A White House official said today that former President Jimmy Carter helped create Nicaragua's Marxist Sandinista regime by "pulling the rug from under" the late dictator Anastasio Somoza.
Patrick Buchanan, the White House director of communications, appeared on the "CBS Morning News" program to discuss President Reagan's request for $100 million in U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan rebels, known as the contras.
The $70 million in military aid and $30 million for humanitarian purposes would be provided over 18 months and replace a $27-million humanitarian aid program that will expire March 31.
Carter, during a television interview Sunday, said the contras are not a strong force to support in Nicaragua and accused Reagan of intentionally misstating the record of U.S. military modernization programs, claiming, "It's a deliberate misrepresentation."
'Not Going to Respond'
Buchanan bristled at the comment.
"The American people passed the verdict on Mr. Carter in 1980, and we've got no reason to reverse that verdict," Buchanan said. "Mr. Carter himself is largely responsible for the Sandinista regime in Central America by the virtue of the fact of having undercut and pulled the rug from under Anastasio Somoza.
"So I think what Mr. Carter says, we are not going to respond to because, as I said, the American people have passed the final verdict on the Carter Administration."
Buchanan said it is urgent that Congress approve the money because, "if we don't get that assistance to the contras, they will be defeated." He said Iranians, Libyans, the Palestine Liberation Organization, East Germans and 3,500 Cuban military advisers have been arriving at Managua, Nicaragua.
'Not ... to Harvest Bananas'
"I think the American people will have to realize right now they are not coming down there to harvest bananas," he said.
But Buchanan conceded that the contras are not a strong, unified group.
"I'm not surprised," he said. "Look, you're not an effective fighting force if you've been denied arms for two years and if last year Congress gave you $27 million in humanitarian aid while the Soviets poured in $300 million worth of weapons.
"The question is, 'Is the Soviet Union a better ally of Central America than the Congress of the United States? At this point the answer is 'yes.' "