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Residents name their favorite Presidents

FDR, Lincoln are two picks

November 5, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

After Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected four times, America decided it didn't want to do that anymore, and a limit of two, consecutive terms was placed on the nation's highest office.

Roosevelt saw the nation through the bulk of the Great Depression and most of World War II, eventually dying of polio - a disease that for him was just about as big of a secret as the Manhattan Project or the language of the Navajo code talkers.

And FDR was the first President for which Estherville businessman Mel Breyfogle ever voted.

"He was one of the first ones I voted for, I guess," said Breyfogle. "Plus he was in there longer than anybody else."

That's probably why Breyfogle regards Roosevelt as the greatest President we've ever had.

Breyfogle voted for FDR when he ran for his third term in 1940, just before he enlisted in the Navy Reserves, going active duty from 1942-44. It was while he was aboard a Fletcher Class destroyer when FDR died - something Breyfogle didn't hear about until much later.

"Out there in the middle of the ocean you don't get newspapers," Breyfogle explained.

Breyfogle sees FDR's administration as the nation's greatest due to the fact that he got us out of the Depression, despite what Mel's father may have thought. That was the sort of thinking of a lot of Americans who saw government assistance as out-and-out charity - something they shunned. Gradually, though, the public caught on to FDR's way of seeing things. And that was why he continued to win reelection.

So how would FDR have handled the current situations of a recession and two wars?

"I don't know how he would perform in this day and age, really," Breyfogle said. "I think he could have performed well, but this is a changed world."

For one thing, there was FDR's affair.

"The news wasn't as complete as it is now," Breyfogle said. And of course electronic media was limited to radio.

So after voting for so many Presidents, what direction would he like to see the country take after the election?

Well, he hopes the country can get out of debt and get the economy going. And there's a key to that, he figures.

"If we could get us out of these stupid wars" said Breyfogle.

Breyfogle sees Hoover as not being nearly as strong as a President as FDR.

"Hoover was an Iowa President too. But he wasn't that strong of a President."

Morris Jorgensen of Ringsted regards Lincoln as his favorite President.

"He was fair. He didn't let religion get in the way. He didn't let anything get in the way," said Jorgensen, adding that Lincoln was the right President for the right time.



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