Calm Before the Storm
The spring of 1932 turned the president's attention once again to the ugly sport of politics. As much work as there was to be done fighting the Great Depression, Hoover could not resist discussions of who the Democrats would put up against him in the fall.
Hoover put up a brave front. There was no discussion of his own vulnerability. The talk focused on the horse race that was the Democratic campaign for the nomination. Would it be Al Smith once again? What about Newton Baker? And always in the back of Hoover's mind was the specter of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hoover claimed that the Democrats would not nominate Roosevelt--that the New York governor was the weakest candidate in the field! Whether he was being honest with himself and his staff, Hoover said on several occasions that he hoped that Roosevelt would be the Democratic nominee! Hoover's "hope" recalls the ancient curse: "Beware of the answered prayer, you just might get it!"
Once Roosevelt had the nomination, Hoover speculated on his opponent's health. Could a man as frail as Roosevelt withstand the brutal schedule of the campaign? More important, should Hoover make a campaign issue out of Roosevelt's paraplegia? Hoover would hear none of it. He had seen enough mudslinging in 1928 and he vowed not to have another such campaign.
As the campaign was about to begin in earnest, the president and the governor got into dispute over who should negotiate the terms of the St. Lawrence Seaway