The Republican National Committee today adopted a resolution condemning the proposed Panama Canal treaties, but it deftly avoided directly repudiating former President Ford for his support of them.
The 162-member committee, meeting here in its semi-annual conference, attempted to finesse the Panama issue by declaring its opposition to the treaties "as proposed by President Carter."
An amendment drafted by party moderates to dilute the condemnation even more by restricting opposition to the treaties' language "in present form" was defeated.
The committee condemned Carter's foreign policy as "fragmented, reactive, inconsistent and dangerously weak." Under President Carter's direction, the Republicans said, U.S. foreign policy "has come to be viewed as dependent more on rhetoric than on reason or national interest rightly understood."
The treaties' provisions, the Republican leaders asserted, "do cede the United States' rights of military security, do dilute United States power to develop unilaterally a sea-level canal, and do transfer authority to determine military authority in time of war." The treaties turn the canal over to the Panamanians by the year 2000.
Moderates in the party had lobbied to keep the resolution off the floor, but in the end they settled for language that did not glaringly isolate Ford on the Panama issue. A preamble to the resolution, in fact, warmly praised Ford's effectiveness in foreign policy matters.
However, the condemnation did serve to apply pressure on Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee who is still undecided on the question of ratification. If he goes against his own party's leadership on the question it would make it more difficult to become a presidential candidate in 1980.
The conservative wing had pushed the resolution in hopes of generating a flag-draped national debate over the canal, which some Republicans regard as the most emotional and attention-grabbing issue to come along so far in the Carter years.
Republican National Chairman Bill Brock, in an attempt to mediate the question, spend considerable time over the past three days trying to convince committee members that Panama is a
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