The White House, anticipating the role President Carter will play in Democratic fund-raising and the 1978 congressional election campaigns, has established a committee to review requests for political appearances by the President, Vice President Mondale and their families.
Frank Moore, White House congressional relations chief, heads the panel. The role is designed to give him added influence with Democratic senators and House members looking to Carter for political help next year.
Last night, Carter made his first purely political out-of-town trip as President, flying to New York to address a $1,000-a-plate Democratic Party fund-raiser. But, in keeping with his image as the hard-working chief executive, the President spent a; little time as possible at the ultra-chic affair, flying to New York, speaking to the dinner and returning to Washington all in five hours.
Since taking office Jan. 20, the President has steered clear of obviously political events, although he has devoted much time and effort to boosting his political standing and popularity.
This fall, however, White House aides expect Carter to begin taking a more active, partisan role in politics as he seeks to help two early supporters - Brendan T. Byrne, seeking re-election as governor of New Jersey, and Henry Howell, Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia.
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]r for add three [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
There are both risks and benefits anytime a President hits the campaign trail on behalf others, for it is not easy to transfer popularity from one political candidate to another. Mondale campaigned earlier this year in his home state of Minnesota, only to see the Democratic congressional candidate he was supporting go down to defeat.
But Carter is the leader of his party, and if he should prove effective in boosting political fortunes of other Democrats he is bound to benefit from improved relations with Capitol Hill.
"Overall, the approach is that it is important that, win or lose, people know we can be counted on to help" one White House aide said in discussing the expected, although still unscheduled, campaign appearances for Byrne and Howell.
Conceding that Byrne and Howell face tough campaigns and that transferring presidential popularity to others is "difficult if not impossible," the aide argued that Carter still stands to lose little himself even if his efforts are unsuccessful.
"There will be the inevitable score-card keeping," he said, "but that is inside political stuff that average citizens don't care about."
The committee that Moore heads also includes Tim Kraft, the President's appointments secretary; Mark Siegel, a deputy to White House political adviser Hamilton Jordan; Bob Russell, Moore's administrative assistant, and representatives from Mondale's staff and the Democratic National Committee.
According to Paul Sullivan, executive director of the DNC, the committee is concentrating on gathering information about next year's congressional races and targeting the Democratic candidates who would benefit the most from an appearance by the President, Vice President, members of the Cabinet or others.
Such appearances are likely to be in great demand next year from Democratic members of Congress and it was no accident that the White House put Moore - whose job is to woo and keep Democrats behind Carter's legislative proposals - in charge of the operation.
"The guy needs some leverage, he needs some coin, he needs something to deal with," one White House official said.