Senate Minority creation of a committee of senior Republicans to Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) today urged creation of a committee of senior Republicans to guard against scandal-mongering within the party's large field of presidential hopefuls.
Baker, who is one of those hopefuls, said at a party conference here that he was seriously disturbed by a story in a New Hampshire newspaper that purported to reveal "dark secrets" about the personal life of Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.), a formally declared presidential candidate.
Crane charged that aides to Ronald Reagan, a competitor for the GOP nomination, had given false information to the newspaper to undermine Crane's clean-cut image.
Reagan denied that his staff had anything to do with the stories.
Baker said he knew nothing about the details of the Crane-Reagan fracas, but that the incident had highlighted the risk to the party if candidates attack one another rather than their common adversary, President Carter.
Accordingly, Baker suggested that the party set up a committee to enforce the Republicans' "Eleventh Commandment, "an unwritten rule that is generally stated, "Thou shalt speak no evil of another Republican."
Another likely candidate, Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), brushed aside Baker's suggestion in his characteristically flip manner.
"I'd have to give that some thought -- about 30 seconds' worth," Dole said. "What could a committee do? Iths up to the candidates to control our people."
But Baker, who said he had been ruminating on the problem all night, said he would broach the committee plan to a half-dozen more possible Republican presidential candidates who are gathering for the conference here this weekend.