1944 Election Campaign
Though ill and wearied by the burdens of leadership, FDR felt a duty to seek reelection in 1944. The contest was the first wartime Presidential election since the Civil War. It unfolded as American forces engaged in increasingly costly fighting.
Roosevelt overcame a nomination challenge from Southern Democrats - angry with his racial policies - who rallied around Virginia Senator Harry Byrd. But there was significant opposition within the party to Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace was popular with liberals, but moderates and conservatives lobbied FDR to replace him. They were motivated, in part, by concerns about Roosevelt's health. Insiders recognized he was ill and might not survive another full term. Eventually, Roosevelt accepted Senator Harry Truman, a moderate from Missouri, as his running mate.
New York Governor Thomas Dewey, the Republican Party's 48-year-old presidential candidate, tried to make an issue of FDR's age and health. But Roosevelt defused it with a strenuous late campaign tour. In November he won a comfortable victory.