When a farm boy like Jimmy Carter hobnobs with wealthy, conservative, Republican-voting farmers in California's San Juaquin Valley, it's likely to raise eyebrows. That's just what happened last weekend.
The reasons are water -- and money.
The President was in the valley for a fund-raiser. The farmers were there because they know that even though they might like Reagan, it is Carter who will sign or veto major changes in reclamation laws about to emerge from Congress.
Last year these farmers donated $60,000 to the Democratic National Committee -- plus another $25,000 when Rosalynn Carter later visited them in Fresno. This has gained them access to Carter Cabinet members working on farm and water matters. The White House has reportedly told Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus to tone down his criticisms of big-farm water subsidies.
"The kind of money that's been moving on this issue is just tremendous," says one Washington insider.