President Carter today blended politics with an appeal for more use of car pools to save energy on a campaign-style swing into New Jersey.
Carter later arrived at the Meadowlands sports complex to address a fund-raising dinner for the state Democratic Party.
Defending his record in office, the president invoked familiar themes from what is developing as his campaign stump speech. He asserted that government services will not be improved by "massive spending programs," an approach he is trying to link to his Democratic rival, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), but by increased efficiency.
Earlier in the day the president was in New Brunswick, where the subject was transportation but the atmosphere was that of a presidential campaign.
Speaking at a local energy-conservation meeting, Carter said the federal government intends to encourage car pools and other versions of "ride sharing" to reduce gasoline consumption.
Recalling last summer's gasoline shortage, he said, "A near panic developed around Los Angeles and in parts of the East because we had a slight shortage of gasoline. Think what would happen if we had a total embargo while we are as heavily dependent on imported oil as we are."
The president announced he is appointing a "national task force on ride sharing" headed by 'los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who accompanied him to New Jersey. He also announced a series of steps to encourage transportation conservation, including support for tax incentives to the operators of "van pools" and a guarantee of sufficient gasoline supplies to such ventures.
As he has on most of his recent trips, the president arrived in New Jersey bearing gifts. He allowed Gov. Brendan Byrne to announce the awarding of two federal grants, totaling $750,000, for transportation projects in the state.