Q: If you think about this country and this government in Washington, D.C., where has the center of the political spectrum moved?

A: I think that the Congress is more a middle ground, in the middle area of the political spectrum, much more so than it was in 1960. I think there were more . . . divisions among the parties in 1960 than there are between the parties in 1985 and between the representatives in Congress, but I think that comes about because inthis town there are so many leaders now . . .

Q: What's happened to your party over this period of time?

A: I think that it is in a position, and we can force the Democrats over on the left. I mean, not too far left, but the Republican party has made some mistakes . . . I think we moved too far too rapidly with too much money in the defense area, and once you get that Defense Department with too much money, you're gonna have a lot of things that embarrass the national security. You have to keep it a little lean and mean.

Q: Is the Republican Party -- the Midwest conservative Republican Party of Mel Laird and Jerry Ford and so on -- the same party as the party of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, or is it a different kind of a creature?

A: I think it's a different kind of a creature. They get involved too much with a single issue sort of thing . . . They've been very successful tough in getting large groups of people interested in prayer and abortion adn they have been successful, there's no question about it.

Q: Does it help, do you think for the Republican Party to have tehm as a growing element?

A: Well, I think you should welcome anybody to the party. The problem that I see with that sort of activity is that I'm not sure how loyal they are to the party.

Q: When do you think the Democrats lost it?

A: I think they probably lost it with Carter. I don't think Carter came out as truly a strong leader. And that's the only they'd had since Lyndon Johnson.

Q: There's a view . . . some people have that the Republican Party could have secured this dominant position -- that a lot of people think it has today -- 12 years earlier if it had not been for Nixon. What is your own view?

A: I believe that's true. You know, Nixon had the opportunity after that election to really build a strong Republican Party. It was a landslide election against McGovern. But after that election in 1972 Nixon withdrew. I was over there in the White HOuse, I know how he withdrew. If that Watergate thing wouldn't have come along, I think that he would have been just as much a party-building president as Reagan is today.

Q: What about in that first term? Did you have the sense talking with him -- Cabinet meetings, private meetings and so on -- that party building, that making the Republican Party the majority party was very important on his own agenda?

A: I have to say no to that. I mean, I hate to say that, but I don't think it was.

Q: Again looking at the 25-year span, what has happened to Congress in its power and influence over this period of time?

A: I think it gained a tremendous amount of power in the period of 1970 to 1980 . . . but I think it's swinging back again.

Q: I think it gained a tremendous amount of power in the period of 1970 to 1980 . . . but I think it's swinging back again.

Q: What happened in the '70s and what do you see happening now?

A: Well first, Congres, rightly or wrongly, felt that they were deceived and misled about the Vietnam war. And they did much to correct that.

But during that 10-year period . . . if you look at the many pieces of legislation that were passed that were giving Congress more and more authority over the executive branch, I think that has changed now. I think that it's moving back into better balance. Those are good examples, I think, of how the Congress has showed its authority during that period of time.

Q: Is Congress better able or worse equipped to do its job than it was 25 years ago?

A: I think it's worse. Much worse . . . You've got so many chairmen and so many ranking members that nobody is responsible.

I think that they did a better job when they had the Armed Services Committee that was responsible for the defense program. And you had the Appropriations Committee, but you had two major committees that were involved with defense. Now you've got every committee, even the Judiciary Committee is big in defense. You've got so many subcommittees. I don't bleieve that Congress can do a good job. And you have so many staff people. You know, when we used to go to conference on the defense bill we wouldn't allow staff people in the conference . . . But now you go in there and you look at a defense appropriations conference and they've got about four or five staff guys behind every one of 'em.