Former administration official Barbara Honegger said she took on President Reagan because of a "very, very strong intuition" on Jan. 7, 1980, giving her "an overwhelming sense of certainty" that she would play a national role on behalf of women's rights.
Honegger, who said she holds the nation's first master's degree in parapsychology, denied that this intuition was communicated to her by "a source using her voice . . . as if it were from the future," as she was quoted in yesterday's Los Angeles Times.
"There was no source, no voice," Honegger said in a telephone interview from San Diego, where she continued her attack on Reagan's policies yesterday. "I had a very strong intuition, and an overwhelming sense of certainty about it that has given me the courage to do what I've done. What do you do when you have an intuition? You follow it."
This experience took place, she said, in the office of Martin Anderson, then a professor at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, where Honegger worked as a researcher. Anderson joined Reagan's White House staff as domestic policy adviser in 1981 and Honegger was hired as his assistant.
"I had a strong sense that Ronald Reagan, on the morning of Jan. 7, 1980, at the Hoover Institution--I don't know how--I suddenly knew and told Martin Anderson that Ronald Reagan would win by a landslide and Martin would be in the White House and I wanted to be there with him," Honegger said.
"I knew then that I would be working for Ronald Reagan and a strong national responsibility would be placed on me. That sense of certainty has given me the courage to do what I've done."
Honegger initially declined to discuss her psychic experience, saying that her opponents in the Reagan administration "are trying to make me look bad" by pointing reporters to her interest in parapsychology--the study of psychic phenomena, including telepathy, estrasensory perception and clairvoyance.
Honegger later agreed to outline the experience, but said she will explain it in detail in a book she plans to write. "I will tell the whole story in my book, because it really is amazing," she said.
Scripps League newspapers yesterday published portions of a 40-page manuscript written by Honegger in 1980, saying that Reagan was destined to win the presidency because of "omens of power," including star patterns and the number "137."
The newspapers reported that an unidentified Reagan administration official, who said he was acting on his own, had turned over the manuscript. It was written under the pen name "Damien Windsor," and describes Honegger's January, 1980, realization as "a sense of empowerment" with the knowledge that Reagan would win election.
Saying that "every word of that manuscript is true," Honegger insisted yesterday that her writings and interests were being misinterpreted and taken out of context.
"It has nothing to do with the issue of women," she said. "The bottom line is Ronald Reagan's policies and his record."
Honegger resigned Monday as director of a Justice Department project to identify federal laws that discriminate against women. While opposing the Equal Rights Amendment, Reagan had pledged to change all such state and federal laws. Honegger has denounced this effort as a "sham."
At a news conference yesterday in San Diego, where Reagan spoke to a cheering audience of Republican women, Honegger said she would be willing to return to work again for the president if he changes his policies toward women. She said she was "delighted" when Reagan told the GOP women he would sharply accelerate the program to remove sex discrimination in federal and state laws.
Honegger said she had tried to deliver a note to Reagan offering to direct the "Fifty State Project" on changing state laws, but had given it instead to a White House aide.
"I've requested a meeting with him Reagan to personally go over the list of statutes with him and to discuss how they can be corrected. I've been working on this project for 36 months," she said, "and I'd like to follow it through."