California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., beset by money problems that are causing resignations in his staff, said today he would carry on his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination even if "I have to walk or hitch-hike" from state to state.
Brown made that comment to interviewers on ABC's "Issues and Answers" in Washington, before flying back here to resume his uphill pursuit of President Carter and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in the Feb. 26 New Hampshire primary.
Bolstered by the 14 percent of the vote he won in last Sunday's Maine caucused but almost dead broke, Brown said he would persist in his low-budget campaign because "there are serious doubts about both Kennedy and Carter and I want to give people a choice."
Sources in the Brown camp said today that the governor has been told he may face a campaign debt of more than $100,000 by the end of the New Hampshire effort, but that he has shrugged off the warnings.
Others in his entourage, however, are not so nonchalant, and have been finding their way back to paying positions. Campaign press secretary Larry Pryor resigned last week, and Josiah Beeman, who was running Brown's New England regional office in Boston, has gone back to his previous position at California's lobbyist in Washington.
There are reports that two more of Brown's top strategists, Tom Quinn and Richard Maullin, have advised the governor they cannot work without salary beyond the New Hampshire primary.
But in his stumping here and in his national television appearance today, Brown brushed off these practival problems as being essentially unimportant. "We're getting leaner and more frugal," he said. "It's a kind of metaphor for the country. I'm running out of money, and so is America."
At a candidates' forum Saturday in Milford, sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce and featuring four of the Republican presidential contenders, Brown won enthusiastic applause -- at least equal to that of any of the Republicans -- with his unique assortment of issues. The speech centered on the need for the United States to discipline its consumption to provide capital for the "reindustrialization" of America.
Asked today what he would do to stop inflation, Brown said the salaries of the president and members of Congress should be frozen until the inflation rate is reduced below 5 percent. "They cause inflation, and the managers should not be rewarded for their own failure," he said.
More substantially, he added that energy demand should be curbed by gas rationing, credit and investment tax breaks allocated selectively to channel capital into "productive investments" and Congress should approve the constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.
When an interviewer noted that Kennedy in recent weeks had adopted similar stands in opposing draft registration, supporting gasoline rationing and calling for a moratorium on muclear plants, Brown said he was not bothered. "I feel the thrust of my campaign is the thrust of the future." he said.
But in another point, Brown argued that Kennedy, like Carter, was "addicted to deficit spending" and said both men were part of the "irresponsible management" of the economy in Washington.