Massachusetts -- a 'Democratic' state looks undecided

Heavily Democratic Massachusetts and its potentially crucial 14 electoral votes are of increasing concern to President Carter's campaign strategists here.

Thus far, however, they have been only partially successful in getting their message across to those who decide how the candidate should spend his vote-seeking time.

As things now stand, the President will make but one visit to the commonwealth -- and that a limited one -- between now and the Nov. 4 election.

The tentative schedule, worked out late last week, involves an appearance by the President at a $500-a-plate fund-raiser at a Boston water- front restaurant Oct. 15.

Mr. Carter's Massachusetts campaign chieftains are hoping to fit in at least one or two other stops before or after the noontime event, but it appears there is no way they can have their candidate in the state for more than a few hours. And those close to the campaign say it is doubtful the President will have time for a second visit later in the campaign.

Four years ago Democratic presidential nominee Carter came to Massachusetts but once and was here less than five hours.

Mr. Carter's Massachusetts campaign chieftains are hoping to fit in at least one or two other stops before or after the noontime event, but it appears there is no way they can have their candidate in the state for more than a few hours. And those close to the campaign say it is doubtful the President will have time for a second visit later in the campaign.

Four years ago Democratic presidential nominee Carter came to Massachusetts but once and was here less than five hours.

Part of the reason Carter aides, if not the President himself, may be once again taking Massachusetts almost for granted is that it has been nearly a quarter of a century since a presidential candidate other than a Democrat has carried the state. Four years ago Carter bested Gerald Ford here by nearly by 400,000 votes.

Being counted on heavily is home-state support from US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy who topped Carter by better than 2 to 1 in the presidential primary here last March, but has thrown his support behind the man who "whipped" him for the party nomination at the national convention in August.

In an early post-nomination unity move Mr. Kennedy made it a point to rearrange his schedule in order to greet Mr. Carter at Boston's airport when the latter flew on for a late August address before the American Legion. Since then the Bay State Democrat has campaigned with or for the President on several ocassions.

Kennedy seems almost certain to be on hand for the Oct. 15 fund-raising luncheon. Most, if not all, other Democratic political notables from the state will be there, too, including more than a few staunch Kennedy supporters.

These political leaders are not about to abandon their party's nominee. Few, however, have come forth with much more than polite endorsement of Carter.

The chief threat to Carter in Massachusetts, as the President's state campaign leaders view it, is not Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan, but independent candidate John Anderson, who not only finished a strong second, ahead of Mr. Reagan, in the March primary but also polled a significant number of write-in votes in the Democratic primary.

Although registered Democratic voters here outnumber Republican voters by 1. 38 million to 430,000 -- or better than 3 to 1 -- there are more than 1.2 million independents on state election rolls.

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