No. 134 NAI DFA 19/2A

Extracts from a confidential report from Michael MacWhite to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Washington DC, 5 October 1932

As the date of the Presidential election approaches (it is now only five weeks distant) the leaders of the two big parties are bringing all their political ammunition into play, and while intensifying the campaign they seem equally confident of victory. It would, however, be rash for a non-partisan observer to come to a conclusion at the moment as to what the final result of the issue will be.

Governor Roosevelt, the Democratic candidate, has just finished a personal campaign in the western and mid-western States where the farming communities are discontented with the present regime because of the prevailing low prices for agricultural produce and the consequential difficulties they experience in paying off mortgages and redeeming bank loans. Their lamentable situation was attributed by the Governor to the insincerity of the Republican regime in Washington, their unbusiness-like methods in lending money to bankrupt countries and their high tariff policy. His remedy if elected would be a 'tariff policy based in a large part upon the simple principle of profitable exchanges arrived at through negotiated tariffs with benefit to each nation ... This principle of tariff by negotiation means to deal with each country concerned on a basis of fair barter. If they have something we need and we have something they need a tariff agreement should be made satisfactory to both. This avoids a violent general shakeup of business. It is a just method of dealing with our foreign customers, it keeps the general structure of international trade stable and sound'.

At the end of his trans-continental campaign, the general consensus of opinion was to the effect that his chances of election had improved. His speeches were not as radical as his opponents anticipated, nevertheless they did not appeal to the large body of conservative votes in the East. It is believed that he will not be able to carry any of the New England States not even excepting his own. His chances in New York and Massachusetts have however improved since former Governor Smith unexpectedly appeared on his platform in Albany last night supporting the Democratic ticket.

The principal phase of the Republican campaign was entered into yesterday as President Hoover addressed an enthusiastic gathering in Des Moines, Iowa, the center of the farm belt. Notwithstanding a hostile demonstration of discontented farmers in the city before his arrival, the President was welcomed by a considerable number of supporters many of whom had traveled hundreds of miles to greet him. At the beginning of his address, President Hoover told his audience that the battle against the depression was won and that instead of being on the defensive as has been the case they were now actually on the offensive. Prices had a long way to go before the farmers had an adequate return ?but at least the turn is towards recovery'. He told them of the struggle last year to maintain the United States on the Gold Standard, and how at a certain moment the Secretary of the Treasury had informed him that unless there was a change within fourteen days, it would have to be abandoned. The Republican party, however, maintained the honesty of the dollar both at home and abroad.

[matter omitted]

In explaining how the Democrats would reduce agricultural tariffs if they came into power, President Hoover said:- 'When you return to your homes you can compare prices with foreign prices and count up the proposed destruction at your own firesides. There are this minute 2,000,000 cattle in the Northern States of Mexico seeking market. The price is about $2.50 per 100 pounds on the south bank of the Rio Grande. It is $4.50 on the north bank and only the tariff wall between. Bad as our prices are, if we take comparable prices of farm products today in the United States and abroad, I am informed by the Department of Agriculture that you will find that except for the guardianship of the tariff, butter could be imported for 25 per cent below your prices, pork products for 30 per cent below your prices, lamb and beef products from 30 to 50 per cent below your prices, flax-seed for 35 per cent below your prices, beans 40 per cent below your prices, and wool 30 per cent below your prices. Both corn and wheat could be sold in New York from the Argentine at prices below yours were it not for the tariff'.

There is little doubt but that this direct appeal to the farmer will strike home and make many of them hesitate who were inclined to vote the Democratic ticket. It may undo the favourable effect created amongst the agricultural communities in all the mid-western States by Governor Roosevelt. If it does President Hoover's chances of re-election are by no means negligible.

[signed] M. MacWhite

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