Robert Alphonso Taft (September 8, 1889 - July 31, 1953), of the Taft political family of Ohio (and son of William Howard Taft), was a RepublicanUnited States Senator from 1939 until his death, and as a prominent conservative spokesman was the leading opponent of PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the Senate. He led the successful effort by the conservative coalition to curb the legal privileges of labor unions, and he was a major proponent of the foreign policy of non-interventionism.
Senator Robert Taft (1889-1952) was a vocal opponent of PresidentHarry Truman during the first months of World War III. However, by May 1951, Taft's criticisms had been surpassed by the more bombastic Senator Joseph McCarthy. Truman had initially assumed McCarthy was Taft's stalking horse, but began to reconsider, and even wondered if McCarthy was angling for a run at the presidency in 1952. Truman knew that Taft was also positioning himself for a run, and while he disagreed with Taft's isolationist stance, he believed Taft was a man of principle, and therefore preferred the idea of a Taft presidency to a McCarthy one.
As the war continued, and the Republican field increased, Taft remained a viable candidate. However, throughout the first months of 1952, McCarthy started to gain on Taft, even securing the allegiance of two convention delegates from Ohio. Taft was further hindered by his perceive cold intellectualism. Still, the fact that he was nothing like the demagogue McCarthy was led even Democrats to look favorably Taft.
Taft and Indiana Congressman Jerry Duncan joined a protest organized by Diana McGraw in Washington in 1946. Taft even carried a picket sign. This act actually made him a more attractive candidate for the 1948 presidential election, as did his subsequent speeches lambasting Truman, claiming that Truman had won the war but lost the peace. In response, Truman likened Taft to a man yelling from the bleachers at a baseball game who's never been a manager or a player.
Taft was nominated in 1952 after a vicious floor fight at the party convention in Chicago. An isolationist, Taft called for bringing U.S. troops back from Europe and South Japan, and argued for directly arming those areas instead. Incumbent Joe Steele, seeking his sixth term, forcefully argued that the U.S. was a part of the world whether it wanted to be or not, and that the march of progress would one day make it possible for the country's enemies to attack the U.S. with rockets.
Taft went down to defeat. He carried his home state of Ohio, and a few other states, but Steele carried the rest.
As General Irving Morrell led the U.S. Army deep into the heart of the C.S., Taft prepared legislation that would readmit the captured states of Kentucky and Tennessee. He secured support from Blackford after some minor political wrangling.
Taft was killed in the late summer of 1943 by a people bomber in Philadelphia as he walked to work. The bomber, who may or may not have been targeting Taft specifically for assassination, was never identified, but widely believed to be a Mormon. Taft was mourned by his colleagues, particularly his friend Blackford.