You and your entire campaign are doing just boffo! Keep it up. Please do me one personal favor, John, by destroying my earlier memo, which foolishly urged you to concentrate on getting your resume into the hands of all college-president search committees. Thanks.
(1) John Anderson will have only one bite at the apple.
Ronald Reagan has already had one bad week. Jimmy Carter is now having what looks like a bad week. Neither one of them planned it that way, and both of them will, most certainly, survive these setbacks.You are different. You cannot. The Baltimore debate is the whole ball game for you.
Forget immediately that colleagues in the House called you that body's "best debater." That, right now, is no help and may well be a hindrance. You cannot come off as the smartest guy in the class. You cannot be a scold or self-righteous. You said it well, earlier this week in New Jersey, when you spoke of making an effort to overcome the "tendency on my part to preach and sermonize."
For at least 72 hours prior to the Baltimore debate, clear your entire campaign schedule of all appearances and appointments. This will give you the time you will need to rest and to prepare yourself -- and at the same time is guaranteed to arouse the total curiosity of the press corps: What is going on in that room? What is he doing?
The following specific suggestions are intended for the debate, but also for the larger campaign, which, if you do well enough in the debate, you can win.
2) Forget your opponents.
Voters do not have to be told why they should not be for Carter or Reagan. But they must be told why they should be for Anderson. Spend those precious moments you have in front of microphones and cameras providing the voters with sensible and salient reasons why they would want you as their president for the next four years. In short declarative sentences.
3) Take some chances. Be daring.
Remember how you won your first attention and your first voter enthusiasm this year? You took on some sacred political cows while your Republican opponents told them how wonderful they all were. You were terrific in Concord, N.H., before the gun owners, who looked, by comparison, like the boys from "Deliverance."
In my judgment, last spring when your polls started to look good, you started to slip. You were no longer different. Remember, if you receive 40 percent of the vote in November, you will win in a landslide.
4) Publicly write off some important constituency.
You decide whether the group should be truckers, the Teamsters, relief pitchers, mortgage bankers or all plaintiffs in non-smoking cases. But do what Carter and Reagan, because they are the nominees of parties with histories and obligations, cannot do. Say precisely what you want to say. Promise to do what you honestly believe has to be done, regardless of any political repercussions or recriminations.
To do this, you cannot be a Ford Foundation Republican. You are going to have to be just a little bit unrespectable. Forget about the brie-and-chablis crowd.You now have the vote of everyone who ever owned a Volvo and alerted other drivers that they would brake for animals.
5) Ideas are in short supply. America needs yours.
How about some new thinking about public employees or public education? The Civil Service System is a failure. Reform is a sham. Why not abolish the whole thing? It was originally sponsored by a Democratic named Pendleton, after his party has been out of power for 24 years, and it was a bad idea then. Why not increase "accountability" and "responsiveness" by reserving the present ratios and making 3,000 federal employees permanent and 3,000,000 others presidential appointees? Then if any federal servant were surly or stupid, he or she would be an embarassment to the White House and eligible for immediate waivers. The corporal's guard of 3,000 could make certain that the taxes were collected, the checks were sent, and the lights were turned off.
Or what about public education, which is a disgrace? Your own platform pointed out that federal aid to education had increased some 73 percent during the past four years -- which, in light of the sad College Board scores and the national decline in reading scores, must be a new record in the competitive field of consumer fraud. The real problem is that the consumers in this case are kids who are not able to take their business elsewhere.
You understand that the president is our national agenda-setter. Set that agenda. Tell us honestly what the "pains" as well as the "gains" would be in an Anderson administration. And, John, don't be afraid to relax and to have some fun.