WASHINGTON (Oct. 29)
President Roosevelt’s assertion last night in his speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden that he was working with “all three faiths” for peace was interpreted here today as a reference to the pro-Willkie radio address of CIO President John L. Lewis last Friday night, who urged “members of the Christian church” not to vote for the man who “practices the modern sorcery of warmongering.”
The President said: “Your government is working at all times with representatives of the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish faiths. Without these spiritual forces we cannot make or maintain peace and all three of them work with us toward that great end.”
In his delivery, President Roosevelt laid stress on the “all three.” In addition he said: “We guard against the forces of anti-Christian aggression which may attack us from without and the forces of ignorance and fear which may corrupt us from within.”
The President’s remarks gained added significance through the revelation of Presidential Secretary Stephen Early that yesterday afternoon, a few hours before the President spoke, he conferred with R.J. Thomas, international president of the United Automobile Workers of America (CIO) , who quoted a Willkie supporter as having made disparaging statements about the Jews. According to Thomas the man was Harold E. Talbott, a director of the Chrysler Corporation, assertedly acting as a Willkie spokesman.
Talbott declared here today that Thomas’s statements were “fantastically untrue.” He said: “I hope I’m not stupid enough to go to a man like Thomas and solicit his support for Willkie with a promise of a cabinet post, anti-Semitic talk, or anything else.”
There were reports, which could not be confirmed, that the original draft of Lewis’s speech had included an appeal to “my Jewish friends” to oppose Roosevelt in order to avoid the possibility of persecution here such as dictatorship had brought in Europe, but that this had been deleted at the request of Republican leaders.
Hitherto the public presidential campaign had been practically free of any religious issue so far as the major parties were concerned. Republican Candidate Wendell L. Willkie himself had termed anti-Semitism “a possibly criminal movement,” had repudiated the support of bigoted groups, specifically declaring “I don’t want Father Coughlin’s support,” and had forthrightly pledged to help guard against “racial or religious intolerance and persecution” in this country.