The crisis in Iran yesterday forced President Carter to curtail drastically the elaborate plans for the kickoff of the reelection campaign next week.
White House press secretary Jody Powell announced that Carter had canceled a four-day political trip next week that was to have included speeches at fund-raising events in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Austin, Tex.
The president will still announce for reelection Tuesday, in what is expected to be a low-key statement at the White House, and attend a fund-raising dinner at the Washington Hilton that night.
Meanwhile, the Carter campaign committee yesterday temporarily dropped its attempts to purchase 30 minutes of time on national television to broadcast a documentary film about the Carter presidency in conjunction with the campaign kickoff.
The reason was the same as the scrubbing of the president's out-of-town travel -- a desire to avoid overt political activity while the nation's attention is focused on the 50 American hostages being held in the U.S. Ebassy in Tehran.
"Many people thought it would be inappropriate to do 30 minutes on television with no mention of Iran," one official said of the documentary, which already has been filmed.
Instead of 30 minutes, the committee purchased five minutes of time from CBS at 8:55 p.m. Tuesday, the day Carter is to announce for reelection. The brief reelection message from the President, which undoubtedly wil refer to the situation in Iran, is to be filmed Sunday at the White House.
Campaign officials said they were going through with plans to stage about 2,700 fund-raising parties around the country Tuesday night, when the Carter commercial is broadcast.
Initially, the Carter committee sought to purchase 30 minutes of television time for use in connection with the fund-raising parties. When the three television networks refused to sell the time on the grounds that it is too early in the political season, the committee obtained a Federal Communications Commission order that the time be made available.
The networks are fighting the FCC order in court, and Thursday they won a stay in its execution. While Carter committee officials described their acceptance of a five-minute television slot as a compromise because of the legal complications, privately they conceded that, even if 30 minutes were offered to them next week, they would not use it because of the Iranian situation.
The officials, however, said they intend to continue pressing their case for the 30 minutes, possibly for use in January.
Most of Carter's out-of-town political appearances next week are expected to be taken over by Vice-President Mondale. Mondale was to have made his own fund-raising appearacnes, and his schedule is expected to be taken over largely by the Carter campaign committee chairman, Robert S. Strauss.
Both White House and campaign officials said the president's inability to appear at the major fund-raising events will undoubtedly hurt ticket sales. The decision to cancel the trip was made several days ago, but the announcement apparently was delayed to minimize the damage to the fund-raising effort.
Nevertheless, Lee Kling, the Carter committee's fund-raising chief, said he expects the week of fund-raising appearances by Mondale, Strauss, Rosalynn Carter and others to reach or exceed the committee's goal of $2 million.
"I think people will understand this very well," he said of Carter's decision to cancel his appearances.