John Anderson moved his presidential campaign, his Howdy-Doody grin and his iron tonsils east today and pressed his assaults on the "historical inevitability" of Ronald Reagan.
At a series of press conferences, receptions, and speeches in New York and Connecticut, the Illinois congressman promised he would hammer away through the 27 remaining GOP primaries on the subject of Reagan's "far right, outmoded, hawkish" philosophies and his "inelectability" in the fall general election. Anderson also made a few allusions to Reagan's age.
With his constantly reminding people of the things Reagan really stands for, Anderson said, people will become less enamored of the former California governor.
Referring to Reagan's recent foreign policy speech in Chicago, Anderson said, "You would think another holy war with communism has just been declared, that there is a sweeping red tide of communism engulfing the globe, and that he has been destined somehow to lead the charge against it."
Anderson said he prefers the route of negotiations, and "taking risks for peace" to Regan's posture of taking any risk in the name of war.
Anderson's own "holy war" has been to broaden the base of his party and force a coalition of independents, Democrats and moderate Republicans which would win in the fall. But he continues to have the image of a man tilting at windmills or, as a fictitious campaign aide in today's Doonesbury strip puts it, a campaign of "sustained whimsy."
To the chorus of commentators who say Reagan has the nomination sewed up, Anderson issued a reminder that this is still an unusual "topsy turvy" election year. "It's not even the first day of spring and the convention is as far off as a hot sultry day in Detroit."
He gave a speech on economic policy before about 800 business and industry representatives in Stamford, Conn., and told them, "I'm afraid the nomination of Ronald Reagan will only ensure the reelection of Jimmy Carter and the continuation of the economic disaster we have suffered now for three years."
The audience responded warmly, but several said that the group had given Reagan as good or better reaction when he spoke there recently.
Asked later in a news conference if he would consider Ronald Reagan for a running mate, Anderson gave his questioner a wondering glance and said, "I haven't raised the age issue, but for a president to select a 69-year-old man as his vice president, I think would be a legitimate issue . . . and of course we have a few other differences."
In New York City, Anderson picked up an endorsement from S. William Green, the only Republican congressman in New York City. Anderson "is in the center of the Republican Party, comfortably between Lowell Weicker and Ronald Reagan . . . and is the most electable Republican candidate," Green said.
Anderson said he hopes to do well enough in upcoming primaries to sway uncommitted delegates to his corner at the Republican convention. Three-fourths of New York's delegates will be elected uncommitted, he noted, with Green the only one committed to him. There is no "beauty contest" for a Republican presidential candidate in the state. Reagan however, expects to win at least half the delegates.