The orchestration of public relations at the Williamsburg summit was part of a Republican strategy to focus President Reagan's reelection campaign on foreign policy while Democrats run against him on domestic economic issues, a Democratic political leader said yesterday.
"Everything in the summit was directed to PR," charged Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"A president dominates the news," Coelho added ruefully. "Either the president falls asleep, as he has in the past, or he stays awake and looks good, which he did this time."
Coelho told a breakfast meeting of reporters that, as in 1982, the Democrats next year will attack Reagan for high deficits, high unemployment and unfair economic policies.
Coelho predicted that a Republican strategy focusing on foreign policy "won't work," partly because of congressional Democrats' willingness to compromise on such controversial issues as aid to El Salvador, arms control and the MX missile.
While liberal Democrats have opposed the compromises for blurring differences between the parties, Coelho said, "Maybe we clinched on foreign policy, but that destroys it as an issue for Reagan . That may not be a bad political strategy."
Nonetheless, he added, House Democrats are proceeding with a proposal to cut off aid for the administration's covert war in Nicaragua. "The law has been violated," he said. "We're not going to let that be papered over. We as a party should not permit another Vietnam."