FDR Comments at Barnesville, Ga.
Attempting to Purge Senator Walter F. George
At a celebration dedicating a new REA facility in Barnesville, Georgia where 50,000 people were in attendance, FDR, with Walter George and Herman Talmage on the same stage, came out against George's reelection and endorsed liberal challenger Walter Camp. "The "staged meeting was inherently confrontational, a fact that had been advertised, and it was in the expectation of exciting theater that most of the vast throng had come.."
FDR spoke of the South's economic problems and urged Georgia voters to send liberals to Washington so that the federal government could continue to attack these problems.
"Here in Georgia, however, my old friend, the senior Senator from this State, cannot possibly...be classified as belonging to the liberal school of thought..." "Let me make it clear that he [George] is, and I hope always will be, my personal friend. He is..beyond any possible question, a gentleman and a scholar....[But] on most public questions he and I do not speak the same language. To carry out my responsibility as President, it is clear that if there is to be success in our Government there ought to be cooperation between members of my own party and myself - cooperation, in other words, within the majority party, between ...the legislative branch and the head of the other branch, the Executive...The test is not measured, in the case of an individual, by his every vote on every bill...but rather in the answer to two questions: first, has the record of the candidate shown...a constant active fighting attitude in favor of the broad objectives of the party and of the Government as they are constituted today; and, secondly, does the candidate really ... deep down in his heart believe in those objectives? I regret that in the case of my friend, Senator George, I cannot honestly answer either of these questions in the affirmative."
By contrast, Camp, the White House-recruited liberal challenger, was, according to the President: "..a man who honestly believes that many things must be done and done now to improve the economic and social conditions of the country, a man who is willing to fight for those objectives...I have no hesitation in saying that if I were able to vote in the September primaries in this State, I most assuredly should cast my ballot for Lawrence Camp."