The following are remarks made to reporters by Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D-Neb.) yesterday as he left the White House after a 40-minute meeting with President Reagan.
Zorinsky: I've got a lot of soul-searching to do between now and 5. He makes persuasive arguments based on the fact that we have only one president of the United States at one time. I'm still of the opinion that I should vote in opposition to the AWACS.
Q: But you might change your mind?
A: As I said before when I went in, he's a very persuasive individual. He argues based on the fact that it's the country's image, his ability to serve in the presidency.
Q: Can you tell us something about the room and the atmosphere?
A: I went up in an elevator, and it's up in the living quarters area, I assume. I've never been there before.
Q: Did that impress you?
A: I've been in nice homes before. He has a sinus condition and he's got a raspy throat. I imagine it's because of the temperature change having come back from Cancun. But despite that, he's willing to give it his best shot, and I've got to respect him for that and got to admire him for that.
Q: You've been opposed up to this point . . . what would change your mind?
A: I really don't know. I just have to be with myself. The lobbying's been intense. I told him I've never seen a full-court press like this before. I've been through the Panama Canal debate and opposed the president of my party in that instance in voting against the Panama treaty, and I thought that would be the last I would have to do during my term of office. But this is something else.
Q: You feel pressured?
A: Sure I feel pressured. I've got everyone who's got a vested interest economically, both in the state of Nebraska and nationally, who's got bucks to make or lose in the event that the sale is turned down.
Q: Do you resent that?
A: No. I think the free enterprise system's great and I support it, and I think a businessman has to do what he or she can in order to make a profit, and certainly the people who are involved in this situation are good at doing that.
Q: Is that why you're going from seeming adamantly opposed to neutral?
A: Well, no. I feel that on the facts and on the merits, the vote should be in opposition to the sale. But underlying all that is the ability of a president of a country to be able to conduct policy in the future with the support of his own people and also of the Congress of the United States. And that's what concerns me. Am I contributing to the removal of his ability to do just that?
Q: Are you?
A: I don't know.
Q: Earlier, you said the president could sell ice to the Eskimos. Are you thinking of buying a parka?
A: Well, I'm thinking about putting a heavier coat on.
Zorinsky ultimately voted with the president.