Republican presidential candidate John B. Connally, delivering what he called a nonpartisan speech on America's energy problems, won a standing ovation today at a largely Democratic meeting of the nation's mayors.
Connally was interrupted by applause three times during the nearly 20-minute speech, in which he declared that "an energy crisis is the ultimate urban crisis."
"A shortfall of energy supplies falls first and most directly across or urban centers, and across your responsibilities for the public's safety, social tranquility, economic viability and political stability," Connally said.
He told delegates to the 47th annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors here that the energy crisis could worsen because of the "impotence of a national politics" that refuses to find ways to end it.
"In saying this, I emphasize that my remarks are not directed at the president occupant of the White House, whatever may be the merits of his various energy proposals and actions," Connally said.
"President Carter has come late to a political stalemate which existed long before his entry into his present office," Connally said.
Connally seemed to place much of the blame on environmentalists.
"Domestic politics delayed the pipelines, blocked off shore exploration and drilling, frustrated the development of Alaskan oil, brought refinery production to a standstill, made it more difficult to mine and burn coal, unnecessarily prolonged the time required to construct nuclear power plants - all the while insisting on cheap energy and completely disregarding the enormous vulnerability of being held hostage to foreign oil producing nations," he said.
"What these times ahead require is leadership that lives for the objectives: 'produce, produce, produce,'" Connally declared, drawing applause.
After his speech, Connally told reporters that he is the person who could lead the nation into greater energy production. He said the difference between himself and President Carter on the energy issue is the difference "between saying it and doing it."
"He's been saying it for a long time, but he hasn't been doing it," Connally said of Carter.
White House staff members attending the news conference winced at Connally's remarks, but offered no rebuttal to reporters afterward.
"He hasn't really said anything," one administration official said.
However, Connally's statement and his reception by the mayors apparently had some effect on administration lobbyists here, who so far have been successful in urging the mayors to support the president's position in favor of domestic oil price decontrol and a "windfall profits" tax on revenue decontrol would generate.
Some of the administration lobbyists were planning to leave the meeting before it ends Wednesday, when price decontrol and profits tax resolutions go to the convention floor for final action. The lobbyists now say they are planning to stay for the final votes because mayors from oil-producing areas may stages a last-minutes attack on the tax resolution. CAPTION: Picture, Connally: Energy problems demand leader who can "produce, produce, produce." UPI