The new head of the American Conservative Union say he is concerned by "the threats, or implied threats" to Ronald Reagan and George Bush by fellow conservatives who consider themselves responsible for Reagan's November landslide win.
Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.) is in what some might consider the uneviable position of following defeated Rep. Bob Bauman (R-Md.) as head of the venerable conservative political organization. But Edwards says one of his biggest tasks is keeping holierthan-thou conservatives from dominating the New Right.
"I would imagine if Jerry Falwell were to sit down and list 100 issues and his positions, I might agree with him on 98 or 99 of them," says Edwards, who last year received a perfect report card from the Christian Voice. "But I personally do not believe if a liberal disagrees with me on an issue, that that person is less moral than I am. Those are not theological issues -- there is no clear-cut Christian position on the SALT agreement. I oppose it on the grounds that it's not in the best interest of the United States, not that it's immoral."
Edwards, a second-term congressman, is a member of Reagan's inner circle and, for conservatives, a prime example of the ideal New Right politician. His maternal grandfather (an immigrant from Lithuania) earned a living by selling bolts of cloth from a cart in the streets of Cleveland.
"The New Right is from more modern income families," says Edwards. "We're not the Wall Street bankers, we don't wear pin stripe suits. We're a lot different from the conservatism of Henry Cabot Lodge or the Tafts . . . There's been a change in the media's portrayal of what the New Right is. A year ago, media people talked about me, Jack Kemp or David Stockman. There was a new emphasis on blue collar people, minorities, small businesses. Suddenly with the advent of this election we saw all the evangelical right and other specialized groups identified as the 'New Right.'"