Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

Thomas Dewey

Pollsters across the country had overwhelmingly predicted that Dewey would defeat Harry Truman; weeks earlier, LIFE magazine even ran a cover photo of Dewey beneath the headline: "The Next President of the United States." But thanks to two minority parties — the Progressives and Dixiecrats — the results were anything but predictable. "We were all wrong together," Dewey said of the surprise electoral outcome and the Chicago Tribune's infamously incorrect headline. At 1 p.m. the day after the election, he walked into the press headquarters at New York City's Roosevelt Hotel — the very same room where he had conceded defeat to Franklin D. Roosevelt after the 1944 election — to congratulate Truman and console his supporters. "We've won and lost before," the Republican Governor of New York said, concluding the press conference with a grin before adding, "It's been grand fun, boys and girls. Good luck!"

Dewey would play a key role in the 1952 presidential election by convincing his Republican colleagues that General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Senator Richard M. Nixon would make the strongest ticket. After Nixon won the presidential election in 1968, he paid back this support by offering Dewey a seat on the Supreme Court. But at 66, Dewey considered himself too old for the position and turned Nixon down.