Did Franklin D. Roosevelt realize how ill he was by the end of the year 1944, when he was about to begin his fourth presidential term? Why in heaven’s name did he insist on holding onto the Presidency, considering that Gov. Thomas E. Dewey surely would not have changed American foreign policy, had Dewey been elected?
Clark Clifford once said that Roosevelt thought he was going to live forever. And yet in his heart of hearts he must have known better. In late 1944 he was no longer waited upon by his regular physician, Vice Adm. Ross T. Mclntire, an ear, nose, and throat man, but by Lt. Comdr. Howard Bruenn, a heart specialist, who was seeing him every day. How much imagination did it take to see what was going on?
Roosevelt must have thought that he would remain in the Presidency as long as he could, until the war was over, which would not be too much longer. And yet the casual way in which he allowed a group of Democratic party bosses to present him with Sen. Harry S. Truman as his vice-presidential running mate, a man he did not really know, and whom he saw only two or three times in the months thereafter, says that he had no intention of passing the Presidency to Truman.
The plausible explanation? Clifford was right.