Blending ideological fervor with political pragmatism, President Reagan filled out his new team of senior advisers Tuesday by appointing conservative columnist Patrick J. Buchanan as his communications strategist and rehiring two former key aides, political expert Edward J. Rollins and congressional lobbyist Max L. Friedersdorf.
The appointments were announced by Donald T. Regan, the new White House chief of staff, who had selected and recruited the three.
Regan disclosed also that Californian John A. Svahn, 41, is being retained as the President's assistant for policy development, a key White House position. Svahn, who was California's welfare director when Reagan was governor, thus will become the highest-ranking Californian remaining on the White House staff.
Buchanan, Rollins and Friedersdorf were appointed to fill crucial voids at the White House--both philosophical and practical. The voids were created by the departure of James A. Baker III, the new Treasury secretary, who swapped jobs with Regan, and the pending departures of two longtime Reagan aides from California, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael K. Deaver and presidential counselor Edwin Meese III.
Deaver, who plans to start his own public relations firm, is regarded as Reagan's chief media expert. Regan plans to fill Deaver's media role with Buchanan, 46, an outspokenly conservative TV commentator and newspaper columnist and one-time speech writer for former President Richard M. Nixon. Over the years, Buchanan repeatedly has denounced what he contends is a "big-media" liberal bias.
"You may not like what he says, but you understand what he's saying," Regan said, noting Buchanan's skills as a communicator. "His philosophy, in many ways, parallels that of President Reagan."
In that regard, Buchanan will take on the role of "philosophical soul mate" to the President that long has been filled by Meese, who is expected to be confirmed soon by the Senate as attorney general.
Although Buchanan officially will head the President's speech-writing team and develop long-range strategy for communicating the Reagan message to the public, unofficially he will be the conservative voice in the White House that right-wing activists have been seeking since it was announced that Meese and U.N. Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick were leaving.
"Regan wanted a heavy hitter, a major player, as a communications strategist--and he also wanted relief from the pressure he was getting from conservatives," an Administration insider, who asked not to be identified, said.
Rollins and Friedersdorf can be expected to take over the pragmatist role formerly filled by Baker.
Rollins, 41, a former California legislative aide who managed Reagan's 1984 reelection campaign, served as White House political director for two years of the President's first term. He agreed to quit a high-paying private consulting job and return to the White House, a knowledgeable source said, after being promised greater influence than he had during his first tenure.
Friedersdorf, 55, who had served as a lobbyist for Nixon, was Reagan's first congressional liaison official and was instrumental in pushing through his landmark 1981 spending and tax cuts. Friedersdorf later was appointed by Reagan as consul general to Bermuda and most recently has been a Pepsico Inc. vice president.
Regan announced also that Larry Speakes will remain the President's chief spokesman.