John B. Anderson today stepped up his attacks on Jimmy Carter's "low level" campaign tactics, describing as "totally outrageous" the president's suggestion that Ronald Reagan's election would divide "blacks from whites, Jews from Christians."
Carter's statements, the independent presidential candidate told a news conference, "are so patently ridiculous and so patently political" that they "almost defy description."
They are, he added, part of a "desperate attempt to reduce the campaign to absurd simplicities" in an effort to mask Carter's "own fear that he is not going to win the election."
This statement had particular meaning today as Anderson campaigned in Massachusetts and Connecticut. These are two of his best states, and his independent candidacy now is draining enough support from Carter to keep the president from carrying them.
Vice President Mondale, saying that Anderson could throw the election to Reagan, has suggested the Illinois congressman drop out of the race. But this has seemed to intensify Anderson's resolve and heightened his anger over the way the president is conducting his campaign.
Late yesterday in Chicago, for example, he said Carter's tactics belie the image the president has "so assiduously cultivated" of "singing from a songbook on Sunday morning."
"You know, I wish he would open up the heavy Bible that he so ostentatiously carries on Sunday morning as he goes to and from the classrooms of the Baptist Church. I don't think he'd find anything to warrant his actions there," the independent candidate said.
And today, in the prepared text of a speech to a United Press International convention in Boston, Anderson said he had a message for Mondale:
"You've tried everything and you've failed. You can't get me out of this race. And I have just begun to fight."
As part of that fight, Anderson is coming to the defense of Reagan, who is refusing to reply directly to some of Carter's charges.
Carter, Anderson said today, has taken a "feverish, anything goes" approach to the election. He accused the president of ignoring real issues in favor of smear tactics by suggesting that Reagan's election could mean war, that Reagan does not believe in the Social Security System and implying that a Reagan presidency would divide the country.
"Not just as a candidate, but as a citzen, I am appalled by the low level of the campaign," the independent said.
Anderson also called on Carter to "let it be known where he stands" on the Moral Majority, an evangelistic church-related group that Reagan has embraced and Anderson has denounced. Anderson said he wanted to hear from the president. "I don't want him to hide behind the shield of a press secretary. Otherwise, his silence could be taken as a bid for the same support he fears may be going to his Republican opponent."