Four members of Congress campaigned for four Democratic presidential candidates last night at the second forum designed to make the candidates' views known to Montgomery County Democrats. An audience of about 75 turned out to hear generally compatible stands on the issues.
Rep. Michael D. Barnes (D-Md.) noted the local enthusiasm for politics by saying: "Only in Montgomery County would we be having a candidates' forum without any candidates a year before the election." Barnes spoke for former vice president Walter Mondale, invoking Mondale's "experience in state, national and international affairs" and his four years in the White House.
Rep. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) plugged Florida Gov. Reubin Askew as "a fresh face" of unquestioned integrity. Rep. Butler Derrick (D-S.C.) endorsed Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina as "a centralist candidate" and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) touted California Sen. Alan Cranston as a Senate leader who "knows how to get things done."
Amid agreement on issues and praise for fellow Democrats, there was much criticism of President Reagan and particularly his budget. In a roundabout comment on Cranston's lack of television charisma, Waxman told the Democrats that "Ronald Reagan has given charisma a bad name."
In a question-and-answer session, each of the spokesmen was allowed to discourse on his candidate's record on civil rights, health care and the budget. One pointed question concerned the candidates' positions on granting diplomatic recognition to Cuba. Derrick didn't know Hollings' stand, Barnes and Nelson said their candidates favor engaging Cuba in a dialogue, Waxman likened the step to his own early stand favoring a test ban treaty and the recognition of Red China, saying Cranston favors recognition of Cuba.
Earlier this month, a forum had heard "surrogates" speak for Sens. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) and John Glenn (D-Ohio).