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Frank StantonFrank Stanton
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Chicago and take over that job.


When would that have been?


Oh, a year or so before. Stevenson was on the short list, and I had taken myself out, because (this sounds strange, I'm sure, but) I thought what I was doing was so much more important than being editor or publisher of the -- no, it wasn't the Chicago Times, it was the Chicago Daily News. That was Frank Knox's paper. But, I had had dinner with Stevenson along about that time, because he was interested in the job. I barely knew him, but his campaign headquarters in 1952 were in New York City at the Roosevelt Hotel. I went down to see him, and told him I had this idea of debates. I wasn't sure I could bring it off, but if we had them, would he be willing --? Well, absolutely. No question about it. He thought it was a capital idea, etc. I went out on cloud fourteen. Then, I realized I had the problem with the General [Eisenhower]. I had some friends who were very close to Eisenhower, but I didn't know him. His campaign manager was Ben Duffey, who was then chairman of BBDO, and I knew Ben very well. Both of us grew up in market research and advertising. I went down to see Ben, and he gave me a very benign smile and said, “The General isn't going to do anything like that. Why should he? He won't stoop to debate, he's above all that.” Very imperious, and I knew Ben well enough to say, “Come on, knock it off. At least ask him,” and he said, as a friend, sure, he would do that. He called me right away and said, “As I told you, obviously, he won't do it.” So I had to drop it. I really couldn't fly my kite if I couldn't say that I had two candidates to debate.


Do you think that really was Eisenhower's perspective? That he was just above it, and he was riding high and didn't need it?

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