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Mon Jun 15, 2015, 08:37 AM

The campaign rhetoric in the 1932 presidential race between FDR and Hoover was weird.


After making an airplane trip to the Democratic convention, Roosevelt accepted the nomination in person. In this history-making speech, Roosevelt promised to "abolish useless offices" and "eliminate unnecessary functions of Government", stating that "Government – Federal and State and local – costs too much", and promised to help facilitate the "restoration of the trade of the world".

... there emerges one great, simple, crystal-pure fact that during the past ten years a Nation of 120,000,000 people has been led by the Republican leaders to erect an impregnable barbed wire entanglement around its borders through the instrumentality of tariffs which have isolated us from all the other human beings in all the rest of the round world. ... By our acts of the past we have invited and received the retaliation of other Nations. I propose an invitation to them to forget the past, to sit at the table with us, as friends, and to plan with us for the restoration of the trade of the world.

Go into the home of the business man. He knows what the tariff has done for him. Go into the home of the factory worker. He knows why goods do not move. Go into the home of the farmer. He knows how the tariff has helped to ruin him.

Making matters worse for Hoover was the fact that many Americans blamed him for the Great Depression. For more than two years, President Hoover had been restricting trade and increasing taxes on the wealthy with legislation such as the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act and the Revenue Act of 1932.

Roosevelt lashed out at Hoover: "I accuse the present Administration of being the greatest spending Administration in peacetime in all our history." Garner (FDR's VP) accused Hoover of "leading the country down the path of socialism." ... His attempts to campaign in public were a disaster, as he often had objects thrown at him or his vehicle as he rode through city streets. In his addresses, Hoover attacked Roosevelt as a capitalist president who would only make the Depression worse by decreasing taxes, reducing government intervention in the economy, promoting "trade [with] the world", and cutting "Government –Federal and State and local". However, with unemployment at 23.6%, Hoover's criticisms of Roosevelt's campaign promises did nothing more than further lower his popularity with the public. Roosevelt himself did not have a clear idea of the New Deal at this point, so he promised no specific programs.


Apparently campaign rhetoric has always been an inexact science.

Thankfully, once FDR took office he governed like a true liberal which is way more important.

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