The Republican Party has discovered a major campaign theme: President Carter admits to having been "brainwashed" by the Soviets. It plans to use this charge as the cutting edge of an overall accusation that the President has failed dismally in shaping a recognizable foreign policy.
Referring to Mr. carter's recent interview on ABC television, GOP national chairman Bill Brock says: "For the President to come out on TV and openly admit to have been deceived by the Soviets is very dissapointing.
Mr. Brock contends that there have been ample signs of Soviet "expansionism" for the last three years. He adds:
"For the President to admit that [Soviet President] Brezhnev lied to him, and that he has just discovered these Soviet expansionist intentions, is astonishing."
Mr. Brock, talking to reporters over breakfast Jan. 7, said that he "supports" the sanctions the President has imposed on the Soviets, including the grain cutoff.
"It is a good first step," he says, taking a position that runs counter to that taken by most of the GOP presidential candidates.
"But," Mr. Brock says, "there is no evidence that Carter is developing a foreign policy. It looks like he's simply putting his fingers in the dike."
Monitor conversations with several other GOP leaders indicate a broad-based Republican plan to try to nail the President with a "brainwashing" charge phrased similarly to one used devastatingly against GOP presidential hopeful George Romney in 1968. Mr. Romney admitted to being "brainwashed" by what was happening in Vietnam.
Mr. Brock says that "the Soviets have been abusing their relationship with us for three years -- in Africa, Cuba, South Yemen, and elsewhere," thus providing the President with ample warning of their intentions.
"No one knows what the President's foreign policy is -- ourselves or other nations," Mr. Brock adds. While the nation under GOP Presidents Nixon and Ford sought a better relationship with the Soviets, he says, "we always kept our defensive strength up."
But, he adds, "look at what the President has done. He has unilaterally reduced our military strength. He has cut Navy shipbuilding in half. He has postponed the MX and the cruise missile. He has canceled the B1 bomber. And much more."
Asked whether the United States should participate in the summer Olympics in Moscow, the GOP chairman said: "Unless the Russians pull back from their invasion in Afghanistan, I don't see how we can condone US participation in the Olympics."