Reagan age issue worries GOP leaders

Republican leaders throughout the United States are troubled over Ronald Reagan's age, a Monitor survey discloseS. Half of the 96 state chairmen and national committeemen and women who responded to a Monitor questionnaire say they regard Mr. REagan's age (he would be 70 if inaugurated next year) as a "negative factor" in his coming race with President Carter.

The survey went out to all 162 members of the Republican National Committee.

Subsequently, key GOP political leaders report that many of the Republicans they talk to regularly are not certain whether Mr. Reagan will be able to maintain his energy level through four years in the presidency.

They say that while the Reagan age issue did not seem to damage him in the primaries, the voters will doubtless take a more serious look at this factor in the general election.

However, they note that many voters -- particularly those who are themselves in the older age brackets -- see Mr. Reagan's age as an asset. They are convinced that the experience it connotes will help the Californian both in reaching the presidency and in doing his job once he is in the White House.

In response to another survey question, key GOP leaders made it clear that they believe John B. Anderson's presence in the contest will be a boon to Mr. Reagan.

Seventy-one leaders said that in a three-way race (Reagan, Carter, Anderson) the illinois congressman would take away more votes from Mr. carter than Mr. Reagan. Twenty-one said they thought the Anderson impact "would be about even."

Only two said they saw the Mr. Anderson taking votes away from Mr. Reagan. (Two did not answer this question.)

The so-called "conventional wisdom" of political observers in Washington long has been that Ronald Reagan would be the beneficiary of a three-way presidential race, and the Monitor survey seems to bear this out.

However, in recent days this "wisdom" has been changing.

Now some Washington pundits are saying they are uncertain about the impact of the Anderson candidacy. Some are even going so far as to say that Mr. Anderson's presence may be the factor that defeats Mr. Reagan.

A recent Gallup poll showed the President being helped very slightly by Representative Anderson's presence in the race. A recent Roper poll showed Reagan being helped very slightly by Mr. Anderson.

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