Reagan plunges into campaign, boldly bidding for Southern Democrats' votes

President Reagan plunged full steam into his reelection campaign this week with a bid for support from white Southern Democrats. In coming to this predominantly white suburban area just north of Atlanta for a noontime rally in a shopping mall parking lot, under a torrid Georgia sun, he symbolically, whether intentionally or not, signaled lack of Republican efforts to attract black support.

Several of his national campaign strategists said here, in a not-for-attribution press briefing, that Mr. Reagan can expect only about 10 percent of the black vote nationwide. They see much better prospects among two groups of white Democrats nationwide: blue-collar workers and the supporters of Colorado Sen. Gary Hart.

Particular targets are 18- to 25-year-olds who ''look more like 40- to 50 -year-olds'' in their replies to survey questions on issues, said one strategist.

Another campaign aide said surveys show strong Reagan support among white voters in many categories. ''It's hard to see a group he's not doing well with, '' the aide said.

Addressing ''a few words to the Democrats here,'' the President accused the Democratic Party of having ''left the mainstream.'' He said: ''If you're starting to feel that your party has abandoned you, then we're holding out a hand and asking for your continuing help. We can't do it without you.''

''Mondale's single weakest group in the nation is the white Southern male,'' says one of Reagan's national campaign strategists.

W. M. Carson, a retired banker in the crowd here, said he voted for President Carter in 1980 but considers himself an independent.

''I like some of the things the Democrats said at the convention,'' said Mr. Carson, adding that he is still undecided this time. ''I want to see how they (both parties) come out in their promises and thinking.''

Also in the crowd, which included many women and children but few blacks, stood Joe Havlik, an equipment engineer for AT&T. He, too, voted for Carter last time. This time he's for Reagan.

''I think he can get the job done. He's sincere, down to earth,'' according to Mr. Havlik.

The campaign strategists said they see a clear possibility of the South again pro-viding Mr. Reagan, as it did in 1980, with what one called a ''second base'' - the first base being is the West.

But another added, ''We don't consider the South locked up.''

Another view was provided by Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich of Georgia. If Reagan sweeps ''the South, and the West except Oregon and Hawaii, it gets real tricky where you're going to get the 270 votes for Mondale,'' he said, referring to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

But Mr. Gingrich sees ''a dogfight'' between Mondale and Reagan in Georgia, North Carolina, and Arkansas.

Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina says ''it could be close'' in his state, too.

In a separate interview, Lee Atwater, Reagan-Bush deputy campaign director, said the GOP ticket needs about 90 percent of the Republican vote, 60 percent of the independent vote, and 25 to 30 percent of the Democratic vote.

Registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the South, but the GOP is counting on help from its nationwide voter-registration drive. Helen Cameron, national voter program director, calls it the party's ''largest voter registration to date.''

The Republicans hope to register 2 million voters before the election, she says, concentrating on those ''favorable'' to Mr. Reagan.

''We don't register on [the basis of] color as the Democrats do [among blacks ],'' says US Rep. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. (R) of South Carolina, Reagan-Bush chairman in that state. The Democratic registration aimed at blacks ''causes polarization,'' he contends. ''We seek people who are interested in our type of politics.''

Southern Republican leaders are echoing national campaign strategists in calling the 1984 presidential election a clear choice between political philosophies. They also say that their best assest is Mr. Reagan himself.

As for lack of Republican appeals to blacks, US Rep. Jack Edwards (R) of Alabama, says of his party: ''You go where you think the votes are.''

Regarding the record deficits run up during the Reagan administration, and Republican efforts to play down their importance or share the blame with the Democrats, Congressman Edwards says, ''You don't mention those things hanging around your neck.''

At a gathering here this week of Southern Republican campaign and state party chairmen, instructions were given on how local GOP groups could legally raise money which would not count against the party'sfederal limits on candidate spending. The method outlined, according to several participants in the closed-door meeting: Form local campaign groups to raise funds for such activities as voter registration, not candidate advertising.

Southern Republican leaders are echoing national campaign strategists in calling the 1984 presidential election a clear choice between political philosophies. They also say that their best assest is Mr. Reagan himself.

In his speech here Thursday, Mr. Reagan said the Democrats are likely to keep one promise: to raise taxes. He repeated his earlier press conference statement on taxes: ''We have no plans and will not raise taxes.'' But then he again hedged, outlining conditions under which tax increases might eventually be necessary ''at the bottom line.''

Speaking Wednesday at an outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, the President struck out at the Democrats for causing in the past what he called ''record inflation, record interst rates, and record tax increases.'' He did not mention the record deficits under his administration.

But his main thrust both in Texas and Georgia was his bid for Democratic support.

''Come where you will be welcome'' - to the Republican Party - he said to Democrats in the Austin audience, and through them to Democrats nationally.

Later, campaigning in Elizabeth, N.J., Reagan said the race for the White House offers a choice between a strong America and ''a nation that begs on its knees for kindness from tyrants.''

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