President Carter, concerned that a low voter turnout next Tuesday would hurt Democratic candidates, asked the American people yesterday to make the congressional elections a referendum of faith in his anti-inflation and monetary policies.
Speaking at the intersection of Wall and Broad streets in New York, across from the New York Stock Exchange, Carter told a noontime crowd:
On economic matters, controlling inflation, having a responsible monetary policy, I mean business, I do not intend to fail and I will not fail if you if you will help me, and you can help me by voting next Tuesday."
"Do not be discouraged," he added. "Stick with me, stick with my program, and we will be successful."
The president issued the appeal as he began a two-day, cross-country trip to campaign for Democratic candidates in six states and to try to overcome widespread voter apathy, which has become the chief concern of White House political strategists in the closing days of the off-year election.
From New York, the president flew to Flint-the last city he visited during his 1976 presidential campaign-to make the same appeal.
But before he left New York, Carter met briefly with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the midtown Manhattan home of the United Artists president Arthur Krim, who was hosting a fund-raising luncheon for New York Gov. Hugh Carey.
The meeting was unannounced and followed days of denials by White House officials that the president planned to meet Begin, who was in New York to start a private U.S. and Canadian visit.
Outside the Krim residence, Begin gave the Carter campaign entourage a boost by issuing a highly optimistic assessment of the Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations.
While saying that "there are still some hurdles to overcome," he added, "there is good reason to believe we shall do so. And we shall have soon a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt - a turning point in the history of the Middle East."
Carter's two-day campaign trip has been scheduled for weeks. Its focal point will be a series of "get out the vote" rallies like those in New York and Flint.
A month ago. Carter's political strategists were extremely optimistic about Tuesday's elections, predicting privately the loss of few Democratic House and Senate seats. But that optimism has since been tempered by the volatile mood of the electorate, as shown in massive fluctuations in pre-elections polls, and by a concern over voter turnout raised by Carter's political pollster, Patrick H. Caddell.
In a memo to presidential advisers, obtained by The Washington Post from White House sources, Caddell recently warned that the trend toward lower voter turnouts among traditionally Democratic groups coupled with an apparently "anti-incumbent" mood among voters could mean that "Democrats (are) a surprised party" the day after the election.
The campaign trip began the day following the president's order for massive government intervention to shore up the value of the dollar in foreign currency markets. That intervention included an increase in the Federal Reserve discount rate and other steps designed to raise interest rates and slow economic growth.
Thus Carter found himself yesterday seeking to rally traditional Democratic voter groups on the basis of an economic policy-high interest rates and tight credit-historically associated with the Republicans.
But if the president was aware of any ironies in the situation, he did not show it. Speaking from the steps of New York's historic Federal Hall on a clear fall day, he returned repeatedly to his appeal for a show of support for his economic policies in the congressional elections.
"I have embarked, as you know, on a tough, sometimes unpopular program to control inflation in our nation, to stabilize the value of the dollar, to have integrity and purpose and responsible monetary policy for our country," he said. "If you care about the maintenance of this effort and the success of it, then on Nov. 7, next Tuesday, you will vote."
The crowd of several thousand that turned out to see Carter was modest considering the time and location of the rally. But it was also friendly, although his appearance was not without incidents.
As the president began to speak, a man in the crowd shouted objections through a bullhorn. He was hauled into the stock exchange building by New York police. A nearby group of young people, accusing the president of a pro-Arab Middle East Policy, shouted "Carter is a liar" through much of the speech. The president ignored them and the sight of the man being dragged away.
Less than two hours after Carter left the intersection of Wall and Broad streets, the stock exchange closed with the Dow Jones Industrial Average registering a 10.83 loss, a sharp reversal after Carter moved Wednesday to shore up the dollar.
The president flew to Michigan primarily to campaign for Detroit City councilman Carl Levin, who is given a good chance to defeat Sen. Robert P. Griffin (R-Mich.) a former Senate minority leader. But Griffith was not about to let all the media coverage of a presidential visit go to Levin by default. He showed up at the Flint airport to greet Carter and be photographed.
Last night, the president campaigned in just the kind of marginal district that Caddell fears could fall to the GOP this year - the affluent, North Shore suburban Chicago district represented by Rep. Abner Mikva (D-III).
At a rally for Mikva in Skokie, Carter extended his appeal on the anti-inflation program, asking the crowd to support Democrats to help him on issues ranging from unemployment suit.
Carter also asked each person in the crowd to promise to contact 50 persons by Tuesday and ask them to vote, cautioning his audience to "think about it for a while (before promising), don't lie to your own president."
Carter stayed overnight at the home of Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic. He is scheduled today to speak at "get out the vote" rallies in Portland, Ore., Sacramento, Calif., and Duluth, Minn., before returning to Washington, D.C., tonight.