors, inviting them to visit him in groups of two or three.

He got ahead fast. By 1936 he was president of the County Attorneys Association and had organized the Young Republican League. Other former campus luminaries had turned leftward under the impact of the crisis. (Ken Haycraft, All-American end at Minnesota, was out organizing Farmer-Labor Youth Clubs.) Stassen never hesitated, as did other young Minnesota politicians in those days, between the Republican and Farmer-Labor parties. His instincts, his family environment, his legal training, his long-term political strategy, told him that his road to power lay through the Republican Party. Not with the Republican Old Guard, but against it.

Supported Bankers’ Program in 1938

Formed in the early 1920’s the Farmer-Labor Party was in the saddle in Minnesota politics by 1930, with Governor Floyd B. Olson as its leader. The FLP was careful, however, never to win a majority in both houses. That would put it too much on the spot. Olson died of cancer in 1936. The Stalinists took over the party, swung it sharply to the right (those were the People’s Front days), and nominated a small-town banker, the incompetent Elmer Benson, to succeed Olson. Benson whipped the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Martin Nelson, in 1936. Accepting direction from the Stalinists, he no sooner took office than he crossed with the organized labor movement, antagonized the teachers, made a whole series of false moves. Coming into office with the largest majority ever given a Minnesota governor up to that time, Benson ran through his political capital in just two years. His Stalinist line was too poisonous, and the fact that he himself was a meathead put him on the skids.

Stassen Ties Up with Morgan Interests

Stassen decided to run against Benson in 1938. He asked Roy E. Dunn, Republican national committeeman and wealthy resort owner, to run his campaign, but Dunn was wary. So Stassen ran his own campaign. He staged a good show in the primaries. It was at this time that he attracted the attention and support of U.S. Steel and the millers, who began backing him with money. This was an important connection for Stassen, who has been a Morgan man ever since. (U.S. Steel owns the Mesabi mines in northern Minnesota and is a powerful factor in state politics.)

Stassen beat out Martin Nelson in the Republican primary, chiefly because most of Nelson’s backers entered the Farmer-Labor primary to back Hjalmer Petersen against Benson. Stassen had convinced Minnesota’s businessmen, say the Alsops, that he “Was a better bet to overcome the chaotic radicalism of the Farmer-Laborites than anything the moribund regular organization could offer.” Stassen rode into office as the leader of a revolt against the endlessly defeated regulars.

Here are Stassen’s campaign slogans in 1938: Real jobs instead of WPA (the slogan of the bankers at that time); reform of civil service (the Stalinists and Benson had buggered this up); economy in administration (the standing slogan of “out” politicians under capitalism); and labor peace (slow up the Minneapolis General Drivers Union, led by the Trotskyists).

Accepted Support Of Fascist Silver Shirts

Stassen was careful not to engage in the red-baiting and Jew-baiting which he permitted his supporters. The Stassen camp used an anti- Semitic song against Benson, whose secretary, the Stalinist Rutchik, was Jewish.

Stassen also accepted support of the Silver Shirts. When the Northwest Organizer, weekly organ of the Minneapolis Teamsters Joint Council, published a copy of a Silver Shirt letter urging followers to vote for Stassen, the Republican candidate did not disavow this support. (Later, under the Stassen regime, the fascist Silver Shirts concentrated their activities in the Twin Cities until the formation of Local 544’s Union Defense Guard and the advent of war muffled their work.)

In 1938 Harold Stassen, at the age of 31, became governor of Minnesota with the largest vote ever given a Republican candidate for that job. His first 90 days in office have been completely misdescribed by John Gunther, the surrealist historian.

Progress of Republican Party Politico

This is what Stassen actually did. He put through the U.S. Steel tax program, cutting the state tax on iron ore mined from the Mesabi Range. He raised the legal interest rate on small loans from eight per cent to thirty-six per cent. He put through a vicious old age pension plan that forced old people accepting state relief to turn over all real property, including homesteads, to the state. He put through the Stassen Slave Labor Law, over the opposition of the Minnesota State Federation of Labor which called a special emergency convention to combat the bill. This bill provided for a thirty-day “waiting period” during which the employers and Stassen “conciliators” could finagle to weaken a union or corrupt its leaders.

Here a comment on Stassen’s political technique is in place. As was Roosevelt, he is an expert at the following game: On bills with a social content, he permits the extreme right wing to introduce the most outrageous measures directed against the people. When a great public outcry flares up, Stassen introduces his own measure, more moderate in character. He calls in the labor leaders with the more flexible spines and convinces them to support his bill. This splits the opposition. His bill is passed. When the dust of the battle has settled, the people discover that they have lost considerable ground. The Roosevelt or the Stassen who works the game emerges untouched. The tactic requires careful timing, a straight face and, above all, the ability to involve the liberals or the labor lieutenants of capitalism and of Stalinism. Such people make a profession of not seeing through the trick. Stassen worked it to perfection in putting across his Slave Labor Law.

A Job For Business in Wrecking Education

Stassen did a real job for Big Business in the state department of education, forcing the resignation of John Rockwell, a very able and progressive administrator but a muddled liberal who, indeed, had supported Stassen in the election because of a well-founded distrust with Benson. Stassen further forced the dismissal of Rockwell’s aide, Eugene Carstater. The governor took a firm stand against labor’s agitation for public housing, and to this day Minnesota is one of the few states that has no enabling act to permit it to take advantage of federal housing funds.

In a word, under Stassen’s administration the conservatives rewon all the ground lost in the course of the Farmer-Labor administrations, and more to boot.

His progress in office more and more caught the eye of Big Business nationally. Too, Stassen made it his business to get around the country, familiarizing himself with the local Republican machines everywhere, becoming acquainted with ambitious local politicos critical of the Old Guard.

As a result he wangled the invitation to become the keynoter at the Republican national convention in 1940. He was 33 years old. A Republican who was present with the Minnesota delegation told me the following story:

By tradition, the keynoter is a neutral person, partial to no candidate. Stassen let Roy Dunn believe he was for Dewey. Dewey himself was skeptical. Stassen delivered his keynote address, saying nothing in the time-honored way but saying it with passable conviction.

The next day the Minnesota governor suddenly revealed himself as Willkie’s floor manager, to the consternation of Dewey and some members of the Minnesota delegation. Dewey walked over to Stassen on the floor of the convention with fire in his eyes, swore at the big Minnesotan, accused him of being a double-cross artist, and warned him to stay out of New York. Stassen smiled.

Launches Attack on Labor Union Heads

What had happened was that John Cowles, publisher of the Minneapolis Star-Journal, the Des Moines Register and other papers, and an early Willkie booster, had convinced Stassen he should back Willkie. Stassen has always been very careful to please the publishers. That is why he gets such a good press. He’s always had the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth papers solidly behind him. The Luce publications are for him, as they were for Willkie. Stassen was attracted to Willkie for other reasons, too. He saw Willkie attempting the same maneuver that he himself planned to make some day – capture the Republican machine as a “liberal,” and ride for the White House.

Stassen Finds a Stooge in Senator Joe Ball

A brief side light. During Stassen’s second administration, one of those lucky historical accidents befell him. The Minnesota Senator, Ernest Lundeen, Farmer-Laborite, was killed in an airplane accident. This gave him the right to appoint a successor. Stassen appointed Joe Ball, political writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, a man who was one of the first to ballyhoo Stassen for governor.

Ball began his newspaper career working on a small daily in Crookston, Minn. He drifted to St. Paul and was glad to catch on with the Dispatch and Pioneer Press at $20 a week. When the Newspaper Guild began organizing Twin City newspapermen in 1933, Ball signed up. The Guild won a good contract, and Ball’s wages shot up to $60 a week. Ball is a smart fellow, one of the few newspapermen in the country who really knows the difference between a Trotskyist and a Stalinist.

When Ball was promoted to political editor in 1937, his wages were raised. By this time the Guild had developed from a more or less professional society into a good union. Ball stood up in union meeting one evening and resigned.

Stassen Drives Knife into Teamsters Union

It is Ball whom Stassen picked to fill the Minnesota vacancy, in the Senate. Ball had never held public office and had no party standing or support. That gave Stassen a hold on him, and also gave the Minnesota governor a voice in the U.S. Senate. Stassen and Ball have a division of labor. Ball is out in the open against organized labor, huckstering all the anti-labor legislation. Stassen, as is his custom, is quieter and appears to be not quite so far to the right.

In 1941 Stassen got his chance to put the boots to the Trotskyists, who had won control of the Minneapolis General Drivers Union back in 1934, and had subsequently helped to organize hundreds of thousands of workers in the midwest. The Minneapolis union, Local 544, had got crosswise with Dan Tobin, international president of the Teamsters Union, at its 1940 convention, when Miles Dunne and other Local 544 delegates opposed Tobin’s attempt to get himself a salary boost and to receive the right to appoint receivers over any local union. In the spring in 1941, Tobin called some 544 officials to Washington and had the gall to suggest they step down and let him appoint a receiver over the union. The officials reported back to the 544 membership, who told Tobin to take a flying jump.

Anti-Union Stassen’s Slave Labor Law

Tobin, a member of the national committee of the Democratic Party, wired the White House, and President Roosevelt wired back he’d go down the line for the teamster’s skate. In the meantime, John L. Lewis, then still head of the CIO, had offered Local 544 a charter in District 50 of the Miners. At a meeting on June 9 the Local 544 membership voted unanimously to get out of Tobin’s union and accept the Lewis charter. Soon afterward, Roosevelt’s Attorney General, Biddle, a liberal twirp, indicted 29 leaders of Local 544-CIO and of the Socialist Workers Party. Naturally, this didn’t make it any easier for the union to conduct a fight against Tobin, who in the meantime had flooded Minneapolis with goons from Detroit, Kansas City, Texas and other spots. (“Holy Joe” Casey, who came to Minneapolis to lead the Tobin forces, is himself today conducting an oblique fight against Tobin out in Oakland, Calif.)

Under the Stassen Slave Labor Law, a state labor conciliator must conduct an election among the workers if a majority sign cards indicating they wish to be represented by a union of their choice.

On June 20, 1941, Local 544-CIO filed petitions with the state labor board for industry-wide elections, whereby the workers themselves could democratically indicate their choice of bargaining agent: Local 544-CIO or Tobin. Local 544-CIO presented the blue pledge cards and petitions signed by thousands of drivers in all the various crafts. The first labor board hearing was in the wholesale grocery industry, and on July 21 Local 544-CIO proved that the majority of the drivers there were members of the union and wanted an election.

Hearings were held in industry after industry. On July 30 Tobin laid his petition before Stassen’s labor conciliator, the infamous Alfred P. Blair – to certify the AFL as bargaining agent for the entire Minneapolis trucking industry, WITHOUT AN ELECTION. Even the Minneapolis Star-Journal had to admit that the move was “an action without precedent since the state labor relations act was passed.”

In August, Tobin suddenly announced he had signed contracts with the bosses in wholesale grocery, paper, produce, cold storage and transfer, and that the contracts “were worked out in the conciliator’s office.”

A Dirty Job Gets an Appropriate Reward

Local 544-CIO then filed strike notices against all the bosses. Stassen pulled out the 30-day “cooling off” clause and referred the strike notices to one of his “fact-finding commissions” which found on August 30 that the union’s strike notices were “invalid,” on grounds Local 544-CIO should wait for Blair and Stassen to decide on the 544- CIO petitions for elections.

Again Local 544-CIO forced Blair to hold hearings. Scores of rank and file drivers and warehousemen appeared to testify, and during four days of hearings told how Tobin hoodlums in squads of 50, 100 and 200 swarmed around the plants and docks and warehouses, armed with guns, knives, ballbats, how Tobin gangsters boasted they were supported and protected by Blair and Stassen and the cops.

Finally, late in the fall, Blair announced his decision. He turned the Minneapolis drivers over to Tobin, without an election.

Local 544-CIO challenged the decision in court, on grounds that Tobin had failed to prove before Blair the consent of the employes involved as required by Section 16 of the Slave Law; that a city-wide bargaining unit as proposed by Blair was contrary to provisions of the Stassen law and the history of collective bargaining in Minnesota; that Tobin had been guilty of unfair labor practices and other provisions of the Stassen law and was not entitled to benefits of that law; and that Blair hadn’t even heard large numbers of 544-CIO petitions. A Stassen judge decided the case for Stassen and Tobin.

Both Stassen and Blair received appropriate rewards; the former, an invitation from Tobin to address the 1941 American Federation of Labor convention in Seattle, the latter, a job as labor conciliator with Gamble-Robinson, the same company that had been largely, instrumental in provoking and prolonging the 1934 drivers’ strikes.

Just as Stassen blocked the Minneapolis drivers from exercising a democratic choice of unions, so he used his control over state unemployment funds to deny relief to the leaders of 544-CIO. No one had seen a paycheck since the middle of June. By September we were selling anything we had to live – homes, cars, clothing.

The union appealed when Stassen’s aides rejected the claims for unemployment insurance. Hearings were held. Stassen’s administrator would put on a sober face, listen to our story – and notify us in writing that our applications had been rejected.

The odds were too great in the fight. With Roosevelt, Stassen and the Republican mayor, Kline, and his police ganged up against 544-CIO, the union didn’t have a fighting chance.

The Significance of Stassen’s Labor Policy

Stassen’s intervention in the Minneapolis drivers’ fight merits study, because it clearly indicates what union progressives and militants may expect from the man should he ever be empowered with the presidency.

The fact is that Stassen, with the policies which his supporters insist upon, can never WIN any labor support. He is in the political stable of America’s 60 Families and they don’t permit him to make few concessions, either to labor, the Negroes, the unemployed, the aged, or any other group of the dispossessed.

Stassen can only intervene in inner- union disputes, always backing the more reactionary side. In this way he manages to pick up a labor skate here and there who will go along with him. To this day, the lieutenants of Tobin in Minnesota support Stassen in all his anti-labor twists. So do the reactionary leaders of the Minnesota State Federation of Labor. During the war the Stalinist-led CIO in Minnesota got behind him because of his pro-war stand.


Long before Pearl Harbor, Stassen’s bosses had made up his mind to join the Roosevelt pro-war camp. Stassen signified his position by appointing the “Roosevelt Republican,” Ball, as U.S. Senator. The support of the imperialist war given by Ball and Stassen, coming from the heart of the anti-war Midwest, was of inestimable value to Roosevelt and Wall Street. Roosevelt was grateful to Stassen and repaid him by appointing him to the San Francisco United Nations. Conference at the end of the war.

Having crushed the guts out of the Minnesota labor movement, Stassen raised his political sights. In early 1942, he announced he would run for governor a third time, and if elected would serve only four months of his two-year term (while the State Legislature met), and would then resign and enter the Navy.

Joins the Roosevelt Pro-War Camp

Naturally, this decision threw the spotlight on the lieutenant governor who would succeed Stassen. The incumbent lieutenant governor was a nice little boy from Brainerd, a magazine peddler about Stassen’s age and a friend of his. Stassen decided that C. Elmer Anderson was a little light in the poop. He chose a wealthy farmer, Edward J. Thye, a member of his machine, to run on the ticket with him.

Stassen and Thye were elected, and when the legislature adjourned Stassen gave final instruction to Thye and to his Minnesota machine. On April 27, 1943, he resigned, put on a tailor-made sailor suit, and joined the Navy. In nothing flat, due to perseverance, character, willpower, brains, and bravery, he worked himself up to the post of flag secretary to Admiral Halsey, receiving a sleeve with four stripes.

(Actually, because he is a former lunger, Stassen wasn’t even eligible to join the Navy. But what’s a little thing like that among politicians? Navy Secretary Frank Knox smoothed the way.)

Stassen served 30 months in the Navy. Say the Alsops:

“Halsey’s staff was known throughout the Pacific for the gaiety and general abandon of its parties. As Halsey’s aide it was Stassen’s duty to act as something of a master of ceremonies at these affairs. Perhaps for the first time in his life he was not a success.”

You know how people of rank look upon war – as an excuse to have a hell of a good time drinking, stealing, throwing the government’s money around, getting workers shot up, going to exciting foreign places, making a little dough on the side, living high, wide and handsome.

Stassen came out of the war with a whole skin, as his friends in Minnesota had predicted. The best that Gunther could wring out’ of Stassen’s war record was the following: “His record was distinguished, though he did not see much actual fighting.”

Even that is quite a stretcher. The post of flag secretary is about as exciting as playing Knight of the Garter to a dead king. The worst that happened to Stassen was the time he got hit in the back with a bean bag during a souse party aboard ship. The home papers tried to picture him standing firm amid the shot and shell of the Pacific, a bulwark between the Japanese and Minnesota’s womanhood. It left the people pretfy cold. After all, a lot of inland sailors from Minnesota left their bones on various islands stretching across the watery highway from Honolulu to Tokyo.

The war ended. Stassen had no sooner arrived back in this country than Roosevelt appointed him a delegate to the San Francisco Conference. The “victors” in the war were trying to put the world together again.

Begins Campaign for Republican Nomination

When the conference ended, Stassen was 39. He decided to start his campaign for the Republican nomination for President in 1948. He went back to St. Paul, aired out his law office, tightened up a few screws in his machine and began the job of organizing his fight inside the Republican Party.

The first hurdle between him and the White House porch is the Republican Old Guard. Taft, Dewey and Vandenberg, to mention only a few, have seniority rights over Stassen. As Stassen sees it, he must repeat what he did years before to the Republican machine in Minnesota. He must organize the younger “outs” against the “ins.”

Way back in 1940 Stassen had the shrewd notion that the returned veterans would be a big political factor for change. The vets would be “outs” and those who stayed at home would be “ins.” Stassen wanted the Republican veterans on his side, and figured the best way was to become a veteran himself.

Stassen had observed Willkie closely, as the former Republican presidential nominee had organized his Willkie clubs in 1940. Stassen began organizing his Republican open forums, monthly forums to discuss political issues of the day. Actually, a Stassen forum is about as democratic an an Episcopalian church service.

Stassen made an inauspicious beginning in Nebraska, where he backed the “internationalist,” Governor Dwight Griswold, against the isolationist incumbent, Hugh Butler, Nebraska Senator. Butler won. The “internationalism” of Stassen and Griswold is only a term used by Luce journalists to indicate that a boss politician believes American imperialism ought to organize the world.

Undismayed by his Nebraska gamble, Stassen went home, where he knew he could deal the cards. He backed Governor Ed Thye against the incumbent Senator, Henrik Shipstead, the old Farmer-Labor dentist, who had been softened up in Washington by 24 years of rich living at the hog trough. Thye won.

Stassen’s Men: Creampuff Scabs

Stassen’s joint money raisers are Alfred Lindley, young Minneapolis lawyer, and former Governor William Vanderbilt of Rhode Island, custodians of the Minnesota Fund, Stassen’s war chest. Lindley is best remembered for the appearance he made in the course of the Minneapolis drivers’ strike back in May, 1934, when he entered the market attired in a polo hat and riding breeches, bearing a club and anxious to beat the brains out of any striking driver who dared to stand up and holler for 42½ cents an hour.

Lindley told the Alsops that individual contributions to the Minnesota Fund are limited to $1,000, which, say the Alsops, “is most unusual self-denial in work of this sort; but the money has been coming in well.”

In boss politics a man’s dividends increase in direct proportion to the earliness with which he puts dough on the line for the candidate he backs. Obviously, a lot of big shots have invested dough in the belief that Stassen will be the next President. The New Republic, as far back as May 6, 1946, estimated that Vanderbilt and others had already raised $4,000,000-odd far immediate use. The funds are to be made available to Stassen chiefs around the country in time to stake them to a real try for control of the state delegation to the 1948 Republican convention.

Another Stassen money raiser is John Hanes, the former Democrat whom Stassen backed unsuccessfully for the post of Republican national chairman. Hanes is related to the wealthy Chatham textile family in North Carolina.

Henry T. McKnight, Minneapolis business man, has the job of organizing Stassen’s forums. By September 1946, McKnight claimed that 1,000 had been formed. He aims at 20,000 forums by the summer of 1948.

Stassen has told members of his camp that he believes he can already count on the support of about one-fourth of the Republican organizations in the country. Through his forums, with the dough that big business is tossing his way, he figures to win over or buy up more than one- fourth more. That’s what he needs to win.

Stassen’s friends claim he can get the labor vote, the farm vote, the Republican vote, the internationalist vote and the service vote. Political hangers-on always talk that way before an election.

John Gunther believes that Stassen should be conservative enough to win the 1948 nomination in an Old Guard convention, and then liberal enough to beat the Democratic candidate.

Stassen, says Gunther, is “above all a man of the middle.”

Even Gunther couldn’t like the man. “I asked a lot of people in Minnesota who his best friends are, and the answer I got was usually ‘Stassen!’” he writes.

His chief defect, says Gunther, according to most of Stassen’s friends, “is his intense ambition, which serves to make him seem too calculating.”

When the Alsops inquired around Minnesota who started the Stassen boom for president, a Stassen henchman replied, “Why, I guess Stassen started it.”

Even after eight years of Stassen control in Minnesota, many Republicans hate him.

Portrait Of A Political Careerist

Here is as good a place as any for a portrait of Stassen. Back in college he used to be slim. Now he’s got a slight pot. He’s six feet three, 220 pounds, awkward in his movements, a pale skin, big skull which is round like Hoover’s, spare sandy hair, frog eyes like Eisenhower’s, ungraceful, a cold smile, bogus heartiness, solemn expression, ugly to the bone.

There is no law that says a political leader must be personable – on the contrary, most of them throughout history have been pretty ugly specimens of humanity – but Stassen abuses the rule.

What are Stassen’s political principles, asked the Alsops (as though it were not crystal clear that Stassen’s principal aim is to get elected in the service of big business):

“The party liners call him a phony liberal. He is not a liberal at all. The qualitv of his home state underlines that fact. He is solidly supported in the center. The less radical labor leaders, the more enlightened young business men, the non-isolationist farmers, these are the Stassenites ...

“Stassen is ... a literate conservative. He is quite willing to make changes in the outer structure of society, but only that the basic structure may be the better preserved.”

Stassen in several respects resembles ex-Governor Ellis Arnyll, about whom I wrote in Labor Action recently. Like Arnall, he entered politics early in life, supported the Roosevelt foreign policy, started in as a cog in an established political machine, then bucked the old leaders. Like Arnall, he is the darling of the young business men, he gets a good press, he is indifferent or hostile to organized labor and to all minorities, he talks liberal and acts reactionary. Arnall is the better speaker, but Stassen is a shrewder man, more ruthless, more ambitious for power.

The latest Gallup poll on the question, that of March 3, indicated that Dewey is still the leading Republican choice, with 45 per cent. He has lost 7 per cent since last December, when he polled 52 per cent. Stassen, in second place in both the December and late February polls, has picked up one point, from 17 to 18 per cent. The rest of the Republicans are far behind – Taft, Vandenberg, Bricker, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Warren and others.

The performance of the GOP majority in Congress doesn’t seem calculated to enhance the prestige of any GOP officeholder. Dewey too, as governor of New York, will be continually on the spot between now and the summer of 1948.

Stassen is a very smart man. He not only abstained from office during this period, he left the country. At present, he is touring the world, spending several months abroad acquiring a veneer of knowledge about world affairs so that he can present himself as an expert. Stassen is the only “internationalist” among Republican leaders, save Vandenberg, who is too old to make the try for the White House. Stassen knows, even if Taft does not, that the successful politician today must have an intimate knowledge of the world which his ruling class is organizing for exploitation.

Recently, Jim Farley, asked to name the top three Republican contenders for the GOP nomination, didn’t even mention Stassen.

Farley is a professional political analyst and his predictions carry considerable weight. A betting man would be wise to take his advice. Nevertheless, Stassen just cannot be counted out. Throughout his career he has established the record of always making a much better race than advance notices indicated. He has a faculty of tapping those hidden veins of support among big business circles which lift a candidate to the top. His political line more closely approximates the needs of America’s Sixty Families than that of almost any other candidate in sight. Stassen is the arch type of the politician that American capitalism spawns in its decay.

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