Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) yesterday urged President Carter to broaden his inner circle of advisers.
"The perception is that (Carter) is not getting good advice," Byrd said. "He should reassess the advice he has been given in light of his current standing in the polls."
Byrd told reporters that he had made that suggestion and others to Carter in three telephone conversations last week, and that Carter had responded, "I'll take you advice."
It is not that he has nay criticism of the so-called Georgia Mafia, Byrd said, only that a broader perspective is needed. "The inner circle has been at least part o is needed. "The inner circle has been at least part of the downfall of more than one president," he said. "A more diversified dialogue" might be good for Carter, he said.
Still, Byrd cautioned that Carter, should not be written off in the 1980 elections. Last week's Cabinet shakeup may have undermined any boost Carter got from his speeches on energy and caused an appearance of disarray at the White House, he said, but the voting is a long way off, and many things could happen.
"One may overlook Carter's achievements in the cauldron of the last few days," Byrd said. "But I don't think a change in faces necessarily means a change in direction."
He indicated that Hamilton Jordan's elevation to chief of the White House staff did not impress him. "The president is accessible to me, always has been," Byrd said. "I see no need to have any dealings with Jordan." He added he had turned down an offer from White House congressional liaison Frank Moore to have Jordan come over for a visit. "I simply indicated I saw no need for it," he said.
Turning to legislative matters, Byrd said he thought standby gasoline rationing authority for Carter will pass the Senate before the upcoming recess, scheduled to begin Aug. 3. Passage of the proposed "windfall profits" tax on oil companies is still a possibility by then, he said, but the package of energy production boosts offered by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) will be delayed until September by a Budget Committee review.
Byrd cautioned President Carter against "imagery" rather than substance and follow-through in his inner circle and his public policies. Voters will not be fooled by a "pie in the sky, simplistic approach," Byrd warned.
Neither should Carter try to run next year against Washington or against Congress, Byrd said. "He is the head of the federal government. . . [and] Congress has been cooperative with the president."