"Candidate in Absentia"
BY ROBERT THOMPSON
THE JURY OF AMERICAN VOTERS HAD COME IN ONLY THREE days before. Thomes E. Dewey lost out in his prosecution of the New Deal, by which he sought to gain the presidency of the United States and to put the Republican party back in the leadership of the nation.
Washington political writers cast about for a likely candidate to retrieve the GOP fortunes in 1948. Almost unanimously, they picked out Commander Harold Edward Stassen of the United States Navy, the youthful former governor of Minnesota who quit his office to fight the war with his own generation.
True, Stassen had been an unsuccessful candidate in absentia in the Republican pre-convention presidential race in 1944. True also, Stassen's principal protege and representative at home, Senator Joseph H. Ball, had gone off the Republican reservation and plumped for President Roosevelt against Mr. Dewey.
Nevertheless, the political writers felt that Commander Stassen's stature still qualified him to be a Republican Moses who might lead his party's return to the political promised land.
All of this was no surprise to the voters of Minnesota. Since 1937, they have been conditioned to accept as the usual thing almost any precedent-shattering accomplishment by their young leader from South St. Paul.
Since leaving the governorship, Stassen has added the political appeal of a war record, including a decoration, to his other