Eisenhower's Two Presidential Campaigns, 1952 and 1956
L. Richard Guylay
In his lifetime, Dwight David Eisenhower undertook two presidential campaigns which were markedly different in form, style, and content. In 1952, he ran as the enormously popular war hero, but it was apparent that at first he was unsure of the issues, and at times uncomfortable with the rambunctious elements that make up a national political organization. Even in 1956, after four years as Chief Executive, he once told National Chairman Len Hall to "order" the state chairmen to do something he wanted. Hall said, "Mr. President, you can't order state chairmen to do anything, I have to ask or suggest."
Politics was a new environment for this lifelong soldier, but he drew great confidence from the plaudits of the crowds and the dedication and skill of the many powerful friends who won for him the nomination for President. Furthermore, he was a quick learner and it didn't take him long to find out what politics was all about, and, having learned that, to take charge.
The learning process began when the 1952 campaign got off to an uncertain start, which alarmed the candidate as well as his supporters. It began on September 2 with a quick trip to Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, and back to New York, where national headquarters had been set up in the Commodore Hotel. The next morning, the entire entourage, including a sizable group of reporters, were off on a seven-day swing to Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Washington, and New York. These trips, perhaps, were too fast and ambitious for a shakedown cruise, and the crowds were disappointing and apathetic. The Scripps-Howard newspaper, which had supported Ike for the nomination, ran a first-page editorial in all editions sharply criticizing the campaign effort, entitled "Running like a Dry Creek."
It was obvious that the party "regulars" who held most of the state and local offices and controlled the party machinery were still licking their wounds. They