A Bid for the Presidency, 1952
Severe problems faced the Democrats as they looked toward the presidential election of 1951. Divisions within the party were particularly foreboding. Southerners were up in arms over Truman's continued push for civil rights legislation and over the belief that the party had come under the domination of special interests, especially organized labor and minority groups. Moreover, many Democrats outside the South could see little to admire in the Truman administration. The unpopular war in Korea, accusations of administrative corruption, and charges that the administration was soft on communism gave the Democrats an unpopular public image.
Dick Russell took no delight in these Democratic troubles. After all, he considered himself a loyal and true Democrat. Moreover, if Democrats lost control of Congress as they had in 1946, he and several of his southern friends would lose their positions of power and leadership in the Senate. There was, however, one glimpse of hope from Russell's viewpoint. The confusion and divisiveness within Democratic ranks offered an opportunity for the South to regain some of its lost influence in party affairs. If southerners could get organized and help nominate a candidate less confrontational with the South than Truman, southerners would have gained a good deal. The South, Russell insisted, must cease being a source of Democratic votes that actually helped to keep the northern, liberal wing of the party in power. How could this idea be achieved?
One approach was to nominate a candidate from the South. Every careful observer of the Democratic party, however, knew that such a possibility was very remote. Another more practical idea was to organize enough strength so that southerners would have major influence when it came time to nominate a candidate and write a platform for 1952. As southern leaders considered possible candidates from Virginia