20 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 2

The Presidential Contest

The American Presidential campaign has now formally opened, and the Republican candidate, Mr. Wendell Wilikie, finds himself in some difficulty at the outset. As an honest man he has never concealed the fact that he finds himself in substantial agreement with the President's recent foreign policy, particularly in the matter of help for Britain, and foreign policy now bulks so large on the American horizon that it is singularly difficult to shift the controversy on to ground where Mr. Roosevelt can be more profitably criticised. The chief charge is the obvious one, that election for a third term would convert the President into something like a European dictator, and Mr. Wilikie has accordingly thundered against " the American Totalitarian Government " which he considers the re-election of the President would threaten. The odds have moved in the last week or two in favour of Mr. Roosevelt. A straw vote taken by the magazine Fortune shows 53 per cent. of those tested to be in favour of the President and 35 per cent. in favour of his opponent, with the remaining 12 per cent. un- decided. An equally significant revelation of public opinion is the total absence of all criticism of the transfer of fifty destroyers to Britain. Though the Attorney-General succeeded in finding legal grounds for the transfer, critics could have found just as strong ones against. But no one tried. In this matter, as others, Mr. Roosevelt was accurately interpreting the people's will, and the people look like keeping him as their interpreter still. The election is in the first week of November.