The Tidewater Conference of elected Republican officials wound up its weekend meeting here today by shouting through tough stands against Soviet aggression and the threat of crime in America.
The 117 members of Congress and state GOP officials from around the country attending the fourth of these annual informal and unofficial gatherings dealt with the crime and communism questions with a minimum debate.
Their main foreign policy statement, drafted largely by Rep. Marjorie S. Holt (Md.), said simply: "The goal of the United States is world peace and limitation of arms proliferation. However, our relationship with the Soviet Union or any other nation should be linked to the behavior of that nation as it affects world stability, whether it be in Poland, Afghanistan or any other country."
A supplemental statement said that continued Soviet military operations in Afghanistan or intervention in Poland would justify the United States and its allies in limiting trade and technology transfer with Russia.
The crime statement took more words but was equally firm. Calling "the swiftness of conviction and the sureness of punishment . . . by far the greatest deterrence to the commission of crimes," the resolution called for swift trials and the "streamlining" of the judicial system "to reduce the endless appeals."
It said capital punishment should be considered "an appropriate penalty . . . for especially violent and heinous crimes," that bail be denied for convicted drug dealers and that any federal crime involving use of a gun should carry a mandatory, separate jail sentence.
Rep. Arlen Erdahl (Minn.) said the call for the death penalty for certain unspecified crimes was "a serious step backward," which he said would not be well received by those who are "not quite as white, affluent or influential as those of us in this room." But like the other provisions, it was quickly approved by the officials, heading for shore excusions or trips home.
One of the few proposals rejected was the suggestion by Gov. Christopher Bond (Mo.) that the Constitution be amended to give the president line-item veto authority on appropriations bills. Bond said that authority, given to governors in 43 states, would be the most effective weapon against excess federal spending. But the members of Congress heeded Rep. Mickey Edwards' (Okla.) warning that such power could also recreate the "imperial presidency," and voted down the resolution.
Before adjourning, the Republicans adopted as a formal statement a blast at past Democratic handling of the Social Security issue offered in debate Saturday by former party chairman Bill Brock, now President Reagan's special trade representative.
Blaming the "impending bankruptcy" of the Social Securty trust fund on the lack of "ability or political will" on the part of the Democrats who controlled Congress from 1955 until this year, it called Democratic criticism of the Reagan plan "a contemptible exercise in political hypocrisy" and urged "those Democrats who truly share our concern for the elderly to join us in a true bipartisan effort to deal with this difficulty. . . ."