Democratic Nomination

Many had expected Roosevelt to make a bid for an unprecedented third term in office, and indeed it seemed likely to many Americans that he would easily be renominated and re-elected. However, there were several factors that Roosevelt hadn't banked on, the sheer strength of the opposition he faced. Vice President Garner, James Farley - Roosevelt's "Kingmaker", political bosses in Chicago and New York, Southern Conservatives and those Democrats who opposed the New Deal. But despite this, Roosevelt seemed sure of renomination, the three main realistic candidates against him (Garner, Farley and Secretary of State Cordell Hull) were uncharismatic and lacked the political support to defeat him.

At the July convention a new candidate emerged. Joseph P. Kennedy had resigned as US ambassador to the United Kingdom in May after his request for reassignment was denied. He had returned to America something of a minor hero for standing up to "Roosevelt's warmongering" and had intended seeking the Democratic vice presidential nomination. But with the support of the Democratic party bosses he was given time to speak at the convention. Kennedy's speech was powerful, he pledged "not to send American boys to die in a foreign war" and that "we have had to work with a Europe dominated by a British empire, we now have to work with a Europe dominated by a German empire". A five-minute long standing ovation followed, and with it a strong showing on the first presidential ballot, enough to deny Roosevelt the two-third majority he needed. On the second and third ballots Kennedy surged ahead, and following the withdrawal of Garner and Farley in favour of Kennedy his lead increased further. It was on the eighth ballot that Kennedy finally overtook Roosevelt with the most delegates, although still not two-thirds. However Roosevelt realised he could not claim legitimacy from this, and withdrew from the race. Kennedy considered several candidates for his running mate, including Garner, Farley, Hull, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and popular peace advocate Senator Burton K. Wheeler. Ultimately, Texas businessman Jesse H. Jones was selected as a Southerner to carry the solid south and a businessman associated with the New Deal.

Republican Nomination

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