1912 Republican National Convention Starts In Chicago
When Republican candidate Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday for the Republican National convention, incumbent President William Howard Taft claimed to have 454½ delegates to the 469½ claimed by Roosevelt. 239 delegates were claimed by both sides. 513 of 1026 are required to win the nomination. From his headquarters at the Congress Hotel, Roosevelt set out to get as many delegates on his side as he could. “It is a fight against theft and the thieves will not win!” He set up a “Man Hunter’s Brigade” which sought out delegates from every state that might be persuaded to commit to a Roosevelt vote. Roosevelt represents the Progressive wing of the Republican party that feels that social reforms and the fight against corporate greed are the most important issues. Yesterday he said:
“This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in.”
Taft represents the conservative wing of the Republican party and has said Roosevelt is “the greatest menace to our institutions that we have had in a long time.” Roosevelt advocated the recall of judicial decisions through popular vote whereas Taft had held up the recognition of Arizona as a state until popular recall was taken out of the state constitution. To Taft, Roosevelt and his attempt at a 3rd term as president Roosevelt have made him a dangerous radical “because of his hold upon the less intelligent voters and the discontented” with policies that bordered on Socialism.
This is the first presidential election where a significant numbers of delegates have been elected in presidential preference primaries. 12 states held Republican primaries and Taft thought he would win them all. Roosevelt won all the Republican primaries against Taft except in Massachusetts but Taft dominated the caucuses that sent delegates to the state conventions. So a showdown on delegates will take place
On June 18, 1912 Roosevelt forces lost a test vote on the temporary chairman. Then Roosevelt’s supporters tried to have 72 of their delegates substituted for Taft’s state caucus nominated delegates. When this fails Roosevelt realizes that Taft controls the party and will win the nomination.