Coolidge vs. Smith

In the autumn of 1930, former president Calvin Coolidge and former presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith  came out of retirement as a sort of grand finale to the Congressional campaign.  Characteristically, Citizen Coolidge chose the hushed solitude of a radio broadcasting studio at Springfield to appeal for the election of his old friend, William Morgan Butler, the Republican nominee for the Senate. Butler, who had briefly served out the Senate term of Henry Cabot Lodge, had been defeated in 1926 by Democrat David Walsh.  Equally in character, Citizen Smith chose the raucous, turbulent, packed-to-the-doors Boston Arena to plead for the election of Marcus Allen Coolidge, the Democratic nominee and a *very* distant relative of the former president (according to the Washington Post).

Marcus A. Coolidge ... family resemblance?

Smith had warmed up for his Massachusetts trip with three speeches for the State ticket in New York. He was in old time form, grinning much, champing his cigar, full of vigor and gusto. At New Haven on the back platform of his private car he greeted Dr. Wilbur Lucius Cross, onetime dean of the Yale Graduate School, now the Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut, by clapping the Brown Derby upon the old gentleman’s head and down over his ears. At Providence he bluntly began an address to 15,000: “Well, let’s get at it”—the “it” being a round flaying of the Republican administration. When the crowd booed his first mention of President Hoover, he waved them into silence with, “Don’t let’s take up the radio time.” (He pronounced it “raydio,” not “raddio” as he did in 1928.) A sample Smith crack of last week:

“Under a Republican Administration it is called a business depression. In a Democratic Administration they call it a panic. Somebody the other day called it a cycle. They ought to call it a bicycle because both Democrats and Republicans are being taken for a ride.”

At Boston, Stumpster Smith was given a popular reception hardly less warm than the one he received there two years ago as a White House candidate. In the arena an excited crowd of 12,000 yelled and screamed a five-minute welcome to him. His speech was another running fusillade of political criticism, with the speaker taking aim as of old with his phrases “Listen to this. . . . Well, what happened? . . . That’s history now. . . . Here’s the record. . . . Here’s a warm one. . . .” President Hoover was his main target. The house roared with joy when he asked: “Where are all those chickens that were to be in every pot? What became of the automobiles and the silk stockings for everybody?”

William M. Butler

After dark Citizen Coolidge motored down alone from Northampton to Springfield and went directly to the broadcasting studio in the Hotel Kimball.

He had refused to speak over a nation-wide radio hookup, as his words were intended for Massachusetts listeners only. In the studio with him was an announcer, a piano, a xylophone. In a cool even voice he read his 15-min. speech into the microphone. Some excerpts : “Elections are not determined by the loudest noise. . . . The more I have seen of public office, the more I am inclined to rely on experience. . . . This Commonwealth has trained up its important office holders through various stages of experience until they have become experts. . . .We have had a world-wide recession in trade. It has been due to a combination of causes no one yet comprehends. . . . No government worthy of confidence undertakes to guarantee prosperity. . . . I do not know anything the Federal or State Governments have failed to do which either would have prevented the depression or now would cause a healthy revival. . . . It is the duty of all citizens to refrain from groundless and reckless statements which can only retard the return of public confidence. . . . It is no time for rash experiments in men or measures. . . . We hold our salvation in our own hands. We should elect Mr. Butler because he knows the business of Massachusetts, he knows the Senate and he knows National Politics.” Stumpster Coolidge walked out of the studio. A patter of applause came from an adjoining room. Looking neither to right nor left he got into his limousine. was driven quickly back to Northampton. He had made his campaign contribution.

Ultimately, Coolidge’s support was to no avail. The times were against the Republicans, and Butler lost in his 2nd attempt to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Marcus A. Coolidge served one term and was succeeded by Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.

source: TIME Magazine, Nov. 10, 1930

(which inexplicably spells out “Marcus Aurelius Coolidge”)

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