Leaders of Ronald Reagan presidential campaign yesterday gave high positions to two Republicans with strong ties to former president Gerald Ford and vice presidential nominee George Bush.
Flanked by virtually all the key men who spearheaded Reagan's drive for the GOP nomination, Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.), chairman of the Reagan for President Committee, announced that Anne Armstrong of Texas has been named cochairman and James Baker, a lawyer who had headed the George Bush for President Committee, will become a senior adviser.
Armstrong was cochairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973, counselor to the president with Cabinet rank from 1973 to 1975 under Presidents Nixon and Ford and U.S. ambassador to Great Britain in 1976-77. In 1976, she was placed on Ford's "short list" of possible vice presidential nominees to run with him against Jimmy Carter.
She told reporters she is "absolutely confident about [Reagan's] carrying Texas," that she still supports ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment although Reagan doesn't and that "Gov. Reagan's record on equal rights for women is excellent."
Baker, now in private practice, was undersecretary of commerce under Ford then headed Ford's 1976 campaign and played a major role in bringing Ford close to a victory over Carter.
"I am particularly pleased once again to have another shot at Jimmy Carter," Baker told reporters.
Reagan, in a written statement released at the press conference, said Armstrong would fill the "need for a cochairman of national stature . . . in a superlative fashion" and "Baker's experience in two presidential campaigns will make him an invaluable asset in the months ahead."
Accompanying Laxalt were William Casey, campaign director; Ed Meese, chief of staff; GOP National Chairman Bill Brock; Brock's deputy Drew Lewis; Rep. Jack F. Kemp (R-N.Y.), and other high GOP officials.
In another campaign development, United Press International reported that Reagan strategists are recommending he focus on 10 big industrial states during the campaign -- New York New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Texas and California -- that he make a strong pitch for black votes and that he try to develop the biggest volunteer campaign force ever, 250,000 people.