On November 4, 1952, Dwight Eisenhower won the American presidential election, beating Adlai Stevenson II by a landslide. Eisenhower retained his enormous popularity from the war, as was seen in his campaign slogan, “I Like Ike.” In fact, His campaign slogan was one of the most popular in American history. Truman won an upset victory in 1948, but during the Korean War, he became extremely unpopular. Truman’s decision to fire General Douglas MacArthur as commander of United Nations forces was an important cause for public disapproval of the President. So too was the deadlock in the fighting in Korea.
Eisenhower campaigned by attacking “Korea, Communism, and Corruption”. The campaign was one of the first presidential campaigns to make a major and concerted effort to win the female vote. Many of his radio and television commercials discussed topics such as education, inflation, ending the Korean War, and other issues that were thought to appeal to women. Eisenhower won 55% of the popular vote, 83% of the electoral vote, and carried every state outside of the South and even Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas. Truman’s handling of the Korean War and the broader Cold War were points contested in the election.
A few weeks later, on November 29th, he began a 10,000-mile journey to uphold a campaign promise. The promise was to travel to Korea, experience the fighting conditions for himself, and ultimately bring an end to the conflict, once in office. The trip to Korea was the Eisenhower’s first trip aboard Air Force One. En route, First Air Force One would make stops in San Francisco, Midway, Iwo Jima, and finally in Seoul.
The Eisenhower’s first trip in Air Force One was monumental. When American troops in Korea saw the aircraft overhead, they knew their Commander In Chief was there to bring an end to the conflict and bring them home.