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BY THE FORUM PUBLISHING COMPANY.
THE PUBLISHERS' PRINTING COMPANY
82, 84 LAFAYETTE PLACE
ERE this article appears, the Republican party will have assembled in national convention in Chicago and will have nominated Theodore Roosevelt as its candidate for President of the United States. In view of the practically unanimous instructions which have been given to State and district delegates to vote for him, and the certainty of his choice by acclamation, it seems strange that any question of his nomination should ever have been raised; and yet it does not require a peculiarly lively memory to recall that it was necessary to argue a year ago that he was the logical candidate, and, in fact, the only really available one which his party could present. It is true that in thus securing, as a Vice-President who succeeded a martyred President, the indorsement of his party, he has broken all records; but President Roosevelt is such an extraordinary man that it is not strange that he should occupy this unique position. If he is elected and the chances at present favor his reëlection - he will be alone in such distinction.
It is not worth while, upon the eve of the convention, to attempt to forecast its action in the matter of selecting a nominee for the VicePresidency. Senator Fairbanks, of Indiana, who does not desire the honor; Speaker Cannon, who is quite satisfied with his present position; or Representative Hitt, of Illinois, a man of large experience, conceded ability, equable and dignified temperament, and sufficient wealth, would make a satisfactory and appropriate running mate for President Roosevelt, and the convention will act wisely in choosing any one of them. It will make little difference, however, who is named as candi
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date for this office. Mr. Roosevelt will continue to be, as he is now, the central, all-dominating figure of the campaign. It will be his actions which will be praised or condemned, as the case may be, by opposing orators upon the stump; it will be his picturesque, frank, and aggressive personality which will influence voters. He will receive the official notification of his nomination while at his summer home at Oyster Bay, and later will return to the White House to transact the public business which always engrosses him. Even while a candidate for reëlection and naturally anxious to receive the favorable verdict of his countrymen, he will not forget that he is President of the United States, and he will carefully avoid any action that may seem to be taken for the purpose of influencing voters.
It is probable that the conduct of his campaign will be entrusted to Mr. George B. Cortelyou, at present the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Labor, and a gentleman whose experience reads like a romance. Only a few years ago Mr. Cortelyou was a clerk in the PostOffice Department, to which position he was appointed as a resident of New York. He secured a transfer to a clerical position in the White House, where he soon made himself invaluable. His ability displayed itself upon every occasion; he was wise in his counsels as well as tactful in his dealings with White-House visitors. Always urbane, his equilibrium never disturbed even during moments of great excitement, and his judgments remarkably accurate, he steadily advanced until he became Secretary to President McKinley. In that position he stood in the limelight of public scrutiny and suffered not in stature. He was the nearest approach to an ideal secretary since Lamont stood at the right hand of Cleveland; and there was general approbation when he was elevated to the cabinet position which he now honors and which he will, of course, resign. In assuming the management of the campaign, he will, undoubtedly, do great honor to himself and service to his party. It is no small thing to step into the place made vacant by the death of Senator Hanna, but Mr. Cortelyou is none the less equipped for his new duties by the fact that he is fully acquainted with the methods which Senator Hanna so successfully pursued. Mr. Cortelyou knew much of the inside detail of the campaign of 1896, and still more of that of the contest of 1900. He is an astute politician, with wide acquaintance, and, what is more essential, with the esteem of those who know him. He has been in a position to acquire knowledge, and he has made good use of his opportunities. He will prove an able campaign manager.
Experience has shown, however, that it is the candidate, and not the chairman of the campaign committee, who leads his party to defeat or victory. Blaine's failure to reach the Presidency and Harrison's success were equally independent of the campaign chairman. Again, therefore, the personality of President Roosevelt enters into the equation. It is what he has done and the way he has done it that will return him to the White House or retire him to private life. His friends find many reasons for predicting his election. Some of them, like Ex-Senator William E. Chandler, of New Hampshire, base his popularity upon the resoluteness with which he attacked the Northern Securities Company; performing, as Mr. Chandler says, with cheerful alacrity, a duty which, in a similar case, President Cleveland and Attorney-General Harmon executed with doleful reluctance. It is certainly true that, in dealing with the trusts, the Roosevelt Administration has shown more determination and aggressiveness than any of its predecessors. Other of Mr. Roosevelt's friends point to his energetic and effective way of securing results, notably the events which make certain an Isthmian Canal, as the best evidence of his fitness for his high position; and the country generally concedes his inherent honesty and straightforwardness. The Democrats, in fact, have thus far discovered only one weak point in his armor. They attack him because his individuality is so intense. Thus Representative Kitchin, of North Carolina, in a speech upon the floor of the House, quoted with approbation the assertion that Mr. Roosevelt is brilliant, but erratic; while the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic State convention characterized the President in language even more exaggerated and undignified. The leader of the minority in the House of Representatives, in a speech upon the floor of Congress, said:
There is one issue upon which all Democrats can unite, and that is, that Theodore Roosevelt should be defeated. This, indeed, may become the paramount issue with many voters in the next election. By many his administration is considered a continuing experiment, too theatrical for the business interests of the country, without sufficient time between the acts to allow the people a good breathing spell. There are some recent incidents in his administration to justify the apprehension that on some strenuous occasion he is liable to go off too suddenly and inconsiderately, and greatly embarrass the country in some of the graver affairs of government.
Representative Patterson, of Tennessee, also speaking in the House, insisted that Roosevelt was the paramount issue of the campaign; while Senator Carmack, at the Iroquois Club dinner in Chicago, arraigned the President for overriding the Constitution, violating the obligations of a solemn treaty, and resorting to the device of an executive order to ac
complish what Congress had failed to enact into law. Many of the Democratic State conventions, acting in apparent concert, devoted paragraphs to criticising the President. Take, for instance, the following from the utterance of the Nebraska Democrats:
With an increasing love for the principles of Democracy and an increasing confidence in their final triumph, we look upon the present time as opportune for their earnest and courageous promulgation, with a Chief Executive who has disregarded constitutional limitations, stirred up antagonism between the races, employed all the powers of his office to secure a renomination, and purchased political support by turning the Treasury Department over to the financiers and putting the law department into the hands of the trusts—with such a Chief Executive and with Republican leaders openly and arrogantly in alliance with organized wealth, the country imperatively needs a return of the government to positive and clearly defined Democratic principles. Democracy, as taught by Jefferson and exemplified by Jackson, is the hope of the Republic, and offers the only relief from the plutocracy which now dominates the Republican party, and through that party the country.
It is quite evident, therefore, that the Democrats propose to awaken in the popular mind, if possible, the feeling that the President is not deserving of public confidence. He is to be presented as the possessor of unsafe characteristics, a man not to be trusted. To this extent, at least, there is to be personality in the campaign. Mr. Roosevelt is to be the issue, greater than the tariff or the Isthmian Canal or governmental expenditure. This is the greatest tribute to his individuality which could be paid.
The Republican managers will have entered upon their convention with every detail carefully arranged in advance - Ex-Secretary Root having been selected as temporary chairman and Speaker Cannon as permanent chairman, with Senator Lodge, of Massachusetts, as the chairman of the Committee on Resolutions; the platform having been written and edited; and nothing being left for the delegates to do except to confirm the programme of the leaders and applaud eulogistic speeches. When the Democrats assemble at St. Louis on July 6 the contrast will be most marked. There will be a fight to the finish over the nomination of a candidate; there will be a bitter struggle between opposing factions; and the platform, when it has been finally adopted, will not be the unanimous agreement of harmonious forces. The Democratic convention promises to be one of the most memorable in the history of the party. It would not be surprising if it should result in the withdrawal of a certain element, although this outcome can and should be prevented by the exercise of good judgment and the willingness of all factions to unite for the party's good.