A seemingly divided Roosevelt provided little answer to whether he would run for re-election. With two terms under his belt, it seemed unlikely to many that Roosevelt would seek an unprecedented third term for office. For many such as Harold Ices, it seemed Roosevelt might have been avoiding renomination. Seeking rather the serene escape of his Hyde Park mansion. Others however, presented a starker picture into Roosevelt’s objectives, believing that Roosevelt hungry for power had planned to run again and in the process deliberately killed off any potential predecessors. Then again, Roosevelt rose above any alternative offered.
The candidates he did encourage never gained a strong following. As Francis Perkins stated best, “No head rose high enough and big enough… to offer any alternative”. Roosevelt remained in the eyes of the American people as the strongest leader for the presidency. No one with the foreign affairs experience matched Roosevelt and with the worsening situation in Europe, the country felt comfortable with a proven president to continue his lead. Roosevelt, noticing the current escalating situation in Europe, seemed to have decided to run for re-election by the end of May 1940. However, even with the backing of many intimates for a third term, Roosevelt felt adamant on not lifting a finger for the renomination.
Instead, Roosevelt sought to be drafted by the people in order to prove his needed leadership for the American people. Roosevelt gained the collective support of many seeking to both preserve the New Deal and their own power. During the 1940 Democratic convention, an enthusiastic crowd shouted Roosevelt’s name after his decline to run again. Roosevelt let it be known that he had no intention of pursuing a third term unless he received an overwhelming show of support from the convention. He refused to either attend or ask delegates to vote for him. Roosevelt wanted to be nominated spontaneously.
He did not want to appear too eager. Nonetheless, the unbridled support by the crowds strengthened his desire to run again. With the desire to preserve and continue his New Deal programs and to help correct the rising crisis in Europe, Roosevelt found a reason to continue his presidency for another term. Whether Roosevelt would have been renominated, and whether he would have accepted if nominated, in the absence of the world crisis will never be known. However, it is clear that his experience in foreign affairs had much to do with his winning an unprecedented third term.