Arguing that FDR’s program was too limited, Long prepared to run for president in the 1936 election, and considered as his candidate for Vice-President the radio priest from Royal Oak, Michigan, Father Charles Coughlin. Like Long, Coughlin—who had millions of listeners and fans—first supported the New Deal before turning against it, arguing that FDR was selling out to the wealthy banks and businesses. In the Spring of 1935, Long took a tour of the country, asking audiences: “Do you believe in the redistribution of wealth?” They replied with a hearty “Yes!”
Roosevelt and the Democrats feared that Long could get enough votes in a national election to have a major effect on the Democratic Party’s chance to keep control of the government. The president wrote the U.S. Ambassador to Germany that if Long ran and got at least 3 million votes, a reactionary Republican would win the White House. He feared that would produce such mass protests that Long would then stage a coup and make himself a Hitler-type dictator. Americans would never know whether that would have occurred, since Long was assassinated while going into the Louisiana state capitol in 1935.