Conservatives Fire Back at Reagan; Sen. Dole Joins In : Anti-Soviet Bloc Targets Arms Pact
Hard-line anti-Soviet conservatives, one of them denouncing President Reagan as “a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda,” formed a new group today to oppose the arms treaty that Reagan plans to sign during next week’s summit meeting.
The Anti-Appeasement Alliance issued a statement saying: “We will seek to implement the defense and foreign policy platform on which Ronald Reagan ran for President and was twice elected.
“The President may have abandoned his earlier positions, but we have not.”
The President was also confronted today by Senate Republican Bob Dole over Reagan’s assertion that conservative critics of the intermediate-range missile treaty are uninformed, Sen. John W. Warner said.
Warner (R-Va.), talking to reporters after Reagan’s closed-door meeting with congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room, said Dole asked the President to explain comments that Reagan had made in an interview Thursday with anchormen from four television networks. (Story, Page 16.)
‘Inevitability of War’
In that interview, Reagan, among other things, said he believes that conservative critics of the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty have accepted “the inevitability of war.”
“There was a good strong colloquy in there between Mr. Dole and the President,” Warner said today. Warner declined to elaborate on the exchange, saying he did not want to speak for the Kansas senator.
But Warner, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, did say:
“Dole spoke up quite properly. It was just a slight misunderstanding. It’s cleared up, and we’ve joined hands and shaken hands.”
Dole, who often stops to chat with reporters in the White House driveway, was not available to answer questions after today’s meeting.
Harsh Personal Terms
At a news conference to announce formation of their alliance, the conservatives lashed out at Reagan in personal terms far harsher than they have used before.
“Ronald Reagan is a very weak man with a strong wife and a strong staff,” said Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus and co-chairman of the Anti-Appeasement Alliance.
“He becomes a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda,” Phillips said.
Richard Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser and the other co-chairman of the new group, said Reagan “is now aligned with his former adversaries, the liberals, the Democrats and the Soviets. . . .
“We feel alienated, abandoned and rejected by the President. I feel I no longer know him.”
‘An Uphill Battle’
Phillips conceded that defeat of the U.S.-Soviet treaty that would eliminate intermediate range nuclear missiles from Europe would be “an uphill battle.”
As Reagan’s fellow Republicans debated the merits of the arms deal that is to be the centerpiece of the Dec. 7-10 summit, a new poll showed widespread public support for the pact but also a good deal of ignorance about what it provides.
Sponsored by the Washington Post and ABC News, the poll found that 52% of Americans approved of the treaty, 8% opposed it and 40% were undecided.
Despite the slight edge for approval, 72% of those questioned admitted that they know little or nothing about the terms of the INF agreement, and only 46% were aware that most of the weapons concerned are based in Europe, the pollsters found.
A separate New York Times-CBS News poll showed that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who was interviewed on American television Monday, has created a favorable public image in the United States. Thirty-eight percent of those sampled said they had a favorable impression of the Soviet leader, 16% were negative and 29% were undecided.