Richard Bond, one of Vice President Bush's top aides, was named chief political operative at the Republican National Committee yesterday, as part of an effort to tighten White House control over the party.
Bond, 31, will oversee the party's 1982 election efforts and serve as the White House's eyes and ears at the committee. His selection comes at a time of growing White House dissatisfaction with RNC chairman Richard Richards.
But Richards, contrary to earlier reports, has been assured that his job is not currently in jeopardy, according to White House aides. Richards picked Bond as deputy chairman after he was recommended strongly by Edward Rollins, who is scheduled to become presidential assistant for political affairs, and by other top White House aides.
Bond's selection represents another internal victory for James A. Baker III, the White House chief of staff. It is expected to arouse opposition from party conservatives because Bond has been associated with moderate Republicans in the past.
He first came to national attention by directing George Bush's presidential campaign in the Iowa precinct caucuses in 1980. Baker was Bush's campaign manager.
After Bush's presidential bid faltered, Baker joined Ronald Reagan's campaign and Bond managed the reelection campaign of Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.).
Earlier, he was press secretary to another moderate Republican, Rep. Bill Green of New York.
"I don't think there's a philosophical problem here at all," said Rollins. "Rich is not an ideologue. He's just one of the two or three best young campaign operatives in the country."
At the RNC, Bond will be in charge of the heart of the party's operations and much of its staff. He will oversee campaign activities, research, communications and computer operation, and manage the headquarters building.
He will replace Charles Bailey, a longtime associate of Richards, who recently resigned. Bailey is a journeyman political operative, but, according to a White House aide, "isn't the kind of guy anyone ever described as savvy."
The White House has made no secret of its displeasure with Richards. Last week, Baker personally rebuked the chairman after he was quoted as saying that David A. Stockman and Richard V. Allen would lose their jobs and Reagan might not seek reelection.
"Dick has been a little too candid at times and that has caused some consternation," said a White House aide.
Two other experienced Reagan operatives were approached about the RNC job. Lee Atwater, a respected White House political aide, reportedly wasn't interested. Haley Barbour, a former Reagan campaign aide, decided to stay in Mississippi and run next year for the Senate seat held by John C. Stennis (D).