President Reagan tried mending political fences yesterday with women and Hispanics, and his efforts with Hispanics won applause.
Seeking to reduce the so-called "gender gap," which shows Reagan's support among women trailing that among men, the White House released statistics comparing Reagan's record in appointing women with that of President Carter.
The number of women in the Reagan administration exceeds the number of women employed by Carter, according to the White House analysis, but only if Carter's appointments to two now-defunct commissions on women are excluded.
White House personnel director John S. Herrington said that while Reagan has hired 381 women for part-time positions, compared with 437 by Carter, the comparison is misleading. That is because the Democrats' total includes 76 women named by Carter to the International Women's Year Commission and the National Advisory Committee on Women, he said.
"Excluding these commissions, the total number of Reagan women appointments to part-time positions in the first two years is 6 percent higher than Carter's," Herrington wrote to Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, who had requested the data.
"Altogether, omitting judges and the aforementioned commissions, the total number of direct presidential appointments of women made by President Reagan in the first two years of his administration is 7 percent greater than the number made by President Carter during the comparable time period (375 to 351)," he wrote.
The commission had challenged Reagan's claim at a news conference in July that his administration included more than 1,000 women appointees and that he had appointed more women in his first two years than had Carter.
Earlier White House data sent to the commission indicated that only 8 percent of Reagan's appointees were women compared with 12.1 percent for Carter.
The commission had also reported that 388, or 14.3 percent, of Reagan's appointees were women rather than the 1,000 claimed by the president.
Herrington said Reagan was referring to full- and part-time appointees and political appointees in the senior executive service. Herrington said those totaled 1,218 as of Aug. 16. No comparable data is available for the Carter years.
In two appearances before Hispanic groups yesterday, Reagan emphasized that his political philosophy is centered on what he called the traditional Hispanic values of a strong family and religious life and a belief in strong national defense.
At a question-and-answer session with labor and religion reporters for Hispanic publications, Reagan said the Soviet Union has broken agreements not to send "offensive weapons" to Cuba. He did not specify what weapons.
Asked why no Hispanics have been appointed to high-ranking policy posts, Reagan said he had asked a Hispanic to join the Cabinet when he took office. However, Reagan said that "with all the reporting and the revelations and the personal affairs . . . this individual turned away and said no, I don't want any part of it."
In remarks cheered loudly last night at a $150-a-plate dinner sponsored by the Republican National Hispanic Assembly at a Crystal City hotel, Reagan defended his policy on Latin and Central America and assailed Democratic opponents.