By Susan Dunn
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Extra info for 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler—the Election amid the Storm
He declared that, just as in the case of a viral epidemic, it had become necessary to “quarantine” the violators of peace in order to protect the health of the community. A noble plan—but also enigmatic. 9 The following day, at a press conference, Roosevelt told reporters that the lead in their articles should be that the nation was “actively” engaged in the search for peace. “I can’t tell you what the methods will be,” he said vaguely. ”10 Reporters pressed him for more specifics. What about economic sanctions?
While Harold Ickes faulted him for a “lack of aggressive leadership,”100 General Marshall faulted his enthusiasm for aiding Great Britain. ”102 Caution over military aid to the Allies, oscillating public opinion, a refractory Congress unwilling to give up the dream of neutrality, and a potent isolationist movement— everything conspired to complicate Roosevelt’s ability to lead. It was in the spring of 1940 that Franklin Roosevelt decided to run for a third term. He had been toying with the idea for months if not years, and, if he harbored any lingering doubts, Hitler and Mussolini helped him make up his mind.
There was none of the usual banter. Dispatches were pouring into the White House. 3 But in his talk, as he tried to prepare Americans for what might lie ahead, he set a reflective, religious tone. ” But before talking about his decision to vastly increase the nation’s military preparedness, he hurled an opening salvo at the isolationists. They came in different sizes and shapes, he explained. One group of them constituted a Trojan horse of pro-German spies, saboteurs, and traitors. 4 The president recognized that some isolationists were earnest in their beliefs and acted in good faith.