It may come as a surprise to White House aide Hamilton Jordan. But the chairman of E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. said today that Jordan, "because of his Georgia connection," is his choice to replace Bert Lance as the business community's high-level entree to President Carter.
"Jordan is a younger version of Bert Lance who is in a position to deliver the message when and if it has to be delievered," Du Pont chairman Irving S. Shapiro told the New York Financial Writers Association.
Shapiro is also chairman of the prestigious Business Roundtable, and a prominent member of the Business Council, two groups representing the views of America's largest corporations.
The business community has been distressed that, with the departure of Lance from Washington last month, they had lost the main point of contact with top policymaking levels of the Carter administration. Because Lance had personal clout with the President, businessmen felt assured that in talking with him their views and concerns would be communicated directly to President Carter.
The President has told businessmen that Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal and Commerce Secretary Juanita Kreps now would function as his chief liaisons to them. But Shapiro today said these Cabinet officials do not have the loose relationship with the President that Jordan, who is considered the unofficial White House chief of staff, does.
"He has access to the President several times a day, in an intimate way," the Du Pont chairman told reporters, unlike the cabinet officials.
"There are days when bad news has to be delivered to the man (the President) hard and straight," said Shapiro, adding, "I've elected Jordan as my point man for that kind of thing."
There had been some speculation that Vice President Walter Mondale might function as a replacement for Lance as top-level business liaison, but Shapiro said it was easier to get through to Jordan than to Mondale.
The business community recently has been expressing a lot of dissatisfaction with President Carter, saying his economic policies are inconsistent and claiming that business is holding back capital investment plans is large part because of the uncertainty being generated by the administration.
"This is a period for everybody taking a crack at the President - saying how terrible things are," Shapiro said, adding, "I'm not going to do that."
"He's in a learning process," the Du Pont chairman said, but expressed hope that, "By the turn of the year, the learning process will be completed, and he will then run the office the way we'd like to see him do it."
Referring to President Carter's attack on the oil and gas industry last week for allegedly gutting his energy legislation, Sahpiro said it was not unique for a Democratic president to go after industry, pointing to similar incidents under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
"If you're realistic about Washington, you have to expect that these kinds of episodes are going to come and then they pass," Shapiro told the breakfast meeting of financial writers.