Ronald Reagan appeared to back away today from his campaign pledge to abolish draft registration, but said he still opposes a peacetime draft except during a state of emergency.
The president-elect spoke briefly to reporters as he left Bel Air Presbyterian Church this morning. He had no meeting to shape his administration today, but will discuss possible Cabinet candidates with his closest advisers and Vice President-elect George Bush Monday at Reagan's Los Angeles home.
Reagan said during the campaign, and in radio broadcasts before the 1980 campaign began, that he opposes draft registration. Today he said:
"I'm sure it will have been extended for another year before I get there [the White House] because it comes due for extension. But then I'll take a look as it as we come there. But I still don't believe in a peacetime draft unless there is a state of emergency."
President Carter is expected to follow up last July's registration by ordering males born in 1961 and '62 to register in the week beginning Jan. 5. Thereafter, males are to register in the 30 days following their 18th birthdays, but the president has the authority to cancel the registration program, and the names already in the Selective Service computers could be erased, Selective Service officials said.
Reagan also was asked whether cutting the budget was his top priority.
"You bet, yes," he said.
A reporter asked about NAACP executive director Benjamin Hook's appeal to Reagan to go on television to reasurre blacks about the Reagan administration's attitude toward black communities. Reagan replied that his record shows he does have concern for blacks.
The elaborate services at Bel Air Presbyterian included two chairs, two collections and a rousing sermon by the Rev. Donn D. Moomaw who said he had appealed to all religious authorities, including the College of Cardinals and the Moral Majority to aid UCLA against USC in a football game Saturday.
Moomaw was an all-American center at UCLA and apparently has influence since UCLA defeated USC when a pass was deflected unintentionally into the hands of a UCLA player, who then ran for the winning touchdown.
Ebullient at his team's victory, Moomaw preached on the theme of looking at the brighter side of life.
Peppering his sermon with punch lines, he told of one woman asking another, "Did you wake up grumpy in the morning?"
"No, I let him sleep," was the reply.