Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 35
Trust Ike

H OW CAN ANYONE defeat a candidate who was not only first in peace and prosperity but, as events soon reaffirmed, first in war? Additionally, the public agreed that the GOP had been more adept than the Democrats in preserving peace, a point stressed repeatedly by Republican speakers. At the same time, despite organized labor's overwhelming opposition to the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket, the unprecedented prosperity of American workers, with surburban homes, automobiles, television sets and clothing selling at record levels, had created little dissatisfaction. No union efforts to "educate" the membership could dispel what seemed obvious to most workers. Wage earners had never been so attracted to a Republican Presidential candidate. Only in the farm belt, North and South, did the President face difficulties; but even there the party and not Eisenhower received most of the blame. Despite Stevenson and Kefauver's fast early start, exploiting the momentum provided by the more exciting Democratic convention, the early September Gallup Poll showed the GOP's ticket ahead by 11 percent of the popular vote and, what was more significant, a two-to-one edge among independents.1

Such advantages required a simple strategy. Aside from the national well-being, Eisenhower's personal fitness had to be stressed. The public must believe that they were not simply choosing a figurehead who would enable Nixon to wield the real power. Eisenhower's televised appearances, closely supervised by Robert Montgomery, were so successful that the President actually appeared younger and more fit than Stevenson.2

The over-all selling aspect of the strategy was, as in 1952, placed with the professional talents of the prominent New York advertising firm of

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