Robert Alphonso Taft was an American politician, conservative statesman and presidential hopeful who served as a Republican Senator from Ohio from 1939 until his death in 1953. A member of the Taft political family, he was the eldest son of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and tenth Chief Justice of the United States.
As the leading opponent of the New Deal in the Senate, Taft led the successful effort by the conservative coalition to curb the power of labor unions, and was a major proponent of the foreign policy of non-interventionism. However, he failed in his quest to win the presidential nomination of the Republican Party in 1940, 1948 and 1952. From 1940 to 1952 he battled New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, the leader of the GOP's moderate "Eastern Establishment" for control of the Republican Party. The chief biographer is James T. Patterson, who portays Taft as honest, conscientious, courageous, dignified and highly intelligent, but faults his competitiveness and extreme partisanship. In 1957, a Senate committee named Taft as one of the five greatest senators in American history, along with Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Robert La Follette.