A top Republican is concerned that a replay of the Truman-Dewey election of 1948 could occur because leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives seems intent on bottling up debate on the farm bill until after November’s election.

In a tweet to his Twitter followers on Monday, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said Republicans must be reminded of the farm revolt that got Democratic President Harry Truman re-elected in 1948.

In that election, it appeared challenger Thomas Dewey had a good chance of winning. In fact, many accepted it as a foregone conclusion, giving rise to the iconic photograph of a victorious Truman holding up a newspaper reading “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

History books ascribe much of Truman’s success to the fact he won the farm vote. Truman campaigned hard that year on agricultural issues, Grassley told an AgriTalk Radio audience on Wednesday. Meanwhile, farmers grew wary of perceived indifference on the part of Republicans and a “do-nothing” Republican Congress.

“The farm community has been fairly happy for the last several years,” Grassley said. “But in a great part of the Midwest… the drought is doing serious damage, and a lot of happy farmers can become unhappy very quickly.”

See a commentary that appeared in the Dairy Herd Network newsletter last week, entitled, “What are the Republicans thinking?”

Grassley acknowledged that part of the reluctance to bring legislation to the floor has to do with the food stamp program, which makes up 80 percent of the farm bill. Proposed cuts in the food stamp program are bound to spark a floor fight, which could be politically damaging just prior to the election.

Yet, the version of the farm bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee cuts $35 billion from the federal deficit over 10 years, which should be politically popular among the conservative members of the House. If there’s a bill that can save that much money, “they ought to take advantage of it,” Grassley says, “because I think it’s the only bill between now and the election or between now and the end of the year or between now and 12 months from now that’s going to be passed that saves any money.”  

Also, read “Farm bill: The Speaker’s next big headache.”