President Reagan, buoyed by the Soviet release of American journalist Nicholas Daniloff, campaigned hard Monday for two Republican senatorial candidates facing close contests in the economically ailing Grain Belt.
The President told voters in the farm states of Missouri and South Dakota that he is “sorely aware” of their plight but that conditions would only worsen should control of the Senate fall into the hands of the Democrats in the November congressional elections.
“The last thing farmers or anyone else needs now is the return of control in the United States Senate to the big taxers and big spenders who will open the cage and turn the inflation monster loose on America again,” Reagan declared.
Tells of Reporter’s Release
Reagan opened his campaign swing in Kansas City with the announcement to an audience of 500 cheering Republicans that a Lufthansa jetliner had left Moscow for Frankfurt, West Germany, and that “on board are Mr. and Mrs. Daniloff.”
In his campaign speeches, Reagan focused his attack on the liberal leanings of the Democratic opposition. He drew a sharp contrast between “responsible” Republicans and “the kind of razzle-dazzle liberals who put our country in the soup in the first place.”
As he struggles to maintain a fragile 53-47 Republican edge in the Senate, Reagan is telling voters that nothing less than the future of what he called the Reagan revolution is at stake in November.
“The next couple of years will decide whether all our progress since 1980 will be set in concrete--or only written in sand,” he told an airport rally in Kansas City.
If the GOP loses control of the Senate, Reagan predicted “two years of paralysis” as he finishes his second term with “my hands tied by a Congress that is totally hostile to all we’re trying to do.”
Recalls Interest Rates
With every Senate seat critical, Reagan plunged into these farm-state contests armed with partisan arguments designed to remind the voters of the high interest rates and “malaise” that had plagued his predecessor, President Jimmy Carter.
In Kansas City, he boasted that his Administration was spending more money on farm programs than the last five administrations combined. He did not mention that he had resisted those expenditures, then accepted them only because they had overwhelming congressional support.
Christopher S. Bond, the former governor of Missouri, is the GOP candidate for the seat being vacated by Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.), who is retiring. Bond holds a slim lead in most recent polls over his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Harriet Woods.
Reagan pointed out that Woods’ voting record in the state Senate received a 100% rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action and said: “We don’t need a liberal in there creating more problems.” He added that Woods “wants to go to Washington to continue her free-spending ways.”
Appearance Moved Indoors
A steady rain forced Bond backers to move Reagan’s speech into an airport terminal. The audience, mostly high school students, responded boisterously. They hoisted themselves on each other’s shoulders to catch a glimpse of Reagan in the steamy hall.
Reagan flew from Kansas City to Sioux Falls, where he was the featured attraction at a rally for Sen. James Abdnor (R-S.D.), who is facing a strong challenge from Rep. Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.).
Continuing his anti-liberal theme, Reagan recalled a recent Hollywood fund-raiser for Democratic senatorial candidates and called Daschle “the choice of that flash-and-glitter crowd.” Then, he emphasized Abdnor’s farming background and added: “Jim is as different from one of those lighter-than-air liberals as anyone can be.”
In both farm-state stops, Reagan was careful to restrict his attack on liberals to the Democratic leadership and not the rank and file. White House strategists believe that Reagan can get Democrats to vote the Republican ticket with the argument that the leadership of their party no longer represents their concerns.
Evokes Harry S. Truman
In Kansas City, he invoked the name of a Missouri native son, Harry S. Truman, suggesting that the former Democratic President would support U.S. military aid to the rebel forces in Nicaragua if he were alive today:
“What would he say about a party who sees the Soviets building another Fortress Cuba on the American mainland and won’t even lift a finger to stop it?” Reagan asked, referring to Democratic opposition to financing the contra rebel forces.
“You can bet whatever he had to say, it would be unprintable.”