As we prepared to pack off to Philadelphia, I rummaged back and read TIME's coverage of the last conventions held there, in 1948, when both parties (plus Henry Wallace's Progressive Party) sought some Brotherly Love.
A letter on this page boasted about TIME's battalion of convention reporters, led by managing editor T.S. Matthews and Nation editor Otto Fuerbringer. "They will have all the mechanical conveniences that we can give them: a workroom...complete with teletype, television facilities and direct telephone communication with TIME's New York and Washington offices." It also crowed that the Time-Life team had "joined forces with the National Broadcasting Co. to report the convention via television." How quaint!
This time we'll bring a similar battalion, led by Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy and Nation editor Priscilla Painton, and our "mechanical conveniences" will go beyond teletype and television. We'll have cell phones, laptops, wireless e-mail and connectivity to our computer systems around the world. With CNN and AOL, we'll report both actively and interactively for print, television and the Internet. I say this not to brag, but so that some person sitting in this chair 52 years from now can find this page and be amused by how quaint we seem.
The big difference in 1948 was that the Republican nominee was in doubt, and TIME's reporters had to keep careful track of how each delegate would vote on the first and then subsequent ballots. The early favorite, Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg, "seemed determined not to connive" for the nomination, while his opponent, New York Governor Tom Dewey, did a whirlwind whistle-stop tour on the eve of the convention, making 13 speeches in 13 hours. "He headed south with a whoosh, traveling like an over-the-road trucker trying to roll his rig home before morning," TIME reported. California Governor Earl Warren found a new way to campaign: "He made a little history. Appearing on a CBS television program, he proved himself the best campaigner yet on the newest communications medium to reach into the U.S. home. His big, square-cut Scandinavian face was etched handsomely on the screen." Editor Henry Luce seemed rather partial to General Dwight Eisenhower, despite Ike's refusal to run; TIME called him "the people's first choice" and lauded his firm stance against the G.O.P.'s isolationist wing. (A few weeks later, TIME reported that many wanted him as the Democratic nominee over Harry Truman.)
Dewey, on the cover, above, ended up the nominee, with Warren his running mate. Exulted TIME, which back then often reflected Luce's Republican leanings: "Barring a political miracle, it was the kind of ticket that could not fail to sweep the Republican Party back into power" (miracles happen). The magazine was also fulsome in its coverage of the speech by Luce's wife: "The roar of applause was punctuated by waves of laughter as blonde ex-Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce voiced the thesis of her speech; that Harry Truman is 'a gone goose.' The Democrats, she said, were divided into 'a Jim Crow wing led by lynch-loving Bourbons, a Moscow wing masterminded by Stalin's Mortimer Snerd, Henry Wallace, and a Pendergast wing run by the wampum and boodle boys who gave us Harry Truman in one of their more pixilated moments.'"