Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. Eisenhower won Virginia in both the 1952 and 1956 elections, and helped reinvigorate the Republican Party in the state and across the South. Eisenhower appealed to conservative white voters in the South who were increasingly distrustful of the Democratic Party's direction and leadership. Eisenhower was one of the first presidential candidates to use television commercials for his campaign and as president held televised press conferences. His decision to send in U.S. Army troops to protect Little Rock High School in 1957 had immediate effects in Virginia's gubernatorial election. While Eisenhower was well-liked and won Virginia, this action prompted Byrd and other powerful Democrats to make civil rights issues the central theme of the 1957 campaign. They tarred Republican Ted Dalton with the brush of "integration" following the Eisenhower moves to enforce court-ordered desegregation in Little Rock. Despite this political maneuvering over Little Rock, Eisenhower remained a popular figure in Virginia with conservative Democrats and a key transitional one toward a more competitive Republican Party.