|FDR Rides in Washington, D.C.||Wilkie Campaign Parade|
The 1940 election was a historic event
because for the first and only time a president, not only was nominated,
but also elected for the.
Roosevelt and the Democrats felt that because of the World War that was
brewing in Europe and Asia, he was the only one that could protect
the U.S. from the war because of his stature and experience. Having achieved
a lot of things in his first term, President Roosevelt was stymied in his
second term from achieving many of his ideas by Congress. Had it not been
for the war, it was unlikely that the President would have run for a third
In trying to oust the FDR, the Republican nominee, Wendell L. Wilkie, tried to paint Roosevelt as a dictator. He wanted the voters to reject the Presidentís attempt at a third term because he believed that having a president serve more than two terms in office would lead to dictatorship and suppression of civil rights. He repeatedly asserted that Roosevelt was trying to buy votes by spending money on his New Deal programs. The President did not attack Mr. Wilkie, instead he focused on what he would do for the people if he was elected and remained positive throughout the campaign.
Although the media coverage of Roosevelt remained generally positive, there was a noticeable increase in his unfavorable coverage. There were reporters who did not like the idea of a third term. Reporters were split in what the U.S. role should be in the war. Some advocated a strong support for the Allies; others wanted the U.S. to remain isolated. Each of them did not like the Presidentís idea of giving limited support for Great Britain while remaining neutral. His stance on the war also confused the Republicans because he was not committed to one idea, but they could not attack his policy. They also had suspicions that the President wanted to have the country involved in the war, which they opposed but were thwarted from attacking his position because the President pledged to keep the U.S. from combat unless it came under direct attack.
The president was able to win a third term by taking away the Republicanís strong argument for denying him a third term. Republicans were set to campaign by pledging to keep the country out of World War II, believing that the President, who was inching closer to Britain, would not vow not to keep the Country out of the World War II as the majority of the people believed. They were surprised when the President pledged that he was not going to send our men to war. The only thing that the Republicans had was convincing people that it would be dangerous to allow the President to have a third term, breaking the long tradition dating back to Washington. Mr. Wilkie repeatedly pointed this out at the rallies he held, and the media gave it extensive coverage. However, it was not enough to dislodge President Roosevelt from the White House. Although the Republicans were able to shrink President Rooseveltís coalition, there were still many people who liked the President enough to vote him into a third term.