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GOP Challenger to Tour Latin America : Candidate Rosenberg Says He Wants to Learn About Contras

Times Political Writer

Saying he wanted to learn about the contras firsthand, Orange County congressional candidate Nathan Owen Rosenberg announced Wednesday that he was leaving at midnight for a three-day fact-finding tour of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Despite his avowed interest in the Nicaraguan rebels and the question of whether the United States should give them more aid, Rosenberg’s published itinerary included meetings only with current and former government officials of the three countries--not with any contras.

“No, I can’t say we’re meeting with the contras, " Rosenberg said in answer to a question. Later, he said he would have to “decline to answer” further questions about whether he would seek such a meeting “for my security. Because I’ve been advised not to (discuss it).”

Challenging Badham

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Rosenberg, 33, a $200-an-hour management consultant and former Young Republicans president, recently angered county Republican leaders when he challenged 10-year incumbent Rep. Robert Badham (R-Newport Beach) for the 40th Congressional District seat.

At a press conference at his Corona del Mar campaign headquarters Wednesday, Rosenberg said he was leaning toward aid to the contras but thought that he should study the situation himself.

This was not a publicity stunt, he said, adding, “I can’t get the facts I need” from news reports or literature here.

Seated in front of a large black poster with the word “COMMITMENT” spelled out on it, Rosenberg explained that a friend, a former Costa Rican judge, had arranged for him to meet with the presidents of Costa Rica and Honduras, and with high-level Nicaraguan officials, whom he refused to name.

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For all his interest in Latin American affairs, Rosenberg at one point was asked to give the name of the president of Honduras. “I was afraid you were going to ask that,” he said.

Harry Rosenberg, the candidate’s brother and campaign manager, eventually supplied the name of Jose Azcona Hoya.


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