Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston, after two years of unofficial campaigning, formally announced his candidacy for a fourth term Monday and challenged the Republicans to find fault with his vision of an activist federal government that gets some of its best ideas from California.
"It will come as no surprise," a smiling Cranston told reporters as he sauntered ouT of the Hotel del Coronado into the early-morning sunshine, "but I hereby announce that I am a candidate for reelection."
Then, in a series of campaign stops from San Diego to Sacramento, the senator laid out his 1986 campaign themes--from federal aid for toxic cleanups and child care to the need for serious negotiations to ban nuclear weapons.
"Here in California we stand at the newest frontier of innovation and daring, of ideas and idealism, of challenge and change," Cranston told a group of University of San Diego college students, many of whom were born in 1968, the year Cranston was elected to the first of his three terms.
"The challenge of a California senator is to be an agent of progress, a force for fresh ideas and approaches," Cranston continued in a broad speech that offered few details.
Introduced by a University of San Diego professor as one of three giants in California political history--the others named were Hiram Johnson and Earl Warren--Cranston, 71, gave a speech full of such youthful-sounding phrases as "riding the crest of technological change" and "we do not shrink from the future, we welcome it."
And if the Republicans thought that Cranston would be soft-pedaling the liberal themes that dominated his ill-fated quest for the presidency in 1984, the senator made it clear Monday that he's making no apologies.
"I know my Republican opponent--whoever that may be--will disagree with me on these issues," Cranston said, "but I look forward to an election based on clear differences on the issues." He listed some causes most important to him. At the top of the list was ending the nuclear arms race, the same issue he tried to ride to prominence in the 1984 Democratic presidential race. He repeated some of the same words he used when he trudged through the snows of Iowa two years ago:
"We have to end the arms race before it ends the human race," Cranston shouted into a microphone set up on a Torrance beach.
Cranston also assailed the Reagan Administration's military buildup and reiterated his opposition to the Administration-backed Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act to automatically reduce the federal deficit.
Noting that a recent Los Angeles Times Poll found that a majority of Americans are opposed to Gramm-Rudman, which would impose across-the-board budget cuts, Cranston said in an interview, "Some of my potential Republican opponents in this Senate race have been attacking me for voting against Gramm-Rudman, and I suspect those attacks will now begin to fade."
At each stop of his campaign tour, which will continue today, Cranston is taking up a different theme. In Torrance it was his record on environmental issues, including his fight to prevent more oil drilling off the coast of California.
In San Francisco, Cranston let television cameras capture him in front of the Golden Gate Bridge as he talked of the need to revise America's trade policies and reduce the increasingly troublesome trade deficit.
Today in Sacramento, Cranston will go to a playground and call for more federal aid for child care programs. And he will end his campaign kickoff in Los Angeles this afternoon with a visit to a veterans' counseling center, where he will extol his record as a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and blast the Reagan Administration's proposed cutbacks in spending on some veterans programs.
Aware of reports that record numbers of young Californians are registering Republican, Cranston is making a major effort in this campaign to woo young voters.
In addition to addressing the University of San Diego, Cranston today will visit students in Fresno.
On the campaign plane Monday was Cranston pollster and adviser Patrick Caddell, the 35-year-old wunderkind who helped Colorado Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 Democratic presidential campaign devise a strategy to appeal to young professionals. Whenever young people were present Monday, Cranston made sure to introduce his son, Kim, the 34-year-old chairman of his campaign, as well as Kim's companion, Shelley Duvall, the actress known to the mid-30s crowd for her roles in such films as "Nashville," "Thieves Like Us" and "Brewster McCloud."
Cranston's campaign swing had the feel of a presidential tour. Kam Kuwata, who helped manage Cranston's presidential campaign in Iowa, set up the two-day California tour, passing out specially made T-shirts to tHe press.
Also on the campaign plane was another veteran of presidential races, Robert Shrum, longtime adviser to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). Shrum, Caddell and partner David Doak are advising the Cranston campaign on media strategy, a crucial ingredient in California campaigns.
Shrum insisted that his firm's polling has found that "the newly registered Republicans in Orange and San Diego counties are weakly Republican. They respond more to issues than they do party identification. And on the issues, Cranston is solid with them."
Just to make sure the new hands didn't flub things as the campaign got out of the starting blocks, Cranston also brought along Murray S. Flander, his longtime Senate press secretary.
Flander was quickly put to work Monday morning when Cranston fumbled a question about his desire to cut off U.S. aid to "military dictatorships" around the world.
Asked to name the countries he had in mind, Cranston drew a blank. So Flander rushed off to call the Washington office for assistance. Minutes later, Flander said that Cranston would cut off aid immediately to Pakistan and Panama and scale back aid to Turkey.