The Road to Chicago
A T 8:56 P.M., EISENHOWER'S big DC-6 flagship, the Abilene, came down in the deepening darkness of the runway. The throng of between five hundred to a thousand watched the General guide his wife down the steps and then, almost spontaneously, erupted with the already familiar "We want Ike" chant. Present also was just about every prominent Republican leader in the region. After a brief exchange of greetings to the excited crowd, Eisenhower and Mamie stepped into Governor Dewey's car, which then led a motorcade of twenty limousines and five busses along the Grand Central Parkway, over the Triborough Bridge and up to Columbia. A few minutes later, as the Eisenhowers watched from a second-floor porch above Morningside Drive and waved to the crowd, a torchlight parade moved along the street The men, women and children carried signs saying, "We Want Ike" and "Vote for Integrity. Knowledge, Efficiency," with the letters of the last three words arranged to spell IKE. A bagpipe band from Stamford, Connecticut, contributed to the celebration on Morningside Heights that Friday night.
The cheers and adulation, however, were merely a prelude to the real function of the coming weeks that remained before the opening of the GOP's national convention at Chicago on July 7: the battle for delegates. Having already confided to reporters that he planned to woo the uncommitted by seducing them with frankness, he prepared for a long flow of Republicans from all over the Union.
Most important was the delegation from Pennsylvania. The Keystone State group, led by Governor John Fine, was still unpledged. Fine, enjoying the power of his hand, had been coyly saying wonderful things