Independent residential candidate John B. Anderson charged today that Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan "have formed an alliance of folly" in their positions on nuclear war strategy.
"Both seem to harbor the fatal illusion that nuclear wars can be limited and perhaps even won," Anderson said. "That conclusion is reflected in Mr. Reagan's platform and in Mr. Carter's twin commitments to the MX counterforce missile and to the new targeting doctrine formulated in Presidential Directive 59."
The Illinois congressman's charge was contained in a lengthy speech on Soviet-American relation before 200 members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a group of businessmen and foreign policy experts.
Obviously, neither, Mr. Carter nor Mr. Reagan is advocating nuclear war.
But I consider both of them to be seriously musguided in their endorsement of the so-called nuclear war fighting thesis." Anderson said.
"[Both] would build super-accurate counterforce weapons to threaten Soviet missiles. Both . . . would target weapons not only on missile silos but on command centers as well. And both insist that such weapons would be used only in a second strike to disarm any Soviet missiles remaining after an initial attack on the United States."
[White House press secretary Jody Powell called Anderson's statement "flat untrue" Carter thinks a nuclear war is not winnable and it is unlikely that a nuclear war could be limited. Powell said U.S. nuclear strategy is based on this concept and Anderson's speech is a serious misrepresentation, Powell said.]
Anderson, however, laid out a sharply contrasting theory. "Any missile capable of destroying enemy silos in a second strike could obviously do so in a first strike," he said. "The creation of these weapons and plans would move both sides toward a hairtrigger posture, in which each would feel more inclined to launch its landbased missiles on warning of attack, lest they be destroyed on the ground."
The Carter administration has argued that developing nuclear war fighting capability will deter the Soviets from attacking.But Anderson disagreed strongly, saying. "The futile pursuit of capacity to wage limited nuclear war may only make more likely the very event we dread."
Anderson's speech was an effort to focus attention once again on issues and on what he called "the Anderson difference," at a time when his aides complain that pundits and press are more interested in discussing his chances of winning, his polls and the mechanics of his campaign.
Anderson's is a bare-bone operation compared with the moneyed campaigns of Carter and Reagan. With a shortage of funds to pay staff members, advance work becomes sloppy, the schedule changes unexpectedly, buses get lost, the candidate waste time, and the press, accustomed to solicitous treatment on presidential campaigns, get snappy.
"This campaign has had more glitches than you can count," sighed press secretary Tom Mathews, adding that given the absence of a ready-made political party workforce, the glitches are understandable.
And, he adds, they are irrelevant. "This is a longshot campaign with few resources and mostly amateurs," he said. "Compared to the Cadillac that the other two are driving, we have a pretty modest car, but we can get there in that car."
"You can focus on the glitches all you like, but they aren't going to make a bit of difference.What matters is how Anderson explains himself to the American people. He has a tough, difficult message which tests the maturity of the American people.
Anderson is performing better as a candidate lately. Where he once seemed reluctant to shake hands, he now presses the flesh with alacrity. Where he once would get angry at hostile questions, he now manages a smile and an even-toned response.
Even so a network correspondent traveling in the bus bemoaned the fact that he had to search through hours of videotapes to find that most basic of campaign shots: the candidate waving warmly to the audience as he walks to the podium. "Somebody's got to clue this guy in," the TV man said.