Andrew Young, the outgoing U.S. ambassador the United Nations, continued his seven-nation African tour today making a pitch for U.S. businessmen and talking extensively about American domestic politics.
"We are here," he told a group of Cameroon business and government leaders, "because we know how to do almost anything, and we think we can do it better than anybody."
Young, who heads the first U.S. trade mission to Africa, has talked both here and in Nigeria about the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate from Georgia. "I'm just not interested in it at the moment," he responded to a direct question.
Young, who resigned from his U.N. post after an uproar that followed his unauthorized meeting with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, managed to get in a few swipes at U.S. foreign policy-makers during a televised interview in Nigeria.
Asked if he felt badly about his resignation, Young said he felt he had been freed, adding he no longer wanted to "be constrained by a foreign policy elite that really doesn't know much about what it's doing anyway."
On America's improved relations with Africa since the beginning of the Carter administration, Young contended that they would continue to grow better "even if, Gor forbid, [former California governor] Ronald Reagan becomes president."
America's black minority, which overwhelmingly voted for Carter in 1976, also has been part of Young's selling of the Carter administration.
"Blacks have achieved more under Carter than in any other time in the entire 200-year history of the United States of America." Young told about 200 businessmen at a Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
In Cameroon, which was a history of economic prosperity and political stability, Young received his warmest reception on the trip. He was mobbed by street crowds anxious to shake his hand. Young, who was a congressman for two terms, seems to relish pressing the flesh.
At the U.S. Cultural Center here, Young was asked why he does not run for president. Young, who is rarely lost for words, smiled.
"I have always thought of myself as someone who is better at working in the background," he said. "When you're out in front, you take all the blame."
Young then fell back to his days as a civil rights activist when he said the late presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson told civil rights leaders they could not push through a reluctant Congress the civil rights and voting rights bills, respectively.
"You see, I don't think the president runs the country," Young continued. In both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, he and other civil rights leaders had to put together a "broad consensus" of Americans to pressure the bills through Congress.
It is this type of coalition Young says he wants to put together to reelect Carter and then formalize it as a foreign policy lobby. The headquarters, Young said, would be in Atlanta with a small office in Washington, D.C.
On Carter's prospects for the Democratic nomination. Young said he felt Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) was presently maneuvering to run against California Gov. Jerry Brown in 1984.
"I don't think Kennedy can challenge Carter without dividing the Democratic Party," Young said. "Kennedy is too astute a politician to do that, and he has never been a democrat of unbridled and unprincipled ambition."