Independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson is considering CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite as a running mate, and Cronkite, if asked, would accept. The New Republic magazine reports.

"I'd be so honored to be asked, I wouldn't turn it down," Cronkite is quoted as saying in an interview with Morton M. Kondracke, the magazine's executive editor.

An Anderson aide said the Illinois congressman has not made a choice for second place on his ticket.

"No one, including Cronkite, has been approached about the possibility of running," said the aide, Mike Rosenbaum. "This kind of talk is premature."

"CBS News president William Leonard said late yesterday he had been unable to contact the vactioning Cronkite to discuss the New Republic interview.

"I've been trying to reach Walter to find out whether indeed he said those thing," said Leonard. "If he did, we might have some discussions.

"We're taking this one step at a time, and the first step is to find out what he actually said. It is a matter of concern."

In the edition published yesterday, Kondracke writes:

"I've got some great news for John Anderson. Walter Cronkite, one of the people Anderson and his staff would most like to see as Anderson's running mate, just might do it."

Kondracke said Cronkite told him in a telephone interview:

"Well, I don't know, I haven't been asked. I'd like to be asked before I said anything. I'd be so honored to be asked, I wouldn't turn it down. It would be the right party. I've been an independent all my life.

"I don't have any political ambition, and I have considerable doubt about what I could bring to such a ticket. I don't have any great confidence that he's got much of a chance with or without me, but I admire what he's doing."

"I admire Anderson very much," Cronkite is quoted as saying. "He's brought a fresh breeze to the scene."

Cronkite, who is planning to retire early next year as television anchorman on the CBS Evening News, often has been rated in polls as one of the most trustworthy of Americans.