The chairman of President Carter's reelection committee today denied a published report that the president will skip the 1980 primary here in the home state of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D) rather than risk a devastating defeat at the polls.
Evan Dobelle, a former Republican mayor in this state, labeled the Boston Herald American report "misleading and utterly false."
"It is beyond my comprehension that we would even consider that," he said of the newspaper's statement that Carter campaign strategists have "written off" the March 4 Massachusetts primary.
Dobelle said the state legislature is being "pressured," purportedly by Kennedy forces, to keep its primary on March 4, which would make it the second 1980 primary, in apparent violation of Democratic National Committee regulations.
The DNC's Compliance Review Commission has ordered the Massachusetts primary to be delayed until after March 11 so that it will fall within a specified period.
In what Dobelle calls "smart talk," some political observers note that Carter's heavy lobbying for the delay could be aimed at blunting an expected early defeat in Massachusetts. Carter ran fourth here in 1976.
Kennedy has urged House Speaker Thomas McGee, a Carter supporter, not to change the primary date because "it gives Massachusetts more national impact - it has nothing to do with Carter," said Tom Southwick, a spokesman for Kennedy.
"The seantor's concern is not related to any scenario for next year - it's related to the longer term," said Southwick. "Besides, who can predict who the candidate will be when primary time rolls around?"
Dobelle says repeatedly that he believes Kennedy's consistent assurances that he is not a candidate for president next year.
"But if he is a candidate, he's going to find Carter-Mondale campaign posters in every precinct of his state, and workers in every ward," Dobelle said.
The Carter campaign has drawn endorsements from former governor Michael S. Dukakis, Gov. Edward J. King, McGee and a host of local officials, Dobelle said.
The campaign also touts that Dobelle and his political coordinator, Jack Walsh, are from Massachusetts.
However, the campaign is facing a mounting Kennedy write-in drive and a potential favorite-son candidacy by Sen. Paul E. Tsongas (D-Mass.).