New York — US Rep. John B. Anderson's presidential campaign staff members are like people "pleased as punch to be driving their first new car. But it happens to be a Pinto, and they don't realize they are in competition with a Jaguar and a Mercedes in terms of campaign organization."
so says Stewart R. Mott, millionaire philanthropist and champion of liberal causes who recently was dropped from the Anderson campaign organization after a feud with the Illinois congressman's chief campaign strategist and media expert, David Garth.
Mr. Mott charges that the Anderson campaign organization is unprofessional and disorganized. Nevertheless, he still believes that the Republican congressman, who is running as an independent, would still make the best president.
In a Monitor interview, Mr. Mott made these observations about the Anderson campaign:
* "Anderson's had a kind of sweetheart treatment by the press. Nobody's really taken a look at his administrative abilities, and the campaign is a direct measure of his administrative abilities."
* The campaign literature is "something a high school newspaper should be proud of" but pales in comparison with the material being sent out by President Carter and ronald Reagan.
* Mr. Anderson has been discourteous to many campaign staff members, often failing to return repeated phone calls for weeks at a time even when vital campaign strategies were at stake.
* Despite the fact that Anderson strategists hope to place the congressman's name on ballots in at least 30 states, many volunteers are receiving no direction at all from campaign leaders.
"Hundreds of thousands of people are now eager to help you," Mr. Mott wrote in a memo to Mr. Anderson. "But the campaign's central management is still ill-equipped to capitalize on this outpouring of interest."
Mr. Mott, who says he never got a reply to this or any other criticism, affirms that his remarks are meant to be constructive, even though, to some observers, they amount to a sharper attack than either President Carter or ronald Reagan has launced against Representative Anderson.
The Anderson camp someday might regret losing the Mott fund-raising expertise. But Mr. Mott also is seen as a political liability because of his ultraliberal image. It was this more than a personality conflict with Mr. Garth that was the primary cause why the Anderson camp dissociated itself with Mr. Mott. This is not to say escalating personal friction between Mr. Garth and Mr. Mott did not precipitate the latter's departure this week.
But for his part, Mr. Mott says he "wouldn't want to see Garth fired. . . . I wouldn't want to see the campaign manager fired, but they need a top ranking administrator, someone who's been around the track many times like a Robert Strauss [Carter campaign manager], who knows the multiple needs of a national campaign."
Mr. Mott insists he is not the one to fill that role, saying he lacks the ability.
"The whole thing boils down to a lack of professionalism," he sums up. And he warns that unless this problem is corrected, the Anderson campaign could run out of gas long before the Nov. 4 election.