George Bush told a gathering of wealthy Floridians yesterday the United States must recognize it cannot always impose its moral principles on other countries.

"We're a moral country but we've got to deal with the world as a "non-political" speech to the Naples Civic Association.

"You have to see the world as it is, not as you wish it were, and one of the things I learned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency is that there are imperfections," he said.

"Sometimes we must consider not just our adherence to moral principles -- which we always must consider -- but we also must recognize that sometimes our strategic interests must be considered," the former United Nations ambassador said.

Bush said that "if we press our friends for change and change and change so much faster than their system can take . . . sometimes we wake up with that friend gone from the scene replaced by something less good, something worse in terms in human rights, and something where our strategic interests have been totally diminished."

Several times on the campaign tour, Bush has criticized President Carter's emphasis on human rights on the formulation of the U.S. foreign policy.

Ronald Reagan swept to an easy victory over George Bush as Alaska Republicans cast ballots in their first-ever presidential preference poll.

More than 3,000 of the state's 18,000 registered Republicans met in precinct caucuses around Alaska Thursday night. Reagan collected 58 percent for Bush.

With all of the ballots counted in the nonbinding poll, for which no national convention delegates were appointed, John Connally finished a distant third with about 10 percent of the vote.

The results were compiled by The Anchorage Times.

The number of Republicans taking part in the poll in 416 precincts across the state was more than double the number of party members who participated in 1976 party caucuses, according to state party Chairman Yvonne Alford.

A declared presidential candidate who promised to restore honesty to the White House has entered a plea of guilty in Washoe District Court in Reno to a felony bad check charge.

Edwin Schellhouse -- who prefers to be known as "Dead-Ahead Ed" -- will be sentenced March 18 following his plea Thursday.

Schellhouse, a Democrat, is free on his own recognizance and will be able to continue his campaign for the presidency. But the secretary of state's office says it's a dead end. Schellhouse, who once told an interviewer, "Without trying to brag, I'm one of the few honest politicians left in the country," cannot hold office because of the guilty plea.