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Wendell Willkie and McNary Campaign Buttons (1940)

Wendell Lewis Willkie was a corporate lawyer in the United States and a dark horse who became the Republican Party nominee for president in 1940. A member of the liberal wing of the party, he crusaded against those domestic policies of the New Deal that he thought were inefficient and anti-business. Willkie needed the votes of the large isolationist element, so he waffled on the bitterly debated issue of America's role in World War II, losing support from both sides. His opponent Franklin D. Roosevelt won the 1940 election with 55% of the popular vote and 85% of the electoral vote.

Willkie liberalism lost him supporters in the GOP

Afterward, Roosevelt found Willkie to be compatible politically with his plans and brought him aboard as an informal ambassador-at-large. Willkie criss-crossed the globe on the former army bomber The Gulliver, bringing home a vision of "One World" freed from imperialism and colonialism. Following his journeys, Willkie wrote One World; a bestselling account of his travels and meetings with the Allied heads of state, as well as ordinary citizens and soldiers in regions such as Russia and Iran. His liberalism lost him supporters in the GOP and he dropped out of the 1944 race, then several months later died of a heart attack. He never held political office.

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