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The State of the Union as viewed from New Hampshire

By John DillinStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / January 27, 1984



President Reagan's speech added one more decibel to the political thunder already echoing around New Hampshire as it prepares for the nation's first presidential primary in a few weeks.

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A sampling of man-in-the-street reaction showed two things:

* Reagan continues to win high marks as a communicator, and as a skillful political tactician.

* The President blunted some of the sharper criticisms of his policies with an appeal aimed directly at Middle America.

Still, some New Hampshire voters would have liked to see serious domestic problems addressed more directly.

Margaret Cross of Dublin, N.H., says: ''I feel that the eternal buoyancy of the President's approach is ignoring the state of the poor. There was nothing mentioned except prosperity.''

Carin Fischer, a student at the University of New Hampshire at Durham, was also concerned about the war-peace issue. ''He said the world today is safer; I just don't agree at all.''

Mrs. Fischer also thought the speech was ''not consistent. He said we could cut spending, but proposes a $1 billion space laboratory.'' Even so, Mrs. Fischer gave good political grades to Mr. Reagan. ''Both my husband and I thought Reagan delivered his speech well,'' she says. ''In Middle America, most people are primarily concerned about what they can get for a dollar; they are looking at their higher spending power, and not looking at the future. It's true that the reaction of most people in this state is very, very positive.''

Pamela Buckles, an executive secretary at Dartmouth College in Hanover, also describes Reagan's speech as ''effective,'' and thought his call for bipartisanship on major national problems was a good move. She felt the speech indicated that the President is moving to meet concerns the Democrats have been raising about women's issues, as well as lower-income groups, which he has been has been accused of neglecting.

Mrs. Buckles adds: ''I also noticed his sense of humor. That's part of his appeal. He can make people laugh with him.''

Austin Stern of Bridgewater, a public relations consultant, wasn't laughing after Reagan's speech, however. He notes: ''Reagan made it sound as if things were never better. But with cuts in school lunch programs, poverty and hunger in the country, our dangerously deteriorated relationship with the Soviets, and other foreign policy matters, none of this makes it sound to me as if 'America is Back.' ''

Brad Dixon, an editor from Peterborough, feels the President skirted the tough Lebanon issue. But Mr. Dixon was very much interested to hear of the President's concerns about space research.

John E. Carroll, a professor at the University of New Hampshire (and co-author with Kenneth M. Curtis of the book ''Canadian-American Relations, the Promise and the Challenge''), was pleased that Reagan mentioned acid rain. But Dr. Carroll adds: ''He fails to comprehend the seriousness of this problem in Canadian-American relations and as a domestic political issue. He shows no signs of understanding that efforts can be made to resolve the problem at a cost which is not significant.''