In this timeline, Franklin Roosevelt declines to run for a fourth term due to health reasons, instead running his wife Eleanor, changing American politics forever.
POD: June 20th, 1944- President Franklin Roosevelt suffers a cerebral hemorrhage in the midst of a cabinet meeting. Word would eventually leak to the press of Roosevelt's condition. While he recovers, Eleanor begins to take his place secretly, similar to Edith Wilson's role in Woodrow Wilson's second term.
June 28th- Roosevelt's doctor, Howard Bruenn, informs him that the President will probably not live another year, and recommends that he resign. The President characteristically objects to this advice, but his closest advisers persuade him not to run for re-election. Roosevelt, wishing to continue his policies, looks for a candidate suitably loyal to him. He at first considers his vice president, Henry Wallace, but realizes he is too liberal for the conservative wing of the party.
July 2nd- After listening to Eleanor deliver a report on the state of the war, FDR hits on upon the idea of having Eleanor succeed him. Eleanor is surprised at her husband's suggestion, saying she has no desire to become president. FDR pretends he was joking, but secretly works to nominate his wife.
July 10th- FDR holds a secret meeting with Democratic Party leaders to discuss the upcoming Democratic National Convention. He shocks the committee by stating that they should nominate Eleanor. The Democrats initially refuse to even consider running a woman for the position of president. FDR, however, would not give up so easily. For hours, he cajoles the Democrats, saying " I shall see her [ Eleanor ] elected, if it's my last action on this Earth." Reluctantly, the party leaders agree to support Eleanor at the Convention.
July 19th- At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, FDR shocks the nation by nominating Eleanor Roosevelt for President. Admitting his health problems, Roosevelt reveals he will likely die within the next few months." Naturally, We're doing everything we can to prevent it, but We must not allow our nation to succumb to the Axis because of my coming demise. Henceforth, I nominate a great person, who happens to be a woman, for only a woman has the tenacity and strength to strike the final blow against the forces of Hitler," Roosevelt announced. The floor breaks out into competing cheers and jeers, with some of the Southern delegates walking out based on Eleanor's gender and liberal racial views.
July 21st- With over 800 ballots, Eleanor Roosevelt is selected as the Democrat's nominee for President. To assuage the more conservative voters, Harry Truman is nominated as her vice president. In a hastily prepared acceptance speech, Eleanor declared " I hold little desire to hold this office, I have been convinced by all of my friends here that the best way for me to serve my countrymen I accept your gracious nomination. I pray that if elected, I may serve the American People with grace and humility." While Eleanor's nomination is greeted with enthusiasm by some, others, especially newspapers, greet the news with derision. Republican candidate Thomas Dewey attacked the Roosevelts' nepotism, which would become a major theme of his campaign. The New York Herald Tribune stated in an editorial similar to that of other newspapers- "For Roosevelt to presume that his wife, obviously under his control, or any woman, has the right to the highest office in the land is utterly preposterous." Even some democrats come out against Eleanor's nomination.
July 23rd- On a radio address to the Germans and the world, Hitler mocks the United States for considering having a woman their leader. " In a devious attempt to further subject and humiliate the Aryans, the Jews of America have commanded their puppets to nominate one even weaker and unpure than Mr. Roosevelt. It is because she is a woman that the Jews have nominated her, for a woman cannot be a leader, but she can be controlled." Hitler would ramble on for over an hour, using derogative terms to refer to Eleanor. The Democrats would seize upon the speech, using it for great propaganda value, and would claim the speech as evidence that Hitler wanted the Republicans to win, so that the Allies would lose the war.
Eleanor and Franklin take to the airwaves for the election. FDR would campaign for his wife tirelessly until Election Day, attending several rallies with her. Unsurprisingly, Eleanor has a huge outpouring of support from women, who would vote for her in overwhelming numbers. The Democrats would embark on huge voter registration campaigns to reach the female vote, to offset the males, the majority of whom support Dewey. To show faith in Eleanor, Norman Rockwell draws a famous picture of Eleanor and Rosie the Riveter, with the slogan " She can do it!"
While the Republicans criticized the Roosevelts for behaving similarly to a monarchy, their primary attacks were on FDR for nominating a woman. Interestingly, the Republicans rarely attacked Eleanor as a person herself, usually attacking FDR for being presumptuous enough for selecting his wife. These attacks would eventually backfire, with many woman being convinced to side with Eleanor in reaction to the chauvinism of Republican attacks. The Roosevelts would also maintain their support among the working class, and kept support in the South despite threats to form a Dixiecrat party. Since the election was in the middle of a war, the Southerners did not feel comfortably challenging the Roosevelts. Wealthy Republicans, however, would mock the Roosevelts relentlessly.
Success in World War II in October would greatly enhance the popularity of the Roosevelts, and Hitler's anti- Roosevelt speech was used for considerable effect. Due to several tours as first lady, Eleanor would maintain a surprising amount of support among the troops, who affectionately referred to her as " Aunt Eleanor". As FDR's health declined, Eleanor continued a more public role, taking over her husband's fireside chats. The democrats' strong support after 12 years of their rule would also enhance Eleanor's support. A handful of Liberal republicans would cross party lines to endorse her, stating it as a historic opportunity.
Despite strong, national support for the Roosevelts, some Republicans believed that Dewey would win in a landslide, unable to comprehend that the American public would elect a woman president. On Election Day, women turned out in record numbers, allowing Eleanor to coast to victory with an electoral vote count of 472-59. The news media was so shocked that a woman who had never held office could be elected President, they could barely report the results. The Republicans would relentlessly criticize her throughout her administration.