Bet your deflated dollars that President Reagan won't be resting at his ranch when the newest unemployment figures, expected to show at least a 10 percent jobless rate, are made public Oct. 8.
The president's advisers are horrified at the potential political fallout of having an announcement of the highest unemployment rate since the Depression coincide with yet another Reagan vacation. Consequently, they're arranging for Reagan to campaign at least on the morning of Oct. 8, a Friday, before he beats a weekend retreat to his hideaway in the Santa Ynez Mountains.
"Whatever the unemployment number turns out to be, the president will campaign on the economic issues," one White House insider says. "He's not going to run and hide, no matter what."
Reagan, in fact, is expected to go on the economic offensive Tuesday at his first news conference in two months. The talking points provided him will emphasize the continuing decrease in inflation and interest rates, a two-edged sword that neither the president nor his advisers ever relate to continuing unemployment and lingering recession. He may also discuss his recent conversion to the jobs bill. It seems only a few days ago that White House officials were widely referring to the jobs bill as a "fraud." With midterm elections only five weeks away, the measure has become an element of the "Reagan recovery."
The revised presidential schedule for early October, assuming that Congress recesses at the end of this week, calls for travel to Reno Oct. 6 for a Nevada political event. The following day Reagan will attend a Joffrey Ballet benefit in Los Angeles with Nancy Reagan. After a weekend on the ranch, Reagan will make quick campaign stops in New Mexico, where incumbent Republican Sen. Harrison H. Schmitt is ahead but shakily, and in Texas, where Republican Senate challenger Jim Collins is far behind.
The Nevada event will put Reagan on the same stage with Chic Hecht, the hot GOP prospect to defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Howard W. Cannon, and Gov. Robert List, whose prospects appear to be political oblivion. List is so far behind Democratic nominee Richard Bryan that Hecht, here to drum up money and support for the campaign, let it be known that he'd just as soon not be seen with List in public.
"Does List really have to be there?" Hecht asked administration officials. The answer, Chic, is that he does. The rally is supposed to be for the Nevada governor, and it wouldn't do if he missed his own event.
Pete Wilson, the Republican Senate nominee in California against Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., wants all the help he can get from Reagan but not too much from unpopular members of the Cabinet. When Wilson visited here last week, he was asked if he wanted Interior Secretary James G. Watt to campaign for him. "He could come disguised as a whale or a porpoise," Wilson replied.
Key Republican strategist Stu Spencer, mastermind of Reagan's presidential campaign, contends that Wilson is in less political trouble than advertised, but some see Wilson's foot-in-mouth problems as terminal. Wrote California political columnist Joe Scott last week in his newsletter The California Eye:
"Despite Brown's staggering negatives, the kind that would sink almost any candidate, it appears that the San Diego mayor is in danger of becoming the political General Belgrano of the fall campaign." The Belgrano was the Argentine cruiser sunk by the British during the Falklands war.
The pressure is still on Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis, among the most effective of Reagan surrogates, to become Republican national chairman next year. Lewis, who some within the administration would like to see take on a bigger assignment, is resisting. . . . Look for a more highly visible political role for Vice President Bush, who has won plaudits even among suspicious conservative critics for his relentless campaigning as Reagan's own appearances have been limited. . . . There is White House concern about the quality of political material being given the president. At a rally for Maine candidate David Emory, Reagan was supposed to praise the business political action committees sponsoring the reception. No one bothered to tell him.
When this reporter's story about Reagan on a Sunday evening receiving a crucial report on the Middle East in his bathrobe failed to make clear that the president was in his residence, not the Oval Office, White House spokesman Larry Speakes quipped to an inquiring reporter that the president may simply have been wearing a suit that looked like a bathrobe. "Do the Secret Service have to wear bathrobes, too?" another reporter asked. Next question.
Last, maybe least, there is the continuing saga of the invitation list for the "Tribute to Raymond J. Donovan" at the Mayflower Hotel Oct. 13. White House counselor Edwin Meese III will speak. Vice President Bush, citing a previous commitment, has sent regrets. The president hasn't replied to the invitation but The Friends of Raymond J. Donovan were told he is considering it. And please don't call us. We'll call you.